Crazy for Cantaloupe

By Kevann Jordan, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student 

As mentioned previously on Fill Your Plate, Arizona ranks second in the production of Cantaloupe nationwide. This beautiful melon is grown both in the spring and in the fall. With spring here, let’s talk about this incredible melon!

Cantaloupe has many nutritional benefits. Research has found that Cantaloupe can be beneficial against cancer, asthma, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and dehydration (just to name a few).

Cancer:

Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition found that diets rich in beta-carotene from plant sources, like cantaloupe, may protect against prostate cancer. Though cantaloupe comes in second to carrots on the beta-carotene scale, few people realize that Cantaloupe contains 30 times more beta-carotene than fresh oranges.

Asthma:

Not only is beta-carotene beneficial in warding off cancer, it has also been found that people are much less likely to develop asthma if they consume high amounts of beta-carotene.

Metabolic Syndrome:

A study involving women in Iran showed that consuming cantaloupe, due to its high levels of phytonutrients, drastically reduced their incidence of metabolic syndrome.  By lowering participant’s levels of C-reactive protein in their bloodstream, they were able to lower their inflammation levels and in turn their chances of metabolic syndrome. Cantaloupe ranked higher than many other commonly eaten fruits thought to be higher in polyphenol including kiwi, grapefruit, clementines, watermelon and pineapple.

Macular Degeneration

Cantaloupe also contains the antioxidant zeaxanthin. Why is this rarely talked about antioxidant good for us? It has the ability to filter out harmful blue light rays, playing a role in protecting our eyes from damage from macular degeneration.

High Blood Pressure

It is now known that getting adequate potassium is almost as important as limiting one’s intake of sodium in the treatment of high blood pressure. Cantaloupe is an excellent source of potassium. In addition to being a good source of potassium, cantaloupe is also a good source of fiber and vitamin C, both of which support heart health.

Dehydration

Great news for us in Arizona, cantaloupe’s high water content helps ward off dehydration!

Additional great news…

Medical News Today reports that cantaloupe receives 10 rankings in our food rating system—the same number as raspberries, one more than strawberries and six more than blueberries. Cantaloupe scores an “excellent” for both vitamin C and vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). It scores “very good” for potassium, and “good” for a host of B vitamins (B1, B3, B6, and folate) as well as vitamin K, magnesium, and fiber. When the edible seeds of the cantaloupe are eaten, this melon also provides a measurable about of omega-3 fat in the form of alpha-linolenic acid.

How to Pick a Winner!

Contrary to what Jerry Seinfeld thinks, you do not roll a cantaloupe down the aisle to find a ripe melon. Here are a few simple clues:

  1. Picking it up and feeling its weight. Does it feel fuller and heavier than you would expect it to? If so, that’s a good thing, because it’s an indication of the cantaloupe’s ripeness
  2. Press gently on the top of the cantaloupe (the stem end), it should give way very slightly
  3. The rind should be cream or yellow colored, not green or gray
  4. Ripe cantaloupe has a light cantaloupe aroma, but it should not be overpowering

 

Quick Snack Ideas

  • In a blender or food processor, purée cantaloupe and peeled soft peaches to make delicious cold soup. Add lemon juice and honey to taste.
  • Top cantaloupe slices with yogurt and chopped mint.
  • Dry cantaloupe seeds for a healthy and crunchy snack
  • Add some sparkling water to fresh squeezed cantaloupe juice for a delightfully refreshing drink in the warm months of the year

 

Warning

Be sure to wash and scrub the outside surface of a cantaloupe before cutting to decrease the risk of harmful bacteria like Salmonella transferring to the flesh of the melon

 

 

Our Family Favorite

Simple Cantaloupe Granita

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 to 3 cups finely chopped cantaloupe

1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar

Juice of 1 lime

1 cup crushed ice

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and place the dish in the freezer for 45 minutes, or until it becomes semi-firm.
  3. Scrape the mixture with a fork and serve in champagne glasses or dessert dishes.

Provided by: Michele Borboa, MS. on www.chefmom.sheknows.com.

 

 

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Grab the Quinoa! Ancient Grains are Making a Comeback

By Sarah LeVesque, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student 

What are ancient grains?

