One Day at a Time

By Cameron Saylor, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student 


Each day, I hear people say things like, “No, I can’t eat that” or “It has to be sugar-free”. I think it’s time that we make a change by creating a more positive light around what we do and do not eat.


The key is not to focus on getting rid of negative habits but rather to ADD positive habits over time. Adding these positive habits little by little will take you from saying ‘no, I can’t’ to ‘I’ve got something better in mind’.

It is time to STOP focusing on getting rid of negative foods but rather to focus on adding positive foods in their place. It is that simple. Just make one positive change each day. Over time you can increase the amount of changes that you make and even set goals for yourself in regards to your personal nutrition and healthy lifestyle.


What does this look like?


By adding one good food per meal, you can make a positive change in your diet and watch the pounds come off, your energy increase and your life begin to change. Replace that bag of chips with an apple or banana. Drink water or milk instead of juice or soda. These simple lifestyle shifts can be great for you and the whole family.


How can I make a simple change right now?


One of the simplest ways to include a positive change in your daily life is to choose water over any other beverage. This may seem difficult but it doesn’t have to be.


Try this:


Place a glass of water next to your bed tonight and tomorrow morning make it a point to drink the entire glass of water while you are getting ready for the day.


Or try this:


Make it a point to order a salad instead of soup or French fries at your next meal.

Have trouble with sweets? Try baking your own delicious snacks with wholegrain flour and fresh fruit. Store bought sweets often contain many ingredients used to extend shelf life and often contain more calories than their homemade counterparts.


It is never too late to make a positive change in your life.





Try switching out these highly processed foods for more wholesome and nourishing options. Your body will thank you.


Chips for fresh veggies

Ice cream for frozen yogurt

Cookies for fresh fruit

Soda for water or milk

For more healthy lifestyle tips, healthy and nutritious recipes, and health advice from nutrition professionals visit Fill Your Plate!


About the Author

My name is Cameron Saylor and I am a senior at Arizona State University.  I currently live in the farm-to-fork capital of the nation, Sacramento with my wife and our two rescue dogs.  When I am not in the kitchen meal-prepping or reading a recipe, I can be found reading the latest research study on all things food. I enjoy learning about food history and putting my own spin on traditional recipes.  At the forefront of my values are helping others and living a healthy lifestyle. Through education and hard work, I hope to spread my knowledge of healthful eating to everyone that I can. After college, my hope is to start my career in the world of nutrition and health.

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What a 16-Year-Old Taught Me about Mindful Eating

By Ashley TenBrink, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student 

I know that it isn’t polite to stare. Staring breaks the most basic rules of etiquette and manners.  Yet, my eyes were glued…

I could not pry them off of the creamy, golden layers of cheese that swallowed up the narrow tubes of macaroni.  As still as a pond on a windless day, the dish settled perfectly into the little white bowl.

That was until the moment the edges of the silver fork pierced through the surface.  My focus on the food broke simultaneously with the separation of the cheese itself.

I looked up at my cousin, who hadn’t noticed my absent-minded break from our conversation.  She was telling me about all the fun she had been having, preparing for her show choir performance. She continued her story and dramatically tossed her head back, imitating one of her classmates, before sticking the tip of her fork into the next bite of food.  I laughed along, enjoying her carefree and happy presence. She chomped into the bite of her mac-and-cheese and gently set her fork down, before readying it for another.

Half way finished with her meal, she set the food aside to put in a to-go box and moved on to the chocolate chip cookie that rested on her plate.  Don’t get me started on the cookie, with its gooey chocolate chips and soft, perfectly browned dough.

I couldn’t help but ponder, how does she eat so intuitively?  She doesn’t worry about what she is eating, or when she is eating.  She eats when she is hungry and stops when she is full. She manages to retain her awareness, despite the abundance of food available.

Straight From The Mouth of a Mindful Eater


The idea of being able to eat what you want, when you want, blows my mind. I have obsessed about strategies that would allow me to do so myself.  I have tried macro-counting, calorie counting, carb-cycling, etc., all to no avail.  Yet, my cousin manages to maintain her slim physique without even trying.  Yes, I know her young metabolism plays a role, but I struggled just as much at her age as I do now. I am also not as envious of her aesthetic composition, as I am her peace of mind and contentment when it comes to food.

With a break in our conversation, I decided to simply ask her, “How do you keep from over eating?”  She looked at me a bit puzzled, readjusted her glasses and sweetly chimed, “I don’t know.  I hate that feeling of being really full and uncomfortable, so I always stop eating before then.”

This was an “aha-moment” for me.  People who are mindful of their eating, eat for fuel.  They are more aware of their internal gauge that measures their fuel levels.  They eat for energy and nourishment and do so by eating what they want to eat. They spend less time obsessing about food and spend more time investing their energy into living life, working and playing.


Why Are You Really Eating?


