Four Food Groups

The original four food groups (meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables and grains) provided a diet that was fifty percent animal derived, a fact that's not surprising considering that it was the United States Department of Agriculture that introduced these dietary guidelines. Now, with our new list in hand, we can explore the world of a plant-based diet.


3 or more servings a day

How much is a Serving?
1 medium piece of fruit
½ cup cooked fruit
¾ cup fruit juice

What's in it for me?
Fruits have all sorts of nutrients.(nutrient content is different for each fruit variety) In general, fruits have beta-carotene, vitamin C and are rich in fiber (note: fruit juice has no fiber). Try to eat a variety of fruits during the day including citrus fruits such as melons, kiwi and strawberries which are high in vitamin C.

Is there anything else?
Did someone say Organic? Again, organic is really important so you aren't consuming harmful chemicals, pesticides and the like - plus organic tastes better. If you are not able to buy organic, make sure you wash the fruit well. Also, get adventurous with fruit.There are many varieties. Try mangos, fresh berries, kiwis and different varieties of apples. If you buy a case of berries while they are in season you can freeze them and use them for your breakfast toppings or shakes.

3 or more servings a day

How much is a Serving?
1 cup raw vegetables ½ cup cooked vegetables What's in it for me? Vegetables are full of nutrients; such as beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, folic acid, iron, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin C and many others.

Focus on dark yellow and orange vegetables for extra beta-carotene. This includes carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and winter squash.

Focus on dark leafy vegetables for rich source of calcium, folic acid, iron and vitamin A.

Is there anything else?
When choosing vegetable by organic when ever possible. Although organic may be a little more expensive it is worth it for extra nutrients you get, as well as the harmful chemicals you don't. To help cut costs on organic produce buy vegetable that are in season. If you use canned vegetables make sure you rinse them before use to remove some of the added salt.

Whole Grains
5 or more servings a day

How much is a Serving?
1 oz dry cereal
1 slice whole grain bread
½ cup hot cereal (mixed grain, oatmeal)
½ cup cooked pasta
½ cup cooked rice, barley, bulgur, millet and other grains
½ bagel or English muffin

What does that include?
Breads - Try whole grain bread, lots of interesting and tasty varieties out there
Cereals - Try whole grain cereals hot or cold
Pasta - I could write for pages on this. Go to Italian super markets for variety, try whole grain, try rice brown pasta…
Rice - Again similar to pastas lots of choice and variety. Some very tasty mixed wild rice and several others.

What's in it for me?
Whole grains are a great source for complex carbohydrates, protein, B vitamins, zinc and are rich in fiber.

Is there anything else?
Look to be adventurous, there are lots of variety of grain, don't be scared to experiment have fun. Also when buying your grains try the bulk section at you local natural food market. Not only will you be able to buy organic you will also be able to try small sampling of unfamiliar items. Plus it is cheaper and better for the environment.

2 or more servings a day

How much is a Serving?
½ cup cooked beans or peas
4 ounces tofu or tempeh
8 ounces soy milk
2 T nuts or seeds
3oz vegetarian burger patty or 1 veggie hot dog

What's in it for me?
Lots of minerals and vitamins including calcium, magnesium, iron and folic acid

Is there anything else?
Try the tofu! Like any other protein that was boiled it have not flavor. Tofu takes on the flavor of what ever it is you are cooking it with. Don't be scared it's OK. Try to use dried beans and peas, again go to the bulk food section for you best value and selection. If you are using canned beans, make sure you rinse them will to get rid of the added sodium. So the bad news is last, well just a friendly reminder to make sure you do go easy on the nuts, which are high in fat.