Fill Your Plate with Avocados!

By Erika Guzman, Current ASU Nutrition Student


Avocados seem like a bandwagon fruit (yes, it’s a fruit), but in reality, it’s a delicious, healthy fat. But did you know it’s just as beneficial as it is tasty? From guacamole to avocado toast, there are many delicious ways to enjoy it.

So what makes avocados stand out? Why is the avocado put on a pedestal? For starters, avocados are a very heart-healthy, nutrient-dense food. It contains good fats, or monounsaturated fats, and is a fat-soluble fruit that allows the body to absorb nutrients well. Avocados are high in potassium. A single, medium-sized avocado has about 250 mg in its pulp or about 6% of your daily serving. Potassium is responsible for the heart muscles and regulates blood pressure. It seems to be the fruit that’s second to the banana as an avocado has four times more nutritional value than almost all fruits and is loaded with nutrients such as folic acid, potassium, protein, calcium, and more.


Avocados also have high levels of lutein. Lutein is a carotenoid and it helps protect the eyes from risks, diseases, and problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration in older adults. It also works to boost memory and attention, or cognitive health. In short, it can help aging adults.


According to Study Finds, eating an avocado a day can help strengthen the eyes and brain! In the study, the researchers followed 40 adults who would eat an avocado every day for six months, and as a result, they were not only healthier, but there was a 25% increase in lutein in their eyes. Lutein can also work as an anti-inflammatory agent and as an antioxidant. The fad is definitely beneficial to health, and it even is beneficial to older adults too, so convincing them to join you for brunch with avocado toast and smoothie bowls shouldn’t be too difficult, right?


Besides avocado toast, there are other tasty recipes for consumption and for your skin! Here are some tasty foods and drinks for you to try!




For more amazing recipes be sure to check out the Fill Your Plate website! If you liked this article, then you will love the Fill Your Plate blog!





Beckerman, J, MD FACC and WebMD. (2016). How potassium helps your heart. WebMD

website. Retrieved at

Duarte, P.F., Chaves, M.A., Borges, C.D., & Mendonca, C. R.B. (2016). Avocado:

characteristics, health benefits and uses. Cienca Rural. 46(4).. Retrieved at

California Avocados. (2018). Avocado nutritional facts and health benefits. California Avocados

website. Retrieved at

Dreher, M. L. and Davenport, A. J. (2013). Hass avocado composition and potential health

effects. Critical Review in Food Science and Nutrition. 53(7): 738-750. Retrieved at

Marquette, T. (2018). Study finds eating an avocado every day strengthen eyes, brain. Study

Finds. Retrieved at

Scott, T. M., Rasmussen, H. M., Chen, O., & Johnson, E. J. (2017). Avocado consumption

increases macular pigment density in older adults: a randomized, control trial. Nutrients. 9(9): 919. Retrieved at

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Arizona Pork is Yummy

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Outreach Director

In 2016, Arizona hogs brought in $47.5 million in cash receipts to our state, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, National Agriculture Statistical Services (USDA-NASS). While pork is one of our smaller agriculture commodities, our hot farmers know how to bring home the bacon.

Additionally, our local pork market is worthy of paying attention to also and if one goes to Fill Your Plate, you can source for pork farmers that will sell pork cuts to you directly. Again, while not large, Arizona families can source for local pork with about six or seven local farmers.

Nationally, we have some fun facts to share that come from the National Pork Board.

  1. Pig farms support off-farm American jobs and the U.S. economy: 55,000 +plus pig farms in the U.S. support 800,000+plus jobs nationwide.
  2. 63,000+plus pig farmers produce nearly 22 billion pounds of pork each year.
  3. In 1959, it took eight pigs (including breeding stock) to produce 1,000 pounds of pork. Today, it takes just five pigs.
  4. Pig farms use 78% less land, 41% less water and 35% smaller carbon footprint.

If you’re looking for variety in your protein meats, pork is certainly another one of our go-to choices. Part of this might be because according to the National Pork Board, pork cuts are as lean or leaner than chicken. For those of us that would choose pork over chicken, this is a good fact to know.

