Shakshuka

By Erika Guzman a recent ASU Nutrition student

Sometimes, there’s food that just inspires you to try something new. For me, it was Netflix’s Somebody Feed Phil. Phil visits different countries, taste the local food and cuisine; it’s my dream job! There was an episode that stuck with me most, though; he visits Israel and eats with his friends, locals, and learns about his ancestors and background.

There was a dish called shakshuka, a dish his friends admitted it’s not originally from Israel, but definitely made it a local staple in the kitchen. It was a large pan filled with beautiful tomatoes and sauce, herbs, and eggs with the runny yolk drizzled with olive oil as they scoop up the food with freshly baked bread. The chef was asked how he learned the dish, and I don’t want to spoil the story, but it definitely was one of the foods that shaped his life. Overall, it looked absolutely delicious, I wanted to try it myself!

Serves 4 to 6 or 2 very hungry students

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Harissa paste or cayenne pepper; add more if you enjoy spice
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup bell pepper, diced; red or yellow is highly recommended
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A sprig of parsley, chopped
  • Optional: feta cheese crumbles or other goat cheeses
  • 4 to 6 eggs, depending on the size of pan and crowd
  • Warm pita bread or toasted bread (french baguette, ciabatta, potato rolls, or anything nice and hearty)

 

Directions:

 

  1. In a large skillet, oil, and turn on burner to medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add the minced garlic and stir. Cook until fragrant.
  2. Add the harissa paste or cayenne pepper and stir until everything is coated. Add bell peppers and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Next, in the same skillet, add both crushed tomatoes and sauce, cumin and paprika, and stir. Lower the heat to low and allow to cook for about 10 to 12 minutes with a lid, stirring occasionally.
  4. This is the fun part! To add the eggs, it’s easiest to crack in a small bowl or ramekin and add to the dish instead of cracking directly into the pan; it avoids any shell mishaps!
  5. Make small divots in the sauce to cradle your egg. Usually, 4 to 6 eggs could fit in the pan. Make one divot at a time and pour your egg into the hole. Repeat until you have the desired amount of eggs.
  6. Cover the pan and cook. If you like your egg yolk a little runny, cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, and for a cooked yolk 7 to 10 minutes.
  7. Optional: Add the goat cheese crumbles into the dish and cover with lid; it will get slightly gooey! Once it’s melted, add the parsley flakes on top.
  8. Warm or toast your bread, serve, and enjoy!

 

You can add any type of vegetable you like. If you want it hearty, mushrooms and eggplant go well with this dish. For more meat, stewed beef is an accompaniment to the savory tomato and egg dish.

 

Check out the Fill Your Plate Blog for articles about healthy eating. Ever wonder what produce is in season? Check out the Arizona Produce in Season section.

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The Use of Food to Fight Cancer

By Alexandra Pettit, AZFB Communications Intern

For many, the word cancer doesn’t mean much until it touches your life, and when it does this simple word “cancer” changes your life forever. If there was something you could do to try to prevent it would you? The answer for most would be yes!  What if I told you that with the use of proper diet and exercise you could reduce your risk and your family’s risk of many types’ cancers. Would you be willing to give it a try?

The American Institute for Cancer Research has found “that excess body fat can increase the risk of twelve different types of cancers.” So, the question is, “What types of foods should I be eating, and what types of foods should I be steering clear of?”

Foods to avoid in Large Quantities:

  • Alcohols
  • Sugars
  • Fats

When looking at these foods realize that not all sugars and fats are bad.

Food to eat:

  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Fiber-rich foods (Whole grains and beans)
  • Spices with anti-inflammatory properties (Turmeric)
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Olive oil, Nuts, and Seeds

When eating vegetables think green, you want to be eating veggies and fruits with high nutrient and vitamin content. Fiber is also important to a healthy diet, and eating spices with anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce the production of cancer cells. These types of food open a wide variety of options for meals and snacks. These types of food groups are very similar to the Mediterranean diet, which Fill Your Plate has coved a lot in the last year.

Articles on the Med Diet: http://fillyourplate.org/blog/?s=Med+Diet

Is changing up your diet and exercise routine worth it to you? As someone who has been touched by the dangers and heartbreak of cancer, I am willing to make these simple changes to my life.

 

Editors Note: Changing diet and exercise does not guarantee the risk of cancer will be zero. However, studies have shown that it can lower your risk tremendously.

