15 Fun Facts about Food

food facts

Look no further to find out about these fun facts about food (photo credit:BigStockPhoto.com)

Most of us eat every day with only nutrition or sustenance on the mind. We don’t often look at the foods in our fridge for the fun they contain. So, taking a break to look at the fun side of food, here are fifteen fun facts about your favorite foods.

  1. If you aren’t sure if that egg in the fridge is hard-boiled or raw, give it a spin. If it will spin, it is hardboiled. Raw or soft-boiled eggs won’t spin on its end.
  2. If you are looking for a protein-packed snack, pick something with avocado on it. Avocados have more protein than any other fruit.
  3. If you are struggling to stay awake in the morning, grab an apple instead of another cup of coffee. Apples are better than caffeine at helping you stay awake.
  4. If you are craving that morning coffee but don’t have any on hand, you can roast dandelion root and grind it up as a substitute.
  5. If you had enough patience to count the kernels on an ear of corn, you will always get a result that is an even number.
  6. If you laid out all the pizzas Americans eat in a single day side by side, it would cover 100 acres.
  7. If you need to separate out the cream from a bottle of whole milk, let it sit. Milk is heavier than cream and will move to the bottom as the cream rises to the top.
  8. If you have ever wondered how there can be canola oil when there is no such thing as a canola bean or seed, you aren’t alone. The term ‘canola’ was adopted as a replacement for the unappealingly named rapeseed oil when it was introduced as a healthy alternative to other types of oil.
  9. If you thought those purple carrots at the farmer’s market were a novelty, you might be surprised to learn that carrots were naturally purple until the Dutch monarchy bred carrots that grew orange to match the color of their house. Orange carrots were a symbol of prestige.
  10. If you plan on buying pumpkins to carve into jack o’lanterns or to decorate your porch this fall, you aren’t alone. Of all the pumpkins sold each year, only 1% is used as food.   The other 99% are solely for decoration.
  11. If you want to celebrate Thanksgiving like the Pilgrims did, set the table without forks. These early Americans didn’t use forks, only knives, spoons, and their hands.
  12. If you want to lose weight, breathe in the scent of green apples and bananas. Both scents have been shown to help you lose weight.
  13. If you have enjoyed some of the wonderfully nutritious Arizona spinach grown by our local farmers this year, you probably have Popeye to thank. When the comic strip rose to popularity in 1931, spinach consumption in this country increased significantly.
  14. If you are looking to boost your vitamin C intake, eat strawberries rather than oranges. Strawberries provide a higher dose of this valuable vitamin than oranges do.
  15. If you are looking for a way to get that green tomato to ripen faster, put it next to your bananas. Ripe bananas give of ethylene gas that helps the tomato ripen more quickly.

Check in with us weekly, if not daily, on Fill Your Plate to uncover future fun food facts including ones that tie into Arizona agriculture. The Fill Your Plate team is regularly exploring the latest food information.


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5 Simple Steps to Get Physical- and Get Healthy

physical exercise

Get physical and follow these tips for an active lifestyle (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

It is a sad truth of our times that most people do not get as much physical activity as we need to safeguard our health. As technology has improved, our lives have become easier. Daily life for most Americans is far less physically demanding than it was 50 or 100 years ago. As a result, we have increasingly become a more sedentary population. While the advances in technology that caused this shift have helped advance society as a whole, the decrease in physical activity has had dire consequences for the state of our health.

But there is something you can do to counteract this negative result. Simply commit to making physical activity a regular part of your day.

According to the USDA’s Choose My Plate campaign, choosing to be more physically active will improve your health for the short term and the long term. No matter how old you are, where you live, or what size you wear, you will benefit from increasing the amount of physical activity in your daily routine. And when it comes to physical activity, the more you do, the better you will feel.

To help you increase the amount of physical activity in your day, here are some tips on how making small changes can lead to a more active lifestyle.

  1. Go for Four a Day

There are four different kinds of activity that provide health benefits and if you try to do something every day in each of those four areas, you will increase your overall activity level. These areas are aerobic, muscle strengthening, bone strengthening, and balance/stretching.

