Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

By Noor Nouaillati, Recent ASU Nutrition Student


It’s that time of year where all the grocery stores, coffee shops and even on campus are bringing back pumpkin spice latte. Pumpkin desserts and pumpkin drinks have always been an all-time favorite of mine during any season of the year. The rich, sweetness and spiciness it carriers is so delicious that you need to keep it around. This is a recipe that I have been making during Thanksgiving when my family and I get together and they all request this dessert. I was so obsessed with Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin that I would make a stop every day before and after class or work to get one but then I decided to make it on my own.

The pumpkin mixture consists of 2 sticks of unsalted butter to a saucepan and is melted over medium-low heat. I use plain puree for the pumpkin puree and I typically use 2 cups. Once my butter is melted I then add the puree with it as well as pumpkin seasoning, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. It gives you that aroma of the pumpkin spice and your mouth will start watering. Start to whisk it so it won’t separate and then add some water of hot boiling water and whisk thoroughly.

For the dry ingredients, I add flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine all the ingredients together. Then my wet ingredients consist of half a cup of buttermilk, two eggs, baking soda, and vanilla extract to eliminate that smell of the eggs. I then take my dry ingredients and my pumpkin mixture and combine them together and then start mixing them together and cover it completely making sure it is completely mixed evenly. Once that is done I then pour in my wet ingredients and do the same. You want to make sure there are no clumps and that it is smooth.

I get a muffin tin and either spray the muffin tin with olive spray or rub butter on the surface or place cupcake holders depending on what I want. Then I pour the mixture half way because you do not want to overfill. You want to bake this at 350 degrees for roughly 15-20 minutes and then check on it at 15 minutes.

When I take it out I let it cool down while I am making the cream cheese filling. Take a stick of unsalted butter and a full package of cream cheese. I added powdered sugar and a little vanilla extract and let it mix together until smooth. Then I will place the cream cheese icing on top of the cupcake and spread it evenly. I like to add some cinnamon sprinkle on top of the cupcake. Then it’s ready to serve. It is very delicious to eat alone or with a cup of coffee.

I hope you will try this with your family on Thanksgiving or any time of the year and enjoy it just as much as I enjoy making it.



  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons of pumpkin spice
  • half a cup of hot water
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • ¼ tablespoon of salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • baking soda
  • vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • powdered sugar

For more awesome recipes check out the Fill Your Plate recipe section. There are hundreds of recipes to choose from.

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Filling Your Plate with Ginger

By Sarah LeVesque, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

As a common addition to juices and smoothies, ginger has been on a rise in popularity. My mother used to tell me that artists in the Philippines would eat ginger to help them sing better. I couldn’t help but wonder how that was possible. I just knew she would always put it in a traditional Filipino dish that my brothers and I would eat at least once a month when we were growing up. Every time I would bite into the lightly crunchy, surprising piece of ginger, it felt like my taste buds would quiver due to the flavor that it held inside no matter how long she cooked the pieces for. I learned to love ginger over time.

  • Ginger is a nutritionally important root.

Ginger is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese. New research has suggested that ginger can help lower blood sugar levels. Ginger consumption in type 2 diabetes patients has also shown to improve heart disease risk factors. This low calorie, small but mighty addition to our diets can do so many things. Hopefully, researchers will be able to apply the benefits of the components in ginger to develop medicines across the board. This versatile root has the potential to change the way we look at food.

  • Treating Nausea and Indigestion with Ginger.

Ginger is available fresh, dried, powdered, as an oil, or even as a juice. Just like garlic, ginger has been known for its medicinal properties. It is an old wives tale that promotes the consumption of ginger to ease morning sickness. It has been studied in its usefulness to reduce nausea and vomiting in seasickness, morning sickness, and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Ginger hasn’t shown adverse effects, but it’s always important to talk with your health care provider before consuming substantial amounts of anything!

As ginger helps with the stomach illnesses, it’s believed to help speed up the process of emptying the stomach which in turn, reduces chronic indigestion or acid reflux. Used in Chinese medicine, studies have yet to be done to observe the effect in acid reflux, but its effectiveness can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties. Yet again, too much of anything good can be bad. So eating too much ginger can actually cause indigestion or acid reflux. It is best to keep consumption moderate (under 4 grams of ginger) and in real food form, staying away from powders and sticking to the fresh root available in the produce section of most grocery stores.

