Get Passionate about Pineapple!!

pineapple

Looking for delicious recipes using pineapple? Look no further! (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

When you think of pineapple, you probably think of somewhere tropical like Hawaii, not the dry desert climate of Arizona. But our climate is almost ideal for October’s sweet, juicy fruit of the month. The sunny color and summertime taste of pineapple can brighten even the bleakest fall day. To help you get as passionate about pineapple as we are at Fill Your Plate, here are some fun facts, helpful tips, and creative ways to use pineapple at every meal.

Historically Speaking

Pineapples are native to the Caribbean and South America.   When Christopher Columbus came to the New World in 1492-93, he experienced his first pineapple on one of the Caribbean Islands.   In colonial times, pineapples, like other exotic fruit, were seen as a luxury because of the time and expense required to import them from Central America.

The Sum of Its Parts

Although we think of a pineapple as a single fruit, it is actually created by the joining of many different fruitlets around a single core.   Pineapples provide a good source of vitamin C and are believed to help support your body’s immune system and help relieve inflammation. An average cup of pineapple has 75 calories.

Choosing and Caring for Your Pineapple

When picking a pineapple, avoid any that are bruised or visibly damaged. Once you find one that looks good, hold it up to your nose and breathe in, if it smells sour at all, choose a different one.   When you get it home, let it sit on the counter for one or two days to get the softest, juiciest result.

The best way to cut your pineapple is to start by slicing off the top and bottom with a sharp knife. Stand the pineapple up on the newly flat bottom and slice downward to remove the skin. Next, slice the fleshy fruit away from the core and discard the core. Cut the remaining fruit into chunks or slices.

How to Use It

Pineapple is great as a snack any time of day but it can also be a sweet addition to any meal. Here are some ways you can get more pineapple on your plate.

Breakfast

Salads

Main Dishes

Side Dishes

Desserts

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Cereal Flavored Milk, for the Kid in All of Us

flavored milk

Looking for a delicious way to drink milk? (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Do you remember watching Saturday morning cartoons as you slurped down the milk left in the bottom of your cereal bowl? Now you can skip the cereal and get right to enjoying that specially flavored milk thanks to the folks at Cow Wow.

This uniquely flavored milk seeks to bring the same smile to your face that slurping up that cereal milk did when you were a kid. But unlike the super sweet cereals that you used to use to make that special milk, the organic, single-serve boxes of deliciously flavored milk only have 6 additional grams of sugar. Like all milk, it contains essential vitamins and nutrients like calcium, protein, and potassium.   And, for families on the go, the self-stable milk, which is specially pasteurized so it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, can be the healthy beverage their kids need to stay on the go.

Although it was originally envisioned as a drink for kids, the folks at Cow Wow have come to understand what we have known all along – people of all ages love milk. In order to be even more appealing to the “man-child” market that seems to love their products, the original Cow Wow carton has been “upsized” and the juicebox-like straw has been replaced by a screw top.   Cow Wow currently comes in two flavors, Fruity Trudy and Chocolate Chip Cathy with two new flavors, Peanut Butter Bessie and Cinny Minny coming soon.

Here in Arizona, we know the importance of milk to a healthy diet. Cows currently provide 90% of the world’s milk supply and they are an important part of Arizona Agriculture. Our local dairy farmers add more than $400 million dollars to the state’s economy each year just from the milk their cows produce.   An average dairy cow is milked 305 days per year and produces about 121 glasses of milk. But Arizona cows average about 160 glasses per day which is 25% higher than the average in many other places.

What a cow eats impacts how much milk it produces, even here in Arizona. Cows that only eat grass produce about 50 glasses of milk a day. However, when cows are fed a mixed diet containing grass, corn, hay, and other feed, that average jumps up to 121.

Another thing that distinguishes Arizona dairy farms from most others in the country is their size. We have almost 200,000 milk-producing cows in Arizona with each of the 100 commercial dairy farms housing about 1500-2000 cows. In most other states, the average herd size is 100-150 cows.

Automation and new technology are an important part of modern dairies and these advances are one of the reasons our dairy farmers can keep such large herds. When farmers must milk a cow by hand, they can milk about 6 cows in an hour but with automated milking machines, 250-400 cows can be milked in the same amount of time.

