March may be best known for basketball, but it is also National Nutrition Month.

This year's theme is "Put Your Best Fork Forward."

For today's "On the Menu" segment, Mercy Health Registered Dietitian Katie Francisco is here to discuss healthier game day snacks.

What does "Putting Your Best Fork Forward" mean? It basically reminds us that by making and sustaining small, positive changes in our eating habits over time, we can improve our health now and in the future.

Changes are not limited to, but can include: smaller portion sizes, emphasis on more whole grains, eating more fruits and vegetables and increasing fiber consumption.

Here are some examples of how we can improve.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 68 percent of Americans don't eat fruits and vegetables at least twice per day. In addition, while the recommended amount of fiber per day is 25-35 grams, most Americans only consume about 16 grams of fiber a day.

Many tasty ways exist that can increase your intake of fruit, vegetables and fiber.

Here are a few recipes to help you meet those goals while enjoying the March basketball games:

Backdoor buffalo cauliflower bites

  • 2 heads of fresh cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • pinch of paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T white vinegar

Preheat oven to 450. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Mix all ingredients except cauliflower in a small bowl. Add the cauliflower into a large gallon-sized bag, pour mixed ingredients into the bag.Shake until the cauliflower florets are fully coated. Spread onto baking sheet in single layer.

Bake for 20 minutes. Serve with healthy ranch dip.

Buzzer beating black bean salsa

  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can corn, rinsed & drained
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • ¼ c lime juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted & diced (optional)

Mix all ingredients and chill two hours or overnight.

Excellent with baked whole grain pita bread or as a side dish with Fajitas or tacos.

3-point pepper hummus

  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil

In a food processor or blender, combine garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Add roasted peppers and basil; process until the peppers are finely chopped.

Season with salt and pepper. Transfer into small bowl, cover and chill.

Courtside cilantro lime edamame

  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 bag edamame, frozen

Mix first three ingredients and set aside.

Prepare edamame per package instructions. Toss cooked edamame with premix dressing.



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