And, not surprisingly, pork is an excellent source of a variety of nutrients besides just protein. Here’s the concise list:

  • thiamin,
  • niacin,
  • riboflavin,
  • vitamin B-6,
  • phosphorus,
  • zinc, and
  • potassium

Finally, pork is certified as heart-healthy by the American Heart Association.

Next time we wonder what’s pork’s agriculture significance in Arizona, we can say nearly $50 million.

Go to Arizona Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate for Pork recipes!

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Nutrition for the Life Cycle Series – Nutrition During School-Age Years

By Emily Carver, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

This is part five of a five-part series on nutrition within the lifecycle. Read part one, part two, part three and part four.


Children truly blossom during the school-age years, and it’s such a beautiful thing to witness. These years cover a wide age range – between 5-12 years old – and are also referred to as “middle childhood” and “preadolescent years.” It’s in these years children are preparing for the physical and emotional rigors of adolescence, and when nutrition can positively and negatively impact both.

Students saw, touched and sometimes tasted produce that were new to them at Nottingham Elementary School in Arlington, VA, on Wednesday, October 12, 2011. Farmers from Bigg Riggs Farm in Hampshire County, WV, and Maple Avenue Market Farm in Vienna, VA were very popular with the students. Today’s menu included roasted chicken, roasted butternut squash with dried cranberries, farm fresh mixed lettuce salad, turkey wraps, pita wedges, hot muffins, carrots, Asian pears and more. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

For the average school-aged child, their growth is steady at 6cm (2.5 in) a year with roughly 7lbs gained. This is just slightly under their preschool years, but no less important a time for growth. With proper nutrition, it can help keep them on track for meeting their full potential for development, growth, and health (1).


During this age range, children begin to get involved with sports and activities, thanks to their muscles, stamina, and coordination improving with each passing year. Not only are their motor skills getting fine-tuned, but also their cognitive skills as their schoolwork increases in difficulty, and they begin thinking in more complex ways. Along with these developmental changes, comes another change that for some, have a more difficult time accepting.


School-aged children, girls especially, can struggle with seeing their body composition change. Though girls aren’t aware of the “why” it’s essential for parents to understand girl’s body fat percentage increases so to prepare for puberty in the adolescent years.


In fact, to give an idea how much the body changes, in the adolescent years, girls experiencing puberty have a 120% increase in body fat and gain approximately 18lbs a year (2). It sounds quite staggering, doesn’t it? However, this is completely normal and necessary for girls to enter menarche (menstruation).


With those numbers in mind, you can see, as school-age children grow in preparation for adolescence, how it might affect their emotional state; as well as, their mental state with how they might view themselves in a negative way. It’s at this time parents can take a proactive approach to nutrition and body image to help reduce their child’s perception of their continued changes.


A study conducted by the Nurses’ Health Study II found positive outcomes of children who regularly ate dinner with their families. Those children had a higher intake of foods high in fiber, calcium, folate, iron, and various vitamins. They also consumed more fruits and vegetables, while consuming less fast food and soft drinks compared to children who didn’t have regular family dinners (3).


This positive influence in the home helps shape and mold a child’s perception of food, but what might be difficult for a parent to maintain is the child’s ability to listen to their internal cue of fullness. As was mentioned in both the toddler and preschool parts within this series, children naturally know when they’re full to stop eating. These internal cues can be lost during those younger years if external pressures are implemented. However, regardless of the internal cues are encouraged up through school-age, other factors might override the child’s ability to stop when satisfied. For instance, research has shown 9-10-year-old children were less likely to listen to their internal cues of satiety when the availability of good food and others were present. In addition to this, heavier girls were less likely to control their intake of food even after feeling full (4).


Despite this research, parents can still have a positive influence on eating, so that their children can have a healthy relationship with food. By having regular conversations with your school-age child on the normal changes occurring with their body, and how food can help nourish and strengthen them, they can go through this lifecycle and into adolescence with more confidence that everything is just as it should be.



