Questioning My Plate: America’s Out Of Whack Nutrition

out of whack nutrition

out of whack nutritionThe past few years, I’ve become increasingly dubious of America’s seemingly out of whack nutritional concepts. Maybe I’ve just read too many books, watched too many documentaries- but wait, is that possible? I have never set my mind on one particular way of eating. I’ve kept an open mind regarding each and every nutritional theory.

I am still not sure if I should eat more fat, but less meat, or just fewer grains, potatoes and corn. But I do know that the Food Pyramid (or the newer “My Plate”) has some major flaws.

“MyPlate is divided into sections of approximately 30 percent grains, 40 percent vegetables, 10 percent fruits and 20 percent protein, accompanied by a smaller circle representing dairy, such as a glass of milk or a yogurt cup.”

my plate

However, many studies have shown that eating ANY kind of grain is detrimental to your health, and can lead to inflammation in the body contributing to diabetes, alzheimer’s, etc. Yet, grains are a vital part of our daily food intake, suggests the government. Also, many people cannot eat dairy. And there are plenty of other sources from which we can get calcium (leafy greens, anyone?).

My plate also encourages enriched grains. When you remove vitamins and minerals from a food, then add those nutrients back in, it won’t have the same nutritional value or the fiber that the food in its original state contained.

Nature doesn’t produce enriched or fortified foods. If you’re eating the diet nature intended — predominantly vegetables, fruits, lean meats, nuts and seeds — you’ll have no need to purchase anything that has been artificially “enriched” or “fortified.”


Harvard came up with a more detailed version of “My Plate”, and I appreciate the measure they’ve taken to  focus on better quality foods in your diet. (I love the clarification that potatoes and french fries do not count as vegetables!)

harvard my plate


However, I still think further steps need to be taken to verify the healthiest diet before pushing it onto our children, don’t you think? Childhood Obesity has tripled since 1976. Oddly enough, that is when the food pyramid as we (more or less) know it was introduced. That’s a good indicator we’re doing something wrong. Could it be we’re eating way too many refined grains, or just grains in general?

The odds of developing diabetes increased by 40% from the 1970s to 1980s and then doubled between the 1970s and 1990s. Analysis by gender revealed an 84% increase in diabetes incidence among women during the 1990s compared with the 1970s. In men, diabetes more than doubled during the 1990s compared with the 1970s.*


I do not claim to be an expert in any way. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different theories, and I’m still trying to decide which is best. Right now, I am leaning towards fewer grains, and less meat, but with a bread loving family that has been rough. In any case, more vegetables and more nutrients is undeniably the best route to take!

And that’s the great thing about Dreena Burton’s cookbook, “Plant Powered Families” – the recipes are loaded with nutrient dense ingredients! I’ve seen other vegan/vegetarian cookbooks with a bunch of typical flour and oil recipes…sure, it’s vegan but is it healthy?A plant based diet is the healthiest kind to keep your cholesterol low and avoid inflammation in the body, which can lead to all kinds of diseases and illnesses. If you are interested in reading more about a plant based, highly nutritional eating lifestyle, I suggest Dr. Furhman’s book, “Eat to Live”, which includes lots of info and some recipes. Read, “Grain Brain” for more about studies on the detrimental health effects of eating grain. Also, if you are vegan, or considering becoming one, there is nutritional information in the back of  Dreena’s cookbook, “Plant Powered Families”, and a sample meal plan if you are interested in foregoing meat, dairy, eggs, etc.

Last week, I promised to share another exclusive recipe from Dreena Burton’s cookbook, Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested, Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes. You can enter to win this vegan, plant-based cookbook here, in last week’s post.

But wait, don’t throw your hands up and say, “Whoa, now, I’m no vegan!”. I’m not either! But check out these Power Protein Balls from the Plant-Powered cookbook. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy these healthy bites of energy!

Power Protein Balls


I started out by following Dreena’s yummy pins on Pinterest, then I followed her on Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram, then…I realized I was obsessed with these yummy, nutritional recipes and NEEDED one of her cookbooks. So I e-mailed and asked if she would be interested in letting me review a copy of her cookbook and host a giveaway for readers on my blog! I am excited that she agreed and can’t wait to announce the winner next week!

Meanwhile, as promised, here is the second exclusive recipe!

Protein Power Balls

Makes 25–28 balls

Our girls are pretty busy with hockey and sometimes they take off to games for hours and need some power-packed snacks. I created this treat for them—it sneaks in a little extra protein boost!

