Let’s Talk about Skipping Breakfast

By Nathan Chambers, Former Arizona State University Nutrition Student 

Personally, I do not understand how people can skip breakfast; I’m starving if I don’t eat by 8! But I know that a huge portion of the population does skip the first meal of the day. For some, a cup of coffee is all they have for breakfast, and as a nation, we wonder why we feel fatigued!

First, let’s take a look at energy. There is only one way the human body gets energy, and that is from food. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the only sources of energy. Coffee does not provide energy. The effect of caffeine is to make you feel more energetic because it speeds up your metabolic rate. (I’m not knocking coffee– I love coffee– but I also love breakfast!)


The measure of energy is calories.


  • 1 gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories of energy
  • 1 gram of protein provides 4 calories of energy
  • 1 gram of fat provides 9 calories of energy


If you skip breakfast, you may end up feeling sluggish throughout the day. Also, you may wind up overeating, later on, to make up for those lost calories.


So what does skipping breakfast do to our children?




I don’t know what type of job you have, buy maybe you can get away with going into a semi-catatonic state, not unlike the zombies of the Walking Dead. Maybe you can get away with it because your boss is in that same state!

But first thing in the morning, our children start school, and glucose (sugar) is the fuel of the brain. In children, 50% of the energy needs of the day are coming from the brain1. As well, children have a lower liver mass than adults, and it is in the liver that glucose is stored (in the form of glycogen); at night, while our children are sleeping, they are using their stored energy to heal and grow their bodies1. With all of their reserved energy used up at night, and their brain requiring SO much energy to function at school, it is no wonder that research has shown a positive correlation between children eating breakfast and attentiveness in school1.

Overall, children who eat breakfast score better on attentiveness, and memory tests, especially later in the morning but still before lunch1.




We all know that calcium is important for the growth and maintenance of strong bones. We also know that this is especially important for children, whose skeletons grow immensely from the time they are born to the time they are full-fledged adults. Calcium intake also affects risk for hypertension, some colon cancers, and of course, osteoporosis.

Milk and dairy products are the most often found source of calcium in today’s diet, especially for children. These products are included in 95% of the breakfast diets of children who actually eat breakfast2. With over 70% of children not meeting their daily calcium goal, breakfast suddenly becomes of huge importance2. It has also been noted that children who eat these types of products at breakfast are more likely to partake in them at later times of the day as well2.

As well, people who eat breakfast tend to have a higher intake of Vitamin C, fiber, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals4.



The rate of childhood obesity in our country, indeed across the entire globe, has, and continues to grow. While there are many factors which contribute to obesity, appetite regulation, and parental obesity to name a few3, skipping breakfast is also a predictor of childhood obesity.

One study, which assessed over ten thousand children between the ages of 9-18 showed a significant correlation between children who skipped breakfast and obesity4. Those children who skipped breakfast also tended to make poorer eating decisions throughout the rest of the day4. This could be partially attributed to unhealthy snacking to ‘get by’ until lunch time or less nutritional education.


Just as important as eating breakfast, is eating a healthy breakfast.

Here is a recipe that my daughter loves:


½ Cup oatmeal

Milk or Almond milk (to desired consistency)

Half a scoop of  protein powder

A small handful of walnuts

A bigger handful of blueberries

A dash of flax for kicks


This is a great breakfast! It includes some healthy fats, a good dose of fiber and protein, and the vitamin and antioxidant power of blueberries.


A note on oatmeal: Don’t buy the prepackaged stuff. This is super high in sugar. If you need to sweeten your oatmeal, use a bit of honey instead (I like raw honey, but there are many different options!)


Here is one that I really enjoy:


½-1 Cup low-fat greek yogurt

A handful of blueberries

A handful of sliced strawberries

¼ cup of a healthy granola (be careful here, most packaged granolas are super high in sugar)


And one more:


Pre-cooked, chilled quinoa (½- 1 cup)

A splash of milk or almond milk

A Half-handful of walnuts (Or whatever kind of nut you prefer)

A handful of blackberries (Or raspberries)



These are fairly light breakfasts, but I tend to eat breakfast twice a day (if one is good, two must be better right?!). Feel free to throw in an egg, a piece of fruit, or whole grain toast to round these out into a full meal.


Even just starting out with a whole grain-type breakfast cereal is a great start, and much better than nothing!