You can learn more about Cow Wow cereal flavored milk from their website. For more information on the Arizona Dairy Industry, visit the Dairy Council of Arizona or the Arizona Farm Bureau.

 

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15 Fun Facts about Food

food facts

Look no further to find out about these fun facts about food (photo credit:BigStockPhoto.com)

Most of us eat every day with only nutrition or sustenance on the mind. We don’t often look at the foods in our fridge for the fun they contain. So, taking a break to look at the fun side of food, here are fifteen fun facts about your favorite foods.

  1. If you aren’t sure if that egg in the fridge is hard-boiled or raw, give it a spin. If it will spin, it is hardboiled. Raw or soft-boiled eggs won’t spin on its end.
  2. If you are looking for a protein-packed snack, pick something with avocado on it. Avocados have more protein than any other fruit.
  3. If you are struggling to stay awake in the morning, grab an apple instead of another cup of coffee. Apples are better than caffeine at helping you stay awake.
  4. If you are craving that morning coffee but don’t have any on hand, you can roast dandelion root and grind it up as a substitute.
  5. If you had enough patience to count the kernels on an ear of corn, you will always get a result that is an even number.
  6. If you laid out all the pizzas Americans eat in a single day side by side, it would cover 100 acres.
  7. If you need to separate out the cream from a bottle of whole milk, let it sit. Milk is heavier than cream and will move to the bottom as the cream rises to the top.
  8. If you have ever wondered how there can be canola oil when there is no such thing as a canola bean or seed, you aren’t alone. The term ‘canola’ was adopted as a replacement for the unappealingly named rapeseed oil when it was introduced as a healthy alternative to other types of oil.
  9. If you thought those purple carrots at the farmer’s market were a novelty, you might be surprised to learn that carrots were naturally purple until the Dutch monarchy bred carrots that grew orange to match the color of their house. Orange carrots were a symbol of prestige.
  10. If you plan on buying pumpkins to carve into jack o’lanterns or to decorate your porch this fall, you aren’t alone. Of all the pumpkins sold each year, only 1% is used as food.   The other 99% are solely for decoration.
  11. If you want to celebrate Thanksgiving like the Pilgrims did, set the table without forks. These early Americans didn’t use forks, only knives, spoons, and their hands.
  12. If you want to lose weight, breathe in the scent of green apples and bananas. Both scents have been shown to help you lose weight.
  13. If you have enjoyed some of the wonderfully nutritious Arizona spinach grown by our local farmers this year, you probably have Popeye to thank. When the comic strip rose to popularity in 1931, spinach consumption in this country increased significantly.
  14. If you are looking to boost your vitamin C intake, eat strawberries rather than oranges. Strawberries provide a higher dose of this valuable vitamin than oranges do.
  15. If you are looking for a way to get that green tomato to ripen faster, put it next to your bananas. Ripe bananas give of ethylene gas that helps the tomato ripen more quickly.

Check in with us weekly, if not daily, on Fill Your Plate to uncover future fun food facts including ones that tie into Arizona agriculture. The Fill Your Plate team is regularly exploring the latest food information.

 

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5 Simple Steps to Get Physical- and Get Healthy

physical exercise

Get physical and follow these tips for an active lifestyle (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

It is a sad truth of our times that most people do not get as much physical activity as we need to safeguard our health. As technology has improved, our lives have become easier. Daily life for most Americans is far less physically demanding than it was 50 or 100 years ago. As a result, we have increasingly become a more sedentary population. While the advances in technology that caused this shift have helped advance society as a whole, the decrease in physical activity has had dire consequences for the state of our health.

But there is something you can do to counteract this negative result. Simply commit to making physical activity a regular part of your day.

According to the USDA’s Choose My Plate campaign, choosing to be more physically active will improve your health for the short term and the long term. No matter how old you are, where you live, or what size you wear, you will benefit from increasing the amount of physical activity in your daily routine. And when it comes to physical activity, the more you do, the better you will feel.

To help you increase the amount of physical activity in your day, here are some tips on how making small changes can lead to a more active lifestyle.

