Weight Loss at your Fingertips

By Erin Wyatt A Recent ASU Nutrition Student

In the quest to become healthier, many nutritionists agree that writing down your food intake is an effective way to lose weight. In my experience, this task becomes very tedious after a couple of days. Luckily, gone are the days of handwritten food journaling. Now there are countless numbers of applications available to record your food and exercise data on your mobile device. While this still may seem tedious to some, research has proven that these programs have become a successful ally in the pursuit to lose weight.1 I can personally attest to the usefulness of these apps. Let’s take a look at how they work and why they work.

How They Work

In my personal experience, I found that logging into my health app each day was fun at first, then kind of annoying, followed by becoming just a simple addition to my health routine. The app is fun to explore in the beginning, with a huge database of foods to locate your meals. You can set your health goals by adding your current statistics and your targets, the app will then design a strategy for you to achieve these goals. Start small, do not set yourself up for failure by putting in unrealistic numbers. This will allow you to reach milestones more easily, therefore encouraging you to continue on.

Once you begin to record your food intake, you will soon realize how quickly those calories add up. I remember being shocked at the number of calories I thought I was consuming versus their actual amount. Be sure to be honest about the quantity of food you consume, remember no one is seeing this entry but you. It is a good idea to become familiar with what an actual serving size looks like. I found it helpful to really look at measuring cups to get a better idea of how much I was eating.

Most weight loss apps include a fitness element to keep track of your workouts, as well as your daily steps. It is reassuring to see how many calories you expend just by going about your day. It can also be motivating to get up and move if you have had a sedentary day. Not to mention, an incentive if you want to partake in some birthday cake at a party. The more calories you burn, the more you can use later.


Why They Work

A new study from the Obesity Research Journal takes a look at the amount of time and success rates of those who used self-monitoring systems to lose weight. They found that those who frequently logged into their account lost more weight.1 This is due to the accountability factor that these types of software providers. If you are checking into your account around three times a day, you are more aware of the number of calories you have already consumed and how many you have left.1 The good news is that the amount of time that you spend on the app does not need to consume your entire day. In fact, at the beginning of the study, participants were logging in around 23 minutes total a day.1 Think of the amount of time that we waste on social media each day. I am sure we could carve out 20 of those minutes to monitor our health.

It is easier to remember what we ate if we log into our accounts soon after consuming a meal, however, sometimes this doesn’t happen. Luckily, the research indicates that the frequency and commitment of self-monitoring are more important than the time it occurs.1 So do not get discouraged if you forget to add a food right away or are trying to take a break from your phone. Just do a quick check in when you can and you are sure to succeed.

In the long run, these types of trackers just generally make you more aware of your daily consumption. After using these types of programs for quite some time, I remember about how much a serving size is and about how many calories it contains. This type of information does not leave your memory and is an important skill to have to maintain one’s health. So why not give it a try? Find the app that best fits your needs and give it 20 minutes a day, that cat video will still be there after you are done.


Tips for Maximizing Success

  • Set achievable health goals
  • Try to log in your meals soon after consumption
  • Get familiar with serving sizes, cups, ounces, etc.
  • Don’t be discouraged if you skip an entry
  • Keep moving!

Looking for more tips and tricks like this to keep your family happy and healthy? Check out the Fill Your Plate Blog. Looking for some new recipes to try out? Check out the Recipe Section of our website. How about some fresh produce that the whole family will enjoy? Check out the local Farmers Markets near you.



  1. Harvey, J. , Krukowski, R. , Priest, J. and West, D. (2019), Log Often, Lose More: Electronic Dietary Self‐Monitoring for Weight Loss. Obesity, 27: 380-384. doi:1002/oby.22382
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How to be Healthier with One Simple Rule

By Vanessa Evens a Recent ASU Nutrition Student

One simple easy-to-follow rule that will make each and every one of us healthier sounds too good to be true, right? I promise it isn’t. This one simple rule is dietitian approved and its benefits will bleed into every aspect of your life. Are you ready for it?

It’s called the 50% rule and it really is simple. The 50% rule means that every time you fill your plate, you fill it up 50% full of vegetables. That’s it. No tricks, no restrictions. The goal is simple: eat more vegetables. There’s no calorie counting or math equations with macronutrients, just looking at your plate and seeing that it is half full of veggies. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about if you are getting all the vitamins and nutrients that you need because half of your plate is veggies! They are chock full of all the good stuff that we need every day, that most of us don’t get.

What are the benefits of loading your plates with veggies? According to RD Shawn Wells “Veggies are full of fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial phytonutrients like polyphenols… A diet rich in vegetables can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease, reduce risk of some types of cancer, improve eye health, reduce digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar and appetite.” These benefits can make all aspects of your life better. You will have better digestion, more energy, and better blood flow, not to mention the positive effect on your skin, nails, and hair.