Your children’s success in school starts at home… Just like you help them with their homework, help them with their diet. It’s important!



(1) Hoyland, A., Dye, L., & Lawton, C. L. (2009). A systematic review of the effect of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents. Nutrition Research Reviews, 22(2), 220-243. doi:10.1017/S0954422409990175


(2) Ortega, R. M., Requejo, A. M., López-Sobaler, A. M., Andrés, P., Quintas, M. E., Navia, B., . . . Rivas, T. (1998). The importance of breakfast in meeting daily recommended calcium intake in a group of schoolchildren. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 17(1), 19.


(3) Cole, T. J. (2007). Early causes of child obesity and implications for prevention. Acta Pædiatrica, 96(454), 2-4. doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2007.00162.x


(4) So, H. K., Nelson, E. A. S., Li, A. M., Guldan, G. S., Yin, J., Ng, P. C., & Sung, R. Y. T. (2011). Breakfast frequency inversely associated with BMI and body fatness in hong kong chinese children aged 9–18 years. British Journal of Nutrition, 106(5), 742-751. doi:10.1017/S0007114511000754




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National Dishes from Across the World

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

Let me ask you a question: What is your favorite type of food? I like Asian food as well as Mexican food, but there are hundreds of other types of food out there that I still need to taste. If you’re originally from another country, you might be partial to that country’s cuisine. You might also like the dishes from countries that surround where you grew up. That seems to be the case for me, anyway. Now let me ask you another question: Have you ever tasted food from countries far away from yours? And I mean authentic food from other countries, not from a chain restaurant that you can find on every street corner.

Truth is, although a lot of us don’t consider ourselves ‘picky’ we tend to be picky when it comes to foreign food. When was the last time you craved a hamburger? Probably recently. I had one for lunch just a few days ago! When was the last time you craved Egyptian food? Probably never. I don’t know if I’ve ever tried Egyptian food, to be honest.


For me, it’s not that I don’t want to try other foods, it’s that they aren’t as accessible as a burger. For my family, though, it is a matter of thinking they aren’t going to like it. They know they like burgers and fries because that is what they have had easy access to their whole lives. Food from other countries, on the other hand, isn’t in their food-related comfort zone.

If you’re like me and haven’t had access to diverse food choices, I ask you to do this: Try cooking it for yourself. You don’t need to go out of your way to find a restaurant that serves what you want to try. If there is a local business that does serve food you have wanted to sample, absolutely visit them. If you can’t find a place or love to cook, I have compiled some delicious recipes from across the world for you to try. Now you can take a food trip around the globe without even leaving your house!

Algeria: Couscous

Argentina: Empanadas

The Bahamas: Cracked Conch

Belgium: Moules Frites

Bhutan: Ema Datshi

Brazil: Feijoada

Canada: Poutine

China: Peking Duck

Colombia: Bandeja Paisa

Croatia: Zagorski Strukli

Cuba: Black Beans & Rice

Denmark: Smorrebrod

Egypt: Ful Medames

England: Fish & Chips

Ethiopia: Beef Stew (Wat)

Finland: Karelian Pasties

France: Pot-au-feu

Georgia: Khachapuri

Germany: Sauerbraten

Greece: Moussaka

Guatemala: Fiambre

Guyana: Pepperpot

Hungary: Goulash

India: Curry

Indonesia: Nasi Goreng  

 Iran: Chelo Kebab

Ireland: Irish Stew

Israel: Falafel

Italy: Risotto

Jamaica: Jerk Chicken  

Japan: Sushi

Lithuania: Cepelinai

Malta: Pastizzi

Mexico: Pozole

Morocco: Tagine/Tajine 

Nicaragua: Gallo Pinto

Pakistan: Pilaf

Philippines: Adobo

Poland: Pierogis

Portugal: Caldo Verde    

Russia: Borscht

Singapore: Chili Crab 

Spain: Paella

Sweden: Kottbullar

Switzerland: Fondue 

Taiwan: Beef Noodle Soup 

Thailand: Pad Thai

Turkey: Kebabs

United States: Burgers

Venezuela: Pabellon Criollo  

Vietnam: Pho

Yemen: Saltah

There are enough recipes here that you could make one a week for an entire year, so you better get started! If we missed one of your favorite recipes send us a message or leave a comment, we’d love to create another list soon. If you try any of these recipes, leave a comment as well and tell us how it went. For more recipes visit the Fill Your Plate website.


