The Exciting Mineral Magnesium

By Katrina Aceret, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student 

What is Magnesium?

Let’s be honest, do we really think about magnesium when we think about the minerals we need? Many people do not realize the importance of magnesium in their diet.

Magnesium activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate levels of calcium, copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D and other important nutrients in the body. Magnesium also helps you take energy from food and make new proteins. The heart, muscles, and kidneys need magnesium. It is very rare to be deficient in magnesium but many Americans do not include enough magnesium in their diet.

Magnesium may prevent the following: hypertension and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches. It has been found that magnesium supplementation lowers blood pressure as well as reduces the risk of stroke. Make sure to include low-fat dairy products, and lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet to lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that magnesium deficiency may be a risk factor for osteoporosis. Also, consuming magnesium supplements may prevent migraine headaches. Studies have shown that people who consistently have migraine headaches have lower levels of magnesium. The American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society have stated; magnesium is “probably effective” for migraine prevention.

Magnesium Intake

About 60% of adults in the United States do not consume the recommended intake of magnesium. The Dietary reference for magnesium changes with age.

  • 80 mg/d for children between 1 and 3 years olds.
  • 130 mg/d for children 4-8
  • 240 mg/d for 9-13-year-old males
  • 420 mg/d for males between the age of 31 to 70 years old
  • 240 mg for 9-13-year-old females
  • 360 mg/d for females age 14-18 years old 320 mg/d 31 to 70-year-old females

Food Sources

Rich sources of magnesium are:

  • Tofu
  • Legumes
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Leafy Green Vegetables

Including herbs and spices:

  • Coriander
  • Sage
  • Basil


The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet will help with the intake of magnesium. The DASH diet emphasizes on eight to ten daily servings of fruits and vegetables that are high in magnesium and potassium.



Magnesium. National Institute of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Last updated February 11, 2016. Retrieved from:


Volpe. S.L. (2013) Magnesium in disease prevention and overall health. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 4(3), Retrieved from:


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Cooking with Coffee

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

Your morning cup of Joe isn’t just there to wake you up anymore! Using coffee as an ingredient in dishes is becoming more and more popular in the cooking world today. There are some dishes we may be familiar with that use coffee as an ingredient, like Tiramisu; but have you heard of coffee being used as a rub on meats, and even as a flavoring for cookies?

Coffee Lovers Rejoice

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, ‘Americans drink an average of 3.1 cups of coffee per day’, so it’s no surprise that coffee is becoming a popular ingredient and flavor in many foods.

In the summer of 2016, ran a Twitter poll to find out what each state’s favorite ice cream flavor was. 18 states, including Arizona, said ‘coffee’ was their favorite flavor of the cold treat.

If you are a coffee lover or want to try your hand at cooking with coffee, I’ve shared some of my favorite recipes that include it:



Why Use Coffee?

Not only is the flavor of coffee well loved, it pairs well with an array of different flavors and textures. Coffee is also a fairly healthy ingredient, so many people have started using it as a healthier and tastier option.

According to WebMD, coffee consumption can possibly lessen the likelihood of having type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia.

Coffee is also low in calories and has zero grams of fat.


Next time you want to add a little something extra to your meal, think coffee. For more recipes that include coffee, and blogs featuring everything you want to know about coffee, visit Fill Your Plate!


If you liked this article:

Morning Coffee Health Benefits

From Coffee to Tea

To Coffee or Not to Coffee

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College Lunches On-The-Go

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

As a college student currently going to Arizona State University, I know that life can get busy. Between running from one class to the other, working (sometimes multiple jobs), doing homework and projects, and trying to keep up personal relationships, things like sleeping and eating can get pushed to the side.

I have found on numerous occasions that I’ve gone an entire day without eating. I didn’t notice that I was hungry because I was so busy. Obviously, that’s not very healthy, so I had to find a way to make sure I still eat on my busiest days.

