My Kid Won’t Eat That

By Laura Slatalla, ASU Nutrition Student

We all want our kids to eat their fruits and vegetables and grow up strong and healthy, but why do so many get stuck in a rut heating up some chicken nuggets every night? Kids can be picky eaters. The vegetables get denied. Carrots are tossed on the floor. We don’t want our kids going hungry, so it’s back to the foods they’re guaranteed to eat.

Little girl is eating grapes, isolated over white

When we pressure a child to eat their vegetables it often has the opposite effect than intended. There’s a psychology behind eating, and even if we have to offer broccoli 50 times before a stalk makes it onto their fork, it can happen.

Here are some tips to helping expand your child’s eating habits that I’ve found work for me.

  1. Make dessert a part of the meal, rather than a reward. It’s okay if you kid only wants to eat the bowl of ice-cream. If we prize the dessert, the rest of the meal looks less appealing. Forbidden foods are more desirable. We don’t want the entrée to become a chore, but remember to offer desserts in moderation. Serve them in normal portions.
  2. Let your children help you cook. This sounds like a win-win situation for both parties involved, but sometimes we would rather get things done quickly or are worried about our children hurting themselves. This is a great time to slow down and spend some evening time as a family, while teaching the little ones how food gets prepared. Let them wash the vegetables. As they get older they can cut them up. They can stir. Children are way more likely to try a new food when they lend a hand in preparing it.
  3. Keep offering the foods they don’t like. It takes toddlers 10 to 15 times to decide if they like something. I’ve heard even higher numbers before, so keep putting it on their plate, even if they don’t eat it.
  4. Combine flavors they do like with the ones they don’t. Mix the vegetables they won’t eat in with the ones they will. It helps expose the foods in different recipes and combinations. Try sweetening some things, so they associate flavors they enjoy with the new food. They’ll be more likely to try it unsweetened.
  5. Make eating fun. Add lots of colors and shapes. Try new recipes. Offer a variety. Eating is enjoyable and exciting.
  6. Snack on fruits and vegetables. If I’m sitting on the couch with a mashed sweet potato my toddler is dying to try some. I do this with other thing she’s reluctant to try because if mom is snacking on it, she wants some too.

Try out a few of these tips to take the pressure off of meal time. Both parties will be more relaxed and one of these days your toddler will be hounding you for your broccoli. The whole family will be on their way to a more balanced diet. Good Luck!

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What makes a grain whole?

By Laura Slatalla, Arizona State University Nutrition Student

 You hear it all the time: eat whole grain. But, what is it really? A whole grain contains three key components: the germ, the bran, and the endosperm.

The bran contains the most fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. It’s the outside layer. Baby plants begin in the germ, which also contains B vitamins, protein, and fat. Endosperms provide food for a new plant in the form of carbohydrates and contain protein. A whole grain has all three parts. After refining, all that remains is the endosperm. Some whole grain products are created by grinding up the grain and keeping a normal rate of bran and germ to endosperm, but there are many foods that provide the whole intact grain.

Fresh sliced whole bread with wheat stalks, yellow cloth place mat on faded wooden table

Why Whole Grains?

Studies show that

  • Whole grains are good for your heart. Fiber and antioxidants in whole grains can protect against cardiovascular disease.
  • They contain complex carbohydrates, which help control your blood sugar, take longer to digest, and keep you full longer.
  • Whole grains have been associated with weight loss and decrease your risk for obesity. The fiber in whole grains make you feel fuller while consuming less calories.
  • Choosing whole grain options is good for your digestive health. They prevent constipation and diverticulosis.
  • They are great sources of many nutrients, especially B vitamins, selenium, and magnesium. Magnesium helps build healthy bones, and selenium is good for the immune system.
  • Eating whole grains may protect against some types of cancer.
  • They may reduce risk for type 2 diabetes.


Whole grains contain more nutritious parts that are healthier in many different ways!


What are some different whole grains I can try?


A little variety can make meals fun and exciting again! Switch to whole grains and try out some that you don’t usually include in your recipes.


  • Barley: Most of us have heard of beef and barley soup- it’s delicious! You can add barley to many soups and stews, but you can also serve it cold. Try a cold barley salad packed full of vegetables and flavor. You can add lemon or lime, beans, cheese, cumin, and whatever else you’d like to experiment with.



  • Quinoa: Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that is also a complete protein, which means that it contains all the essential amino acids. It makes a great side when seasoned, but can also be used to stuff tomatoes or peppers. I love quinoa bowls filled with tomatoes, corn, beans, peppers, guacamole and sour cream as a one bowl easy and complete meal.