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What is Exergaming?

By Michael Russell, recent Arizona State University Nutrition Communications Student

As important as a great nutritional foundation is for our children just as equally important is their ability to get exercise.  We have seen a spike in child obesity and there is no doubt that the combination of a poor diet and lack of exercise are the contributing factors at play.  What seems to be a difficult task these days is pulling our children away from any type of screen, be it computer or television.  As children become more adapt to technology there comes a great merge of exercise and gaming called exergaming.


What is Exergaming:


Exergaming or Active video gaming is a relatively new technology that combines physical activity and video game play.  It requires the participant to get up from the couch and move around in order to interact with the video game.  The physical activity can range from simple hand and finger movements to a full blown out run.  It gets the participant involved in the video game which allows them to ignore that they are working out.


Benefits of Exergaming:


  • An increase in moderate aerobic exercise. Research is still underway and in the infant stages but the American Heart Association published a report entitled “The Power of Play: Innovations in Getting Active Summit” to which exergaming was tested and showed that people are more likely to move from sedentary levels up to moderate levels of activity.
  • A more wellrounded individual. Research has shown that people, especially females and the elderly when involved in exergaming they tend to stick to their exercise program.  Exergaming research also shows that this type of gaming can help an individual in psychosocial areas by helping to form strong bonds with others, become more group social, have higher self-esteem, and mutual support.
  • Scholastic impact. Although the research is still underway it has shown so far that classroom that integrates exergaming with scholastics a positive correlation between academic performance, absences, tardiness, and negative classroom behavior.  Again, exergaming research is new to the relationship of academics but plenty of research shows that increased physical activity levels directly relates to better-standardized exams scores.
  • Physical and mental therapy. Exergaming is being used in the treatment of patients that suffered from a stroke and Parkinson’s disease as well as patients with metal and development disorders.
  • It is fun. Most children claim that having fun is the most important thing they do and most adults tend to leave an exercise program because of boredom.  When tested amongst both children and adults they forgot they were exercising and focused on the video game aspect of the experience.


By the numbers:


Exergaming provides a ton of choice as far as the type of game you can play from golf to boxing, the choice is yours but I want to provide you some numbers as to the calories burned during exergaming play.


  • After one minute of play you can burn 3 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 93.
  • After one minute of play you can burn 4 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 117.
  • After one minute of play you can burn 4.5 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 135.
  • After one minute of play you can burn 5 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 159.
  • After one minute of play you can burn 5 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 159.
  • After one minute of play you can burn 7 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 216.


Where can you find exergaming:


Exergaming started as a push for the teen population visiting arcades to spend their money there but as the technology advanced so did the ability to find exergaming anywhere.  Other than arcades, which I believe had died off these days, you can find exergaming anywhere:


  • Community Facilities. Organizations like the YMCA or JCC are great places to find exergaming comminutes.  This is a great option for people of lower socio-economic classes as they may not be able to afford the technology on their own.  Research into a 4-week interactive video game program in children from lower end socio-economic areas showed improvements in cardiovascular endurance and academic performance.
  • Mobile Facilities. There are businesses, such as Exergame Fitness, that can provide you with a mobile exergaming experience.  They have the ability to supply you with a private mobile facility that can be brought to you at your home or social event, such as a birthday party, to experience exergaming in person.
  • At home. The video game counsel has been around, at least in my house, since the early eighties and as I have grown so has the technology.  We can now buy video game systems that integrate exergaming technology with our home video game counsels.  The major players for at home exergaming are:
    • Kinect for Xbox 360 or Xbox One
    • Playstation Move
    • Nintendo Wii Fit



Is exergaming for you?


Research has shown that exergaming is not just for children these days.  Young adults are immersed in a video game experience that takes them from the couch straight into their favorite video game.  The elderly has gone from being sedentary to forming strong bones and healthier hearts with the increased level of physical activity.


I can tell you from experience that these types of games are both thrilling and beneficial.  I used a boxing exergame to drop weight for my wedding.  I was able to set the pace at which I worked out at and never felt intimidated or self-conscious as I have felt before at a gym.   I was at a family party where I was laughing and joking with a family member I hadn’t seen in years because we all decided to play a bowling game together.