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup coconut flour (see note)

1/3 cup hemp seeds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 1/2 cups pitted dates

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

2–3 tablespoons Vega Choc-a-lot Protein Smoothie powder (see note)

1/4 scant teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

In a food processor, process the pumpkin seeds, coconut flour, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds until fine and crumbly.

Add the dates and process through until they are worked into the

mixture and are crumbly.

Add the cocoa powder, Vega powder, sea salt, and vanilla extract and process again for a minute or two. It will appear as if nothing is happening for a few minutes! The mixture will just be whirring around in crumbs, but soon it will start to become sticky and form a ball on the blade. Stop the machine and remove the dough.

Take 1–1 1/2-tablespoon scoops of the dough and roll in your hand. Repeat until you have rolled all of the dough.

Coconut Flour Note: If you don’t have coconut flour, you can substitute 3/4 cup rolled oats.

Protein Powder Note: This protein powder has some stevia, so adjust to taste for sweetness. Start with 2 tablespoons, and stop to taste the mixture before it is in a sticky ball. If you’d like to add more, try another 1/2–1 tablespoon. If you have another favorite chocolate protein powder you would like to add—go for it. If you don’t want to use any protein powder, omit it, and make these simple changes: increase the cocoa powder to 1/4 cup total, add another 2 tablespoons of hemp or sunflower seeds, and another 2–4 dates, to taste.

Idea: You can leave these balls uncoated, or roll in a dusting of coconut sugar, cocoa powder, ground pumpkin seeds, or a combo!


The cookbook giveaway ends June 15th, so be sure to check out last week’s recipe for (vegan) Cheesy Caesar Dressing and enter to win! Share with your friends, too!


One last time, in case you missed it, here is the link to enter!


And if you want to learn more about the diabetes epidemic, but don’t have time to read, watch this documentary:

Carb-Loaded: A Culture Dying to Eat

You can watch it for free if you have a subscription to Hulu.

don't call me supermom


  1. This is a great post Rachel! Very informative. You know after having my son I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t tolerate dairy, wheat or large portions of meat. I went completely vegan for a few months after my son was born. At first I felt great but then I started to feel really weird (I probably wasn’t getting enough for certain nutrients). So I add 1-2 servings of meat in my diet a week. I still eat like this, as I’ve found that my body reacts very well.

    Being vegan for those few short months taught me not to rely on meat as my main staple. It also taught me a bunch of tasty non dairy and non meat recipes.

  2. Eat lots of fruits and veggies is my philosophy. Contrary to popular belief, one can live a perfectly healthy life without meat and dairy. It’s so difficult to eat healthy in our society I feel. I just heard a new study found that a whopping 40% of American women are obese. That’s not a few pounds overweight, that’s health endangering obesity. Scary stuff. So many people die from easily preventable health issues. People are dying for their unhealthy food choices.
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  3. Great read Rachel!
    I had never heard of the My plate, just the food pyramid, and I have always cringed at the idea that people believe and base their diet off it. So sad, but like you mentioned, look at American now and you will see it just isn’t working!
    My husband and I just wrote out a blog post on “Our Diet” since I feel like I agree also that not ONE fad diet is the best. In the end we figured we are Omivores, so we need to eat plant and animal, but make sure they are real foods and then cut out all processed foods.
    Thanks for a great, informed read! 🙂

  4. When we did our science unit on the human body this year, we learned about the food pyramid and I was shocked to find out it recommends 6 servings of grains per day! Since finding out that my husband is allergic to wheat, we’ve discovered just how bad most of the grains grown in America are. We don’t eat anything that has been “enriched”, “fortified”, or contains ingredients we can’t pronounce either. Can’t wait to try out this recipe!
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  5. It’s very upsetting that not more is done to address the health of our diets nowadays. But, I guess lobbying money would drop if anyone made a law that affected McDonald’s or any of the fast food restaurants. SMH.
    We eat as much unprocessed food as we can, and I try to base our summer diet on fresh veggies from my garden. It’s very difficult to plan since City Spouse has Crohn’s disease on top of trying to keep healthy. (He is unable to digest any seeds, so a lot of foods are not allowed that I would like to use.)
    Thank you so much for sharing this to the Monday Mish Mash.

    1. Isn’t that awful? It seems like our food should be the most important thing, not worrying about monopolies and keeping the rich people rich and happy. ): And that would be really tough having your diet even further restricted, wow…we’re lucky our family can eat anything!

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