March is National Nutritional Month: “Get Your Plate in Shape” with Healthy Pasta, Italian Sausage Recipe

March is National Nutrition Month 2012

(Chicago, IL) – March is National Nutrition Month and that means everyone–especially those struggling with chronic disease–should “Get Your Plate in Shape.”

“Get Your Plate in Shape” is this year’s national nutrition theme. But what exactly does that mean for you? How is Vital Bridges serving up this idea daily?

“’Get Your Plate in Shape’ is all about making small changes to improve your diet and lifestyle overall,” said Debbie Hinde, Chief Health Care Strategist at the Chicago-based Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care/Heartland Health Outreach, Inc.

“Making some small healthier food swaps, such as choosing whole grain bread as opposed to white bread, choosing roasted skinless chicken breast over fatty ribs, adding fresh vegetables to each meal can noticeably improve your health within one year,” said Hinde.

Vital Bridges clients are encouraged to make those changes and engage in limited physical exercise, says Hinde.

“In addition to being HIV positive, our clients are frequently also dealing with diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, all of which require healthy lifestyle changes to improve their health,” said Hinde. “Fortunately, 85% of clients at Vital Bridge who follow our nutrition program make quantum leaps in their health within a year.”

Hinde says the key to both the prevention and treatment to chronic treatment is nutrition.

“If everyone could ‘get their plate in shape’ as National Nutrition Month urges and implement some small, but vital nutrition and exercise changes, the prevention and treatment of chronic disease could change and perhaps save your life,” said Hinde.

Vital Bridges’ team of registered dieticians have whipped together a healthy, hearty and delicious, recipe to help you get off to the right start.

Pasta with Italian Turkey Sausage and Peppers

This recipe is healthier than normal pasta dishes because of the substitution of turkey for pork sausage and the use of whole wheat pasta as opposed to durum.  These changes cut down on the fat and increase the fiber. Serve alongside some steamed green vegetables or a side salad! Serves 4; 1 cup pasta serving size.


  • -1/2 lb of whole wheat pasta
  • -1 large onion
  • -1 large bell pepper
  • -2 tsp of olive oil
  • -3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • -1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • -1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • -1 tsp dried or 1 Tbsp fresh basil
  • -1/2 tsp salt
  • -1 tsp black pepper
  • -3 links of turkey Italian sausage


  • Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Roast the turkey sausage in a 350 degree oven until fully cooked—25-30 minutes.  Slice into small medallions and set aside.
  • Thinly slice the onions and peppers to produce small strips.  Heat a large pan and add the olive oil.  Add the peppers and onions and cook until soft.  Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, basil and Italian sausage.  Cook for 10-15 minutes and serve over pasta.
  • Serves 4; 1 cup pasta serving size
  • Serve. Eat.

Nutritional Information (1 cup of pasta w/ ¼ of sauce): 286 Calories, 11 gm fat, 2 gm saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 1,122 mg sodium, 32 gm carbohydrates, 6.5 gm fiber, 19 gm protein.

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