The bright-side is that we were all born with the instinctive ability to eat this way.  Many of us have just forgotten how.

For those of us who struggle, it may be helpful to discuss our eating triggers.

We often have physical triggers, such as feeling fatigued or thirsty.

We may face environmental triggers, such as the presence of food, the amount of money we paid for food, or if someone bought the food for us.

We use food to address emotional triggers, such as feeling bored, stressed, mad, or sad.

We eat to celebrate or to reward ourselves…  How many people do you know who run to Starbucks for a frappuccino after a “hard” workout session?

Eating for our every emotion can leave us feeling disconnected from the real reason that we need to eat, and lead to us eating all the time!


Instinctive Eating Strategies


So how do we remedy this?  How do we become mindful of our eating and recalibrate our internal fuel gauge?


  1. Slow Down


How do you eat when your overeating?  Do you eat fast?  As if you want to scarf it all down before you have to give it up?  Do you eat out of the box, with the pantry door still open?

Step away from the fridge, take out a small plate and set yourself out a serving that you can sit down with. Breathe in between bites, and make sure to chew slowly.  This sounds elementary, but so many of us overlook the need to just slow down and allow our brains and stomachs to register the fact that we are re-fueling.


  1. Limit the Distractions-


You may think you are a master-multi-tasker, but the sad truth is that the human brain can only sustain attention on one item at a time.  Research in neuroscience has shown that rather than simultaneously attending to multiple things, the brain is actually rapidly switching its attentional focus from one item to another and back again.

This is why eating with distractions often causes us to eat until the bag is empty, the plate is clean, or we run out of food.  Instead, choose to eat when you can focus on eating.  Even if its a protein bar on the go, stop and savor the tastes in your mouth, the texture, the size of the bite you took.  If you are having a meal with someone, eat small bites in between conversation.


  1. Realize that Food Cannot Meet Your Other Needs-


Let’s face the facts, eating does not meet our other needs very well. If we snack when we are bored, as soon as we are finished snacking, then we are still bored. So we often begin to eat again.  This causes us to lose our ability to know when we have had enough. The human body is designed to store the fuel that it doesn’t need.

So instead of automatically reaching for the nearest comfort food, pause and ask yourself, “Am I hungry?”  Give yourself a couple of minutes to check in.  This will not only help you become a more mindful eater, but it will also help you find more constructive ways to meet your other needs.

Bored?  Read a book, exercise, or do an activity that you enjoy.  Sad?  Put on a music playlist with some positive vibes or call a friend.  Mad? Constructively channel your energy into a project.  Hungry?  Eat something!


I am thankful for the afternoon lunch I shared with my teenage cousin, I got an insider’s look at what it is like to eat mindfully and live vibrantly.

By learning how to eat more mindfully we can free ourselves from the pressure of food. By eating instinctively we can increase our awareness to eat according to our needs. Instead of eating according to diet rules, deprivation, or guilt we can open ourselves up to the freedom of being able to eat what we want when we want, which sounds like a perfect way to be extraordinary in the ordinary!

For delicious recipes that will keep you and your family full and healthy visit Fill Your Plate!

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400% of Vitamin A the Kids Will Love

By Kevin Dietmeyer, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student 

Raising healthy children is no easy task, and when it comes to their food choices it can be even tougher to make sure that they aren’t missing any key vitamins and minerals. Nutrition matters from A to Z and with your child’s dietary choices in mind, why not start with A.

Vitamin A 


Kids: You’ve got growing children right?  Or at least you know someone who does. Vitamin A has a very important role when it comes to the growth and maintenance of your heart, lungs, and kidneys. This is why it is an important vitamin to include it in your growing little one’s diet.


Eyes: Some things you truly have to see to believe but if you’re not getting enough Vitamin A, you might be missing what’s right in front of you.  Vitamin A supports strong vision and healthy eyes, so take a second look at Vitamin A if you haven’t yet.


Protection: Are you sick of getting the sniffles when the seasons start to change?  It’s very likely that a little extra Vitamin A could help you fend off the sniffles when the world outside seems to be reaching uniformly for tissues and decongestants.  Vitamin A packs an immune-boosting punch that can protect you and your kids from seasonal sniffles.


Here are some common foods that come fully loaded with Vitamin A:


Sweet potatoes







All of these foods have at least 2,000 IU Vitamin A per serving, which is 2/3 of the recommended daily allowance from the National Institute of Health1.  One of these foods hits a little harder than the rest in the Vitamin A department. One medium size sweet potato packs 400% of your daily Vitamin A requirement

One of these foods hits a little harder than the rest in the Vitamin A department, though. One medium size sweet potato packs 400% of your daily Vitamin A requirement2.  They also come stocked with enough fiber and potassium to keep you and your kids lean, healthy and energized.


I always had a bad relationship with mashed potatoes in any format growing up, but I did have a special place in my heart for chips. What kid doesn’t? A healthy alternative to bagged potato chips from the store is homemade sweet potato chips that are easy to make!


