The Benefits of Protein

By Noor Nouaillati, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

Have you ever wondered what the benefits of protein are? Your organs, tissues, muscles, and hormones consist of protein.  Protein is the key to growing and developing properly. Protein is the key to maintaining and losing weight because protein helps boost your energy levels and helps stabilize your blood sugar levels. Protein makes your body feel full from all the nutrients it consists of.

I did some research online and came across the top protein foods that should be included in your diet.

The top protein foods are:

  • Beef: Contains the highest protein and supplies almost 50 percent of our recommended daily protein value. It has also been shown to reduce heart disease and improve blood sugar from the rich healthy fat it contains.
  • Bone Broth: It’s packed with amino acids and helps with detoxifying the body. It includes potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Whenever I get sick or feel like I am coming down with something, my mother makes soup consisting of bone broth and chopped vegetables. It tastes so delicious and it does wonders.
  • Salmon: It’s considered the healthiest seafood. It’s high in protein and contains omega 3 fatty acids. Salmon has been shown to benefit the human brain, bones, skin, and eyes.
  • Eggs: Having that hard-boiled egg in the morning will lead to a protein-packed breakfast. Eggs help boost heart health and help with weight loss. Hard-boiled eggs also serve as a source of biotin.
  • Almonds: Almonds are both delicious and healthy. Almonds bring the protein to the trail mix. With dried cranberries and chocolate chips, you can make a healthy protein-enhanced snack.

Protein is beneficial in many aspects. If you are trying to build muscle, it’s recommended to increase your protein intake. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, you should maintain a steady amount of protein intake. Protein is beneficial to the human body and plays a key role in the everyday diet.

For more informative blog articles check out the Fill Your Plate blog. New blogs are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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16 Arizona Dairy Facts You Need to Know

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Outreach Director


Our Arizona dairy milk is one of the freshest, most local products you can purchase daily. In my role with the Arizona Farm Bureau, I’m regularly asked how to “buy local.” I always say the best place is in the dairy case of your local grocery store. There, not only will you find branded local dairy product like Shamrock and Danzeisen Dairy, but the rest (though not specifically branded) is coming from our local dairies, minus about 3%.


That gallon of milk you pick up on a regular basis for your family is local, from our own Arizona dairy cows. That small 3% that might not be local is typically organic from out-of-state. Remember, local is more important to our economy than organic.


Finally, our dairy industry is currently our largest agricultural commodity in the state. Our state represents some of the most modern, state-of-the-art dairies in the country. The story of our dairy farmers, their families, and our cows is special. Read on and you’ll see why. In fact, we answer for you some of our most frequently asked questions about our Arizona dairy cows.



  1. How Big is Arizona’s Dairy Industry? Dairy rotates with beef at the top of our $23 Billion agriculture industry in Arizona. In 2018, Dairy beats out beef as the biggest agriculture commodity with $721 million in “cash receipts,” according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
  2. How many active Dairy Farms are in Arizona? Just under 100 family-owned commercial dairies.
  3. What’s the largest & smallest operation? Compared to the Midwest, even the smallest dairy is Arizona is large. Our largest dairies can run about 10,000 active milk cows. Our smallest dairy farm is 850 milking cows. In the Midwest, it’s not unusual for a dairy to have no more than 150 cows.


