Make Over My Meal!

Photography by Levi Brown, Food Styling by Roscoe Betsill, Prop Styling by Ed Gallagher

 

Four teens challenged us to turn their nutritional no-goes into delish and healthy dishes. We accepted! See how we transformed their food choices by applying the MyPlate method—then learn to use this healthy-eating hack on your favorite eats.


The Sugar Seeker

Patrice, 17, loves a super-speedy breakfast.

She also likes her cereal sweet and doesn’t drink the leftover milk.

 

 Before: 

Bowl of Trix cereal with 2 percent milk and small glass of orange juice

  • This plate’s problem? She’s got her grains, but this cereal has hardly any feel-full fiber—and neither does the OJ! All together, her quickie breakfast packs more than 7 teaspoons of sugar but offers zero grams of protein. That’s a recipe for a rumbling stomach and a mid-morning energy crash.

 

 After: 

Bowl of oatmeal with milk, walnuts, frozen blueberries, and drizzle of honey

  • Make that cereal whole-grain. Oats are rich in quality carbohydrates, your brain’s No. 1 source of fuel.
  • Add protein. It gives you staying power! Walnuts do the trick, plus their omega-3 fats keep your skin healthy and hydrated.
  • Mix in real fruit. Blueberries have less sugar and more fiber than OJ.
  • Keep it dairy. Make oats with milk (instead of water) for calcium and extra protein

 

 Verdict: 

I used to eat oatmeal and don’t know why I stopped.

I’m excited to give this a whirl!

—Patrice, 17


The Carb Loader

Jacob, 12, loves bread in any form and the convenience of grabbing breakfast quickly.

He’s allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and isn’t a fan of yogurt.

 

 Before: 

2 cinnamon-raisin English muffins with butter and a glass of water

  • This Plate’s Problem? Jacob, 12, loves bread in any form and the convenience of grabbing breakfast quickly. He’s allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and isn’t a fan of yogurt

 

 After: 

1 whole-grain English muffin with sunflower butter plus a smoothie made with chocolate milk and a frozen banana

  • Swap out empty carbs. Whole-grain English muffins are more filling and keep your digestive system running smoothly.
  • Spread on protein. One tablespoon of nut or seed butter has as much protein as a slice of deli meat!
  • Sneak in milk. The smoothie has a serving of calcium-rich dairy to help build strong bones.

 

 Verdict: 

I don’t know... sun butter
and bananas in milk sound gross.

—Jacob, 12


 


The Hungry Athlete

Cole, 13, needs extra energy for his two-hour swim practice after school.

He’s working hard on getting stronger and faster.

 

 Before: 

Peanut butter and Nutella sandwich on whole-grain bread, an apple, a bag of pretzels, and a bottle of water

  • This Plate’s Problem? Cole gets bonus points for whole-grain bread, but there’s a whopping 5 teaspoons of sugar in 2 spoonfuls of Nutella, the pretzels have zero fiber, and he’s seriously lacking calcium.

 

 After: 

PB&J on whole-grain bread, an apple, veggies with ranch dip, popcorn, and milk. Plus a banana and a small yogurt to eat pre-practice!

  • Snack on real food. Popcorn boosts Cole’s whole-grain intake, while colorful veggies deliver lots of vitamins.
  • Use fruit for sweetness. Replace sugary Nutella with a thin layer of all-fruit jam.
  • Don’t forget dairy. You haven’t lived until you’ve dipped a banana in yogurt—it’s crazy good!

 

 Verdict: 

I love the idea of adding popcorn and milk,
and I’ll give the veggies a go.

—Cole, 13


The Empty Snacker

Mac, 14, doesn’t spend much time packing lunch.

She has no problem getting protein—her favorite food group is meat.

 

 Before: 

Turkey, salami, and cheese on wheat bread, Goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, and a bottle of water

  • This Plate’s Problem? Grains, protein, and dairy are all covered in one sammy—yay! But Mac’s sides won’t keep her full. Fruit snacks are fake fruit (made with sugar and artificial dyes), and Goldfish are nutritionally wimpy too.

 

 After: 

The same sandwich, an orange, a carton of milk, and celery sticks with peanut butter

  • Pick fresh fruit. An orange is just as easy to pack as fruit snacks, and it has vitamin C to help keep colds away.
  • Remember your veggies. It’s as easy as adding lettuce to your sandwich and snacking on crunchy celery with peanut butter (yum!).
  • Wash it all down with milk. One little carton knocks out almost a quarter of the calcium Mac needs on a daily basis.

 

 Verdict: 

I don’t like milk, so I’ll just pack a yogurt instead!

—Mac, 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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