What the USDA and Bon Appétit Now Have in Common

By Terri Brownlee MPH, RD, LDN, Regional Director of Nutrition

Myplate_greenSimple foods are often the most delicious — think of a cool watermelon on a hot summer day, pasta tossed with olive oil and fresh basil, or grilled fish with a squeeze of lemon — and they also happen to be the most nutritious.

At Bon Appétit, we’ve let the powerful union of simplicity, taste, and nutrition guide our menus for a long time. So we were pleased to see that yesterday the U.S. Department of Agriculture replaced its complicated Food Guide Pyramid with a new, elegantly simple “My Plate” graphic. This new icon boils down what many consumers felt were complicated scientific messages into a clear snapshot of what your dinner plate should look like for good nutrition: more than half your plate should be filled with vegetables and fruit, and the other half with grains (mostly whole) and protein.

We applaud this move because we understand the value of simple messages. A commitment to fresh, whole, local foods prepared with care is what we’re all about! And we’ve been using the idea of a “balanced plate” as part of our nutrition message since 2003. Through our Circle of Responsibility program, our chefs were encouraged to build complete meal options that were “In Balance”: consisting of half the plate filled with fruits and vegetables, a quarter filled with lean protein, and a quarter filled with whole grains. Sound familiar?

InbalanceIn 2007, “In Balance” plates became a required menu option for all of our cafés. They’re often the most popular meals we serve. Our menu items that carry the “In Balance” icon, such as  “Grilled Seafood Salad with Citrus-Rosemary Whole-Wheat Cous Cous and Grilled Vegetables” or “Roasted Garlic and Avocado Hummus with Tabbouleh and Cherry Tomato Salad,” will both satisfy your hunger and nourish your body.

With Bon Appétit’s and the USDA’s balanced-plate guidance, your nutrition plan is now much easier to follow — whether when eating with us or in your own kitchen.



World peas, anyone? A plate of fresh, healthy vegetarian food from a Bon Appétit café