Brown, J.E., Isaaacs, J.S., Krinke, B.U., Lechtenberg, E., Sharbaugh, C., et al. (2014). Nutrition Through the Lifecycles. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning


Barnes, H.V. Physical growth, and development during puberty. Med Clin North Am 1975; 59:1305-17


Gillman, M.W. et al. Family dinner and diet quality among older children and adolescents. Arch Fam Med 2000; 9:235-40.


Birch, L.L., and Fisher, J. A. Appetite and eating behavior in children. Pediatr Clinic N Amer 1995; 42:931-53.

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Nutrition for the Life Cycle Series – Nutrition During Preschool Years

By Emily Carver, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

This is part four of a five-part series on nutrition within the lifecycle. Read part one, part two and part three.


The ages between 3-5 years old are some of the most fun. It can be said every age has a fun element, but there’s something about children between three and five years old that brings such joy. Within this age range, children have the desire to please others, eagerly and enthusiastically wanting to help around the house. They are happy to take on more responsibility and start to learn how to control their behavior while developing social skills among other children through school and other programs.

This age range is referred to the preschooler years and for good reason. Most children begin to enter some form of schooling around this time and learn in a more formal setting. They begin to rely less on external behavioral limits, i.e. the demands for controlled behavior from adults and parents, and more on their own internal ability to control. Preschoolers also become less selfish in playtime settings, interacting and engaging more in cooperative group play.


In contrast to the toddler years, preschoolers grow even less in height, yet soar in their language skills. By the age of three, toddlers have a range of about 100 words spoken, with the ability to say three-word sentences. Yet by the age of five, their vocabulary spikes to more than 2000 words and can form coherent and complete sentences (1). This is an important indicator of cognitive and emotional development and is typically the time when parents begin to marvel at their children’s ability to speak clearly, seemingly overnight.


As mentioned in part three of the nutrition series on toddlers, they grow at a rate of 1cm a month, whereas the average preschooler grows at only .58cm a month, totaling only 7cm (2.75 in) a year (2). Quite slow in comparison, especially compared to infants which grow three times their size within a year.


This slow growth rate will continue to affect their appetite, as it does during the toddler years, and most parents will find their preschool-age children with a varied appetite. At times, they may eat very little, while other times, for example, during a growth spurt, have a voracious appetite to accommodate their growing needs.


Interestingly, children in this age group start having outside influence affect their food preferences. This is because of their continual exposure to peers, siblings, advertisements on television, and parents. Though preschoolers don’t have a propensity to choose a well-balanced diet, these external exposures, especially those of the parents, can positively influence their choices.


It is also during this time, children develop their own food habits and preferences, and just as it is for toddlers, if left alone, preschoolers also have an internal cue of when to stop eating. If nurtured, this will help the preschooler maintain their ability to consume only as much as they need, and not overeat.


Because it is in these years children are most influential with their food choices, parents can take this opportunity to introduce and encourage healthful options at mealtime. Though preschoolers still might have strong opinions with their food, i.e. not wanting anything to touch, look funny, smell funny, or wanting a favorite “dip” with every meal item; parents can still make mealtime fun and attractive for their children as they learn to develop their tastes.


Per the USDA, preschool age children should get between 1200-1600 calories a day. This varies based on the activity level of the child, and to see the types of food suggestions for each age, visit Choose My Plate and follow the links with each category.


No matter what, food is personal for each family and depending on culture, region, and preferences by the parents, some foods may be consumed more than others. Regardless of your preferences, as the parent, it’s important to avoid projecting any negative feelings onto your preschoolers. As we all know, children are sponges and desire to mirror those they look up to, such as their parents; so, when they see their parent reject a food, more than likely they’ll eagerly do the same. Remember to allow them the opportunity to establish their own likes and dislikes, and be open to tasting new and exciting foods yourself right alongside with them.


Brown, J.E., Isaaacs, J.S., Krinke, B.U., Lechtenberg, E., Sharbaugh, C., et al. (2014). Nutrition Through the Lifecycles. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning


Kliegman, R.M., Stanton, B.F., St. Geme, J. W., Schor, N.F., and Behrman, R. E. Nelson’s Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders, 2011.

