Summer Flavor: 14 of my Favorite Infused Waters

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

If you are like me, drinking water is a chore; but here in Arizona, staying hydrated is pretty important. No matter how much I try, though, I just can’t seem to bring myself to enjoy water by itself. After I walk around outside or after I exercise, my body craves water, but my mind doesn’t. I want something with flavor, and typically I have to be strong-willed and force myself to drink water instead of juice or other drinks.

Delicious ice drink with strawberries, mint and ice on the background of of solar garden

Recently I’ve seen some of my friends adding fruits or vegetables to their water, which I thought was kind of weird. When I asked them why they were doing this, they answered with: “Water is so bland! This way there is some flavor in there, which makes you want to drink it.”

Of course, fruit and veggies are also very good for you, so it doesn’t hurt to add them to your water and see how you like it! Ever since I learned about this water-enhancing technique from my friends, it would be hard to find me without a bottle of fruit-infused water! I make it at home in a large pitcher, or before I leave the house I put fresh fruit in a large water bottle and pour cold water over it.

With all the fruits and vegetables coming into season this summer in Arizona, the combinations of infused water you can make are endless! And the cool thing is, you can use however much or however little ingredients you want. Mix and match different fruits and veggies until you find a flavor you like, OR, use one of the mixes below to get started. Also, all the infusion examples below contain fruits and veggies that are in season in Arizona this summer.

  1. Cucumbers and oranges
  2. Strawberries, mint, and cucumbers
  3. Blackberries, blueberries, and grapes
  4. Watermelon, lime, and mint
  5. Oranges, lemons, and cilantro
  6. Grapefruit, lemons, limes, and oranges
  7. Oranges and blueberries
  8. Blueberries, basil, and lemon
  9. Strawberries and lime
  10. Mint, grapes, and cucumbers
  11. Blueberries and strawberries
  12. Peaches, nectarines, and oranges
  13. Cinnamon sticks and pears
  14. Grapefruit and rosemary

Remember, you can mix and match any ingredients to create unique flavors every time you make infused water. If you want to keep your water cold for a long time while you infuse, you can also freeze fruit in ice cubes and add them to your water. To see the full list of fruits and vegetables in season right now in Arizona, go to fillyourplate.org, and click on the ‘In Season’ tab.

 

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Healthy Snacking for Children

By Michael Russell, Arizona State University Nutrition Communications Student

My wife and just had our first child in May and we couldn’t be more excited.  I wrote an article about preparing your own baby food and the benefits to it and I’ve also written an article about dealing with picky eaters once your children get older.

Happy little boy with strawberries, isolated over white

 

I wanted to turn my attention to promoting a healthier lifestyle through nutrition once you’ve overcome the pickiness in your child.  When your child eats healthier and lives a healthier lifestyle the effects are widespread.  It will sharpen your child’s mind, stabilize their energy, alter their mood, and will create lifelong healthy eating habits.

What I’d like to do is show you some tips on creating a healthy eating culture and provide some ideas on what to serve your child.

Healthy eating culture:

 