For more articles like this check out the Fill Your Plate Blog. Looking for some fresh produce? Check out our Farmer’s Market tab to find one near you.

 

References:

Obesity and cancer: https://www.aicr.org/learn-more-about-cancer/infographics/infographic-obesity-and-cancer.html

Foods that Fight Cancer: https://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/

Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316720.php

How dietary change might boost cancer therapy: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325939.php

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The Fast Diet: the What and How

By Alexandra Pettit, AZFB Communications Intern

Intermittent fasting is a new diet that appears to be all the rage but does it really work? I took a journey to find out and this is what I have come up with. Many have found success in this diet and others haven’t seen any change but the real question one should be asking is, “Is it good for your overall health and can it be a lifestyle”.

To give a little bit of background about intermittent fasting and what it is supposed to do for your body, I’ve leaned on Harvard School of Public Health. “Intermittent fasting is a diet regimen that cycles between brief periods of fasting, with either no food or significant calorie reduction and periods of unrestricted eating. It is promoted to change body composition through loss of fat mass and weight, and to improve markers of health that are associated with diseases such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.” (according to an article written by Harvard School of Public Health).

This seems, easy right? If you consider it a potential tool this can be extremely hard for some and it’s recommended that you start out slow with this diet. The typical fasting period is 16-hours of fasting and an 8-hour window of eating. This can be broken up into the hours that you choose. During the fasting period, you are able to drink water and teas. This will not break your fast during the 8-hour period. When you do break your fast you are to eat a diet of high-protein foods such as meat, poultry, and fish, and try to avoid most sugars. As well as this thing green with your vegetable intake and a lot of it. Green veggies offer many vitamins and nutrients such as iron that help replenish your body after the fasting period.

Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat but it also helps reduce insulin resistance reducing the risk for type-two diabetes according to Harvard School of Public Health.

Intermittent fasting can be helpful but it is also very restrictive and limited for certain people. If you have any major health problems you need to consult with your doctor first. You should also stay away from intermittent fasting if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have or have ever had an eating disorder, or use specific medications that require food intake. You should also stay away from this diet if you’re diabetic. If you are in an active growth stage or in early adolescents you should stay away from this method altogether.

Intermittent fasting is also showing some side effects that one might want to take into consideration before starting this diet. Studies show that this diet can cause or be linked to different eating disorders. One that has been noticed the most is “Orthorexia”. This is the obsession of healthy eating. Intermittent fasting has also shown to affect sleep, which can be extremely critical to your health. Lastly, fasting has also shown signs of an increased level of cortisol which can cause an increase in stress.

All in all, intermittent fasting can be beneficial but in the end, you need to listen to your body and what you think it needs. If you have any concerns, you should always consult your doctor and do the proper research. For me, because I love breakfast and other meals, I’ve concluded the “Fast Diet” isn’t for me.

Editor’s note: To ensure you make wise decisions consider a further study on this topic.

References

Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156

Harvard School of Public Health: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/intermittent-fasting/

Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/signs-intermittent-fasting-unsafe-unhealthy-2019-7

Ted Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6Dkt7zyImk

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Everything You Need to Know About the Mediterranean Diet

By Vanessa Evens a Recent ASU Nutrition Student

We’ve all heard about the Mediterranean Diet, and I don’t know about you, but when I first thought about the Med Diet I pictured hummus, so much hummus, and olives. The Med Diet is so much more than that though, and it even allows you to have some of your very favorite vices, like red wine!

 

What is the Med Diet?

Here’s the skinny on the Med Diet. It is a whole-food, plant-based diet, but here’s the kicker…that doesn’t mean vegan or even vegetarian! This diet isn’t about telling you what not to eat so much as it is about telling you what to eat more of so that you can be the healthiest version of yourself.

 

First things first, what countries are on the Mediterranean? There are 21 countries on the Mediterranean, but some of the major ones include Greece, Turkey, Italy, Morrocco, Spain, and Lebanon. When you think of the cuisines from these places do you think of vegetables, because I do! Sure enough, veggies are the basis of the Med Diet.

 

What is included in the Med Diet?

