11    Mar 20130 comments

Ethnic Foods: Eating around the world

The US is a nation of immigrants. Each group has added its cultural traditions – including delicious food – to the shared multi-ethnic experience. Every family has its favorite dishes from its own unique heritage or a combination of ancestries!

What I really enjoy is how different groups have incorporated their unique dishes into the celebration of US holidays. To use the Thanksgiving holiday as an example, most people feature the golden roasted turkey as a centerpiece, but the stuffing and side dishes will change! Mexican-Americans will add tamales and serve Spanish rice. Persian-Americans will use a rice, nut and fruit stuffing, while side dishes include stews, such as walnut-and-pomegranate, along with rice dishes featuring many green herbs. Italian-Americans will add pasta dishes like lasagna.

March is National Nutrition Month, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) offers ways to “eat right, your way, every day,” with foods from  everywhere.

Dietary guidelines, according to a registered dietician in this story, should accommodate food preferences, cultural, ethnic, traditional and personal preferences the many diverse groups in the US. The story lists yummy healthy dishes from many cuisines:

Chinese: Stir-fried chicken and vegetables (bok choy, snap peas, carrots and bean sprouts).
Italian: Minestrone (a hearty, tomato soup with beans, vegetables and pasta) with kidney beans for fiber and protein; gnocchi (flour or potato dumplings) with chopped vegetables like spinach and served with tomato sauce.
Greek: Tzatziki sauce (a creamy low-fat yogurt, garlic and cucumber dressing) as a dip with vegetables; and dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with ground meat, vegetables such as bell peppers, eggplant and squash, rice, dried fruit and pine nuts).
Mexican: Jicama (a crisp, slightly sweet root vegetable) is great in a salad with lime juice or chopped in salsas; gazpacho (a cold tomato-based raw vegetable soup) made with spinach or cucumbers.

Other recommended ethnic ideas:

• Fruit chutney (Asian Indian)
• Lime-marinated chicken kabob (Middle Eastern)
• Mango or other tropical fruit smoothie (Latin American)
• Baked pumpkin with cinnamon (African)
• Polish beets (European)
• Stir-fried greens (Asian)
• Cactus salad (Southwest US and Latin America)
• Succotash (Native American or Southern U.S.)
• Couscous (African)
• Quinoa (Latin American)
• Naan bread (Asian Indian)
• Egg noodles (German).

The AND’s National Nutrition Month website offers tips, games and resources.

What country do your ancestors come from? What is your favorite ethnic food from that country? Share your comments below, or on our Facebook page.

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