National Fruit and Vegetable Month

June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month.

Fresh organic vegetables ane fruits on wood table  in the garden

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans set by the USDA recommends we eat more fruits and vegetables than any other food group. In fact, they say that half of your plate at every meal should be a fruit and/or vegetable. Every step that you take towards eating more fruits and veggies will help you make sure that your body is performing at optimum levels.  What better opportunity than National Fruit and Vegetable Month to add more healthy fruits and vegetables into your diet?

Nutritional Facts

The USDA states that people who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic illnesses.

  • Fruits offer nutrients that are vital to maintaining your health. Many fruits contain dietary fiber, folate (also known as folic acid), potassium, and vitamin C. No fruits have cholesterol and the majority of fruits are naturally low in calories, fat, and sodium.
  • Vegetables are also full of nutrients that are important to your health. Common nutrients found in vegetables are dietary fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Most vegetables are low in calories and fat and contain no cholesterol.
  • Both fruits and vegetables are known for their dietary fiber. Diets that consist of foods rich in dietary fiber can reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
  • Fruits and vegetables rich in potassium could lower blood pressure, increase bone strength and mass, and reduce the risk of getting kidney stones.
  • Fruits and vegetables come in many colors, and each color offers its own nutritional focus. This is called “eating the rainbow.”
  1. Green fruits and vegetables contain luteins which can protect your eyes from cataracts.
  2. Beta-carotene is prominent in orange vegetables and help boost the immune system.
  3. Red fruits and vegetables have larger quantities of anthocyanins and lycopene. These help to keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of some cancers.
  4. Purple and blue fruits and vegetables are rich with antioxidants that improve memory function and protect you from cell damage.
  5. White fruits and vegetables are shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Tips for Fruit and Vegetable Storage and Preparation

The biggest thing to remember when storing fruit and vegetables is to practice the rule FIFO. FIFO means “first in, first out” and is used by grocery stores everywhere- so why not practice it at home? This rule mostly applies to canned and frozen goods as fresh fruits and veggies are typically utilized right away. When you store your fruits and veggies in the pantry or freezer rotate newly bought food to the back and the older ones to the front so that they are used first. This will help prevent the food from going bad and reduce waste.

When it comes to your fresh fruits and vegetables it is important to wash them properly before you eat them. Washing well helps to remove any traces of pesticides or dirt and the wax coating that may have been added to them to keep them looking nice in the store. Use clean, cool running tap water to wash your produce. For porous fruits and veggies you may want to use a “nail brush” to scrub them and get all of the dirt out of the nooks and crannies. You don’t need to use specialized produce scrub, clean water works fine. You should never use soap as there is a possibility that you won’t be able to remove all of it- and eating soap could possibly make people ill.

Ways to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit and veggies consumed in almost all forms count towards your daily total. They can be frozen, canned, dried, fresh, or 100% juice. According to Fruits & Veggies: More Matters, canned and frozen foods are processed within hours of their harvest so that their nutritional value and flavor are preserved. Including more fruits and vegetables can be fun. They are available in almost and infinite variety so there is always something new to try. They are also a natural, quick and convenient snack! Check out these surefire ways to make sure you are adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet every day.

  • Keep in mind that fruits and veggies in all forms matter. So grab some fruit and vegetables throughout the grocery store. Buy some canned and frozen. Buy a bag of dried bananas or cranberries, or whatever your favorite fruit is and make it into a trail mix (or enjoy as is). And, of course, grab a jug of your favorite 100% fruit or veggie juice.
  • Add a can of vegetables to your canned soup or add some mushrooms, peppers, and/or onion to a jar of spaghetti sauce for a quick meal with extra nutrition. To go even further with the spaghetti, use spaghetti squash instead of noodles.
  • When you make lasagna add pureed veggies to the sauce. Another option would be to add vegetables like sliced peppers, shredded carrots or chopped spinach between the layers.
  • When you are out to eat most restaurants offer sandwich/soup/salad options. Order extra veggies on your sandwich (avocados or cucumbers are great choices) or try a vegetable soup. Another option would be to choose a fruit or veggie salad, but remember to order dressing on the side to control the amount of calories you will be eating.
  • Order entrées with a lot of vegetables like fajitas or stir fry.
  • For a quick and healthy snack that is great on the go, spread some peanut butter on a tortilla and add your favorite fruits, fresh or dried, roll it up and enjoy.
  • Add fresh fruit to your yogurt.
  • Bananas, apples, and plums are the natural fast food. A healthy, mess-free choice for a snack or meal on the go.
  • Look up your favorite fruits and vegetables under the Fill Your Plate recipes section for some more inspiration.