  • Spelt or Kamut: These are ancient grains. Products like pasta and bread that are made with these often have more protein, vitamins, and minerals when compared to wheat. Spelt has more fiber than wheat, but kamut has less.


  • Oats: Oats help control cholesterol and boost immune health. I associate them with breakfast, but they can also be used in breads, snack bars, and even in meatloaf instead of bread crumbs. Oats pair really well with fruits and berries.


  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is also unrefined and can take the place of white rice in all your dishes! It actually has more flavor. It can be the base of chicken and broccoli, used in pilafs, or in soups and stews.


The Mediterranean diet, considered one of the healthiest diets has whole grains as the base of the diet. You can also find a variety of recipes that include whole grains on Fill Your Plate.

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Veggie Chili Recipe

By Mariely Lopez, a Nutrition Communication Undergraduate at Arizona State University


Brace yourselves because the recipe that I am about to share with you is filled with so many flavors your taste buds are going to explode! I will warn you though, this recipe is a bit time consuming but in the end you will appreciate it that much more.

Plus, I love chili. This chili recipe is perfect for summer because it’s full of vegetables and ones, like zucchini or any other type of squash that are plentiful in our summer gardens.

So, without further ado I will let the recipe speak for itself…




  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Diced White Onion
  • 4 cloves Garlic (make sure they are minced)
  • 1 Diced Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 Diced Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Diced Green Bell Pepper
  • 2 stalks of Diced Celery
  • 2 Large Diced Carrots
  • 1 Diced Jalapeno
  • 3 cups of Vegetable Broth
  • 1 can of Plain Tomato Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Oregano
  • 1 Large Diced Zucchini
  • 1 can Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can Garbanzo Beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can of drained and rinsed Kidney Beans
  • 1 can Pinto Beans also drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup corn Flour
  • 1/2 cup Warm Water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt, to Taste
  • Cotija Cheese (to top of each serving)
  • Cilantro Leaves (a pinch or whatever you see fit)




In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, all of the bell peppers, celery, carrots, and jalapeno, then cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften. Then, add the following: chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt. Stir and cook for a few more minutes.


After you’ve added all of the veggies pour in the broth, and tomato sauce. Stir until you bring it to a boil, then decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes are up add the zucchini and beans, stir, then cover and simmer for 30 more minutes.


Mix the corn flour with the warm water and stir it into the pot. Simmer for 15 more minutes and then serve! Make sure to top it off with cotija cheese or cilantro

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Blue Zones: What we can Learn from These Health Hubs of the World

By Jacob Gerdes, Arizona State Nutrition Communications Student

Within this great blue planet of ours, lie many different cultures that live different lifestyles and consume different diets.  Many people believe that we all generally live to be around the same age because we are all human and we couldn’t be that different from one another, right? Well the fact is: although humans are relatively similar despite heritage, there are areas of the world where the population live significantly longer and healthier lives due to their specific cultural and lifestyle practices.These areas of the world are called Blue Zones.


Blue Zones have an extraordinary amount of centenarians, or individuals that live past 100 years old. You may think to yourself, “I would love to live that long” or maybe, “I do not want to live that long if I am in poor shape.” In Blue Zones, the population not only has great longevity but also great vitality. Who doesn’t want a long, vibrant life?


So what’s the difference between Blue Zones and the rest of the world, and can I live in a Blue Zone to reap the benefits? Well, yes and no. The major difference between Blue Zones and the rest of the planet is the lifestyle factors and dietary practices such as eating smaller more frequent meals, following a plant-based diet high in beans and legumes, having small amount of alcohol occasionally, living relatively relaxed and stress-free lives and always surrounding themselves with friends or family; the list continues. So while living in these cultures could lend you some of the health benefits, we will take a look at the science behind these lifestyle factors, and why we should incorporate them into our own lives along with how they affect our health.

First, where are Blue Zones? NPR’s The Salt writer, Elizabeth Barclay, lists Blue Zones to include:


-Ikaria, Greece

-Okinawa, Japan

-Sardinia, Italy

-Loma Linda, California (U.S)

-Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica


The Typical Blue Zone Diet


These areas usually have a strong religious or cultural influence that leads them to practice specific lifestyle choices. For example Loma Linda, California has a high population of 7th Day Adventist who maintain a vegetarian diet as a part of their religious practices. Okinawa, Japan has many vegetarians, also due to a majority of the population being Buddhist’s that follow a vegetarian diet. According to a meta-analysis published in the American Medical Association’s Journal of Internal Medicine, researchers came to the conclusion that following a vegetarian diet lowers blood pressure.