  • Ginger for Dysmenorrhea, Muscle Pain, Soreness, and Joint Stiffness.

Ginger isn’t just helpful during times of upset stomachs. It also demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing exercise-induced muscle pain. That’s right! Eating ginger after an intense leg day or workout can help reduce the “good sore” that you might feel the day(s) after a workout. The effects of ginger aren’t immediate but helps in reducing the muscle pain during your recovery. This -herbal medicine’s anti-inflammatory effects have been proven time and time again. Ginger rivals the properties of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

Because it acts as an anti-inflammatory, studies were done to see how it can positively impact osteoarthritis. One study showed that those who consumed ginger extract didn’t need to take pain management medicines and felt less pain. For someone who is suffering from joint pain or muscle soreness might not want to constantly take medicines to mask their pain.

Consuming ginger during that time of the month. Another anti-inflammatory use for ginger would be for those who suffer from cramps. A study was done on a group of 150 women who took 1 gram of ginger a day during the first 3 days of their period. Ginger has been shown to reduce the pain as effectively as ibuprofen.

  • Ginger helps your immune system in small doses and big ways.

Ginger should be included in the list of superfoods. Ginger has been proven helps treat degenerative disorders, digestion health, cardiovascular disorders, vomiting, diabetes mellitus, and cancer.  An active ingredient in fresh ginger called gingerol (easy enough to remember) can lower the risk of infections and bacteria and plays a key role in learning and memory. It’s being studied further for it potential benefits against cancer.

  • Ginger gives us more brain power.

Ginger’s bioactive phytochemicals might benefit our bodies more than we think. Recent studies have shown promise for the treatment or prevention of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. We can hope that a cure or preventative measure can be developed from such natural and ingredients. Ginger has shown to improve cognitive function and memory and protect against brain damage. It enhances attention and cognitive abilities in healthy, middle-aged women.

Being smart enough to add fresh ginger to your diet can provide benefits both cognitively and physically, and has been proven to help our brains and bodies work to their fullest potential, naturally.

We’ve been told we are what we eat. Diving into the health benefits from foods like ginger or garlic prove that eating a well-balanced diet with variety can benefit more than our waistlines; it could mean a longer life. Ginger can be as beneficial as your ibuprofen, cholesterol medicine, your anti-acid medicines, and can help boost your body’s natural defenses in your immune system and brain function. As always, before making the switch from any medications, it’s best to talk with your doctor.

Today more than ever it’s been easier to incorporate fresh ginger into your diet. With a rise in popularity of juicing or smoothies, it is common to see ginger on the list. It’s easy to add to your favorite smoothie at home! Just add a grated or chopped ½ inch to 1-inch piece into the mix, and blend. It makes green drinks a little less green and is available in shots in some juicing restaurants.

Next time you’re in the stores, stop by and check out the ginger in the produce section. When picking out fresh ginger root in the stores, it should be firm and smooth. To keep the ginger at its best, store it in your fridge. My mother taught me the easiest way to peel the skin off the ginger: with a spoon!

If you liked this article then you will love the Fill Your Plate blog. New articles are posted every week. Looking for fun recipes for the family? Check out the Fill Your Plate recipe section.


Ribeye Steaks with Soy and Ginger Marinade

Ginger Salmon

Peanut-Ginger Marinade

Ginger Orange Brussels Sprouts

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Filling Your Plate with Garlic

By Sarah LeVesque, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

Okay, maybe don’t fill your entire plate with it, but think about adding it to your diet. Garlic is a nutrient-packed, pungent, and beneficial addition to many dishes. The flavor and aroma of garlic is unmatched. It can be prepared and incorporated in a variety of ways. Some of my favorite ways to spice up dishes with garlic in my kitchen: I add it to oils before I sauté veggies; I add it into a marinade; I’ll put in in salad dressings. I put it on every protein imaginable (except my protein shakes).

When I add it to olive oil while it’s heating up, it fills my kitchen with the subtle smell of garlic that brings me back to when my grandmother would cook her famous sauce. Garlic hasn’t always been stuck in the kitchen. It has been used to fight illnesses from the common cold to major epidemics. It’s been studied for its ability to aid the body by boosting your immune functions.