Fill Your Plate offers a lot of information about various fruits and vegetables here on our blog. For more detailed information about certain produce items such as watermelons or carrots, for example, you can look them up in our older posts. One thing is certain, fruits and vegetables are an extremely valuable part of our diets, and you can only benefit from adding more to your everyday diet.



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Tolmachoff Farms is Offering AZ Locals an Opportunity to Pick Their Own Produce off the Farm

Tolmachoff Farms would like to invite Arizona locals to eat and think local when it comes to picking out their produce.  Tolmachoff Farms is a four-generation family run operation located in Glendale, Arizona. They grow a wide range of fresh vegetables and fruits.

tolmachoff farms

For the remainder of June, they are holding a U-Pick Produce Garden. It will offer several seasonal crops for people to choose from on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturday from 8am- noon for only $1.75/lb.

Through the month of July they will also have a produce stand open from 9am- 5pm that will feature fresh produce like eggplant, jalapenos, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon and more.

Tolmachoff Farms is located on 5726 N. 75th Ave in Glendale. For more information call (602)-999-3276 or visit


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Is It Food Poisoning Or The Stomach Flu?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), even though the American food supply is among the safest in the world, there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses (food poisoning) every year.

Woman Sitting On Bed And Feeling Unwell

Which means around 1 in 6 Americans will come down with a foodborne illness annually. The FDA states that these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year.

Many of the symptoms of food poisoning mimic those of the stomach flu, which makes it easy to mistake one for the other. Knowing the deviations between the two can help you plan your best course of action when you become ill and seek the proper treatment.

The common symptoms of the stomach flu are watery diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, headaches and muscle/body aches. Body aches are typically not present in food poisoning cases.  Food poisoning symptoms include abdominal pain (which can be fairly severe), loss of appetite, watery diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting, fever, and fatigue.

Both food poisoning and the stomach flu will usually go away on their own with rest and by making sure you are replacing lost fluids. They will typically clear up within a day or two. Most of the time it is fine to just let your ailment run its course. However, if any of the following occur, you should call your doctor right away.

  • There is blood in your stool or vomit.
  • You cannot tolerate any fluids, even water.
  • You are showing signs of dehydration such as dry mouth and throat, feeling dizzy when you stand, and have a decrease in urination.
  • You experience vomiting for more than one day.
  • You have chronic diarrhea (sizable, loose stools every one to two hours) that lasts longer than two days.

Paying attention to timing is one way to tell the difference between the two. The onset of food poisoning is usually abrupt. Symptoms will typically appear within two to 24 hours after consuming the contaminated food. The flu usually begins within one to 10 days after exposure to the illness.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, is caused by viruses that invade the digestive system. It is spread by direct contact with an infected person or sharing eating utensils, food, or drinks with an infected person. And, on the other hand, food poisoning is caused by a toxin produced by bacteria in foods that are not stored or handled correctly. It is most likely that you have contracted food poisoning if you have recently eaten unrefrigerated or undercooked foods, or if people who ate the same food as you become ill as well.

The College of American Pathologists states that there are steps you can take to prevent the spread of stomach flu and to protect yourself from food poisoning.  For the flu, practicing good hygiene like thorough and frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with people you know are ill will help to prevent spreading. As for preventing food poisoning, use common sense and follow appropriate food handling procedures. You can refer to for detailed food handling information.



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Are You Getting Enough Dairy In Your Diet?

Arizona’s 188,000 dairy cows provide us with the freshest milk, cheese and yogurt.

Cookie with MILK sign

On average, a dairy cow will produce 7 gallons of milk each day. That’s a lot of milk! Remember too, 97% of your milk in the grocery store is coming from our local Arizona Dairies. June is National Dairy Month, and the perfect time to make sure that you are adding enough of it to your diet.

According to the USDA all liquid milk products and foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the dairy food group. Calcium-fortified soymilk is also considered to be part of the dairy group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium like cream, cream cheese, and butter are not to be considered as part of your dairy intake.

