Grapes Make August Great

By Bailey Roden, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

August brings us “in season” grapes, and in season grapes bring us many great things! In honor of the amazing fruit being “in season” this month take a look at all these amazing articles about grapes:

Grapes are great and good for us! Be sure to grab some locally grown grapes at a farmer’s market near you! For some fun recipes for grapes check out the awesome recipe section on Fill Your Plate.

Posted in Ag Facts, Arizona, Arizona farmers and ranchers, Cooking, Diet Tips, Farmer's Markets, Fill Your Plate, Focus on Agriculture, Food, Fruit, Grocery, Health Tips, Healthy Eating, Produce | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Filling Your Plate With Beets

By Sarah LeVesque, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

Beta vulgaris!

Almost sounds like a spell in a whimsical film on sorcerers. But it won’t make beets appear on your plate. If it did, you’d be filling your plate with vital nutrients and fiber! It’s an intimidating vegetable in the produce section. If you get past its looks, beetroots can offer many health benefits. They’re high in inorganic nitrates, consist mostly of water, and have been studied for its impact on athletic stamina. If you’ve never cooked beets before and want to try them, don’t worry! Now in the grocery sections, they offer precooked beets. I usually grab a pack (about 4-5 beets) and add them to salads throughout the week.

My best advice to anyone who wants to try boiling beets at home is don’t skin them! Leaving the skin and an inch of the stem prevents bleeding, flavor loss, and keeps your fingers from turning beetroot red! When they’re done boiling, the skin comes off easier too.

Also, don’t throw out those greens! A cup of raw beet greens contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are types of carotenoid phytonutrients that keep our eyes healthy and our vision sharp throughout our lives.

Beets are packed with nutrients!

Beets are in season winter, summer, and fall. Just one cup of cooked beets is less than 60 calories. Vitamin A, C, D, E, and K are all found in beets. Beets also offer B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12. That’s a lot of B’s and an effortless way to remember what beets offer!

Beets are also very good sources of manganese, potassium, and copper. Manganese is an essential mineral. It plays a role in the digestion of cholesterols, carbohydrates, and proteins. It’s also involved in bone production. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps maintain blood pressure, nerve function, and muscle contraction. Copper is important for iron absorption and works with iron to form red blood cells. Copper and manganese are important cofactors for antioxidants also.

So adding beets to your plate will get you full and full of nutrients. 

As if these little beets couldn’t offer anymore, they are also host to good sources of fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6. Fiber helps keep blood sugar levels in check, lowers cholesterol levels, aids digestion, and can also help you stay fuller longer.  Magnesium is important because it’s involved in many reactions in our bodies. From creating new proteins from amino acids to helping repair DNA and RNA, magnesium is a helper molecule! Magnesium has also been studied as a booster in exercise performance, fighter against depression, and can help fight migraines.

Beets are excellent sources of folate. It’s an important B vitamin for women who are pregnant as it has been shown to reduce the risk of birth defects. It is also an important vitamin for cellular function and tissue growth.

Plant Compounds in Beets

Betanin is responsible for the color of beets. It’s been studied for its possible health benefits. It’s an exceptional antioxidant because of its electro donating abilities. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties.

Beets are high in inorganic nitrates. Nitrates have been in the spotlight for its health risks but studies have shown that the benefits do outweigh the risks when it comes to eating our vegetables. Research has shown that beets and beetroot juice actually help lower blood pressure. Nitrates are also being studied for its ability to enhance physical performance. Nitrates help our mitochondria be more efficient, helping us out during high intensity and endurance exercises.

Beetroots are power vegetables. They help lower blood pressure, can increase your exercise performance and are packed with nutrients that our bodies need. Even the beet greens are good for you! Beets are great on salads, as a soup, and as a juice. There is even makeup that uses the beetroot red color, which isn’t doubtful since it stains!

I bet it’s been a while since you’ve had them in your kitchen! Add some variety, try something new, and fill your plate with beets. They’re good for you!

Learn more about beets!

Most importantly our Arizona Farmers grow lots of these wonderful beets!

For awesome recipes for beets check out this Fill Your Plate recipe section! You can also locate where beets are locally sold in Arizona on the Fill Your Plate website!