If the taste doesn’t persuade you to fill your plate with garlic, here are some nutritional benefits that garlic can offer:

  1. Prevents and reduces the severity of the common cold and illnesses like the flu.

This study found over a 12 week period those who took a garlic supplement significantly reduced the number of colds by 63% and shortened the length of their colds by 70%. Those are big numbers for garlic consumption!  Seems as though there is one more thing we should add to the grocery list next time flu season comes.

  1. Little cals, high nutrients.

In just 6 cloves of garlic (about 18 grams), contains under 30 calories. It contains nutrients like manganese (23%)*, vitamin B6 (17%)*, Vitamin C (15%)*, copper, selenium (6%)*, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin B1. Garlic also contains sulfur compounds thiosulfinates, sulfoxides, sulfides, diallyl sulfides and polysulfides, vinyldithiins, ajoenes, and sulfur-containing amino acids and peptides.

*these percentages are derived from a 1 ounce (28 gram) serving of garlic


  1. Medicinal properties:

Garlic is actually being studied for its potent antimicrobial activity. It’s potential to help treat cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases. Allicin, which is a thiosulfinate, is a compound that is responsible for its pungent smell. It’s also believed to be responsible for some important health benefits like reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.


  1. Can help reduce blood pressure and promotes healthy cholesterol levels.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, which included 50 patients, demonstrated that aged garlic extract lowered systolic blood pressure of those who had uncontrolled hypertension.

Garlic has also been observed to lower the “bad” cholesterol by 10-15%. This is big news for those who suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  More studies are being done, and many have suggested the health benefits of garlic, so having a jar of it in your kitchen doesn’t hurt!


  1. Detoxifying for our bodies.

In a four-week study, employees who were exposed to excessive amounts of lead showed reduced levels of lead in the body by 19%!  Just three doses of garlic in a day outperformed D-penicillamine in reducing the symptoms of toxicity like headaches and blood pressure.


Here are some tips for incorporating garlic in your diets:

  • Adding minced garlic to marinades: When I’m in the kitchen thinking about dinner, I automatically pull out my jar of minced garlic. They’re available in the produce section ready to go. It’s usually about $5 for a big jar that lasts me months. Garlic-lemon juice is my favorite marinade. I use it on boneless, skinless chicken breasts and on salmon.


Lemon-garlic Chicken recipe:

In a plastic bag or bowl (I prefer a ziplock bag), I’ll place the chicken breasts (4 pieces of boneless and skinless) in the bottom of the bag. I’ll pour enough olive oil to coat. Next, I’ll add about 2 tablespoons of garlic, and squeeze in an entire lemon.  Lastly, I’ll add Himalayan salt and pepper to taste. I’ve let this marinade sit for about 10 minutes to overnight. For the best results, I found it tasted it’s best when I let the chicken marinate for 4-5 hours.

I’ll place the breasts with garlic all over them, on a lined baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, flipping once.

The safe internal temperature for cooked chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.


Lemon-garlic Salmon recipe:

On a lined baking sheet, I’ll drizzle a bit of olive oil so that the pieces of salmon filet don’t stick. Once I put the salmon atop of the olive oil, I’ll flip the pieces to lightly coat the topside, but have the skins facing down. Next, I’ll add about a tablespoon of garlic (which varies with the size of the filets). If you don’t have fresh or minced garlic, garlic powder works as the perfect substitute. I’ll squeeze a half of a lemon atop the filets, sprinkle with pepper or spices (my favorite is chili powder) to taste. Fish should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • I also enjoy adding garlic to olive oil while it heats up, prior to sautéing vegetables. My weekly go to is sautéed spinach with garlic and olive oil. It’s super easy, and a fast way to add some fiber and leafy greens to your diet. I recently experimented with other leafy greens, and garlic does not disappoint, so feel free to substitute spinach with your favorite. Some nutritious substitutes for spinach: bok choy, kale, or try a spinach and arugula mixes.


Some other great recipes that incorporate garlic:

Garlic Roasted Summer Squash by Julie Murphree

Kale Stir-Fry by Marieley Lopez

Julie’s Oven Roasted Red Potatoes & Asparagus by Julie Murphree

If you’re searching for more great recipes, check out the Fill Your Plate recipe section. Keep an eye out for new Fill Your Plate blog articles. New ones are posted every week.

