MyPlate and SuperTracker


Hi, everyone!

I’d like to talk about some great tools and resources to help you with your health and wellness goals. They are called MyPlate and SuperTracker, both created by the USDA to help Americans achieve a healthy lifestyle.

What is MyPlate?

“MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times and to seek more information to help them do that by going to The new MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein foods, and dairy groups.”

“ provides practical information to individuals, health professionals, nutrition educators, and the food industry to help consumers build healthier diets with resources and tools for dietary assessment, nutrition education, and other user-friendly nutrition information. As Americans are experiencing epidemic rates of overweight and obesity, the online resources and tools can empower people to make healthier food choices for themselves, their families, and their children.”

- MyPlate Official Website

Essentially, MyPlate is the new Food Guide Pyramid of today. Their website is full of healthy eating tips, examples, recipes, menus, and budget-friendly meal plans. They have a great “10 Tips Nutrition Education Series” that often inspires the articles posted on this blog!


What is SuperTracker?

SuperTracker is an extension of MyPlate, but it can be personalized to fit your individual needs. Once you create a profile, you are given a recommended daily food intake according to MyPlate standards and sample meal plans. You can track your eating with over 8,000 foods to choose from, including the option to add your own recipes. These foods have their caloric content and levels of macronutrients listed so you can see how you’re keeping up with the MyPlate recommendations.

But that’s not all, folks!

With SuperTracker, you can also track your physical activity and weight. There is an option to set your Top 5 Goals and sign up for tips and support on how to reach said goals, which vary from weight management, to weekly amount of physical activity, to specific nutrient intakes and limits.


Needless to say, I was very excited to try out these websites. I highly recommend them to anyone wanting more nutrient guidance or simply more awareness of their diet and exercise. I have attached links to both of these websites along the sidebar, underneath “Blogroll.” Check them out and tell me what you think! Happy Painting!

New Dining Service Icons


Hello, MSU!

Dining Services is proud to present new icons that will soon be on display, both online and in the T-Room. These icons were created to help our students identify food items that fit their dietary needs and their lifestyle. Be on the lookout! They will make your food selections easier. They are as follows:

Gluten Free (GF) Recipes that are labeled Gluten Free will not consist of gluten-containing ingredients, such as wheat, barley, and rye.

Gluten Free (GF)
Recipes that are labeled Gluten Free will not consist of gluten-containing ingredients, such as wheat, barley, and rye.

Whole Grain (WG) Recipes that are labeled Whole Grain will contain at least one whole grain ingredient.

Whole Grain (WG)
Recipes that are labeled Whole Grain will contain at least one whole grain ingredient.

Vegetarian (VT) Vegetarian recipes will not contain meat or meat products.

Vegetarian (VT)
Vegetarian recipes will not contain meat or meat products.

Vegan (VG) Vegan recipes will not contain animal products.

Vegan (VG)
Vegan recipes will not contain animal products.

Increase Your Energy by Eating!


With finals upon us and the daylight shortening, we can all admit that we feel our energy levels lagging a bit. Instead of drinking large amounts of coffee, energy drinks, or soda, try adjusting your eating habits to give yourself a more natural boost.

  1. Wean yourself off of the caffeinated beverages. Many of these drinks have a high sugar content. You will feel peppy for about an hour, then crash. Instead, opt for water, naturally sweetened fruit juices, unsweet or lightly sweetened tea, and low-fat milk.
  2. Eat more often, but lightly. Cut down on portion sizes, and eat meals or snacks every 3-4 hours. If your stomach isn’t growling after 5 or 6 hours without eating, your portions are too large for a single setting, and can lead to you feeling sluggish. Snacks should not be considered “mini-meals” but rather a small bridge to tide you over and keep cravings at bay until the next meal.
  3. It’s all about balance. A well-balanced meal should include lean protein, whole grains, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and a small amount of healthy fats. Snacks should consist of a carb and protein combo. Some examples of meals and snacks are listed below.

By following these three simple tips, you will be on your way to feeling lively and energetic in no time! Happy Painting!

Remember, these are just examples. Feel free to try your own combinations.


Lean Protein: Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Lean cuts of Beef and Pork

Whole Grains: Whole Grain Bread, Whole Grain Pasta, Brown Rice

Healthy Fats: Natural Nut Butters, Avocado, Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Carb/Fiber: Fruit, Vegetables, Whole Grain Crackers, Whole Grain Bread

Protein: Nuts, Natural Nut Butter, Hummus, Low-Fat Dairy, Hard-Boiled Egg, Sliced Deli Meat

Study Workout


We have reached the daily grind of classes, homework, repeat. I am sure that the homework load is starting to pick up for you, and that means a lot of your time will be spent studying. If you are like me, I get antsy when I have to sit for prolonged periods of time. While health is extremely important, good grades are necessary to successfully complete school. This means you occasionally have to sacrafice a night at the gym for a night with your nose in a textbook. I have combined some scientific-backed study tips with some simple exercises that can be completed with minimum equipment and limited space (like a dorm room). This way, you can have the best of both worlds!

Focus for 45

Giving your homework your undivided attention for forty-five minutes has been shown to be optimal; any longer and your mind will start to wander off. Avoid crowded places, excessive noise, and other technology to stay focused. You can set a timer to go off after forty-five minutes to prevent you from continuously checking the time on your phone.

Allow for 15 Minute Breaks

Go to the restroom, grab a (healthy) snack, play a song for motivation, and most importantly…exercise! Here is a list of simple exercises you can do. You can mix and match and create your own specialized workout to meet your fitness level.