Ever since it became cool to eat carb-less diets grains have been getting a bad rap. Recently, there has been a rise in gluten-free options while people are trying to eat more vegetables and beat the bloat. While filling your plate with veggies is all good, we are selling ourselves short of what ancient grains can do for our health. When people think ‘ancient grains’ they can’t help but picture a slice of whole grain bread with seeds on top. But ancient grains are more than that. They are less processed and contain various vitamins and nutrients that can help promote good health. Ancient grains have remained primarily unchanged over the last several hundred years, which is pretty cool!

Some ancient grains that are on the rise:

 

Quinoa

(KEEN-wah, kin-o-ah, quinoa.)

We see it all over the place: mixed in salads, as a side dish at restaurants, and in recipes posted on Pinterest. It seems intimidating when you find a bag of the stuff in the grocery store because it doesn’t look like the quinoa you’re familiar with until you cook it. On top of that it can be costly. A pound of brown rice costs less than a dollar, where a pound of quinoa can cost up to $12.

But why choose quinoa?

According to a 2010 review done by the Journal of Science and food Agriculture, quinoa is an exemplary functional food. It contains ten different amino acids. The average protein content for quinoa is 15%. This ancient grain isn’t just functional food to reduce the risk of health complications, it is also a terrific way to incorporate even more protein into your diet.

The concentration of vitamins and minerals makes quinoa a valuable ancient grain. The minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc; and Vitamins C, E, B1, B2, and B3 are all found in quinoa in considerable amounts that surpass other grains. Brown rice and quinoa are both great sources of vitamins, minerals, and macro-nutrients, but quinoa offers more dietary fiber and protein than brown rice.

With one cup of quinoa cooked or raw, you get 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of fat for only 222 calories.

When just considering the vitamins and minerals that make up quinoa, it seems to have earned a spot at the dinner table. Although eating quinoa every day might get boring, it’s important to fill your plate with grains every day.  Mixing it up between brown rice and quinoa is a fun way to enjoy the health benefits of both. You could even prepare and mix the two!

 

Wild Rice

Wild rice offers a high fiber and high protein option to add to your dinner table. It has a distinct chewy, nutty, and herbal flavor. Wild rice has fewer calories and higher amounts of fiber and proteins that white long-grain rice. Wild rice’s proteins are of higher quality and offer about 10% of the daily value for folate, niacin, and vitamin B6. Wild rice also contains riboflavin, and thiamin. It is a great way to add vitamins to your diet that are great for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Wild rice also contains minerals that are essential for nerve, heart, and muscle function.

If you are trying to watch your weight, choosing a nutrient dense grain like wild rice is a perfect way to incorporate considerable amounts of fiber and protein which keep you fuller longer, without having to sacrifice the calories.

In grocery stores, wild rice is often mixed with other grains. Some ways to enjoy wild rice would be adding various fruits and nuts to offer texture!

 

 Spelt

Whole spelt is high in carbohydrates and an excellent source of fiber. It is linked with a reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes.

The reason why spelt is a valuable ancient grain is because of its fiber content. Fiber helps aid digestion and helps stabilize blood sugar spikes and drops which drive our cravings. Eating spelt or other ancient grains can slow down digestion and absorption. Whole grain spelt is like whole grain wheat in many aspects, but spelt offers slightly more minerals than wheat.  Make sure to look out for refined spelt, which is lower in fiber and can cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

A fun way to incorporate spelt into your diet is to substitute flour for spelt flour!

 

Teff

Gluten-free and high in calcium, this rich ancient grain boasts a mild and nutty flavor that is healthy and versatile. Leading the pack in calcium content, one cup of cooked teff offers the same amount of calcium than a half-cup cooked spinach. Teff is a small grain, about the size of a poppy seed. These small but mighty grains are high in protein also.

 

These are just few of the ancient grains that are on the rise. Next time you’re in the grocery store, check them out and try to incorporate them into your weekly meals. These ancient grains are beneficial for everyone and we should expect to see a rise in products that are made from these nutrient dense grains. Switching up the grains in your diet a fantastic way to consume an assortment of different nutrients.

For delicious recipes featuring ancient grains, visit Fill Your Plate!