Get your kids involved when you are preparing the potatoes and they will be more excited to eat what they’ve helped make!


Roasted Sweet Potato Chips


1 Large sweet potato (skin on)

1 tsp Coarse salt & pepper

1 tsp Garlic powder

1 tsp Cumin

1 tbs Olive oil


Preheat oven to 425 degrees while you rinse and slice your sweet potato into chips.


Mix spices in a separate bowl or a plastic bag before you add in the sliced potato and toss.


Bake the sweet potato slices on a baking sheet for 20 minutes and turn, then allow them to brown for an additional 10-15 mins or until they’re crispy.

For more delicious recipes that include sweet potatoes, visit Fill Your Plate!



  1. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin A fact sheet for professionals. Accessed on 10/22/16.


  1. Medical News Today. Sweet Potatoes: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information. Accessed on 10/22/16.
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Homemade Black Bean Soup

By Lori Meszaros, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student 

Growing up in Arizona, Mexican food was part of my daily diet, but I never really cared for beans. As my tastebuds have matured, however, I can’t seem to get enough!


I created this soup one afternoon when I was craving some beans but didn’t feel like making my usual black bean quinoa salad. It was a cool night, and soup was on my mind.

I love making soups from scratch, especially when I have my homemade veggie stock on hand, (you can substitute with whatever veggie stock you have on hand, but there’s nothing like homemade).


The soup is not too spicy (which made it great for my kids to try), and full of good and wholesome ingredients so you won’t feel guilty about having seconds. Beans are a power house when it comes to nutrition- full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and that’s why I created this soup with beans as the main ingredient!


Getting enough fiber in your daily diet is key to maintaining your health. Most people, including kids, don’t get enough fiber in their diet. If your looking for a dish that is rich in fiber to help you increase your intake, you’ve found it!


The recipe serves 4-6 adults and can easily be doubled to make extra for a weekday lunch or quick last-minute meal. The soup will keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer, just reheat the frozen soup in a crock pot!


2 cans of black beans, drained

2 tbsp veggie stock concentrate

2 small tomatoes, diced

1 brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 chili, chopped

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 lime, quartered

1 avocado

fresh cilantro



How to prepare

  • Drain black beans while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, do not rinse beans
  • Sauté onion in a saucepan 2-4 minutes or until translucent and aromatic
  • Add garlic and chili to saucepan and sauté another 30 seconds
  • Add in tomatoes, cumin, and coriander to mixture and sauté another 1 minute
  • Add half the black beans to the saucepan
  • Mash the other half of the black beans with a potato masher or fork, then add smashed black beans, veggie stock concentrate and ½-1cup water to a saucepan and mix well.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower temperature to a simmer
  • Simmer black bean soup for at least 20 minutes
  • Garnish with avocado, diced tomatoes, cilantro and lime wedge
  • Serve with chips or warm tortilla

If you want to make this dish even heartier, try adding some cooked ground beef!



  • Vegetable stock can be substituted for veggie stock concentrate and water- just use ½-1 cup vegetable stock.


  • Vegetable bouillon cubes equivalents, 1 cubes = 2 tbsp veggie stock concentrate


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What’s Trending Now: Edible Cookie Dough

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

When I was little, my mom would let me lick the bowl clean after she had mixed cake batter, brownie batter, or cookie dough. Most kids I know licked the bowl clean, too when their parents made sweet treats.

I, for one, almost like the dough better than I like the finished product that is cookies. So when I heard that dough was being created with the specific intent of eating it raw, I was intrigued. This sweet stuff is made for eating raw, without the possibility of getting food poisoning! The consistency is exactly like cookie dough for baking and tastes just as good.

It is easy to make at home, and the flavors are customizable, just like your favorite cookie! I usually go for the classic chocolate chip, but you can make mint chocolate chip, confetti, double chocolate, red velvet, M&M, and any other flavor your heart desires. Below are my top four favorite flavors:

Chocolate Chip:

  • ½ cup softened, unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Mix all the ingredients together, and you’ve got my favorite flavor of edible cookie dough!

Red Velvet:

  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup of red velvet cake mix
  • 1 ½ cup of flour
  • 4 – 8 tablespoons of water

Cream the butter and sugar together, then mix in the rest of the ingredients. (Add water one tablespoon at a time until it is the consistency you want).


  • ½ cup softened, unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the vanilla extract and milk. Stir in the salt, flour, and cinnamon.

Peanut Butter

  • ¾ cup of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup softened, unsalted butter
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • Dash of salt
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix everything together in a mixing bowl and you’re good to go!

If you have an edible cookie dough recipe that has been a hit in your house, leave it in the comments! If you’re still craving sweet treats after trying these recipes, visit Fill Your Plate to get more dessert recipe inspiration!

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