With the Med Diet, the basis of every meal is vegetables. A good rule of thumb is that vegetables should fill half of your plate. The Med Diet also includes whole grains (including whole grain breads), healthy fats, legumes, olive oil, nuts, fruits, lean protein, eggs, seafood, low fat dairy, and red wine! These are the things that you can eat every single day. Did I lose some of you when you realized that bacon and steak weren’t on that list? Well guess what, this diet doesn’t exclude those things it just encourages you to not overindulge. That means you can still enjoy your favorite red meats a couple times a month!

 

What are whole grains?

Whole grains are grains that are eaten in their original whole state. Things like wheat, oats, brown rice, barley, buckwheat, bulgar, farro, millet, polenta, and couscous among many others. This does not include white rice or breads made from white flour, as those are processed and refined.

 

What are healthy fats?

Healthy fats are fats that come from plants primarily. This includes olive oil, nuts, seeds, beans, avocados, and some fishes. These fats tend to be heart healthy fats.

 

What are lean proteins?

Lean proteins include beef, chicken, turkey, and seafood. These are the proteins you should be trying to eat daily. Any other meat that you like can be eaten too. This includes beef, pork, lamb, duck, etc.

 

What dairy products are allowed?

Greek yogurt is a great option, as well as feta, chevre, parmigiano-reggiano, and ricotta. Greek yogurt in its plain state is a very versatile food that can be used in breakfasts, dips, smoothies, and so much more.

 

What foods should be avoided?

This one is simple because there aren’t a lot. The Med Diet encourages you to avoid refined and added sugars, as well as processed meats, and refined grains and oils. You are encouraged to use olive oil instead of margarine. That’s it!

 

What are the health benefits of the Med Diet?

The research supporting the Med Diet is extensive. The Mayo Clinic says that research has shown that this diet reduces the LDL (the bad cholesterol) build up in arteries as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular caused mortality. The Med Diet has also been linked to reduced risks of certain cancers, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimers Disease. The Mediterranean Diet has also proven to have a positive impact on weight and BMI, meaning that it can help you lose weight!

 

Is it expensive?

No! This is my favorite part. Because the Med Diet is based so heavily on produce, you can pick items that are in season and save some money. Arizona has an amazing agricultural bounty and it is not difficult to find delicious produce that is in season right here where we are. It also allows you to get creative if you want to, and try all sorts of fruits and veggies.

 

Is the Mediterranean Diet an actual “diet?”

No! The Mediterranean Diet should be seen as more of a lifestyle versus a diet. Because the Med Diet focuses more on what things to include in your diet versus what to avoid, it does not feel restrictive like so many diets do. Some other key components to the Mediterranean Diet include lifestyle and family time. The Med Diet encourages physical activity as well as spending meal times with loved ones. It truly is a lifestyle change.

 

What is the first step?

I encourage you to make your first step just to eat more vegetables. Remember, your goal is to make half of your plate vegetables. Step two is to eat all of those vegetables before the rest of your food, that way you won’t fill up before you eat all of your yummy produce! Don’t be afraid to incorporate these diet changes slowly if you need to. It is about progress, not perfection.

 

References:

  1. Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy eating plan. (2019, January 26). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801
  2. Buettner, D. (2012). The Blue Zones: 9 lessons for living longer from the people whove lived the longest. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

 

Other articles on the Med Diet:

https://www.azfb.org/Article/The-Med-Diet-in-the-Desert

https://www.azfb.org/Article/We-Grow-the-Mediterranean-Diet-in-the-Desert

 

Looking for more articles to help boost your healthy living? Check out our Fill Your Plate Blog. Looking for some recipes that the whole family will enjoy? Check out the recipe section on our website.

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Cashew “Cheese” Sauce

By Morgan Bates a Recent ASU Nutrition Student

This recipe is incredibly easy to make and will give you a delicious and versatile sauce that you can make at a moment’s notice. It is an excellent source of protein and is full of heart-healthy fats from the cashews. It also packs a punch with vitamin B-12 from the nutritional yeast. Pour this over grilled vegetables, such as zucchini or asparagus, mix with cooked pasta for a rich macaroni and “cheese,” or add to tacos for a creamy, cheesy topping.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight)

½ cup nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon white miso (this ingredient is optional)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 cup almond milk or water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

Soak cashews in water for at least 6 hours (overnight is best). Drain and rinse cashews in fresh water. Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy. If the sauce is too thick, you can add more water 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches the consistency you are looking for.

 

Looking for some recipes to make to impress the whole family check out the recipe section. Check out our in season produce section, this helps keep food prices economical.

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