From the Farmer: Milk production

  1. How they raise their herd? With the latest nutritional and technological innovations in dairy cow management. Today’s dairy cows even have pedometers attached to each cow so farmers can track every step a cow takes. The data is uploaded every 15 minutes and a farmer, based on a cow’s activity, can determine exactly what’s happening with her. The data also allow them to predict problems.
  2. What breeds are best? The two most common breeds are the Holstein and Jersey in Arizona. Jersey cows have a higher fat content. Holstein is the most common breed and is known for its black-and-white spots.
  3. How old before they start producing? On average, dairy farmers usually aim for their heifers to become pregnant at around 15 months of age so that they give birth when they are around two years old. A cow must be in lactation in order to give milk, so a milking cow must give birth to a calf each year.
  4. How much can a cow produce in a day? It varies, but about 10 gallons a day. Another way to look at it: milk production per cow averages approximately 24,000 pounds per year, and she can be milked 305 days per year. This is approximately 75 pounds daily, which averaged 2000 pounds per month, or 465 ½ gallons per month. Ultimately, a healthy cow will produce 15,000 to 18,000 gallons of wonderful milk in a lifetime. A cows udder can hold 25 to 50 pounds of milk.
  5. How many years will a good cow produce? 5 to 7 years.
  6. How many gallons does that equal over the life of the cow? 15,000 to 18,000 gallons in her lifetime.
  7. What kind of feed do dairy cows require? I’ll leave that to a nutritionist. But in general, a typical cow needs 100 pounds of feed each day of a combination of hay, grain, silage and proteins, vitamins and minerals. Dairy farms contract with nutritionists to prescribe just the right diet. And, it’s different for every stage of a dairy cow’s life. They eat better than you and me. One dairy farmer told me every bite counts and that they “feed for health.” The outcome is amazing milk production.
    • The put this in understandable terms, a cow that eats only grass produces about 50 glasses of milk a day. A cow that eats grass, corn, and hay, mixed with nutrients like vitamins and minerals, can make about 121 glasses of milk a day.
  8. What is done with all the manure? Dairy farms are daily managing manure including cleaning their pens. They recycle the manure for compost and other purposes. Some even employ methane digesters that can produce methane gas to generate electricity.


From Cow to Cup of Milk – The path of the milk from the cow to the grocery store.

  1. The many steps begin with milking the cows and storing the milk in stainless steel storage containers that immediately chill the milk to 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Milk is collected from the farm every 24 hours in large tankers that keep the milk cold during transportation. At the processing, plant milk is pasteurized and homogenized before packaging to get ready for the grocery store.
  2. Where is the milk pasteurized and what does that mean? At a milk processing plant. In Arizona, one example is the United Dairymen of Arizona, a Co-op owned by the family dairies. At this facility, the milk is pasteurized and bottled. Pasteurization is the process in which packaged and non-packaged foods are treated with mild heat (<100 degrees Celsius) to eliminate pathogens and extend shelf-life. The process is intended to kill pathogenic bacteria and make food safe to eat.
  3. What’s the difference in whole, 2%, & skim milk? The amount of fat is the only difference between them. Half the calories in whole milk come from fat and one-third of the calories in 2 percent milk come from fat. Only 1 percent milk and skim milk are truly low-fat milks.
  4. How is the expiration date calculated and how long after the expiration date is milk still ‘good’ for? If you can store your milk for about five days after the sell-by date, subtract the current date from the sell-by date, add five, and you have the number of days your milk will be good for. For example, if I buy milk today that has a sell-by date of Aug 27, it will be good for 15 days, or a little over two weeks. Of course, the nose test works too.
  5. What brands to look for to know you are supporting local dairy farms? 97% of the milk sold in our Arizona grocery stores comes from our family dairies. We have our well-known family local brands such as Danzeisen Dairy and Shamrock Dairy. But that gallon of whole milk you just bought this week also came from a local dairy, it just doesn’t have the farm dairy brand slapped on the side of the package.

For more fun and interesting articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog. New articles are posted weekly. Or if you’re looking for some wonderful dairy related recipes, check out the Fill Your Plate Recipe section.


Sources: Arizona Farm Bureau, United Dairymen of Arizona, Arizona Milk Producers and Arizona’s dairy farmers.

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My 1 Week Ketogenic Meal Plan

By recent ASU nutrition student Alysia Nelson

Part of an ongoing series of articles on the Ketogenic Diet


As a Nutrition Student at Arizona State University, I recognize how important a diet is for overall health and wellness. I typically eat a well-balanced diet including organic grass-fed meats, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. I also live a very active lifestyle working, running around with my two dogs, and exercising at least 4-6 times per week. On my previous 1,300 calorie/day meal plan, there was something that I always felt was lacking. Now I know the difference between hunger and appetite, and I knew that I wasn’t satisfied with my food and still felt like I wanted to keep eating. This put me in a vicious cycle of guilt anytime I consumed anything that wasn’t “healthy” even when it was the occasional treat. Upon many hours of research on the ketogenic diet, I decided to try it to share my personal experience with you. Here is what I decided on, a meal plan that was perfect for me. This is the start to my keto journey.