  • Focus on the overall diet: When you provide your child with a varied and moderate diet they come to understand the benefits of several food options.  Keeping food that are highly processed and full of sugars to the bare minimum is a best practice.  Try not to focus too much on one particular food group as this will create tunnel vision to the overall diet.
  • Keep it consistent: Creating a regular family meal time will provide stability and comfort for your child.  Having stability and consistency in their meal time will promote a healthy and growing appetite.
  • Dine in: Cooking at home is a great way to bring the whole family together.  When you cook at home you are able to regulate what ingredients are added to your meal and can control the levels of sugars and salts that go into the meal.  Restaurants and take out tend to add too much of these along with unhealthy fats.
  • Make them you Sous Chef: Getting your children involved in the cooking process is also a tremendous way to promote a healthy lifestyle.  Use this time to teach your children about the nutritional values of the foods they are making and about to eat.
  • Keep it small: Try not to supersize your meals.  Your children are small so it is best to keep their portions the same size.  Try to serve meals on smaller tableware to give the visual aspect that the meal is larger than it appears.
  • Limit junk food: This one starts with the parents, as all these tips do, but this one might be the hardest to apply.  If your child sees you eating unhealthy snacks, then they will think it is okay.  Set a good example and limit the amount of junk food in the house.  If your child doesn’t get used to eating chips, cookies, and candy they won’t struggle to eat healthier snacks.
  • The whole grain and nothing but the grain: When given the option for a whole grain snack it is best to choose the whole grain option.  Look for whole grain and high fiber as they will provide a continuous source of power throughout the day and promote healthy digestion.
  • Breakfast forever: Serving breakfast foods for lunch and/or dinner is also a great way to live a healthy lifestyle.  Breakfast foods are excellent sources of protein and fiber that children enjoy so regularly serve breakfast to them.
  • Keep it fun: As I stated in a previous article children love to use their imaginations so creating meals that are visually appealing can help them to eat healthy without thinking twice about it.  Use cookie cutters in fun shapes to ignite interest healthy snack options, create colorful plates of fruits and vegetables, and above all get them involved.
  • Give them the power: Leave the fruit bowl on the counter, full of healthy options, and have them grab their own snack.  Keep a bag of vegetables that you both choose from the supermarket in the refrigerator and have them choose what they want.

 

Getting your children involved in the food buying and preparing process is a great way to promote a healthy eating culture.  As I mentioned, it is best to set the example and choose to live the same lifestyle as not to confuse your child.  Armed with these tips, let us take a look at some food groups and food ideas that can continue our healthy eating habits.

 

Fruits:  Fruits provide your children with an excellent source of fiber, essential vitamin, minerals, and antioxidants.  They are naturally sweet which helps children gravitate toward them.  Fruits can be served several different ways and provide wonderful color to capture your child’s attention.  Great ways to serve fruits are:

  • Dried Fruit– raisin, apples, apricots, pineapple, mango.
  • Popsicles– look for 100% fruit juice popsicles or make them at home with your child.
  • Smoothies– fruit blended with yogurt or milk and some ice is a power packed snack.
  • Fruit Salad– choose fresh and colorful fruits and have your child help prepare their snack.

 

Vegetables:  Unlike fruit, vegetables may be a harder sell for you children but do not give up so easily.  Vegetables are another excellent source of fiber and essential vitamins and once over the hump, they can promote a life-long healthy food choice.  Some great ways to integrate vegetable into your child’s diet are:

  • Raw– not much excitement here but when served with low-fat dips or dressings that could turn quickly.
  • Salad- create a salad bar to help your child get involved.
  • Vegetable Pockets- wrap some roasted vegetables in pitas or soft taco shells.

 

Healthy Grains:  Choosing whole grains is a great way to add vitamin B and minerals to your child’s diet that will promote heart healthiness and reduce their risk of certain cancers and type-2 diabetes.  Cookies, cakes, and sugary cereals are sources of refined grains which should be limited to the occasional treat, if at all.  Healthy grain snack options can include:

  • Breakfast cereal- whole grains cereal options served with milk is a great start to your child’s day.
  • Popcorn- low fat store bought or air popped at home.
  • Granola- look for store bought granola that is low fat and low sugar or try to make your own with your child.
  • Rice cakes- rice cakes made from brown rice is a better option and add some peanut butter to make it more appetizing.

 

Dairy:  Choosing various dairy options is a great way to provide calcium, building strong bones without all the artery clogging saturated fats.  Look for these options:

  • Yogurt- mixed with fruit or made into a frozen treat or smoothie.
  • Cheese- paired with fruits and vegetables cheese is a snack that provides calcium but its use should be limited due to its level of saturated fats

 

Above all remember two things. First, get your child involved in the food shopping and food preparing process.  It helps them feel more involved and invested in the food they are about to eat.  Secondly, be a great role model for your children.  As much as these tips and snack ideas are for your children they are also for you, the parent.  Help your child live a healthy lifestyle by living one yourself.