Posted in Arizona farmers and ranchers, Cooking, Diet Tips, Farmer's Markets, Fill Your Plate, Focus on Agriculture, Food, Food Facts, Green Matters, Grocery, Health Tips, Healthy Eating, Produce | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BBQ is in the Air

By Bailey Roden, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

It’s August, the weather is beautiful and the time is perfect for a BBQ! Summer is a time where everyone gathers and enjoys the warm breeze while filling their stomach with arguably the greatest food in the world.

To ensure you have a fantastic barbeque check out these amazing articles on the Fill Your Plate blog:

These articles are jam-packed with amazing information that are sure to help your BBQ go perfectly!

For more fun articles check out the Fill Your Plate Blog! Or if you’re looking for some awesome recipes be sure to check out the recipe section on the Fill Your Plate website.

Posted in Arizona, Arizona Pork, Beef, Cooking, Fill Your Plate, Food, Grocery, Pork, Produce, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet Treats and Good Times

By Bailey Roden, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern,

I used to be the type of person that went to the same restaurant and ordered the same thing every time. It’s because I became comfortable in what I knew. However, this past year all of that changed! I love going to different places and ordering new things! I always feel my eyes getting big whenever I see the dessert menu! I have made a list of all the places that have caught my eyes and heart with their great tasting creations!

I hope that you get the opportunity to try some of these sweet treats!

For more fun and informative articles check out the Fill Your Plate blog! New articles are posted every week! Or if you’re looking to make your own sweet creations check out the Fill Your Plate recipe section.

Posted in Arizona, Cooking, Dairy, Fill Your Plate, Food, Food Facts, Fruit, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Watermelon Facts

By Arizona Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom 

It’s Summertime, the sun is out and the weather is great! The only thing that could make this summer-perfect is some refreshing watermelon.

  • A watermelon is a fruit and a vegetable. The outer rind of the watermelon is used as a vegetable-stir-fried, stewed and often pickled.
  • It is rare fruit that has both the characteristics of a fruit and a vegetable. Watermelon is called a fruit because it is grown from seed, contains seeds, and is sweet in taste. Its vegetable characteristics come with its family roots that align with the cucumber, pumpkin, and squash vegetables.
  • July is National Watermelon Month. This is also the month for peak watermelon harvest.
  • Watermelon is thought to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. The first watermelon harvest is said to have occurred 5,000 years ago in Egypt. Watermelon are often placed at the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife.
  • Early explorers used watermelon as canteens.
  • Watermelon is 92% water.
  • There are 200-300 different varieties of watermelon grown in the United States and Mexico. There are five types of watermelon: seeded, seedless, mini, yellow and orange.

 

  • Watermelon, by weight, is the most consumed melon in the U.S followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
  • The World’s heaviest watermelon was grown in 2013 in Tennessee and weighed 350.5 pounds.

  • The United States ranks 5th in watermelon production. Forty-four of the 50 states grow watermelon. Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona typically lead the country in production.
  • Seedless watermelon was developed over 50 years ago and they have few or no seeds. When we say seeds we are referring to black mature seeds. The white “seeds” you see are actually seed coats where a seed did not mature and are completely safe to eat.
  • Watermelon breeders discovered the crossing of a diploid plant (bearing the standard two sets of chromosomes) with a tetraploid plant (having four sets of chromosomes) results in a fruit the produces a triploid seed (3 sets of chromosomes). The triploid seed is what produces the seedless watermelon.
  • Seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid which is created by crossing make pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When the seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds.
  • No watermelon (seedless or otherwise) is the product of genetic engineering. Cross breeding (cross-pollination) is how seed breeders develop new varieties with specific traits.

 

  • How to pick a watermelon:
    • Look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon free from bruises, cuts or dents
    • Lift the watermelon up, it should be heavy for its size
    • The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun
  • 100% of the watermelon is edible, including the rind and the seeds.
  • A watermelon takes about 90 days from planting to harvest.
  • Once cut from the vine, a watermelon has 3-4 weeks of a shelf life.
  • If your watermelon came refrigerated to keep it refrigerated. If it came room temperature you can keep it at room temperature.
  • A watermelon’s stripes are indicators of variety, but with over 1,200 varieties grown in 96 countries worldwide, there are many, many variations. In fact, some watermelons don’t even have stripes.

 

Posted in Ag Facts, Ag in the Classroom, Arizona, Farm Facts, Farmer's Markets, Fill Your Plate, Focus on Agriculture, Food, Food Facts, Fruit, Fun Food Facts, Grocery, Healthy Eating, Produce, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment