We all know that variety is the spice of life when it comes to what we should be eating. Nutritionists recommend that we eat a rainbow of colors every day to help ensure we get the proper balance of vitamins and minerals in our diet.
Fortunately in Arizona, we grow a rainbow of foods all year ‘round that are delicious and nutritious and that can help us stick to a healthy diet.
Here are our top seven picks for Arizona grown foods to eat every day.
- Milk – We all know the health benefits of milk and that drinking it, whether “white” or chocolate is good for your bones and teeth and the calcium and Vitamin D benefits can’t be denied. Milk is provided by the farmers of United Dairymen of Arizona, who sell it to local grocers like Bashas’. You can also purchase milk straight from the farm at Superstition Farms and Shamrock Farms.
- Eggs – They are an excellent source of protein for building up healthy bones and teeth. Egg yolks are the best dietary source of choline, for example, a nutrient that’s necessary for healthy cell membranes. Choline is also essential for our brain development and function, and plays a critical role in our metabolism of fats. The yolk of the egg is also a good source of Vitamin B12 (with one yolk providing about 10 percent of the daily value), as well as lutein and xeaxanthin, two antioxidants that may reduce the risk of age‑related macular degeneration. Hickman’s Family Farms has been providing Arizona with eggs from its family farm since 1944. Find some delicious egg recipes on our website at FillYourPlate.org.
- Melons are not only delicious, but they are an excellent source of potassium and Vitamin C. They are also free of fat and cholesterol and are low in calories. Melons are available year round at local supermarkets such as Bashas’ and are produced by farms like Rousseau Family Farming Company. You can even purchase fresh watermelons straight from their farm in the summer time!
- Broccoli is packed full of fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, folic acid and potassium. Use it in your holiday relish trays, throw it in a soup or a stew, or just eat it raw. Broccoli is good for you. Many Arizona farmers grow broccoli. Check out our list of Arizona Farmer’s Market to buy broccoli fresh from the farmer.
- Carrots. Do you remember your mother telling you to eat your carrots because it will give you better eyesight? Carrots offer protein, calcium, iron, Vitamins B1, B12 and B6 as well as Vitamins C and K and fiber. This is one well-rounded vegetable that is great for dipping and snacking and in recipes. Did you know that baby carrots don’t grow they way they are packaged? Here’s an interesting video that shows how baby carrots are “born.”
- Leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce, are also a necessary part of a balanced, healthful diet. While eating spinach might not make you as muscle-popping strong as Popeye, it is rich in vitamin C, fiber and carotenoids. Add its lutein and bioflavanoids and spinach is a nutritional powerhouse. Lettuce, a popular choice for sandwiches and salads it is a good source of chlorophyll and vitamin K. Iceberg lettuce provides a good source of choline. Romaine lettuce is the most nutrient-dense of all the lettuce varieties and is an excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2, and C, folic acid, manganese and chromium. Lettuce is low in calories and water dense it is a good way to fill up if you’re on a diet. Most of our leafy greens come from Yuma, Arizona. They supply most of the country with our salad needs during the winter!
- Apples: Everybody knows that, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and it doesn’t hurt that apples are a delicious, low calorie treat. Apples also contain magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, potassium and are rich in vitamins A, B6 and C. If you’re craving an apple you can find them and take a farm tour at Apple Annies.
You can find innovative, healthy and delicious ways to use all of these veggies, and more, at the Fill Your Plate website where you can search for recipes by ingredient.