Shake the salt habit, especially in processed foods.
Eat more seafood, fruits and vegetables, and choose fat-free or low-fat dairy.
And please get moving.
These are nuggets from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in January by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. The guidelines have consumer-friendly but straight-to-the-point messages, like "Enjoy your food, but eat less."
"It's more on weight management and balancing calories" to manage weight, says Bethany Thayer, a registered dietitian and wellness manager at Henry Ford Health System and national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
The guidelines, released every five years, offer nutritional help to promote health and healthy lifestyles.
So, how are you measuring up?
Are you eating your two cups of fruits and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day? Have you curbed your sodium intake, keeping it below 2,300 milligrams (1,500 if you're 51 or older, African-American or have hypertension)?
Do you include more seafood as a lean source of protein?
March is deemed National Nutrition Month by the American Dietetic Association. So it's a fine time to spring into action with nutrition advice on reaching the guideline goals.
The ADA's main message for National Nutrition Month is "Eat Right With Color." The focus is on learning how to meet dietary needs by grouping healthy foods by color and knowing their nutritional value.
For example, green fruits such as avocados, apples, grapes and kiwis have antioxidant properties that may help promote healthy vision and reduce some cancer risks. You can find more examples from the ADA of eating the right colors at www.eatright.org.
"A rainbow of foods provides a variety of different nutrients with health benefits," Thayer says. "And it makes your plate more colorful, and it's fun and prettier to look at."
Both of these recipes are adapted from "Power Foods" by the editors of Whole Living Magazine (Clarkson Potter, $24.99).
Walnut-Crusted Chicken Breasts
2 slices 100 percent whole-wheat bread, dried
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted if desired
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large egg white
4 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless (6 ounces each)
1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
Lemon slices, for serving
Salad greens for serving, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, combine bread, walnuts and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Process until fine bread crumbs form. Transfer to a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat egg white until frothy.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip each breast into egg white, letting excess drip off, and then into crumb mixture, pressing to adhere.
In a large, nonstick, ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned, 1 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn chicken over and put skillet in oven. Bake until chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve chicken with lemon slices and green salad. Serves 4.
Per serving: 331 calories (27 percent from fat), 10 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 9 grams carbohydrates, 44 grams protein, 603 milligrams sodium, 101 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.
Spring Barley Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup pearled barley
2 leeks, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine or water
2 cups water
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
14 1/2-ounce can vegetable broth
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut on bias into 2-inch pieces
10-ounce box frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves, plus small leaves for garnish
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add barley and leeks; cook until leeks begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add wine; cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water; bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat; simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Add broth and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender and creamy, about 10 minutes. Add asparagus; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas until heated through. Add Parmesan and mint; season with salt and pepper. Garnish with mint leaves. Serves 4.
Per serving, made with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese: 388 calories (24 percent from fat), 10 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 58 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 563 milligrams sodium, 6 milligrams cholesterol, 16 grams fiber.