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Nutrition for the Life Cycle Series – Nutrition During Toddler Years

By Emily Carver, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

This is part three of a five-part series on nutrition within the lifecycle. Read part one and part two.


The toddler years are seen as both fun and tumultuous. These years are filled with so many developmental changes that even parents have a difficult time keeping up. Children in the toddler years – ages 1-3 years old – go from crawling to toddling; from toddling to steadier walking; from walking to running, and from running to being ready to ride tricycles.

Just as their motor skills begin to sharpen, so does their speech. By 18-months-old, toddlers can speak between 10-15 words. However, by the time they reach 2 years old, their vocabulary has leaped to over 100 words; and by 3 years old, they’re able to speak three-word sentences.


What helps play a major role in this extraordinary leap in development? Nutrition.


As mentioned in part two of this series, infants, within the first year of life, gain three times their body weight and need roughly 98/cal per kg of weight, which equates to about 800 calories a day. In short, infants want and need to eat a lot to sustain their growth.


Toddlers, on the other hand, have a growth rate much slower (only 1cm a month), and it’s because of this reduced growth rate that they won’t seem as hungry. For parents, it can be frustrating and confusing to go from having a voracious eating infant to the complete opposite – uninterested, picky eating toddler. Rest assured though, this is completely normal in the development process.


With toddlers wanting less and less food, it can be hard for parents to determine whether they’re getting the nutrition they need to help them develop. Thankfully, there are many ways to do this. An internet search of “how to get a toddler to eat healthy” yielded over 21 million different results. Opinions and suggestions are endless and if the internet search revealed anything, it’s that every parent has this same struggle.


What can be another struggle for parents is portion size. What can be easily overlooked is that toddlers don’t eat like adults. Simple to say, but something that many forget when feeding their toddlers. Large adult-sized portions are often given to toddlers with the expectation of eating it all. This can coincide with feelings of the child never wanting to eat or having frequent battles at the dinner table over food.


In reality, toddlers need toddler-sized portions. A general rule of thumb for a toddler-sized portion is 1 tablespoon of food per year of life. This means a 2-year-old would receive 2 tablespoons of food (1). Though this seems incredibly low, it’s far better for them to ask for more food than to have received too large a portion from the start.


Putting this thought into practice, it’s important to see that snacking can and is considered a meal for a toddler. This can be a hindrance or a helping depending on how you view it. For many parents, giving their children various snacks, nutritious ones at that, throughout the day can help them feel they’re giving their toddlers the necessary nutrients needed, especially when the toddler happily accepts them. While others give their children snacks throughout the day and grow frustrated when they don’t want to eat dinner.


This again is simply because snacking is a “meal” to the toddler. They’re already full by the time you sit at the table, and they’re unwilling to eat anymore. This is also because children have the internal cues of knowing when they’re full. At this young age, they don’t need to be told the amount of food to eat, because they already have that naturally built in.


If you prefer having your toddler eat at the table with you, here are some helpful tips to make it as pleasant of an experience as possible.


Hold off on snacks before dinner. By doing this, the toddler will be more likely to eat their dinner.

Introduce a new food with a familiar food. To combat any pickiness, introduce the new food with a food your toddler loves. This, along with seeing you eating it, will peak their curiosity and want to taste it.

Have patience with new foods. It can take toddlers up to being introduced to a new food ten times before they finally try it. Have patience and know, they won’t always say “no!”

Make dinner a fun, stress-free experience. If they refuse to eat, try not to show you’re stressed and aggravated over it (even though you may be on the inside). This can lead to fights and mealtime being the last thing anyone wants to do.

Avoid bribes for “just one more bite.” This is counter-productive for everyone. Remember, the toddler already has an internal cue for when they’re hungry. Trust in that and avoid forcing more food on them than they need.


Brown, J.E., Isaaacs, J.S., Krinke, B.U., Lechtenberg, E., Sharbaugh, C., et al. (2014). Nutrition Through the Lifecycles. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning

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