The Dorm Room Workout

Cardio:               Jumping Jacks

Jump Rope

Stair Climbing

Upper Body:               Elevated Push-Ups   (push off the edge of your desk)

Tricep Dips off Desk Chair

Water Bottle Bicep Curls

Textbook Shoulder Raises

Legs/Glutes:               Seated Leg Extension

Calf Raises

Chair Step-Ups

Side Leg Lifts



Glute Squeeze

Abdominals:               Contract/Relax


Seated Leg Raises


Some of these moves can even be done while studying, so long as it doesn’t steal from your focus. Be safe and know your limitations. After you’ve repeated the study/break cycle as long as needed and have finished your homework and workout, stretch, shower, and get a good night’s rest to store the newly learned information to memory. Best of Luck and Happy Painting!

Healthy Baking Substitutions


Perhaps it’s the crisp fall air, or the smell of pumpkin spice near every coffee shop, or maybe even the changing colors of nature, but something about this time of year really makes me want to start baking like Betty Crocker. It’s an inevitable urge that comes mid-October and lasts throughout the holidays, where I scour the internet and browse through cookbooks to find the perfect recipes to recreate in the kitchen. However, those of us with a health-conscious mind tend to turn our nose up to products that are loaded with fats, oils, and sugars, which most baked goods contain. Luckily, there are some figure-friendly foods that can replace these ingredients and make for a healthier dessert and a happier chef.

For 1 cup Butter or Oil

1 cup pureed avocado

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

3/4 cup mashed banana

1/2 cup applesauce (in addition to keeping 1/2 c. butter or oil)

3/4 cup prunes- pureed with 1/4 cup hot water

For 1 cup Sugar

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup raw honey

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

6 dates or prunes; soaked, drained, and pureed

For 1 cup All Purpose Flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup white or black beans, drained, rinsed, and pureed


I would not recommend changing more than two elements in a recipe at a time; otherwise changes in cooking methods may need to be taken into consideration as well. These ingredient replacements may slightly offset the taste or texture, but nothing will tremendously change, and some may not even be noticeable! They will also reduce the percentage of empty calories in the recipe and add important nutrients such as vitamins and protein. Personally, I have swapped out canola oil once for Greek yogurt and once for applesauce in a banana bread recipe, and both options turned out well. Discovering these other substitution suggestions has given me plenty of inspiration to experiment!

If you share an interest in baking, let us know what modifications you make to your recipes to make them more healthful. If you have never tried editing a recipe, feel free to explore over the holidays with your friends and family. Happy Painting!



Candy Cravings


Halloween is creeping up on us again. When you go to the grocery store, everywhere you turn will be a stand of assorted candy…sold in bulk! If you’re like me, I develop a huge sweet tooth during this time of year that goes perfectly with the added emphasis on treats. Don’t deny yourself something sweet, just remember that moderation is key. To satisfy those stronger candy cravings, when “you can’t have just one,” I have come up with some healthier alternatives:

  • Honey-Roasted or Cocoa-Dusted Nuts/Almonds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Animal Crackers
  • Granola Bars
  • Trail Mix
  • Low-Fat Pudding
  • Sugar-Free Jello Cups
  • Sugar-Free Gum
  • Fresh, Dried, or Frozen Fruit
  • Fruit Snacks or Mini Juice Boxes (made with 100% fruit)

Enjoy! Have a great Halloween, and Happy Painting!

Be Choosy in the Dining Halls


The Painted Plate would like to welcome new and returning students to Murray State! We are here to encourage healthy living to all Racers. Many students worry about options at the cafeterias on campus. MyPlate has created some tips to stay healthy in the dining halls:

Know what you’re eating.

Quite a few dishes from MSU’s menus are already posted either online or on-site. Look ahead so you can plan to eat healthy once you get there., SuperTracker, and My Fitness Pal are great references and tools to help you keep track.

Enjoy your food, but eat less.

 Richer foods may taste great, but typically have more calories. Use smaller plates and smaller portions to prevent overeating.

Make half your grains whole grains.

Healthy swaps include whole grain bread or pasta instead of white, and oats instead of more refined grains.

Re-think your drink.

Americans drink an average of 400 calories per day! These are empty calories, meaning they don’t provide any nourishment. Choose water, milk, unsweetened tea, and black coffee over sodas, sweet tea, sports drinks, and sugary, creamy coffee.

Make half your plate fruits and veggies.

Fruits and veggies fill you up without contributing many calories. They also add color, nutrients, and flavors to your dishes.

Make it your own.

You don’t have to eat strictly according to the menu. Feel free to mix and match! You could add protein from the hotline to a salad, or slice some fresh fruit to add to your yogurt.

Slow down on the sauces.

Dressings, gravies, and sauces are added calories and often are high in fat. Cut down on the amount you use or try adding flavor with spices and seasonings instead.

Be on your guard at the salad bar.

Just because something is from the salad bar doesn’t make it healthy. Some ingredients to look out for are bacon bits, croutons, fried noodles, olives, and some dressings. All of these contain high amounts of fat and sodium. Choose low-fat or fat-free dressings and fresh veggies to add variety and color.

Make dessert special.

Allow yourself dessert only once or twice a week, or only on special occasions so you don’t overdo it. If your sweet tooth is calling, satisfy it with some fresh fruit or yogurt.

Don’t linger.

Once you and your group have finished eating, don’t stay for an extended period of time. You may be tempted to eat more. Make a suggestion to go somewhere else to socialize, like a study lounge, library, or the wellness center.

Hopefully these tips will help you get by in the dining halls this semester. Happy Painting!