It’s a simple rule, but it may be easier said than done. It has been recommended that you should eat around 20 different vegetables a week. That can sound daunting but it doesn’t have to be! Have fun with it. Visit your local farmers market and grocery store and see what is in season, grab a little of everything and experiment! You might find a new vegetable that you love. You can make a big salad, or a big pan of roasted vegetables, or a stir-fry.

Plus, have you ever taken the time to talk to the produce manager of your local grocery store? If they’re around, they can often share worthwhile advice.

I know what you’re thinking…what about when you go out to eat? Well Mia Rigden, a holistic nutrition coach suggests that you skip the entrée portion of the menu and make a meal of veggie sides. She also reminds us that herbs count, as well as veggie, made sauces, like homemade tomato sauce, or pesto. Frozen vegetables are a great option as well if you are short on time. Making this change in your life doesn’t have to be complicated you just have to do it. Your body will thank you, I promise!


Laurence, E., & Laurence, E. (2019, April 08). The “50 percent” rule is the easiest way to make every meal healthier. Retrieved from https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/how-to-eat-more-vegetables-50-percent-rule/

McPhillips, K., & McPhillips, K. (2018, December 20). The 20 veggie challenge makes “eating the rainbow” look like child’s play. Retrieved from https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/how-eat-more-vegetables/

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Veggie Gyozas

By Erika Guzman, Recent ASU Nutrition Student


One of my favorite foods I make at home are gyozas or pot stickers. I didn’t start making them until after I moved; it was a request from a new friend I made at work and I wanted to prove I could make my picky friend a meal that she would enjoy without telling her what’s inside! In short, gyozas were a success! I hid oyster mushrooms, and only later to find out she was slightly disgusted that I hid that much mushroom in her meal. If I never told her what was inside, she would’ve been just as happy.

This recipe was used over and over again for meals, events, and get-togethers and it was enjoyed by all types of eaters. It’s a fun way to introduce a new cuisine filled with vegetables to someone, and it even allows you to hide those vegetables for the picky eaters. Once you master the pleating technique, who would want to ruin those beautiful little morsels? To enjoy as a meal, try coconut ginger rice, warm soba noodles, or coconut curry soup with the gyozas!


Wrappers – makes about 30

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ cup water, boiled
  • potato starch/corn starch

OR You can buy some wrappers at the local Asian market. So. Much. Easier.


  1. Sift flour into a bowl.
  2. Add salt to the boiled water until dissolved and mix into flour a little at a time, using a spoon or spatula.
  3. Once the water isn’t as hot, use your hands to help the dough form a ball. If it’s too dry, add a 1 tsp of water at a time to get the consistency.
  4. Knead the dough for 10 minutes or until elasticky. Cut in half and allow to rest for 30 minutes, covered.
  5. Once rested, unwrap the dough and sprinkle flour or starch on work surface and roll lengthwise, and cut in pieces.
  6. Shape and roll pieces into small discs.


Filling- fills about 30

  • 1 lb. oyster mushrooms, minced *note*ANY mushroom will do; oyster, shiitake, and baby portabellas are nice and hearty. If you don’t have mushrooms, eggplant works very well too!


  • 1-1.5 cup cabbage, shredded and finely chopped


  • 1 whole carrot, peeled and sliced


  • 1-inch ginger, minced


  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, minced


  • 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped


  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce


  • 1 tsp white or coconut palm sugar


  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar or white vinegar


  • 1 tsp cooking rice wine/sake


  • 1 tsp sesame oil


  • *optional: 2 tsp beef broth (this adds a nice beefy flavor for your non-vegetarian friends)





  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Let it sit for 5 minutes for the liquids to soak into the veggies.


  1. Grab 1 -2 tsp (depending on how big the wrapper is) and fill the wrapper in the middle.


  1. Dab water to the edges and pleat/fold edges. (There should be a video on YouTube. If you can’t pleat, just folding over and sealing it is just fine.)


  1. In a med (or med-high) heated oiled skillet, add gyozas neatly in the skillet. Let cook for about 1 minute or until the bottom is brown. Flip each one onto the side.


  1. Add about 1 tbsp of water to pan and cover for 3 to 4 minutes, until the surface of the dough looks shiny and clings to the filling inside.


  1. If you like it a little crispy, make sure the bottom of that side is crispy golden brown as well. Remove and cover while you cook the rest of the gyozas.


  1. Enjoy with a 3:1 ratio sauce mixture of rice wine vinegar or black vinegar (3) to soy sauce (1) and sliced ginger.


For more awesome recipes check out the Fill Your Plate recipe section! Fill Your Plate has hundreds of recipes to choose from!