 

If you liked this article: 

Meet the Author:

I’m a Sun Devil out of the East Bay, San Francisco area. I am on the fun side of my twenties and find it hard to stay awake past 10 p.m. There are few foods I won’t eat, and even fewer things I won’t drink! I enjoy long walks through wineries and quiet dinners with seafood. My happy place is in my own kitchen or at a coffee shop where I don’t have to clock in. I aspire to have my own restaurant one day when I grow up, and want to incorporate some of the foods I’ve enjoyed all over the world. After a decade of service in the food, beverage, and hospitality industry, I’ll finally be graduating with a nutrition communication degree to compliment my skills in May 2017.

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Bee Gardens: How you can Become an Active Participant in Agriculture too!

By Amber Morin, Arizona Farm Bureau Field Manager and in ranching with her parents in Southwest Arizona

In a recent buzz-worthy blog, Arizona’s Agriculture’s Honey Story is Sweet, we took time to discuss the natural ebbs and flows of honey bee production. One of those causes is foraging options for nectar. In 1970 Arizona produced steady amounts of citrus across 80,000 acres; but as of 2012, the state grows just over 17,000 acres of citrus, a favorite foraging option for nectar (USDA). With less citrus to pollinate fewer food options exist for our friend, the bee.

The honey bee is a friend of agriculture, as honey bees are natures greatest pollinators! Pollination, the transfer of pollen grains between the male germ cell of a plant (anther) and the female reproductive system (stigma) in seed plants, is a vital process for both plants and humans. Without pollination, plants would not be able to reproduce and crop bearing plants would not be fertilized enough for food yields.

At this point, you might be asking, what can I do to help? Well, one simple answer is to plant a bee garden! Below are some plant options for you to consider:

  • Flowers in the Asteraceae family are good options for bees because they don’t have to work too hard to get what they want. The flower presents its resources on a pedestal and even gives the bee a nice landing area. Flowers in the Asteraceae family are sunflowers, zinnia, daisies, and marigolds.
  • Plant at least three different types of flowers in your bee garden to ensure blooms through as many seasons as possible. This will provide bees with a constant source of food.
  • Spring – Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac
  • Summer – Cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons, and foxglove
  • Fall – Zinnias, sedum, asters, witch-hazel and goldenrod are late bloomers
  • Lastly, have a bee bath. Bees need a place to get fresh water. Fill a shallow container of water with pebbles or twigs for the bees to land on while drinking.

Don’t fret if you live in a place without a yard or garden space. You need only a small plot of land—it can even be a window container—to create an inviting oasis for bees and be an active participant in the agricultural landscape.

 

 

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How to Meal Plan for a Month

By Emily Carver, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student

The idea of meal planning sounds wonderful. Who wouldn’t want all their meals mapped out each and every week, freeing them up from unnecessary stress and hearing the dreaded question, “what’s for dinner?” However, getting over feeling lost and overwhelmed with where to begin can often cripple the best of cooks. A week’s worth of meals planned out can seem daunting enough to create, but is it even possible to consider an entire month’s worth? Is it less stressful to create a month of meals rather than a week of meals?

That’s what Jossie Schauerhamer, a wife and mother of two, who runs a successful business from home believes. She’s successfully created her family’s month-long meal plans for the past year and found it less time-consuming and stressful when she switched from weekly meal planning to monthly.

 

When asked to elaborate Jossie stated she found setting time aside every single week to create a new meal plan time consuming, overwhelming, and the one thing she hated most of all. This led her to slack off which led to the family eating out just as they did before she started meal planning.

 

Perhaps you can relate.

 

Many people who start meal planning have the best of intentions for themselves and their families. They want to eat out less, save money, and cook more wholesome meals, yet quit after a couple weeks because it becomes too much to handle.

 

Jossie said the moment she switched to her monthly system everything changed. Perhaps it’ll have the same effect for you. Her system is quite easy to follow and it’s organized. What’s best of all is it can be tailored to every family’s schedule.

 

Print a calendar. Once that month has been printed, Jossie looks over her family’s commitments to determine how much time she’ll have to cook. From there, she plans for 3-4 meals a week, while the leftovers take up another 2-3 days of meals. One night a week is left for a fun family night out. On average this takes her fifteen minutes.