  1. Go for Four a Day

There are four different kinds of activity that provide health benefits and if you try to do something every day in each of those four areas, you will increase your overall activity level. These areas are aerobic, muscle strengthening, bone strengthening, and balance/stretching.

  1. Pick Activities You Like

If you love going to the gym, great; but if you don’t, find some other activity that you like to do and do that instead. Research indicates that when you choose physical activities that you like, you are more likely to do them, even when that means making time for them in an already busy schedule.

  1. Think Small

One of the mistakes many people make is thinking that they need to carve out a large amount of time in order to work out. This way of thinking makes it really easy to go entire days without any increase in our activity level. But you can get big benefits from thinking small. Instead of trying to find an hour and a half to go to the gym, find three 10-20 minute blocks of time to go for a walk, do some simple strength training exercises, or to run through a couple of yoga poses.

  1. Mix It Up

Don’t get stuck in a rut by doing the same thing every day. Over time, doing the same thing day in and day out may get boring but it may also mean that you are only getting one or two of the types of activity mentioned above.

  1. Try This

  • Join or start a walking group at work or in your neighborhood.
  • Go for a family bike ride.
  • Walk around the track or the field while watching kids at sports practices.
  • Clean the house or rake the yard.
  • Stretch or do yoga poses while watching television.
  • Park in the parking space farthest from the door when you go to the office, the store, or anywhere.
  • Take dance lessons.

And, of course, if you are looking for healthy recipes to pair with your new physical activities, check out the selection of healthy recipes on Fill Your Plate.

 

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Ingredients that Matter When We Have a Snack Attack

snack attack

Find out how ingredients matter drink your snack attack (photo credit:BigStockPhoto.com)

People all around the world love to snack which is apparent when looking at the results of Nielsen’s Global Survey of Snacking.   This $374 billion industry just keeps growing and it isn’t the biggest snackers on the planet, Americans and Europeans, driving most of that growth. While the total year over year increase in money spent on snacks increased by 2% globally, it was the up and coming snackers in regions like Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle-East (9%, 5%, and 4% respectively) that helped fuel the increase.

When it comes to what kind of snacks we like, there are two main drivers, taste, which is obvious, and health considerations, which isn’t. In fact, the survey showed that these two are almost equal in importance and that when it comes to choosing the snack we want; we aren’t really interested in compromising.

Although many people might think of ‘sweets’ when they hear ‘snacks’, the savory snack category is actually growing faster than any other category. These are the snacks that we most often use to replace a regular meal which is one reason this category is growing so fast. Things like crackers, rice cakes, meat jerky, yogurt, and cheese are all experiencing the fastest-growth in almost every region.

This underscores one of the key findings of the survey – when it comes to snacking, consumers are focused on how those snacks can help or hurt their health. Traditional sweet snacks like cookies and confections still reign supreme when it comes to snack sales but as the focus shifts more and more to snacking healthy, it is the snacks that are seen as ‘healthy’ that are driving sales and growth.

When it comes to how we choose our healthy snacks or how we decide if a snack is healthy or not, ingredients matter. What our snacks contain or what they do not contain is one of the most important factors we consider when choosing a healthy snack.   When asked to rank 20 different attributes that are important when choosing a healthy snack almost half of those who participated in the survey put snacks with all natural ingredients at the top of the list.   We also want snacks that are high in fiber and protein and those that are made with whole grains.

What is not in our snacks is almost as important as what is when it comes to what we choose.   The demand for specialty snacks like those that do not contain caffeine or that are gluten-free are also seeing an increase in demand.   Demand for snacks that are low in sugar, salt, fat, carbohydrates, and calories is also increasing as the focus shifts from sugary sweet snacks to healthy snacks. Other key factors included the lack of artificial colors, genetically modified organisms, and artificial flavors.

The survey collected information from more than 30,000 consumers from more than 60 countries in their online campaign.   Participants were asked to provide information on which attributes affected their snack selections in categories like health, taste, and texture.   For more information about the survey, visit Nielsen’s website.

Fill Your Plate has a great mix of recipes including desserts that might satisfy that snack attack urge in you.

 

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