As I mentioned earlier a great nutritional foundation is key to providing a healthy start to our child’s lives but as research shows exercise is a great way to improve healthy bones and heart health.  As children become more familiar with technology exergaming seems to be a great way to involve, not just our children, but even ourselves in increased level of physical activity.





  1. Entrepreneur, S. (2011). Exergaming a domicilio. 100 ideas para emprender. Retrieved 4 April 2016, from http://www.soyentrepreneur.com/100ideas/2011/03/exergaming-a-domicilio/.
  2. Exergaming: Can Exercise Games Help You Get Fit?. (2016). WebMD. Retrieved 4 April 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/exercise-lose-weight-with-exergaming?page=2.
  3. Lieberman, D., Chamberlin, B., Medina, E., Franklin, B., Sanner, B., & Vafiadis, D. (2011). The Power of Play: Innovations in Getting Active Summit 2011: A Science Panel Proceedings Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation, 123(21), 2507-2516. http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/cir.0b013e318219661d.
  4. Resnick, L. (2012). Exergames: a new step toward fitness? – Harvard Health Blog. Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved 4 April 2016, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/exergames-a-new-step-toward-fitness-201203084470.




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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Omega 3 Fatty Acids

By Laura Slatalla, recent ASU Nutrition Student

Part 1: Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Cholesterol

Part 2: Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Fiber

Fats often get a bad rap, but they’re actually really vital for our body systems to function properly. Let’s go over what we consider a “good” fat vs “bad” fat. It is best to avoid saturated fats and Trans fats. These increase the risks for heart disease by raising LDL cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are generally found in plant-based foods and oils. These are really beneficial. We need them to absorb fat soluble vitamins, provide energy, and complete functions in the body.


Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats- meaning they have double bonds throughout their structures. Think about a kinked structure compared to a straight one. The straight line will stack easier, which would be more saturated. The double bonds create unsaturated fats.

We need to be concerned about three of these types of fats: alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Our bodies can produce EPA and DHA from ALA, but it is limited, so we should aim to include all three in our diets.


Most ALA is used as an energy source, but it is also used as the basis for DHA and EPA. Without enough ALA, we would also be deficient in the other two. Good sources are: walnuts, canola oil, and flaxseed.


DHA is mainly found in fish and fish oils. A lot of DHA is found in the brain tissue, and it can help prevent Alzheimer’s and memory loss and encourage healing. Fish really is food for the brain! Children need DHA while they’re brain is developing. Pregnant women and people who don’t eat meat should take a supplement to ensure that they are not deficient.


EPA is found in fish and fish oils too. It may be used to treat schizophrenia and has antioxidant effects.

Omega 3s are so important for preventing cardiovascular disease and helping to maintain our cardiovascular system. They keep those saturated fats moving in the bloodstream, help regulate blood pressure and keep our red blood cells from clumping. Not only do they keep our arteries healthy- they play a role in hormones, nerve transmissions, as well as cell division. Their scope is pretty extensive!

It’s a good idea to incorporate fish into your weekly diet, just try to stay away from fried fish. Cook with canola oil and look into taking supplements if it’s not possible.

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Hay Bale Gardens

By Michael Russell, recent Arizona State University Nutrition Communications Student

A raised garden is a wonderful idea, it combines innovation and beauty, but it also requires a lot of work and at times a lot of money.  For those of us who are looking to keep cost to a minimum and still be able to create a functional garden, I think I have found the perfect solution: hay bale gardens.


My plan was to write a few articles on the topic of children’s nutrition after I finished my articles on backyard farming and edible gardens until my wife texted me some information on this wonderful idea.  I was immediately drawn in and wanted to learn more about this style of gardening.  I thought that this was a great way to get some gardening done out here in Arizona as most homes do not have great soil to start with.  I did some research on hay bale gardens and here is what I learned:




  • Choose wisely: When starting your hay bale garden it is best to choose a spot that will get plenty of sunlight, in the valley of sun I do not see that being an issue.  Once you start to condition you hay bales they will grow extremely heavy and moving them will be difficult, so it is best to choose your garden layout wisely and stick with it.
  • Straw is straw: Not true.  Choosing your straw is crucial to creating a strong and productive garden.  Instead of running to a garden center it is advised to source your straw directly from the farmer as they will know exactly how the straw was grown.
  • Positioning: It is time to start building you garden, not the plants but the containers for them.  Prior to positioning the bales of hay lay down landscape fabric as to prevent any weeds from creeping up into the hay.  Next, place the hay bale on its side so that the string is running across the sides of the bale.  This will put the cut side face up to allow the hollow tube of straw to absorb as much as moisture as possible.  Be careful not to sever the string because they will keep the shape of bale intact as it softens.