This might sound like a no-brainer, but I started taking my lunch with me in an insulated lunch box/bag. As a kid, I always took my lunch to school. Never once in my entire school career did I eat the food that the cafeteria was serving. When I was little I loved taking my lunch to school, but as I got older, I became embarrassed carrying my lunch box. I thought lunch boxes were ugly, and I didn’t want to be seen with one.

In high school, I started to just throw my food in my backpack and hope it didn’t get squished.

Now that I’m in college, I’m over worrying about what my peers think. A girl’s got to eat! Plus, there are so many stylish lunch boxes out there to choose from. The one I have right now is from Target and looks a little bit like a purse. It’s kind of like being “Fashion forward” with our lunch.

When you take your lunch with you, whether that is to work or school, you save yourself the time of having to grab something on the way, and you definitely save yourself some money. With the endless food options we are given at grocery stores and farmers markets, you never have to eat the same thing twice in one week!

Here are my favorite lunches to take with me to school and work, one for each day of the week:

  1. A salad made of mixed greens, carrots, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, walnuts, and broccoli paired with olive oil and vinegar. A string cheese. A serving of popped rice chips. I put my selected dressing in a separate Tupperware.
  2. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread. Slices of cucumber and baby carrots with low-fat ranch to dip them in. A serving of grapes.
  3. Your choice of lunch meat (I like thinly-sliced turkey) rolled up with spicy mustard inside. A pre-sliced apple and peanut butter to dip it in. A bag of mixed nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, and Brazil nuts.
  4. A fruit salad made with your favorite fruits (I like to get creative with pineapple, mango, strawberries, blueberries, apples, bananas, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, kiwis, Mandarin oranges, and pears) sprinkled with granola and topped with honey, or mixed with Greek yogurt. Sliced bell peppers of every color and low-fat ranch to dip them in. Hummus and pita chips.
  5. A wrap made with a whole wheat tortilla, light mayonnaise, mustard, chicken or turkey, spinach leaves, a thinly sliced tomato (Mix and match other ingredients to your taste). A low-sugar granola bar. A serving of fruit (I usually pack strawberries, blueberries, or even a banana).
  6. If you can make use of a microwave at school or work: Grilled chicken and pre-steamed veggies. Your favorite flavor of Greek yogurt. A serving of whole wheat crackers and your choice of sliced cheese to top them with.
  7. A spinach salad with apples, strawberries, dried cranberries, and grilled chicken topped with a vinaigrette dressing. A serving of plain pretzels. Baby carrots and snap peas with low-fat ranch to dip them in.

And there you have it! Seven lunch ideas for you to make this week! It all easily fits into a lunch bag or lunchbox, and will keep you full for quite a while! On top of these meals I do bring a small snack with me like extra fruits and veggies, or a bag of mixed nuts just in case I need a little pick-me-up later in the day.

For more information on how to stay healthy while in college, visit Fill Your Plate and check out these blogs:

10 Recipes Every College Student Should Know how to Make

8 Healthy Snacks to Keep in your Dorm Room

5 Easy Tips for Keeping Away the Freshman 15


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How Single Moms Incorporate Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits

By Eric LeClair, ASU Communication Nutrition Student

Part 1 of a Series

We have all made the excuse that we’re just “too busy” when talking about changing our diet and exercise habits. Single moms might find themselves saying this often because of their hectic schedules. For the next few weeks, I will be interviewing and discussing the health and exercise habits, or lack thereof of, of many different family types.


Recently, I went out and about and interviewed multiple single moms. I wanted to gauge and understand the average day of today’s American single mom who tries to fit in gym time as well as cooking healthy meals for her and the family. For three days, I went around my small town to interview single moms who live very different lifestyles and gave very different answers when I asked the question, “How do you stay involved in the gym and try and eat healthy with all that’s on your plate?”