Including dairy products in your diet offers health benefits – chiefly improved bone health. Dairy foods contain nutrients that are crucial for the health and care of your body. These nutrients include calcium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.  The most notorious nutrient found in dairy products is calcium. Calcium is known for maintaining bone mass and building strong bones and teeth.

How much dairy should you be eating? According to the USDA, that depends on the person’s age.

  • Children ages 2-3 need 2 cups a day.
  • Children ages 4-8 need 2 ½ cups a day.
  • Adolescents ages 9-18 need 3 cups a day.
  • Men and Women ages 19+ need 3 cups a day.

The USDA states that 1 cup of milk, yogurt, or soymilk, 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese can be considered as 1 cup from the dairy group. They include a more specific measuring chart on their webpage.

Making sure you are getting the recommended amount of dairy each day can be difficult. Here is a list of ways you can add it to your diet to help you reach the daily recommended intake.

  • Drink low-fat or fat-free milk or calcium-fortified soymilk at meals. (If you drink whole milk it is recommended that you gradually switch to fat-free milk to lower calorie and saturated fat intake.)
  • Instead of using water, add fat-free or low-fat milk to hot cereals and oatmeal.
  • When you want a snack, have a low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
  • Use yogurt for veggie dip mixes instead of sour cream.
  • Cut up some fruit and top it with flavored yogurt for an easy and healthy dessert.
  • Top soups, stews, vegetables and casseroles with shredded low-fat or reduced-fat cheese.
  • Top a baked potato with plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt in place of sour-cream.
  • Freezing berries and other fruit mixed in a low-fat or fat-free yogurt flavor of your choice makes for a refreshing treat.
  • You can find inspiration on our site by clicking on “recipes” and typing in your favorite dairy ingredient.

There are a lot of ways you can get creative with dairy foods to add it to your diet, so have fun with it this National Dairy Month!



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Excessive Heat Warnings: What You Should Know

Monsoon season is starting, and the heat is on!

thermometer in the sky, the hot weather

The Valley and Southwestern part of the state are under their first excessive heat warning of the season, and it doesn’t look like that warning will be lifted for at least a week. Temperatures will be reaching as high as 110 to 115°F. Those temperatures are typical in an Arizona summer, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous, especially if you don’t take the proper measures to protect yourself. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS), Arizona is one of the hottest places on earth from May to September. Heat-related illnesses are extremely common this time of year. The AZDHS states that every year close to 2,000 people are in Arizona emergency rooms because of the heat. From the years 2000 to 2012 there have been 1,535 deaths in Arizona from exposure to excessive natural heat.

To help you cope as temperatures rise keep these tips from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in mind.

Heat-Related Illness Prevention

  • Drink more fluids. No matter your level of activity it is extremely important to stay hydrated when temperatures get high. You shouldn’t wait until you are thirsty to drink, by the time your body tells you that you are thirsty, you are already mildly dehydrated. Water is best, and no alcohol. Liquids with alcohol and large amounts of sugar will actually cause you to lose more body fluid. To avoid stomach cramps you should also avoid very cold drinks.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible. An air conditioned building is best. If you do not have air conditioning at your home go to your local indoor shopping mall or public library to get out of the heat. Even just a few hours in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. The Arizona Heat Relief Regional Network has set up relief and hydration stations around the valley for people who may be in need. (Click here for a map of hydration stations and here for heat relief stations.)
  • Electric fans will provide comfort, but when temperatures are over 90°F they will not help with heat related illness. To lower your body temperature it is better to take a cool shower or bath.
  • The clothes you wear make a difference. Make sure you are wearing loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a parked car. Even when the windows are cracked the interior temperature can raise by 20°F within the first 10 minutes. Anyone left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death. Children and pets who are left unattended in parked cars are at greatest risk for heat stroke, and possibly death.
  • Everyone can suffer from heat-related illness, but some are more vulnerable than others. Keep a closer eye on infants and young children, and people over the age of 65. People that are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure are also more susceptible to the heat.
  • You should limit any outdoor activity to early morning and evening hours.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often, avoiding foods high in protein as they increase metabolic heat.
  • If you must exercise, you should be drinking two to four glasses of cool fluids and hour. Water is the best, but a sports beverage can help replace salt and minerals you lose when you sweat.
  • When you are outdoors rest frequently in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Wear a wide brimmed hat (not only to protect your face and neck, but to keep you cooler as well), and sunglasses. You should always wear a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher when you plan on spending anytime outdoors and re-apply every 2 hours. The most effective sunscreens will say “UVA/UVB protection” or “broad spectrum” on their label.