Now the fun begins.  You now have your garden setup in the sunniest spot and it is time to plant, not quite.  In order to create a functioning hay bale garden, you must condition the bales ten days prior to planting.  The following will walk you through the process to do so:


  • The first six days: Let’s get the bales of hay cooking.  In order to do so put 3 cups of an organic fertilizer on the bales of hay and water them thoroughly every other day.  On the off days just water the bales.  This will drive the fertilizer down into the hay and start the decomposing process.
  • Day seven to nine: You are going to cut the organic fertilizer in half, 1.5 cups, and water thoroughly every day.
  • Day ten: On the tenth day pump the organic fertilizer back up to 3 cups and add phosphorus and potassium and water it thoroughly.


At this point, you should be able to stick your finger into a bale of hay and it be moist and hot inside.  You should also see black soil-like clumps; this is known as “peppering.”  The clumps are a signal that the decomposition process has begun.  An extremely positive sign is if you see mushrooms starting to sprout up within the bales of hay.  They are not harmful and an indication that the hay is decomposing as scheduled.




Time for your hard work to pay off.  Now that you’ve properly positioned and conditioned your hay bale garden it is time to plant.


  • The exceptions: There are several types of plants that you can choose to grow but there are some exceptions to that rule.  You will want to stay away from tall plants, tomatoes, and corn, as the will become too heavy and start to break the bale apart.  If you desire tomatoes, it is best to choose a variety of bush plant.  Also stay away from running plants like sweet potatoes, as they will be difficult to grow properly within the bale.
  • Preparing the bale for planting: Now that you’ve chosen your plants it is time to cut into the bale.  With a trowel create a hole that will be deep enough to accept a rootball, place the plant into the hole and cover with a quality soil mix.  After adding the soil mix use some of the straw you removed and water well.  If you choose to start your garden from seeds, then sew in one to two inches of quality soil mix and allow the seeds to germinate the hay bale.
  • Recycled goodness: So your plants have grown and now the hay bale is a gray soppy mess, what now?  Well, here is one huge benefit to hay bale gardens, you can allow the decomposed hay bale compost over the winter and create a nutrient rich environment for next spring’s garden.




  • When purchasing the bales look for the tightest bound bales that are bound with synthetic twine. These particular bales are less like to lose their structure throughout the growing process.
  • Water your bales twice a day. The bales cannot be over watered as they do not hold onto water the way soil does.
  • Hay bales will typically have seeds within them so do not be alarmed at the sight of grass growing within the bale. The grass will not affect the way the plants grow and may be visually interesting.
  • Space your plants out the same way you would with a traditional garden.
  • You can turn your hay bale garden into a greenhouse by simply adding a few materials to it. At the end of each row add a seven-foot post and run wire in 10-inch intervals from the top of the bales.  As the seeds begin to sprout you can wrap plastic tarp from the bottom wire to insult the plants during cooler nights.  A second benefit to the wire and post is it will act as a trellis for plants that tend to grow tall.
  • In order to utilize the space on the sides of the bales that may typically not be used is you can add annuals and herbs. This will help to create a garden that is more sustaining and visually stunning.




  1. 2016. Available at: http://media.pennlive.com/life/photo/balegardenjpg-

5d19ac4cfac9e62e.jpg. Accessed March 4, 2016.

  1. How to Build a Straw Bale Garden – Modern Farmer. Modern Farmer.   Available at:

http://modernfarmer.com/2013/07/straw-bale-gardening/.  Accessed March 4, 2016.

  1. How to Condition and Plant a Straw Bale Garden. Bonnieplantscom. 2016. Available at:

http://bonniplants.com/library/how-to-condition-and-plant-a-straw-bale/. Accessed March 4, 2016.

  1. University C. Hay Bale – Factsheet – Greenthumbs, Healthy Joints – Center for Excellence in

Disabilities. Greenthumbscedwvuorg. 2016. Available at: http://greenthumbs.cedwvu.org/factssheets/hay-bale.php. Accessed March 4, 2016.

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