 

Grab a binder and print those recipes. In a world where Pinterest reigns supreme for recipe ideas, it can sound foreign to suggest printing out a recipe and putting it in a binder, but that’s just what Jossie recommends. Though she uses the internet for recipe ideas, she relies more on the meals she knows her family loves, and makes sure they’re printed in her binder for quick and easy access.

 

The internet can often be the reason so many feel overwhelmed with creating meal plans. The possibilities are endless and there’s certainly an abundance of tips, tricks, and meal plans to follow that leave people paralyzed and closing their internet browser. The thing is, every family is different, so, seeing what works for one can leave another feeling like a failure when it doesn’t work.

 

What’s great about Jossie’s method is it can be customized for everyone. Printing out recipes you know your family loves ensures you always have tried-and-true ideas at hand. It ensures you always have a grasp of what ingredients you need; there’s no running to the store at the last minute because you didn’t realize you needed fennel; you stay on top and in control. And that’s what everyone wants to feel, right?

 

With all her recipes printed out, after determining what she’ll make for the month, Jossie will then pull those recipes from the back, and place them in order for the week. Each Sunday, she reviews the week’s recipes to determine her grocery list, writes the name of the recipe on her calendar menu, along with where to find the recipe, (just in case she’s using a cookbook), and then on that night, she’ll flip to the day and begin cooking.

 

It takes all the guesswork out of what needs to be done.

 

Be flexible. Finally, with busy schedules and what feels like a shortened time to cook, it can be easy to feel down on yourself when things don’t go exactly according to plan, but it’s important to stay flexible with your meal plan. As Jossie recommends, writing in pencil to easily edit a meal can help stay sane and in control, and sometimes know it’s okay to completely scrap the plan all together and just order a pizza.

 

For family-friendly recipes to use in your monthly meal plan visit Fill Your Plate!

 

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Be Your Healthiest in College

By Eric LeClair, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student

College students can really have it rough. Between school, working multiple jobs, having internships, and trying to make time for family and friends, one can get worn down. Many college students have healthy, active lifestyles and still succumb to illness. What they don’t know is: overworking your body actually takes a toll on your immune system and overall health.

I spoke to two college students, Taylor and Greg, about their health and lifestyles. I took the time to break down Taylor and Greg’s lifestyle while interviewing them. I wanted to get both a male and female view, and saw so many similarities between the two. Both college students were working two jobs in cities that required high income for comfortable living. On top of the 60-hour work weeks, they were required to be in classes both online and in person.

 

Taylor mentioned, “I lost track of what I was even doing. I was so stressed with school and finances that I chose the easy way as much as I could. That meant eating fast food, and not going to the gym because I wanted to sleep when I could. I got so deep into this lifestyle before my body finally gave out.” Greg, like Taylor, had the same going on in his life. They both got so invested in trying to balance it all that they couldn’t make their health a priority. This resulted in them having to back track their lives for recovery purposes.

 

It was towards the end of their college careers when they started getting sick regularly. They developed rashes at some point and were always tired. Greg recalls getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep but still being exhausted the next day. When they both decided to get an experts opinion and went to dermatologists, they found they had severely low vitamin D.

 

They had worked their bodies into the ground and without realizing it were taking leaps back because of the time they had missed working on their health. Vitamin D is one of the sneakiest types of vitamins that the body needs, and there are very limited amounts of ways to obtain it. I have experienced the same symptoms as both of my peers. I have gone through the rash stage and the always being tired stage. My body had completely shut down and was refusing to go any further. This is a much too common problem, with college aged students who are trying to accomplish it all.

 

Tips for College Students

 

  • Never put your health on the back burner.
  • Make sure you create a meal plan so that your meals don’t revolve around McDonald’s and Taco Bell.
  • Understand the importance of Vitamin D. It all starts with knowledge.
  • Make time for yourself. Take at least two days off every couple of weeks to get away from the stress you may be feeling.

 

We are all trying to survive this college life while maintaining our health and working jobs. This puts a toll on our bodies. We must realize that we are young and we shouldn’t be driving our bodies into the ground. Becoming more knowledgable about the topic is most important first, but acting on it is a whole separate thing. We need to make sure we are looking out for ourselves as well as our friends and families.

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