Note: This article was created in 1997. The Food Pyramid has since been changed by the federal government to the Food Plate.


Today, people are interested in good food, good nutrition and good health. Eating can and should be both healthy and enjoyable. But, can you have a nutritious, tasty diet without forfeiting your favorite foods? The answer is "YES" but the key is to eat a variety of foods in the right amounts.

The Food Guide Pyramid was designed to help Americans identify what those foods are and how much they should strive to eat. Using the three principles of balance, variety and moderation, the pyramid shows you how to plan a healthful diet that meets taste preferences and nutritional needs. Simply put: Eat a wide variety of foods within the groups of the Food Guide Pyramid. For balance, choose enough daily servings from each food group. Go easy on fats, oils and sweets but, don't deny yourself the foods you really enjoy.

In moderation, any food can fit in a healthy eating pattern. If you choose certain foods that are higher in fat, sugar, or sodium, remember to make trade-offs when possible with other foods that are lower in fat, sugar or sodium. U.S. Dietary Guidelines should be applied to diets consumed over several days and not in a single meal or food.

Salad Synergy: Building Basics

All nutrition experts agree: there are no "good" or "bad" foods, just good and bad diets. Now, more than ever, it is easy to match your dietary goals with your food preferences. Whether dining in a restaurant or shopping in the grocery store, today's consumers can choose from a variety of readily available traditional food choices as well as good-tasting modified versions of these same foods—lower in fat, sugar and sodium.

Using the trade-off approach, building a "Pyramid meal" around a salad can be easy. Start with pasta or rice as the base, adding plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and/or vegetables, bite-size chunks of chicken and low-fat cheese. Top off the salad with a favorite salad dressing. Or, if you prefer, substitute black beans or another legume for the chicken and use a fat-free version of the dressing. Spend the fat savings on chunks of avocado and specialty cheese.

Note: The word "Salad" is derived from the Latin word for salt—sal—because early salad eaters dressed their greens with the popular compound and nothing more. Babylonians enjoyed greens sprinkled with oil and vinegar. Contemporary salad lovers have more choices in how they dress their greens—with hundreds of regular, reduced-low-and no-fat salad dressings in a variety of flavors.


Mediterranean Rice Salad

Rice Salad
  • 3 cups instant brown rice, cooked
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cups quartered cucumber slices
  • 1 cup chopped seeded tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup low-fat Italian dressing

Mix all ingredients except dressing in large bowl. Add dressing; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Makes 5 (1-cup) main-dish servings.

Nutrition Information Per Servings:

350 Calories
10 g fat
0 mg cholesterol
510 mg sodium
57 g carbohydrate
6 g dietary fiber
9 g protein


Tomato Orange Salad

Orange Salad
  • 2 oranges, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar fat-free dressing
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Arrange oranges and tomatoes in circular pattern on serving plate. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with cheese and basil.

Serves 8

Nutrition Information Per Servings:

45 Calories
1.5 g fat
less than 5 mg cholesterol
260 mg sodium
7 g carbohydrate
1 g dietary fiber
3 g protein


Provided by The Association for Dressings and Sauces

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified January 2007

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