 

REFERENCES

  1. Healthy School Snacks ~ Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2016). org. Retrieved

10 March 2016, from http://cspinet.org/nutritionpolicy/healthy_school_snacks.html?gclid=CjwKEAiA04S3BRCYteOr6b-roSUSJABE1-6Bzs-27zj2vTzPfpRcTrG600BfMpl0KYMPLpJ3i-KtzhoCZpvw_wcB

  1. Healthy snacks for kids: 10 child-friendly tips – Mayo Clinic. (2016). org. Retrieved 10

March 2016, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/childrens-health/art-20044350?pg=1

  1. Nutrition for Children and Teens: Easy Ways to Help Your Kids Eat Healthier. (2016).

Helpguide.org. Retrieved 10 March 2016, from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/nutrition-for-children-and-teens.htm

  1. Ten Power-Packed (and Kid-Friendly) Snack Tips. (2016). Save the Children. Retrieved 10 March

2016, from http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.8601525/k.E8FA/Ten_PowerPacked_and_KidFriendly_Snack_Tips.htm?msource=wexggsna0413&gclid=CjwKEAiA04S3BRCYteOr6b-roSUSJABE1-6Bnt2caqBKGzTZAivGQdskkPzZukVLFvKttvKt1m21mRoCsQTw_wcB

  1. Weiser Children’s Nutrition. (2016). Weiser Living. Retrieved 10 March 2016, from

http://weiserliving.com/weiser-childrens-nutrition/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Health Benefits of Tea

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

Tea is one of my all-time favorite drinks. I’ll drink hot tea, or iced tea, sweet tea, or tea with a little lemon in it; it doesn’t matter to me.

Tea has also been a favorite drink of choice throughout history. There are many ‘creation stories’ surrounding tea, but it was likely first discovered in Ancient China. After becoming popular there, tea began to make its way around the globe, becoming popular in almost every other country. Since tea was first discovered, many more varieties have become available than that one original variety, and they are all said to have different medicinal or healing properties. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of tea, and what they can potentially do for your health.

cup-mug-water-tea

Green Tea: Green tea happens to be my favorite kind of tea! Not only does the taste mix well with other teas and fruit flavors, but it is supposed to be one of the healthiest teas around. Green tea is full of antioxidants, and can help to lower cholesterol. It has also been known to help reduce the risk of stroke and neurological diseases.

Chamomile Tea: Chamomile tea is packed full of antioxidants just like green tea, and it helps with upset tummies, and can reduce stomach cramps and gas. Chamomile tea also has calming properties, so it is the perfect drink to have before going to bed.

Black Tea: Black tea is great for blood flow. It has properties which help to open capillaries and maintain a good blood pressure. In the same way, black tea can help to open airways and make breathing easier.

White Tea: White tea can help to lower blood pressure as well as help lower cholesterol. It is an all-around great tea for maintaining heart health. It also helps to strengthen the immune system.

Oolong Tea: Oolong tea helps to keep skin healthy, and can be used to aid weight loss. It also can help keep blood sugar levels in check. As well, oolong tea helps reduce cholesterol and relieve stress.

Peppermint Tea: Peppermint tea is a great tea to drink when you are sick. It can help reduce a fever and general discomfort felt when sick. It also helps relieve stress, and symptoms like coughing that come along with a cold. Peppermint tea can help reduce nausea and vomiting, too.

Ginger Tea: Ginger tea, like peppermint tea, is usually consumed by someone who is sick. It helps to support the immune system, cures stomach aches, aids in digestion, and can help with overall pain.

Rooibos Tea: Rooibos tea has been known to cure headaches, calm and help with insomnia, and help lessen allergies. It also helps skin stay healthy, and fights bone weakness.

If you’re a tea fan like me, it doesn’t matter what kind you drink, you’ll be reaping all kinds of benefits. If you are still unsure if you like tea, try mixing and matching. Mix two different teas together, add fruit juice or lemonade to the tea you are trying, or add sugar to your liking. I promise you’ll find something you like!

For more information on tea, head over to the Fill Your Plate blog!

