How Single Dads Incorporate Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits

By Eric LeClair, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student 


Part two in a series.


Read part ONE


Recently I had the opportunity to interview and write about the hardships and triumphs of multiple single moms who ran into the common problem of trying to balance their everyday life with kids and finding time to cook healthy meals as well as find time to make it to the gym. Through these struggles came many triumphs and in this series, I want to focus on how these different family types triumphed or overcame these obstacles.

This week I had the chance to sit down and interview multiple single dads. In this article, I want to talk about single dad Jonathan Kidd. Jonathan had three kids and worked 5 days a week. Jonathan has taken on the hard task of providing for three children through his tough journey of finding his health.


A common issue with most of the single dads I interviewed who have made a transition to better their health have said the same thing, “When I was married, I never felt the pressure of having to eat healthy every day or go to the gym because I knew there was two of us and my life was pretty good the way it was.” Where most of the men I interviewed ended up getting divorced, Jonathan’s life was a lot different. Jonathan used to be a fitness guru at Chico state, where he attended college. This is also where we met his late wife Amy. Jonathan dated Amy for two years before they got married. When interviewing Jonathan he talked about the huge changes that marriage made in his health. “I had heard about people gaining weight once they’re married because they become stagnant and don’t find the time to take care of themselves, I just never thought I would be that person. “ Things didn’t get better after Amy and Jonathan started having kids. Jonathan remembers that through the first two kids, they would eat out at least 60% percent of the week. After Amy had their third child, the family received horrible news. Amy had been diagnosed with cancer.


Two years later Amy lost the battle to cancer and Jonathan was forced into the single dad life. It was at this time Jonathan said, “I knew I was the sole provider. I knew that my health and my kid’s health were the most important things and my top priority. I was 80 pounds overweight when Amy passed and I knew I needed to make changes for me and my kids”. Jonathan knew he needed to make changes in his life to become a better role model for his children. Jonathan talked about his multiple triumphs in finding ways to make his and his children’s life more suitable for a healthier living. When asked the question, ‘what are some major changes you had to make to cut almost 40% of the fast food out of your family’s diet and how did you find time to make working out a priority?’, Jonathan’s answer was simple, “I just budgeted. I realized that as a single dad and only having one income to provide the family with, eating out wasn’t a choice anymore. When we had two incomes, eating out as much didn’t make a dent but as soon we lost Amy we realized finances started getting tight.” Finances were just one of many things that helped get Jonathan started on the path to a healthier life.


Jonathan found that meal prepping the day before helped tremendously. He would cook chicken enough for a week so that he could have his meals ready and take them on the go as needed. This also helped him learn how to cook multiple dishes with fewer recipes for his kids that also brought nutritional benefits. After three months of Jonathan finding his way as a single dad, he had reached a goal weight and found life to be bearable after the passing of his wife. Through time management, budgeting, and a wanting to better his life for himself and his three kids Jonathan overcame the unexpected life of a single dad and triumphed over the obstacles most single dads have to overcome.



Takeaways for Single Dads

  • Budget! The difference between one income and two incomes can become overwhelming very fast. Sit down with someone and budget to help transition life a little easier. Find out what is a necessity to have and what is a want.
  • Prioritize. Even if the other parent is still around, you have to prioritize and find ways to incorporate healthier eating and a healthier lifestyle for you and your children. By prioritizing you can budget your time better and capitalize on the small amount of extra time you have.
  • Meal prep. This is a proven time saver. Learn how to cook multiple meals with fewer ingredients, have a meal ready before and after your workout, and have meals ready for your kids for school and when they get home.
  • You’re not in this alone. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you are widowed, divorced, or have always been a single parent. Seek advice and see what has helped other single dads in your situation achieve their goals.


Jonathan’s story was just one of many single dads I talked to. Each one had a different take on life and found ways to achieve their goals. Men and women may be very different but when it comes to their health and their children, when put to a challenge they both always find ways to come through and triumph.


For more articles about helping your kids eat healthily, visit Fill Your Plate. Check out the recipe section for healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner inspiration!

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How to have a Parsnip Party in your Kitchen

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

I don’t think I know anyone who says their favorite thing to eat is a parsnip. I’ve only had parsnips once in my life, and although I thought they were tasty, I never thought to use them in my own cooking. Unless I am making a parsnip-based dish, the root veggie just seems like an unnecessary addition to whatever I’m making. But just because parsnips aren’t the most popular vegetable in the world doesn’t mean they are not useful in the kitchen!

If you are trying to watch your cholesterol, the parsnip is for you. There is no cholesterol in the sweet roots, and they contain only 75 calories per 100 grams. They also contain 17 milligrams of Vitamin C per 100 grams and 36 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams.