Starting BMI: Normal (20.7)

Starting Weight: 145

Calories/ day: 1,490

Activity Level: Active (gym 5-6 days per week)

Macronutrient Goals: Net Carbohydrates (19g or 5%), Protein (75g or 20%), Fat (124g or 75%)

Beverages consumed during the week duration: At least 1 gallon of water per day.


Breakfast ·         2 cage-free eggs cooked

·         .5 medium avocado

·         2 slices uncured bacon

·         1 tsp ground flaxseed

·         Salt & pepper to taste


495 calories

Snack ·         Whole milk String-cheese

·         4 slices uncured salami

·         .5oz macadamia nuts

302 calories

Lunch ·         1 cup romaine lettuce

·         1 cup spinach

·         .5 tbsp block shredded feta cheese

·         1tbsp sliced almonds

·         1 tbsp oil & vinegar

166 calories

Dinner ·         1 chicken thigh with skin

·         .5cup keto cauliflower mash

·         1tbsp sweet cream butter

·         Salt & pepper to taste

488 calories


Total Calories: 1452 of 1490 goal

Macronutrient Content:

Fat: 122g (77% of 75% goal)

Protein: 63g (18% of 20% goal)

Carbohydrates: 20g (5% of 5% goal)


Breakfast ·         2 eggs cooked

·         .5tbsp unsalted butter

·         2 slices uncured bacon

·         .5 med avocado

413 calories

Snack ·         1 oz homemade keto granola

·         1 Whole milk string cheese

203 calories

Lunch ·         2 servings homemade Keto fathead pepperoni pizza

412 calories

Dinner ·         4 oz ribeye

·         1 cup kale

·         1 tbsp sliced almonds

·         .5 tbsp virgin olive oil

454 calories

Total Calories: 1482 of 1490 goal

Macronutrient Content:

Fat: 155g (76% of 75% goal)

Protein: 83g (18% of 20% goal)

Carbohydrates: 25g (6% of 5% goal)


Breakfast ·         Keto omelet (eggs, spinach, feta cheese, tomatoes, flaxseeds, green bell pepper)

·         2 tbsp unsalted butter

·         Salt & pepper to taste

434 calories

Snacks None eaten
Lunch ·         4 Keto Meatballs

·         1 oz salted macadamia nuts

·         .5oz cream cheese

681 calories

Dinner ·         1 boneless chicken breast

·         2tbsp block shredded cheddar cheese

·         1tbsp sour cream

·         .5 medium avocado

·         Salt & pepper to taste

338 calories

Total Calories: 1453 of 1490 goal

Macronutrient Content:

Fat: 111g (70% of 75% goal)

Protein: 85g (23% of 20% goal)

Carbohydrates: 13g (5% of 5% goal)


Breakfast ·         3 homemade keto cream cheese pancakes

320 calories

Snack None eaten
Lunch ·         4 slices uncured salami

·         8 slices uncured pepperoni

·         1 oz block cheddar cheese

·         1tbsp pumpkin seeds

·         1 tbsp sliced almonds

382 calories

Dinner ·         1 chicken thigh

·         1.5 tbsp salted butter

·         1 cup steamed broccoli

·         2 homemade keto rolls

Total Calories: 1442 of 1490 goal

Macronutrient Content:

Fat: 119g (77% of 75% goal)

Protein: 64g (19% of 20% goal)

Carbohydrates: 15g (4% of 5% goal)


Breakfast ·         3 cage-free hard-boiled eggs

·         Salt & pepper to taste

·         1 oz arugula

·         1 tbsp coconut oil

·         2 slices uncured bacon

581 calories

Snack ·         1 oz almonds

·         1 whole milk string cheese

265 calories

Lunch Not eaten
Dinner ·         Homemade “protein style” burger (beef, sliced cheddar cheese, lettuce)

·         Homemade “spread”