  1. Pick Activities You Like

If you love going to the gym, great; but if you don’t, find some other activity that you like to do and do that instead. Research indicates that when you choose physical activities that you like, you are more likely to do them, even when that means making time for them in an already busy schedule.

  1. Think Small

One of the mistakes many people make is thinking that they need to carve out a large amount of time in order to work out. This way of thinking makes it really easy to go entire days without any increase in our activity level. But you can get big benefits from thinking small. Instead of trying to find an hour and a half to go to the gym, find three 10-20 minute blocks of time to go for a walk, do some simple strength training exercises, or to run through a couple of yoga poses.

  1. Mix It Up

Don’t get stuck in a rut by doing the same thing every day. Over time, doing the same thing day in and day out may get boring but it may also mean that you are only getting one or two of the types of activity mentioned above.

  1. Try This

  • Join or start a walking group at work or in your neighborhood.
  • Go for a family bike ride.
  • Walk around the track or the field while watching kids at sports practices.
  • Clean the house or rake the yard.
  • Stretch or do yoga poses while watching television.
  • Park in the parking space farthest from the door when you go to the office, the store, or anywhere.
  • Take dance lessons.

And, of course, if you are looking for healthy recipes to pair with your new physical activities, check out the selection of healthy recipes on Fill Your Plate.


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Ingredients that Matter When We Have a Snack Attack

snack attack

Find out how ingredients matter drink your snack attack (photo credit:BigStockPhoto.com)

People all around the world love to snack which is apparent when looking at the results of Nielsen’s Global Survey of Snacking.   This $374 billion industry just keeps growing and it isn’t the biggest snackers on the planet, Americans and Europeans, driving most of that growth. While the total year over year increase in money spent on snacks increased by 2% globally, it was the up and coming snackers in regions like Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle-East (9%, 5%, and 4% respectively) that helped fuel the increase.

When it comes to what kind of snacks we like, there are two main drivers, taste, which is obvious, and health considerations, which isn’t. In fact, the survey showed that these two are almost equal in importance and that when it comes to choosing the snack we want; we aren’t really interested in compromising.

Although many people might think of ‘sweets’ when they hear ‘snacks’, the savory snack category is actually growing faster than any other category. These are the snacks that we most often use to replace a regular meal which is one reason this category is growing so fast. Things like crackers, rice cakes, meat jerky, yogurt, and cheese are all experiencing the fastest-growth in almost every region.

This underscores one of the key findings of the survey – when it comes to snacking, consumers are focused on how those snacks can help or hurt their health. Traditional sweet snacks like cookies and confections still reign supreme when it comes to snack sales but as the focus shifts more and more to snacking healthy, it is the snacks that are seen as ‘healthy’ that are driving sales and growth.

When it comes to how we choose our healthy snacks or how we decide if a snack is healthy or not, ingredients matter. What our snacks contain or what they do not contain is one of the most important factors we consider when choosing a healthy snack.   When asked to rank 20 different attributes that are important when choosing a healthy snack almost half of those who participated in the survey put snacks with all natural ingredients at the top of the list.   We also want snacks that are high in fiber and protein and those that are made with whole grains.

What is not in our snacks is almost as important as what is when it comes to what we choose.   The demand for specialty snacks like those that do not contain caffeine or that are gluten-free are also seeing an increase in demand.   Demand for snacks that are low in sugar, salt, fat, carbohydrates, and calories is also increasing as the focus shifts from sugary sweet snacks to healthy snacks. Other key factors included the lack of artificial colors, genetically modified organisms, and artificial flavors.

The survey collected information from more than 30,000 consumers from more than 60 countries in their online campaign.   Participants were asked to provide information on which attributes affected their snack selections in categories like health, taste, and texture.   For more information about the survey, visit Nielsen’s website.

Fill Your Plate has a great mix of recipes including desserts that might satisfy that snack attack urge in you.


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Tips for Planning a Fabulous Family Vacation on a Budget

family travel

Here are some fun tips for family travel (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

The kids are settled in to school but the craziness that can be the holiday season hasn’t yet started which means this is the perfect time to start planning next year’s family vacation. You might be thinking that October is a little early to start making plans for next spring or summer, but for families who need to travel on a budget, planning well in advance is one of the most important things you can do.