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Lasagna Stuffed Chicken Breasts

By Noor Nouaillati, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

I recently found this recipe on Facebook and I had to try it out. I must say it was tremendously delicious and I had some spaghetti on the side.


2 chicken breast

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1 egg

3 teaspoons Italian seasoning

2 cloves crushed garlic

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup marinara sauce

chili flakes (my addition)



First, thin out the chicken breast and then slice it in half like a butterfly. Then season it with salt and pepper and some Italian seasoning. Next, mix in the ricotta cheese, egg, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and a cup of mozzarella in a bowl. Mix it well and then stuff the chicken with the filling. On the bottom of the dish, I had sliced zucchini long ways and made that as my base and then placed the stuffed chicken on top and some marinara sauce inside and on top of the chicken. Then I sprinkled some mozzarella cheese, the rest of the Italian seasoning and some chili flakes. After that, bake for 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. While baking I made some spaghetti to go on the side. Let me tell you this dish was tremendously delish and my family was amazed. Olive Garden has nothing on this dish. I highly recommend you guys to check out this website and find amazing recipes. Enjoy!

If you’re looking for more great recipes visit the Fill Your Plate recipe section. If you enjoyed reading this article then you will love the Fill Your Plate blog. New articles are posted every week.

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Citrus, Citrus and More Citrus

By Kat Brown, Recent ASU Nutrition Student


There is a reason one of the “Five C’s” is citrus. Arizona is one of four states that supply our nation with citrus. This is due to the sensitive nature of citrus trees. They do not tolerate frost, especially lemons, and the leaves stay green all year long.

Some citrus varieties bud and produce fruit all year long, but the peak season is November through January. Lemons, tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit are the frontrunners in the citrus groves.


So celebrate the season by giving the gift of citrus! Drop by your local farmer’s market to stock up on your local citrus of choice. Here are some great gift ideas to share the citrus love!


Citrus Soap

– goat’s milk melt and pour base

– silicone soap molds

– citrus essential oil

– dried citrus slices (instructions below on how to make your own)


Step 1:

  • Dry your citrus.
  • Slice citrus (lemons, lime, oranges) into thin slices, about 1/8″ of an inch).
  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
  • Lay citrus on top of a wire rack on top of a pan and place in the oven until dry, about 2-3 hours.
  • Remove the dried citrus and allow to cool.


Step 2.

  • Break up your soap base into chunks and place in a microwave-safe container.
  • Microwave on 20-30 second intervals, stirring to make sure it’s smooth and melted.
  • Add a few drops of essential oils to the melted soap base and stir.


Step 3. Lay out the citrus inside the molds before pouring the soap.


Step 4. Pour the soap base into the molds. Be careful it can be hot.

After a couple of hours, pop the soaps out and you have beautiful, handmade citrus soaps!


Recipe found on hello, Wonderful


Cranberry Orange Bread




2 cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1½ cups fresh cranberries

½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped

¼ cup margarine softened

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

¾ cup orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in orange zest, cranberries, and pecans. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together margarine, sugar, and egg until smooth.
  4. Stir in orange juice. Beat in flour mixture until just moistened.
  5. Pour into prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched. Let stand 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Wrap in plastic when completely cool.


Recipe from: http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/orange-cranberry-bread-recipe/


Candied Orange Peel


4 oranges, peel of (or any thick-skinned orange)
3 cups sugar
1 cup water

1 cup sugar for rolling
8 oz. chocolate for dipping

  1. Cut the oranges in half and juice them. Cut each half in half again and take a spoon to scrape the pulp out, leaving a clean pith.
  2. Cut peel into 1/4 inch strips. Place peels in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.
  3. Heat on high until water comes to a boil. Pour off the water. Repeat twice more.
  4. Combine sugar and water in the saucepan and bring to boil over high heat until temperature reaches 230°F. Add peel and reduce heat to simmer.
  5. Simmer until peels are translucent (30 minutes or longer). Remove peels from syrup and roll in sugar if desired, and set on a rack to dry for 4-5 hours.
  6. Once the peel is dry dip in tempered dark chocolate – shake off excess, and place on foil, wax paper, or baking sheet to dry.


For more fun articles check out the Fill You Plate blog! New articles are posted every week! Or if you’re looking for more great recipes check out the Fill Your Plate recipe section.

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