520 calories

Total Calories: 1366 of 1490 goal

Macronutrient Content:

Fat: 113g (74% of 75% goal)

Protein: 69g (20% of 20% goal)

Carbohydrates: 20g (6% of 5% goal)


Breakfast ·         Keto eggs benedict (2 cage-free eggs, homemade hollandaise sauce)

·         2 slices uncured bacon

·         .5 med avocado

694 calories

Snack None Eaten
Lunch ·         2 slices keto cloud bread

·         2 oz natural slow roasted turkey breast

·         1 cup spinach

·         1tbsp homemade keto pesto

·         1 slice pepper jack

·         30g sunflower seeds

486 calories

Dinner ·         4oz, grain-free, boneless chicken breast

·         1 cup steamed cauliflower “rice”

·         .2c homemade keto garlic sauce

Total Calories: 1443 of 1490 goal

Macronutrient Content:

Fat: 116g (71% of 75% goal)

Protein: 80g (22% of 20% goal)

Carbohydrates: 24g (7% of 5% goal)


Breakfast ·         2 cage-free eggs

·         .5 medium avocado

·         1tbsp salted butter


357 calories

Snack None eaten
Lunch ·         Homemade keto “grilled cheese”

803 calories

Dinner ·         4 oz ground turkey

·         1 cup spring mix

·         1tbsp olive oil & vinegar

·         1tbsp sliced almonds

·         .5tbsp salted butter

291 calories

Total Calories: 1451 of 1490 goal

Macronutrient Content:

Fat: 120g (74% of 75% goal)

Protein: 64g (18% of 20% goal)

Carbohydrates: 29g (8% of 5% goal)


After 1 week of following a ketogenic diet, combined with working out, I felt a significant change in energy and mood. I experienced all the symptoms of the “keto flu” and initiated supplementation of magnesium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. After balancing my electrolytes, I felt better than I ever had! I also noticed a 10-pound weight loss, however, I noted this to be water weight. I was able to get into ketosis after the first 3 days and had moderate present ketones using urine ketone testing strips. Please note that all results for carbohydrates were total carbohydrates and not net carbohydrates (total carbs-fiber). I calculated these separately and never once went above 20g of net carbs creating an optimal ketosis response. I also felt fuller and satisfied on this diet than I have previously felt following a balanced diet.


While a ketogenic diet can be great for weight loss, it’s a diet that must be researched and understood properly. I suggest anyone wanting to try this diet to consult with their doctor prior and utilize tools, such as myfitness app, to help track macronutrients and micronutrients. For ketogenic recipes, checkout Ketokitchen.


Editor’s Note: Fill Your Plate neither endorses or supports this type of diet, but encourages readers to always consult with your doctor regarding special diets. This series shares one nutrition student’s experiences with the diet.

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Understanding Keto Myths Versus Facts

By recent ASU nutrition student Alysia Nelson

Part of an ongoing series of articles on the Ketogenic Diet


Myth: Eating more fat will make you fat. An excess in fat consumption paired with a high amount of carbohydrate intake creates an excess of calories leading to weight gain. However, this new fat is not because of the fat you are consuming. Studies have consistently shown that a diet higher in fat and lower in carbs lead to more weight loss due to fat’s sating properties.1 Fat has more calories per gram than the other macronutrients such as protein and carbs which leads to decreased hunger.1

Myth: A diet high in saturated fat promotes high cholesterol. A low-carb, high-fat diet increases HDL (“good cholesterol”). This leads to lower blood pressure and decreases LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels.1

Myth: Eating eggs cause heart disease. It has been said that a diet with too many eggs leads to an increased risk of heart disease due to the amount of cholesterol in eggs. Despite eggs being high in cholesterol their properties help promote HDL (“good cholesterol”) levels.1 Eggs are the perfect food for a ketogenic diet because they are an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, choline, and antioxidants.1

Myth: A diet high in meat is bad for your health. Anyone stumbling into the ketogenic diet quickly realizes that red meat is an excellent source of fat and protein. However, some are nervous about the correlation between processed meats and diseases. Numerous studies have concluded that unprocessed red meat itself has no connections with diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, or type II diabetes.1 Red meat has been deemed nutritious because it is full of vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats.1

1 Top 13 Nutrition Lies That Made the World Sick and Fat. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2018, from

Editor’s Note: Fill Your Plate neither endorses or supports this type of diet, but encourages readers to always consult with your doctor regarding special diets. This series shares one nutrition student’s experiences with the diet.