Imagine a life where you are getting up at 5:00 AM every morning to take care of your one-year-old child only to immediately race to get your two Junior High kids’ lunches packed and off to school all before you must head off to work. At what point would your busy schedule allow you to cook yourself a healthy breakfast or pack some lunch and gym clothes. This is the life of Sarah Criss, a single mother who was taking on three kids and a full-time job.


Sarah used to live at the gym and cooking was one of her favorite passions. In the last year, though, she found it much easier to hand her cash over the counter for someone else to cook for her. Fast food chains have made it almost impossible to resist. It was only until this month where her kids started worrying about her because of her change in mood. Sarah never felt complete, she never felt content with where she was at because she knew what it was like to be able to be in the gym every day and have the time to put the chicken in the oven and create a dinner so delicious.


When I asked Sarah why she thought it changed her mood so much she said, “I just never felt like a successful mom. I see all these parents putting so much effort into their kids diet and life and I was just trying to get them moving everyday let alone worry about my own health.” She knew a change was the only way things would get better for her and her family.


When we got to the end of the interview and I asked her how she had made such improvements in her health and attitude she said, “I just didn’t let the expectations of the world get to me. I knew that I had to take it day-by-day and meal-by-meal because in the end, I was doing it for the wrong people and for the wrong reason. Once I realized that I started making strides.”


Sarah didn’t find ways to put more hours in the day though, so how did she do it? Sarah mentioned that for the first month, crockpot meals and meals that could cook throughout the day without real supervision or time were her best friend. Her kids could eat as they came home and as far as the gym Sarah could find the time to go while her kids did homework and ate dinner.


Like Sarah, multiple other single moms I interviewed had the same type lifestyles and answers. They were so stressed because of the world’s expectations of body types, health or family styles. When they started capitalizing on the time and combing things throughout the day, they were all able to find times to put their families’ health first.



The Tips

So, here are the following tips for single mom’s to have a healthy lifestyle for themselves and the family.

  1. Reject the world’s expectations, and design a plan around your style and ability.
  2. Capitalize on time by combining efforts and schedules.
  3. Maximize resources including getting the children involved in the lifestyle changes.
  4. Make it Fun.
  5. Most of all, don’t let the expectations of the world get to you.


Of course, I have gained a new respect for single moms. It’s one thing to be able to take care of your family, provide for them each day and then on top of that create a regimen to better their health every day. That’s something to write about.


Remember to check out all the resources on Fill Your Plate including our weekly blog and easy-to-do recipes for you and your family.



About Eric LeClair: My name is Eric LeClair and I am a senior at Arizona State University. I currently live in Southern California where I manage an AT&T while I finish my degree. I come from a large family of 10 where growing up I was very involved in sports and the health field. Since I was a kid I have wanted to help better people’s lives and knowing the feeling of being healthy gives you, I knew there was no better way to help someone. When I finish my degree I am moving to Washington State with my wife where I hope to work in a hospital and help patients who are recovering from a surgery, giving birth or any type of situation where they are looking to stay on a tight routine to get back to their healthy state. I love working with people and I love health. I look forward to learning and continuing my life in this amazing field.

Eric Photo

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We Need to Have a Heart to Heart about Dairy

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

Something has happened in the last 20 years, and fast-fading fad diets have become a societal norm. To get healthy or lose weight no one seems to think that eating healthy and exercising will do the trick. There’s a supplement for this, a nutritional shake for that, and a whole lot of people who don’t get results. The few who do get results are the most disciplined among us, and I commend them for that.


Supplements and shakes can’t, however, help your health if you are still eating unhealthy foods when no one is looking. Exercise plays a huge role in health too, and you can’t expect supplements to do all the work if you aren’t moving your body at least a little bit. The Mayo Clinic suggests that a well-rounded diet should eliminate the need for supplements except in special cases. These special cases are, but not limited to, people who are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, pregnant women, and people over the age of 50.

