What are We Missing?

By Laura Slatalla, Recent ASU Nutrition Communication Student

The average American diet is deficient in lots of vitamins and minerals, even though it’s dense in calories. Over 40% of adults aren’t getting enough of calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, D, E, and C.1 More variety needs to be added to the diet to reach adequate intakes of more vitamins and minerals. Let’s take a look at what needs to be added to our diets!

carrot-kale-walnuts-tomatoes

Vitamin A: There are two different places to get Vitamin A, from fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, and pumpkin, and from animal sources like fatty fish, milk, eggs, and liver. Our bodies use Vitamin A for vision, our immune system, and our skin.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is found in fatty fish, fortified milk, and mushrooms. Our bodies can also make it when we get some sunshine! We need to have exposed arms and legs in the sun for 15 to 30 minutes a day, so spend a little more time outside during your lunch break. Calcium absorption and homeostasis depends a great deal on Vitamin D levels, so it’s good for bone health.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant. Some great sources are whole grains, nuts, eggs, and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin C: Not only is Vitamin C a powerful antioxidant, but it is used in collagen synthesis. Collagen is used in our blood vessels, skin, and tendons. Citrus fruits are the obvious source of Vitamin C, but it can be found in fruits and vegetables that you wouldn’t expect, like strawberries, kiwis, kale, and cauliflower.

Calcium: Typical sources of calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. It’s needed for strong dense bones. It’s not just for the growing kids either. We need calcium to keep our bones from decreasing in density as we age.

Magnesium: We don’t hear enough fuss about magnesium for all that it does. It’s needed for most body functions, a healthy immune system, and preventing inflammation. Dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and fish are good sources.

A couple trends stand out if you look at the sources. We’re missing dark leafy greens, fish, and whole grains. Add these foods to your grocery list and try to include more of them this week. Some great ideas are spinach salads for lunch topped with nuts and a low fat dressing, fish with whole grain rice and a vegetable, fruit yogurt, and cheese for snacks.

Soon healthy foods rich in vitamins and minerals will be take over the family diet, eliminating products high in sugar, calories, and fat.

 

 

References:

  1. Bailey RL, Fulgoni VL 3rd, Keast DR, Dwyer JT. 2012b. Examination of vitamin intakes among US adults by dietary supplement use. J Acad Nutr Diet. 112(5):657-663.
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Easy Steps to Keeping Produce Fresher

By Laura Slatalla, Recent ASU Nutrition Communication Student

In the United States, 30 to 40 percent of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. One of the most common foods wasted, despite how nutritionally important, is produce.

Fresh Fruits And Berries On Wooden Background

Wasting fruit and veggies is a bummer, but we can do our best to keep them fresh, cutting down on food waste and keeping our meals tasting fresh and delicious. Here’s a few tips to keep your home stocked with crisp and colorful produce.

  1. Have a plan for your fruits and veggies. Sometimes vegetables are bought with good intentions, but if they aren’t going to be incorporated into a recipe or used as snacks, they might go bad.
  2. Learn how to use the crisper bins in the refrigerator. They are either high or low humidity drawers. The higher humidity is for leafy greens, strawberries, and most other vegetables. The lower humidity is for apples, avocados, and other fruits.
  3. Avoid placing produce in the door of the fridge. The temperature fluctuates more as the door is opened a closed, making the items in the door more susceptible to spoiling.
  4. Keep onions and potatoes in the pantry. They need to be stored in a cool and dark area. Bins on the bottom shelf of the pantry work great as long as it’s not too close to the oven.
  5. Use cool water or a bowl of iced water to rinse leafy greens, celery, and herbs before preparing. They’ll be crisper and refreshed.
  6. Most produce can be stored in the fridge, but a few cannot. Bananas, tomatoes, and potatoes should not be put in the refrigerator.
  7. Most fruits, like peaches, should ripen on the counter before being cooled. They may not ripen properly if they are put in the fridge too early.
  8. Use a little lemon juice on cut produce to prevent it from turning brown. Always refrigerate produce that has broken skin or has been cut.
  9. Try to keep produce items to a minimum. Having too many items crammed together decreases air circulation and makes produce go bad quicker.
  10. If you realize that something won’t be used quickly enough, then freeze it for a later date. Frozen fruits go great in smoothies and frozen veggies make easy dinner sides. They can be steamed from their frozen state or cooked before freezing.

Though food waste is a major concern today, we can at least do our part to make a difference. The one strategy that works the best is shopping for food with a plan and then sticking to the plan. The foods you’ve purchased will then be prepared and eaten. Enjoy!

Remember to go to Fill Your Plate to search for recipes, other articles about nutrition and to find out what’s in season

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Top 5 Grocery Tips

By Laura Slatalla, Recent ASU Nutrition Communication Student

If you’re like me, food shopping might not be your favorite thing to do. This is especially true if you’re busy will a million other things on your “To Do” list. So, I have my top 5 grocery shopping tips that I apply every time I go to the grocery story.

Woman shopping in supermarket

Plus, when I apply my grocery tips, I have more fun shopping for my favorite foods.