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Make Your Plate Sustainable

By Angela Bates a Recent ASU Student

Environmental concerns have been making headlines and within all the information about how and why the world is in trouble, there seems to be a lack of information on how we can help by changing how we eat. Sustainable nutrition does not just look at the climate change related to food, but also land use, water use, energy and fossil fuel use, and social impact. You do not have to give up meat or eat strictly organic to help the earth. Simply changing a few things, which may help your health and wallet as well, can make an impact.

  1. Eat Locally & In Season


What better way is there to support Arizona’s farms and ranches than by eating locally? One of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions is transportation of food. Whether that’s the grass-fed beef from New Zealand in the freezer or the orange juice from Florida, transporting grocery items takes a lot of fuel, time, and money, but stopping by a local farm takes just a few minutes. Arizona grows a lot of crops all year round and many local farmers would love the business. Here are handy calendars showing what’s in season year-round: http://fillyourplate.org/blog/a-state-of-boutiful-harvest-all-year-round/

  1. Use Reusable Bags


Cities and states across America are banning plastic shopping bags and straws. Other countries in the world have been banning these things as well. This has, of course, upset some, but what kind of impact can switch from plastic bags at the store do for the environment? Reducing single-use plastic usage in the first place prevents strain on landfills and waste management. Ireland noticed that much of the litter in the country was from plastic shopping bags, and since their plastic bag tax, they’ve reduced plastic bag consumption by 90 percent. This tax has also raised $9.6 million towards environmental projects.

Plastic bags are often found drifting into rivers, forests, and oceans where wildlife can be harmed. The EPA states that every piece of plastic ever made still exists, due to its durability. Plastic is produced from cellulose, coal, crude oil, natural gas, and salt. That’s a lot of fossil fuels in one grocery bag.

When looking for reusable grocery bags, you may want to think about getting some that fold up to put in your purse or glove compartment, so you always have them ready. Another nice feature is a smooth, easy-to-clean interior, especially for meats. Using smaller, washable cotton mesh bags for loose produce can help in the store and are very affordable and easy to DIY. Some reusable grocery and produce bags are even made from recycled water bottles and other plastics, giving new life to our waste. Make sure you keep your reusable bags clean by washing as directed to prevent foodborne illness. By getting a few sturdy reusable bags and cleaning them often, you can make things easier on yourself and the environment.

  1. Reduce Food Waste in Your Home


If you clean out your freezer, there may be something you haven’t seen in a year. That’s right, we’ve all forgotten about food we purchased with all the right intentions of using it for a meal. The Dairy Council of California says that 34 million tons of food waste is generated by Americans in one year. That’s almost half the food we have in our homes. We can prevent this with a few tips to prevent wasting food and its packaging, but also your hard-earned money.

The first line of defense against food waste is how you shop. Go to the store with recipes in mind and a list of the ingredients you will need. Don’t buy extra unless you are buying in bulk and can store the items properly until they are used. A new revolution has begun in food where ugly produce is being saved from destruction. Grocery stores only want the best-looking apples. No one will buy the apples with scars or abnormal growth, or will they? Many new companies are now even delivering ugly fruits and vegetables to your front door at discounted prices. This means you get produce for way less than the store charges while also rescuing “ugly” food, which is just as nutritious as the beautiful food. Here is a directory that has been started for these companies, but many are not listed yet: http://www.endfoodwaste.org/the-uf-v-home-delivery-directory.html

When you create leftovers from dinner, don’t eat lunch out the next day or the leftovers may be doomed to be forgotten until it’s too late. Use a dry-erase marker on your glassware to mark the date just in case. On the same note, be sure you store your food properly. Did you know that oranges are supposed to be stored at room temperature, but apples are supposed to go in the fridge? These are important to ensure your foods do not go to waste because of premature rotting. Another important food safety note, getting a refrigerator thermometer is a great idea to make sure meats are stored at safe temperatures.

Use the first in last out principle when putting food away so older food doesn’t get pushed out of sight and remember that sell-by and expiration dates are just manufacturer or producer suggestions to guarantee the quality, but that does not necessarily mean they are unsafe one day after the date. Use your senses to determine if something is still edible and always cook to a safe temperature. If you feel you throw away a lot of food, make a list so you can keep track of what is being wasted, but if you know ahead of time you purchased too much, a local food bank is sure to appreciate your unexpired donations.



Small changes add up. Making sure your diet is sustainable can help you become healthier as you save money, support your local economy, and maybe even save the world—one day at a time.



Looking for more recipes? Check out the Fill Your Plate recipe section. If you liked this article, then you will love the Fill Your Plate blog.

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Happy Memorial Day

Today we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We will resume regular posting on Wednesday, May 29th.

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