Parsnips also contain high levels of manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron.

If you are inclined to add parsnips to your next meal, let me give you some foodie inspiration. Here are some very popular parsnip dishes from all corners of the internet:

  1. Glazed Parsnips
  2. Oven-Roasted Parsnips
  3. Parsnip Puree
  4. Spicy Parsnip and Carrot Soup
  5. Parsnip Chips
  6. Herbed, Buttered Parsnips
  7. Parsnip Croquettes
  8. Smokey Cod and Parsnip Chowder
  9. Parsnip Salad
  10. Potato and Parsnip Gratin

Don’t be afraid to put something new on the menu this week. Remember: variety is the spice of life! Visit Fill Your Plate to find recipes you didn’t know existed, and to see what produce is currently in season.

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Your Home Brand of Nutrition

By Kevin Dietmeyer, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student


What’s your favorite brand?


Even if you’re a purist who avoids falling prey to the superficial trap that is ‘name brand’, you undoubtedly still have a brand you’re more inclined to purchase.  There is something in your closet, pantry, garage or drawer that is name brand.  It’s interesting that when something is untarnished and fresh out of the package it’s ‘brand’ new.  There’s nothing quite like having a product that is brand new, and there’s nothing quite like your favorite brand.

Your kids have favorite brands too! That’s why more than 80% of U.S. grocery products are branded1.  Brands create buzz and buzz creates culture and trends.  Celery will always be celery and, unfortunately, it’s hard to create buzz and a brand around celery.  As a parent, you’re up against a marketing machine built to push your kids in the direction of trendy processed foods and away from fresh ingredients.


Food marketing is effective and there are a few things you can learn from it that you can use in your own home to ‘market’, healthy and nutritious foods to your kids.


Create Buzz: Creating buzz is all about word of mouth.  A lot of it.  So, what’s for dinner?  Have a plan for the week and start a household conversation about what will be for dinner over the next seven days. It’s a great idea to post a 3-day or even 7-day dinner menu at home where everyone can see it.  This will start a conversation, and create anticipation for dinnertime.


Cultivate Consistency: Consistency is key and that’s especially true in when it comes to nutrition. If your nutrition is on for one week and off for the next, your health will reflect that. Your kids need to see fresh ingredients coming through the front door and landing on the table for dinner consistently. Part of what makes marketing so effective is that it’s relentless. Be relentless when it comes to eating right.  Choose a variety of fresh ingredients that have an expiration date on them and use them relentlessly.


Create a Trend: Trends are powerful because they appeal to the part of your brain that says, ‘Everyone else is doing it’.  We’re wired to gravitate in the direction of the majority and if you can create majority influence in your home, you’ll have something trendy.  Eating healthy is hard when you’re doing it all alone but if you can get everyone on board, it’s a breeze.  Get everyone involved from the selection of ingredients, to shopping, to preparation, and for goodness sake eat together.

For more information on getting your kids to eat healthy visit Fill Your Plate. Don’t forget to check out the recipe section for nutritious meal inspiration!



  1. Story M, French S. Food Advertising and Marketing Directed at Children and Adolescents in the US. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2004;1:3. doi:10.1186/1479-5868-1-3.
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Crazy About Carrots

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern 

Did you know that carrots are in season from October to May in Arizona? So why don’t I know more people who cook with them? In my opinion, carrots are underrated. We all know that they are good for us, but none of us really WANT to eat them. They get added to salads and soups but are never part of the main course.

With all the nutritional value in carrots, I think I’ll start using them more frequently in my cooking. They are full of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B8, iron, potassium, manganese, and fiber, making them a very nutritiously well-rounded veggie.

If you don’t find carrot’s orange color appealing, or your kids refuse to eat them, try purchasing them in different colors. At most grocery stores and farmers’ markets you can find carrots in an array of colors including purple, white, red, yellow, and of course, orange.

And, we especially love Rousseau Farming Company carrots. This Arizona farm family has been growing carrots and other produce since 1878. Their families have had their hands in Arizona soil since they first came to this state where they started in cattle, then expanded to cotton, hay and corn, and finally transitioned to vegetables. This family is best known for their carrots, however. You can find their carrots in the grocery store with their family’s brand name, Rousseau.

To get you started on your newly found love for carrots, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite carrot recipes:

Carrot Bread 

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Abby’s Yummy Veggie Pizza

Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot, Leek, and Turnip Sauté

Carrot Salad

Veggie Chili

If you want more recipes featuring carrots, check out the recipe section on Fill Your Plate.

If you liked this article…

The Wonderful World of Carrots 

Eat Your Carrots

50 Creative Ways to Use Carrots 

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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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