Let me tell you a secret: Yes, these fad diets and programs may work for some, but you are paying a pretty penny for something you could do yourself. The experts tell us that discipline, a diet change, and weekly exercise are all you need to get healthy and get in shape. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Like I was saying, nutrition is key to getting healthy. Do you remember learning about the food pyramid back in grade school? It’s now known as ‘My Plate’, and I still live by that to this day. Lots of people have replaced significant parts of it with expensive and unnecessary products, but you don’t have to.

Dairy Works

Guess what one of the healthiest parts of My Plate is? Dairy.

“Milk, cheese, and yogurt are more than calcium, they contain high-quality protein along with eight other essential nutrients that your body needs every day. This unique nutrient combination can help you meet your nutritional needs in a deliciously easy way!” Said Terri Verason, Director of Nutrition Education for the Dairy Council of Arizona.

Although it’s true that dairy is not the only place to get calcium, protein, and certain vitamins, it is one of the better (and tastier) places you can obtain them. Don’t believe the hype when you hear that dairy ‘doesn’t even contain that many nutrients’ because all dairy products DO in fact contain many nutrients that the human body needs.

The Arizona Milk Producers website states: “Dairy foods are an excellent source of several essential nutrients that work together to help protect bones, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein and vitamin D.”

So let’s talk calcium for a minute. Do humans need calcium? Yes. Does dairy milk have calcium? Yes! It seems like a no-brainer, then, that we should drink a glass of milk, or eat yogurt and cheese on a regular basis. Still, people are substituting other ‘milks’ in place of dairy milk and dairy products. There’s just one little thing… These other ‘milks’ don’t always match up to the nutritional quality of cow’s milk.

See where I’m going here? People argue that there are other foods out there that are high in calcium too, and they are not wrong. Dairy is just the easiest way to absorb calcium into your system. Also, the fruits and veggies out there that contain calcium don’t contain as much as dairy. Eight ounces of fresh, cooked broccoli only contain 60 milligrams of calcium. Compare that to eight ounces of skim, low-fat milk, which contain 300 milligrams of calcium. Eight ounces of kale contain 180 milligrams, and eight ounces of boiled soybeans contain 175 milligrams of calcium, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Why do People say ‘No’?

Some people choose not to consume dairy products because they believe dairy will hinder their ability to lose weight. This study says that weight loss is not only something that has to be worked hard for but genetics, too, play a large role in how our body weight fluctuates. A glass of milk was not what made us gain two pounds, but the pizza, French fries, and alcohol many of us eat regularly may have contributed to our weight increase. There are many low-fat or fat-free dairy options for those who are trying to shed weight or keep their weight down. Exercise and keeping a healthy diet free of fast food and unnecessary sugars will help with weight maintenance, as well.

According to the National Dairy Council, along with not being the cause of your weight gain, consuming dairy products can possibly reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and is associated with lowering blood pressure.

There are some people who don’t consume dairy products, not because they don’t want to, but because they are lactose intolerant. WebMD says when someone’s body isn’t tolerant of lactose, (natural sugar found in dairy) their body can’t digest it properly. Symptoms of this issue include gas, bloating, and stomach aches. Your small intestine makes an enzyme called ‘lactase’. Lactase is what breaks down lactose as it moves through your intestines. In people with lactose intolerance, their bodies don’t produce enough lactase, which in turn means that the lactose their body is trying to process cannot be broken down. People with an intolerance for lactose most often substitute dairy products with products like almond or soy milk, and lactose-free yogurt and cheese.

Whether or not you choose to eat dairy products is up to you. Just keep in mind that everything can be good in moderation, and dairy goods aren’t evil, as people make them out to be. Now go enjoy a tall glass of milk, a serving of yogurt, and some cheese on your sandwich. If you want to know more about how dairy affects your health, take a look at some of these great resources:

Fill Your Plate

Arizona Milk Producers

National Dairy Council

Choose My Plate by the USDA

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