Food Pyramid Guide

The food pyramid guide was established to give all Americans food guidelines that lead to better health. It is a visual aid that helps children and adults alike to understand how much of each food group makes for a better diet.

The United States Department of Agriculture offers a lot of free information to help people establish healthy eating habits.

The food pyramid guide divides the necessary foods to our diets into six food groups. The group at the bottom of the pyramid and the largest group necessary in our diets are the grains. The grains are divided into two groups; the whole grains and the refined grains. Whole grains are the healthier choice to make. So what are whole grains? Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel; the bran, germ and endosperm. Some of these are whole wheat flour, bulgur, whole oatmeal and brown rice.

Refined grains have been milled, a process that has removed the bran and germ. Milling gives grains a finer texture but it also removes dietary fiber and many B vitamins. Some of these are white flour, white bread and white rice. Many of these products have been “enriched”, that is vitamins have been added back into them but fiber has not.

The next layer of the food pyramid guide consists of two of the groups; they are the fruits and vegetables. Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen or dried. Some of the common fruits are apples, oranges, strawberries, melons and bananas.

Sharing the layer with the fruits are the vegetables. These are any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice. The vegetables may be raw, cooked, fresh, frozen canned or dehydrated. Vegetables are organized into 5 subgroups depending on their nutrient value; they are dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, dry beans and peas, starchy vegetables and other vegetables such as artichokes, beets, cabbage, onions and many more.

The next layer of the food pyramid guide is the meats, meat substitute or other proteins. What are proteins? These are all foods made from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts and seeds. (Dry beans and peas are also a part of the vegetable group) Most meat and poultry selections lean or low fat. Fish nuts and seeds contain healthy oils so it is good to eat these frequently. The proteins share a small portion of this layer with the milk, yogurt and cheese group. All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered in this group.



Fish recipes are good for healthy eating. This flounder recipe incorporates the protein in the fish with fruits and vegetables. It makes 4 servings.

  • 1 Pound of fresh or frozen flounder (or halibut)
  • 4 Teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon corn starch
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 4 Teaspoons cooking oil
  • 1 Tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1 Teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Clove minced garlic
  • ½ Teaspoon grated gingerroot
  • 1/8 Teaspoon salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon pepper
  • 3 Medium oranges peeled and sectioned
  • 1 Medium grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
  • 8 Ounces fresh snow peas

Thaw fish if frozen; cut into 1 inch cubes.

In a large bowl. Stir together the soy sauce and cornstarch; stir in the green onions, oil, dry sherry, sugar, garlic, gingerroot, pepper and the 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Stir in the fish cubes, oranges, grapefruit, and pea pods; cover and chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

Turn fish mixture into a 2 quart square baking dish; Cover with foil and bake for about 15 minutes or until the fish flakes. If desired, serve with brown rice.

The top layer of the food pyramid is the oils and fats. It is the smallest group which we need only a small amount. Some of these oils are olive oil, canola oil, corn oil and soybean oil. Some oils are found in some nuts, olives and some fish. Butter, beef, chicken and pork fats and solid shortening are part of the fat group.

For centuries people around the world have relied on the fields to produce foods for mainstay nourishment. We now refer to these dishes as vegetarian recipes. These recipes most often account for the grains, vegetables and protein referred to by our food pyramid guide; quite often the fruit is also added.


This traditional Middle Eastern food recipe for falafel is served in pocket breads with a tahina sauce recipe and falafel relish. In this area garbanzo beans have provided protein for the people since ancient times. Normally these are deep fried but they can be lightly fried and you can use an oil lower in fat than some.

  • ½ Cup bulgur wheat
  • 2 Cups canned garbanzo beans
  • 3 Cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ Cup lemon juice
  • 1 Teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon crushed red chilies
  • 2 Eggs
  • ½ Cup dried bread crumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped
  • Cooking oil
  • 6 Six inch pocket breads, cut in half and warmed
  • Tahini sauce recipe
  • Felafil relish recipe

Prepare tahini sauce recipe and falafel relish.

Place bulgur in a bowl and add boiling water to cover; let stand 20 minutes.

Combine garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, salt and chilies; process in blender until smooth.

In medium size bowl beat eggs; then mix in bread crumbs, pureed garbanzo mixture and cilantro.

Drain bulgur well and mix in with garbanzo mixture; shape mixture into 6 patties.

Heat oil in large skillet; when hot brown patties on both sides.

Cut patties in half and place each piece in warm pocket bread half.

Serve immediately with tahini Sauce Recipe and falafel relish recipe.


  • 6 Tablespoons sesame tahini
  • ¼ Cup water
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 Clove minced garlic
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • Season with salt

Combine and beat all ingredients together until smooth.


  • 2 Medium chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Cup finely chopped cucumber
  • ¼ Cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • ¼ Cup finely chopped onion
  • ¼ Cup minced fresh parsley
  • Salt/pepper

Combine all ingredients and blend; season with salt and pepper.