  1. Bring a List! Your shopping trip takes place before you even step into the store. Marketers have deliberately planned out how to make you spend the most and buy unnecessary items with product placement strategies, so come prepared. Come up with a weekly menu and make a detailed list, so that you don’t forget anything and don’t end up in a rut when it comes to making dinner every day. It will save you money and help you make healthier choices.
  2. Load up the cart with produce! It feels great to unload a cart full of fruits and vegetables onto the conveyer belt at the end of your trip. The fridge will be full of colorful produce and you’ll be more likely to snack on fruits and vegetables and include them in your meal.
  3. Shop the perimeter of the store. I used to walk up and down each isle of the store, but now I save the middle for last. Begin in the produce and move onto meat and dairy. All the fresher ingredients are along the edges, so you’ll avoid prepackaged meals that contain too much salt, sugar, and fat.
  4. Buy herbs and spices. Adding flavor to your dishes can be pricey, but it’s worth it in the long run. Having herbs and spices on hand will make you more likely to cook from scratch and use up that produce. Think about it- you’re paying for those spices in all those prepackaged meals at a higher price, so go ahead and spend a little extra on a new spice.
  5. Know what to buy frozen. As the week comes to an end we often start to run out of ingredients. Instead of grabbing take-out food on the way home from work, dip into your freezer supply of vegetables. Use them as a side for some chicken or pasta. Avoid frozen complete meals. You can make them yourself!

Before heading out to the grocery store for your food-shopping adventure, visit Fill Your Plate to get recipe ideas and to discover what’s in season. If you buy produce in season you’ll most likely purchase it at its optimum economical price; more quantity means less cost.

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Keep it Cool in the Kitchen

By Laura Slatalla, recent ASU Nutrition Student

Have you found yourself sweating before dinner was finished? Yikes! Preparing a well-balanced meal sounds unappealing in the Arizona heat. The kitchen heats up fast and cranking up the air conditioning is expensive. Take a peek at these tips to keep your kitchen cool all summer!

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  1. Use appliances other than the stove or oven: It’s time to bust out all those small counter top appliances and get creative! Panini griller? Crock pot? Toaster oven? These will generate less heat and can expand your recipes.

 

  1. Improve air circulation: Bring a fan into the kitchen while you work or open the windows in the evening.

 

  1. Prep in the morning: It’s cooler in the morning, and prepping allows you to spend smaller bursts of time in the kitchen. Stove top items can be cooked and cooled in the refrigerator for later.

 

  1. Get outside: BBQ’s and picnics on the weekends are excellent ways to enjoy time outside and relax. There isn’t as much cleanup in the kitchen either!

 

  1. Steam veggies in the microwave: Some vegetables steam right in the bag, or you can purchase a microwave steamer. Sides are super easy and won’t heat up your kitchen.

 

 

  1. Serve a cold meal: A cold vegetable tray, fruit salad, sandwiches, or fresh salads are quick, nutritious, and cool! Taking a break from cooking is a relief, and there are plenty of meals that just require a little slicing and prep.

 

Don’t let the summer heat stifle your creativity or health goals! Good luck keeping your kitchen cool the rest of this summer!

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8 Healthy Snacks to Keep in Your Dorm Room

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

Whether you are starting your first semester of college, or your last, things can be hectic. From having a packed schedule, to working, to trying to keep up with friends, it can be hard to get a snack in, or a meal for that matter! If you are living in a dorm room it can be even harder to keep a healthy diet because of space constraints.

Young girl with a basket full of goods

You might only have a mini-fridge and the space under your bed to keep snacks, and it may seem like there’s not enough space to store anything at all. But with careful planning and organization skills, you can keep the tastiest and healthiest snacks!

  1. Always keep some healthy granola bars around. Stash the little box under your bed, in a drawer, or keep them out and on your desk for on-the-go grabbing. Granola bars are a great ‘secret weapon’ when it comes to snacking. Just make sure they aren’t the kind full of chocolate chips, marshmallows and sugar.
  2. Keep fruit around your dorm room for another easy on-the-go snack option! When you go to the store, grab some apples, bananas, oranges, and even kiwis! All of these fruits don’t typically need to be refrigerated, so to store them you can arrange them in a cool bowl and use it as a desk decoration! Without a bunch of fruit in the fridge you’ve got some space for other snacks.
  3. Yogurt comes in some pretty small packaging, so it doesn’t take up too much space in the refrigerator. Just buy what you think you’re going to eat for the week, so there is no extra yogurt hogging the shelves. Try mixing it up by stocking your fridge with Greek yogurt. It has half the carbs and twice as much protein as normal yogurt.
  4. Make your own guacamole! College students are notorious for loving guacamole, but buying the pre-packaged stuff can come with a lot of extra sugar and sodium. Just grab a bowl and a fork, mash an avocado, add some diced tomato, and any other ingredients you like. Making your own guacamole also gives you the opportunity to try out different flavor combinations, and customize to your own taste.
  5. Veggies are another great snack if you’ve got a little room in your fridge. Keep a little bag of baby carrots and a small package of hummus for dipping, or cut up a cucumber and sprinkle the slices with seasoned salt. I always have a bag of bite sized sweet peppers on hand and dip them in a light ranch dressing.
  6. Nuts are an easy snack to store, and they are great for when you need a little something to get you through finishing your homework. Store their container under your bed, on your desk, on a shelf in the closet, or on top of the fridge. Also, keep a pack of sandwich bags on hand so you can portion out some nuts and take them with you.
  7. Sting cheese is my all-time favorite grab-and-go option, especially because they take up almost no space in a fridge. They are super easy to eat while you are walking to your next class, and they will keep your tummy satisfied until lunch.

Where there is a will, there is a way; and there is a way for you to snack healthy while living in a dorm room. Utilize every crevice of space under your bed, every drawer in your desk, and every shelf in your closet. With planning, you will definitely have more room than you thought.

Fill Your Plate loves helping out college students, and already has some other blogs about campus life:

10 Recipes Every College Student should know how to make

5 Easy Tips for Keeping Away the Freshman 15

Tips for Decorating your Dorm Room

 

 

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