Typical Blue Zone diets do, though, include red meat, often featuring a variety of lean beef, lamb and pork cuts.


Another factor is the geographical location of these regions such as living along an ocean. This serves a major purpose in regards to the quality of food. While the majority of food consists of plants, these regions have access to fresh fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Omega-3’s have many different health benefits including the increase of HDL cholesterol that lowers blood pressure and reduces heart disease, helps prevent diabetes, and may support the relief of depression.


In general, increasing plant and omega-3 consumption have many health benefits, and may add a few extra years to you life. Both of these dietary practices have strong links to the prevention and treatment of disease within the body.


The Typical Lifestyle for Someone in the Blue Zones


I know many people will be excited to hear this, but an important factor of Blue Zone lifestyles is living a low-stress life. A great way to lower stress is to take short naps. The Mayo Clinic lists the benefits of napping to include:



-Reduced fatigue

-Increased alertness

-Improved mood

-Improved performance, including quicker reaction time and better memory


While the science has not quite shown that short naps are beneficial, a study published by the American College of Cardiology has shown that excessively long naps may increase the risk of metabolic disease and heart disease. In Blue Zones, the citizens frequently take short naps but anything over 90 minutes may begin to have a negative affect. 20-30 minutes and you’re golden!


A second important lifestyle factor that greatly reduces stress and increases happiness is placing importance on family and friends. An article published in the Journal of Aging and Health looked into the effect of social support versus social connectivity and their relationship with health. The study showed there was a positive relationship between adults who were surrounded and in contact with members of their community and their health status. Feeling as though you have a purpose and a place to belong greatly effects your emotions that in turn greatly affects your health.



There are many slight changes we can make in our own lives to increase our health. By incorporating these practices daily we may be able to live long, healthy and happy lives just as the citizens of Blue Zones. So remember to nap, eat more plants and red meat, and keep good company each and every day!




  1. Barclay E. Eating to Beak 100: Longevity Diet Tips From The Blue Zones. NPR. Published on April 11, 2015. Accessed April 2016. URL:


  1. Yokoyama Y, Et. Al. Vegetarian diets and blood pressure: a meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. Published April 2014. Accessed April 2016. URL:


  1. Ehrlich S. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. University of Maryland Medical Center. Last reviewed August 5, 2015. Accessed April 2016. URL:


  1. Mayo Clinic. Napping: Do’s and don’ts for healthy adults. Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle. Published October 3, 2015. Accessed April 2016. URL:


  1. American College of Cardiology. Long naps, daytime sleepiness tied to greater risk of metabolic syndrome: Findings suggest more research is needed to understand the role of sleep and heart risk factors. ScienceDaily. March 23, 2016. Accessed April 2016. URL:


  1. Ashida S, Heaney C. Differential Associations of Social Support and Social Connectedness With Structural Features of Social Networks and the Health Status of Older Adults. J Aging Health. Published October 2008. Accessed April 2016. URL:








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Summertime Means Sweet Corn Time

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau

Of all the local summertime foods Arizona families can look forward to, one of my favorites is sweet corn. I was born loving sweet corn, especially since my mom, originally from Iowa, declared that her home state was the best at growing this sweet, fresh product. But, Arizona can hold its own in this category too!

And, Arizona has a unique season for sweet corn that can actually last into September. If you live in the valley (the Phoenix Metro area), farmers here start planting early spring so that the sweet corn is ripe for the picking as early as mid-May. And, in the valley it will be available until after the Fourth of July.

Fresh yellow corn pile on the local market. Crop Background

But, you’re not ready to give up fresh, local Arizona sweet corn after our Independence holiday? Neither am I and you don’t have to. Arizona’s northern and southern counties are just beginning to harvest in July and will continue harvesting through September (watch our video).


Because of sweet corn’s abundance this time of year, you’ll want to get your hands on lots of it. But, what about recipes to make sure you use it all up? Arizona Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate has a variety of sweet corn recipes provided by our Arizona farmers and ranchers. The list follows.

You may have a favorite recipe including today’s very simple corn-on-the-cob microwave recipe. Regardless, Arizona will serve up lots of sweet corn this summer from our own farmers’ fields. Happy eating!

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