The AZDHS says your body keeps itself cool by letting heat escape through the skin, and by evaporating sweat (perspiration). If your body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, you might suffer from a heat-related illness such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Recognizing Heat Stroke

The CDC says heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. Your body’s temperature will rise rapidly and the sweating mechanism fails, leaving your body unable to cool down. Body temperature could rise to 106°F or higher within only 10-15 minutes. If emergency treatment is not provided, heat stroke can cause permanent disability or even death.

Signs of heat stroke include

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F, taken orally)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin without any sweat
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

If someone around you are experiencing these symptoms you may be dealing with a life threatening emergency. Get medical assistance as soon as possible. Have someone call for medical help while you begin cooling the victim. First get the victim to a shady area. Cooling them as quickly as you can is of the upmost importance. If you can, get the victim into a cool bath or shower. Or spray them with a garden hose or sponge the person with cool water. If humidity is low you can wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously. Do whatever it takes to cool them down. Continue cooling efforts and monitor their body temperature until it drops to 101-102°F.

Call the hospital emergency room if the emergency responders are delayed by this point for further instruction. Do not give a heat stroke victim anything to drink, it could upset their stomach and induce vomiting which would only make dehydration worse.

Recognizing Heat Exhaustion

The CDC states that heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. It is the body’s response to an excessive loss of the water and salt contained in sweat. People who are elderly, have high blood pressure and work or exercise in a hot environment are most prone to heat exhaustion.

Signs of heat exhaustion include

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

The victims skin may be cook and moist to the touch. Their pulse rate will be weak and fast, and they will be breathing fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion goes untreated there is a possibility of it progressing into heat stroke. If the victim’s symptoms are severe or if they have heart problems or high blood pressure or the symptoms last longer than an hour after starting cooling measures they should seek medical attention immediately.

To cool down have the victim drink a cool nonalcoholic beverage, water is best. They should rest, and cool off in a cool shower or bath if possible. Get them into an air conditioned environment and lightweight, loose clothing.

Safety Tips For The Road

Heat not only affects people and animals, but it can affect our vehicles as well. The Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) is offering drivers tips on how to keep your vehicles in top notch shape and keep them from falling victim to the excessive heat this summer.

  • Try and park in shady areas and use windshield shades to help keep the interior of parked cars cooler. Crack the windows to let heat escape. Consider using towels or light gloves to prevent burns from steering wheels, hot seats, and seat belts.
  • Have water on hand. Water not only cools your body temperature, but will help cool your car in a pinch as well. Make sure you have a healthy stock in your car and grab cold water for all passengers before leaving to a destination in case of a break down.
  • Car maintenance is vital. Check your engine cooling systems. Summer vehicle breakdowns happen because a cooling system failed. Check parts under the hood, like hoses for cracking or excessive wear.  Remove foreign items, like debris, to avoid overheating. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct coolant type and make sure your vehicle has the appropriate amount.
  • Check your oil. High temperatures make your car work overtime, and poor oil maintenance can result in vehicle issues and breakdowns. Check your owner’s manual as to what type of oil and how often your vehicle should receive an oil change.
  • Heat can cause blow outs so make sure your tires are inflated properly. Tire pressure can be found in the driver’s door or owner’s manual to ensure proper inflation. When possible, travel when temperatures are cooler to prevent a blowout.  Also check the condition of your tires such as excessive wear and sidewall cracking.
  • With the heat comes the monsoons, and that means a lot of rain. Make sure your wiper blades are in good shape as they can deteriorate from heat. It is important to check and make sure they work effectively before the storms begin.
  • You should put together an emergency kit in case of a break down. Include items like a first aid kit, flashlight, flares, jumper cables, jack and ground mat for changing tires, water, non-perishable food, boots, extra cell phone charger/battery booster, kitty litter/sand for traction and whistle. Including sunblock, hats, and hand held fans and misters is also a good idea.

The AHPA would like to remind drivers and passengers that are stuck or stranded to stay in the car, turn on the flashers, call for help and wait until it arrives.  Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) and AHPA members will be there to assist you.

Welcome summer! Remember, stay indoors as much as possible and drink a lot of water! We hope you stay cool and safe!


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