 

 

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Fourth of July Favorites

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

To celebrate the Fourth of July, we’ll get together for barbecues, go camping, and head out to the lake with family and friends. Sometimes we stay home and bring the party to our house, and sometimes we would rather go out.

pexels-photo-99608

No matter the way we celebrate, everyone has something in common on the Fourth of July: food. There is a certain kind of food almost everyone eats on the Fourth. For lack of a better description, it is truly ‘all American.’ Hotdogs, hamburgers, baked beans, corn on the cob, watermelon, and lemonade. These are all popular foods to serve on this upcoming holiday, and they leave you with many choices of what to make or serve at your gathering.

To make things a little easier for you, I have compiled some of the tastiest Fourth of July inspired dishes we could find to make this holiday a breeze!

 

Crowd Pleasing Main Dishes

  1. Sonoran Hamburgers
  2. Honey Butter Chicken  
  3. Pot Roast
  4. Sonoran Hot Dogs
  5. America’s Favorite Pork Chops

Appealing Appetizers

  1. Almond Cheese Log
  2. Garlic Cheese Fingers
  3. Artichoke Dip
  4. Baked Goat Cheese Appetizer
  5. Batter-fried Zucchini

Refreshing Salads

  1. BBQ Pork Salad with Summer Fruits
  2. Chutney-Melon Chicken Salad
  3. Watermelon Salad
  4. Join the Party Salad
  5. Crunchy Apple Salad

Scrumptious Sides

  1. Apple Bacon Slaw
  2. Baked Corn Dish
  3. Deanna’s Potatoes Deluxe
  4. Garlic Roasted Summer Squash
  5. Southern Sweet Potatoes

Delicious Desserts

  1. Peach Paradise
  2. Apple-Raspberry Pie
  3. Strawberry Cheese Pie
  4. Sour Cream Banana Cake
  5. Prickly Pear Cheesecake

This lemonade is the tastiest drink I can recommend to make for your celebration, but make sure to drink plenty of water on the Fourth of July, as well. (Especially if you are spending time outdoors!)

I hope these recipes make your life a little bit easier on the Fourth so that you can spend less time cooking and more time hanging out with friends and family! If you want to check out more recipes, take a look at the recipe section on fillyourplate.com!

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Fast, Fun Facts about Arizona Melons and Sweet Corn

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau

Melons and sweet corn, these two agriculture foods are some of my favorite summer foods. They’re fresh, healthy and local for our Arizona families.

And, you don’t have to go far to get summer melons and sweet corn. Our local grocers and farmers’ markets feature plenty of our summer melons and sweet corn during our Arizona summers.

Below are some fast, fun facts about Arizona melons and sweet corn.

Melons

  • 14 major Arizona melon growers grow for our local and national market on nearly 3,000 acres; the majority of production. Most of the melon production you see in large fields is in Yuma and Maricopa counties. (Check out our video in this article about Yuma agriculture.)
  • Melons include a variety of cantaloupe, honey dew and watermelons.
  • The 14 Arizona growers are mostly very large commercial growers; still family-owned and operated.
  • One Family Martori’s have grown melons since 1953; 3 generations. They market their melons under the “Kandy” label. The family sells to all major retailers.
  • Another Family, the Rousseaus, are growing Watermelon and harvested as we write these fun facts. They market under the “MelonUp” and “Dynasty” labels. They also do sweet corn. Three generations of Rousseaus have been farming in Tolleson and Scottsdale.
  • The Rousseau family has their own Farmers’ Market called Rousseau Farmers’ Market on Saraval and Olive in the West Valley.
  • Other retail farmers are serving up melons at a variety of farmers’ markets throughout Arizona.

Sweet Corn

  • A recent Sweet Corn video tells Arizona’s sweet corn story (View it in this article).
  • A handful of growers in the valley and in southern and northern Arizona grow most of our sweet corn we enjoy in the summer.
  • Season begins mid-May and continues through September.
  • Arizona has a sweet corn festival in late summer up north.
  • Go to Fill Your Plate for melon and sweet corn recipes. Searchable by product.

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