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Ketogenic Diet: Do’s and Don’ts from a Nutrition Students attempt

By recent ASU nutrition student Alysia Nelson

Part of an ongoing series of articles on the Ketogenic Diet



  • Drink at least a gallon of water a day. Because the ketogenic acts as a diuretic, the amount of urine excreted causes you to become dehydrated. In order to combat dehydration, the recommended amount is increased while on this diet.
  • Take supplements to balance electrolytes. Due to the frequent trips to the bathroom, electrolytes are excreted at a much quicker rate. I recommend taking supplements such as magnesium and potassium to help replenish electrolyte levels. Sodium can be obtained through your diet so increase the amount of salt you put on your food.
  • Meal prep before initial diet change. There is nothing worse than entering a diet to feel tired, hungry, and sad at what foods you now are missing. I recommend making a trip to the grocery store with your keto approved food list and then meal prepping a weeks’ worth of food before starting this diet.
  • Gradually decrease carbohydrate intake. Any reduction in carbohydrates is going to be a shock to your body because now it will have to resort to plan b for energy. You won’t go into ketosis until you deplete your glycogen storage, but you shouldn’t cut out all carbs at once. Follow recommended carbohydrate intake based on your goals.
  • Purchase ketone testing strips. There are classic signs that you are entering ketoses such as brain fog, bad breath, headaches, muscle cramps, and exhaustion. The only way to truly tell that you have fully entered ketosis is to measure the number of ketones present in your body. You can achieve this by buying ketone urine testing strips. The chart on the bottle helps distinguish how successful your new lifestyle change has been as well as making sure you don’t have too many ketones present.
  • Track macronutrients. Many keto dieters don’t believe you need to track calories to be successful. The reason for this is because fat will keep you full for longer periods of time ultimately limiting your caloric intake. I recommend tracking your basic macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbs) to stay within your goals. Once you start to see what a successful day looks like, you will be able to distinguish what foods are and aren’t working.
  • Eat when you are hungry. The best thing about the ketogenic diet is the fullness effects fat has. However, if you are physically hungry you shouldn’t keep yourself from eating. Find a guilt-free snack that fits your goals.
  • Your research. An improper ketogenic diet can lead to weight gain or serious health consequences. Make sure you do your research to stay on track and stay successful. I recommend using tools such as the keto diet calculator to calculate personal goals, Myfitnesspal app to track food, and ketogenic recipes provided on the internet.
  • Keep a moderate workout routine. A ketogenic diet can reduce the amount of muscle mass which can lead to atrophy (breakdown of muscle tissue). By working out you are improving overall health while keeping your muscles active and strong.
  • Buy quality meat. A ketogenic diet is typically high in dairy, meat, and animal product and the goal is to keep your food as natural and unprocessed as possible.


  • Carb cycle until you are fat adapted. I go to the gym 5-6 times per week and was worried about the amount of muscle I initially started to lose during my first month of ketosis. After many hours of research, I decided I wanted to carb cycle to feed my growing muscles. I didn’t realize how hard it would physically be to get back into ketosis. It took me 4 days to be back into ketosis while going through all the symptoms of the keto flu. After a strict keto diet for the following two months, I decided to try carb cycling again. I successfully went back into ketosis 2 days after without experiencing keto flu symptoms.
  • Eat just because you think you are supposed to. I was so accustomed to eating a lot throughout the day (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and then dinner). When it came to starting my ketogenic diet, I thought I had to follow this same pattern despite the fact I wasn’t hungry. Eat when you are hungry and don’t eat when you are not hungry.

Editor’s Note: Fill Your Plate neither endorses or supports this type of diet, but encourages readers to always consult with your doctor regarding special diets. This series shares one nutrition student’s experiences with the diet.

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