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Let colors be your guide to good eating Special To The Star-news | Sat, Mar 12 2011 12:00 PM

Each March, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) focuses attention on returning to the basics of healthy eating. This year's National Nutrition Month theme encourages everyone including seniors to include a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy on their plates everyday. While this may sound easy, for many seniors taking the time to prepare fresh healthy foods instead of popping something in the microwave, often just for themselves, is not always part of the menu. Getting back to the basics and adding color back on the plate is a good start.

"By adding colorful food options into every meal you are not only injecting good nutrition into diets but you are making the meals overall more pleasing to the eye and palate. Our main goal is to serve low fat and low sodium entrees that are delicious. This is achieved with healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables. In addition we try and service items that don't contain MSG, and have reduced amounts of saturated fats, sodium, sugar and caffeine," said Jenny Wallis, marketing director for Villa Bonita.

To help seniors eat healthy and "colorful" this March, Villa Bonita offers these quick, easy tips and facts.

* Take a tip from Japanese food culture and try to include five colors on your plate. Fruits and veggies rich in color correspond to rich nutrients (think: blackberries, melons, yams, spinach, tomato, zucchini).

* Start your day with a strawberry, banana, yogurt smoothie, or by adding dried cranberries, walnuts, apples, raisins and cinnamon to oatmeal.

* Create an array of color in salads by adding carrots, orange sections, tomatoes, beets and purple cabbage.

* Add vegetables to casseroles, stews and soups.

* Think fruit for dessert, sliced nicely and accompanied with cheese.

* Bake with raisin, date or prune puree to reduce fat and increase fiber.

* Add lettuce, onions, peppers and/or tomatoes to sandwiches.

* Add vegetables to pasta and pizza

* Pack fresh or dried fruits and nuts for quick snacks.

Just how much "color" does a senior need each day?

* Fruit - Focus on whole fruits rather than juices for more fiber and vitamins and aim for around one to two servings each day.

* Veggies -Choose anti-oxidant rich dark leafy greens, like broccoli, spinach, as well as oranges and yellows, such as carrots, squash, and yams. ¥ Calcium - Aging bone health depends on adequate calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Seniors need 1,200 mg of calcium a day through servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale.

To learn more call (619) 476-9444.

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