Planning your next family vacation now makes it possible for you to shop around and look for the best deal. You are likely to find discounts and special pricing offered at everywhere from hotels to theme parks as those businesses look to lock in visitors. Starting now also lets you decide the optimal time to take a vacation in your chosen location before you have to submit your vacation requests at the start of the New Year. This means you can pick the time that has the best value for the money rather than going whichever weeks you requested off last January.

Here are some other tips for planning the best possible family vacation on a budget.

Consider a Cruise

As more and more cruise lines have started catering to families, the deals for family excursions have never been better. While you might look at the price tag and swallow hard, cruises are actually a really great value for your dollar. Before you decide you can’t afford that 5 day cruise to the sandy beaches of Mexico and back, consider this. How much will you spend on hotels, food, entertainment, travel, activities, etc if you take a more traditional family vacation? When you consider all the small costs of that kind of vacation you may find that cruising actually costs you less in the long run.

Take a Road Trip

If cruising isn’t your thing, consider taking a good old-fashioned family road trip. While the costs for this kind of trip can add up fast, there are some things you can do to decrease how much you spend without diminishing your family’s fun. First, camp out instead of staying in hotels. Many campgrounds still only charge $20 or $30 a night which is significantly less than you will pay for even a cheap roadside motel.   Second, don’t eat every meal out. If you are camping, bring a camp stove. You can easily make coffee, hot chocolate, oatmeal, and even eggs and bacon at your campsite before you head out for the day and a loaf of bread and some peanut butter and jelly can cut way down on your food costs. Third, find free or low cost attractions. There are so many interesting and entertaining things to do across the country and many of them cost little to no money. Seek out these attractions and you will have a fantastic time without breaking the bank.

Set a Souvenir Strategy

No matter where you go, take some time before you leave to talk about how you are going to handle souvenirs. Whether each person has a souvenir budget or you only choose ‘family’ type souvenirs like Christmas ornaments from different destinations, making this decision ahead of time will cut down on the kind of impulse buying that can break your vacation budget.

If you are looking for meals you can make for the road, be sure to check out some of these ideas to Fix Ahead Food for Your Summer Road Trip. For a list of recipes using your favorite Arizona grown foods, check out the recipe section on Fill Your Plate!

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Don’t Miss the Willcox Fall Wine Festival, October 18/19

Willcox Wine Festival

photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com

The Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture announces the 5th annual Willcox Fall Wine Festival on October 18th and 19th, 2014.
Rated by Fodor’s Travel as one of the top 10 wine festivals in North America, the festival is a weekend-long celebration, featuring Arizona wines from the Willcox region; growing 74% of Arizona’s wine grape production and source of the most highly rated Arizona wines by Wine Spectator, with 45 wines rated 88-90 over the past 5 years.
The festival is held in Railroad Park located on Railroad Avenue in historic downtown Willcox, an hour’s drive east of Tucson on I-10, halfway between Phoenix and El Paso. The event will include great food, live music, local vendors, wine and vineyard workshops, and a wine tasting area that will feature 17 Willcox Arizona farm wineries. The event is scheduled, rain or shine, for Saturday and Sunday, 11AM-5PM.
Attendance and parking at the Festival are FREE and open to the public. Wine tasting will be $15 for patrons over 21 and will include six tasting coupons and a commemorative Willcox Wine Country glass. Additional tasting tickets are available for purchase along with bottles of wine from the individual wineries.
The Arizona farm wineries featured this Fall: Arizona Stronghold, Golden Rule Vineyards, Carlson Creek Vineyard, Coronado Vineyards, Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, Kief-Joshua, Page Springs Cellars, Pillsbury Wine Co, Sand-Reckoner, Zarpara Vineyard, Passion Cellars, Cellar 433, Bodega Pierce, Flying Leap Vineyards, Aridus Wine Co, Dos Cabezas Wineworks and Caduceus Cellars.
The all new Street Bistro will feature a Tucson favorite, Dante’s Fire restaurant with two separate menus. The Railroad Park Stage will feature Josh & Nicki/Cisco & the Racecars on Saturday, Hans Olson/Ronnie Glover & Trio Rio on Sunday.

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