Eating to Boost Immunity

By Kenda Hettinger a recent ASU Nutrition Student

My 5-year-old is currently fighting strep throat. We were talking about probiotics and eating healthy to help her get better quicker and she said: “so the probiotic goes through my mouth and into my body and karate chops bad bacteria?” It’s kind of like that.

With the exception of those who are immunocompromised, our bodies do a pretty good job of fighting off what the world throws at it. There are foods that we can consume that help give our immunity an extra hand.



Echinacea is a very useful plant native to North America. It is made into teas, juices, extracts, capsules, and topical formulas. A literature review from 2018 found that consuming 2400 mg per day can help to prevent the common cold. This should be increased to 4000 mg per day after starting to show symptoms to reduce the duration and severity. Hot echinacea tea with honey is a delicious treat when you are not feeling well.


Take an elderberry supplement.


There is not a lot of research on elderberry, but I did find a study done in 2012 that states that elderberry extract increases the activity of Lactobacillus acidophilus in dendritic cells. Dendritic cells are part of our immune system. L. acidophilus is one of the probiotics in yogurt, so perhaps taking your elderberry supplement with a yogurt snack would help boost this benefit.




For optimal immunity and health, you need more good bacteria than bad bacteria. Probiotics help the good bacteria flourish in your gut, crowding out the bad bacteria and preventing viruses from entering your bloodstream. A study in 2012 gave school-aged children found that children who were given probiotics were 18% less likely to develop the common cold symptoms. Yogurt and yogurt drinks commonly contain beneficial probiotics.




Legumes, in general, are a good addition to your daily diet due to their high content of numerous vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Legumes are especially beneficial during the cold and flu season due to their zinc content. A literature review completed in 2018, states to increase your zinc intake within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms to reduce the duration by about 33%.




Kiwi fruit is high in vitamin C. With 93 mg per 100 G, this gives you more Vitamin C than an orange. Kiwi is also in season in the fall, making it a great-tasting addition to your daily diet. According to a review of literature completed in 2018, regular supplementation of vitamin C may reduce the duration of and severity of the common cold by 8% in adults and 14% in children.




Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, but did you know that mushrooms are naturally high in vitamin D? They also contain vitamin C and zinc, making them upper respiratory infections fighting powerhouses. Mushrooms are great in stir-frys, soups, and added fresh to salads.


Green Tea


According to a study published in 2012, the polyphenols and flavonoids found in green tea help to boost your immune system. It also contains an antioxidant called EGCG. EGCG can directly kill bacteria and viruses. Green tea is a powerful food to have in your stay well arsenal this season.



Eating a diet with a wide variety of healthy foods to ensure a good amount of vitamins and minerals is best to keep your body able to fight off infections this winter season.




For more recipes like this one check out our recipe section. Check out the produce section to find out what produce is in season.




Rondanelli, Mariangela, Alessandra Miccono, Silvia Lamburghini, Ilaria Avanzato, Antonella Riva, Pietro Allegrini, Milena Anna Faliva, Gabriella Peroni, Mara Nichetti, and Simone Perna. “Self-Care for Common Colds: The Pivotal Role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters (Physical Barriers, Innate and Adaptive Immunity) Involved during an Episode of Common Colds-Practical Advice on Dosages and on the Time to Take These Nutrients/Botanicals.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM 2018 (2018): 5813095. Web.


Rerksuppaphol, Sanguansak, and Rerksuppaphol, Lakkana. “Randomized Controlled Trial of Probiotics to Reduce Common Cold in Schoolchildren.” Pediatrics International 54.5 (2012): 682-87. Web.


Chatterjee, Anirban, Mini Saluja, Gunjan Agarwal, and Mahtab Alam. “Green Tea: A Boon for Periodontal and General Health.” Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology 16.2 (2012): 161-67. Web.


Frokiaer, Hanne, Louise Henningsen, Stine Broeng Metzdorff, Gudrun Weiss, Marc Roller, John Flanagan, Emilie Fromentin, and Alvin Ibarra. “Astragalus Root and Elderberry Fruit Extracts Enhance the IFN-beta Stimulatory Effects of Lactobacillus Acidophilus in Murine-Derived Dendritic Cells.” Plos One 7.10 (2012): Plos One, 2012 Oct 30, Vol.7(10). Web.

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Peaches and Cream Pie

By Sarah Beleski a recent ASU Nutrition student

My family is unconventional in the sense that most of us don’t like birthday cakes. Now, we’re not completely crazy… we may not like the basic sponge cake, but we find other treats to enjoy on our birthdays. For as long as I can remember, my sister has requested pie on her birthday. And for good reason!

The Pie she requests is a peaches and cream pie. This pie is creamy, delicious, and extremely easy to make! It’s best served right out of the refrigerator and with a cup of tea or coffee. Try out this recipe the next time you’re thinking of stepping outside the box.



  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 (3 ¼ oz.) package dry vanilla pudding mix (not instant)
  • 1 (15-20 oz.) can sliced peaches, drained
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar for filling and 1 tbsp sugar for topping
  • 3 tbsp reserved peach juice (from can)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt, softened butter, egg, milk, and vanilla pudding mix in a stand mixer and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed
  • In a 9- or 10-inch pie plate, grease the sides and bottom
  • Fill pie plate with batter
  • Places peaches over batter evenly
  • In a new bowl, combine cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, and 3 tbsp reserved peach juice and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed
  • Spoon the mixture on top of the peaches and spread gently until you reach within an inch of the edge of the pie plate (to make room for the bottom layer to look like a crust)
  • In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the pie
  • Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until “crust” is golden brown
  • *Filling will appear soft*
  • Place in the refrigerator when done and serve cold

*Store in the refrigerator*



For more recipes like this one check out our recipe section. Check out the produce section to find out what produce is in season

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Arizona Seasonal Veggie Recipe

By Danielle Sharkey a recent ASU Nutrition Student

What is eating seasonal and why should we consider this way of eating?

How do we know what is seasonal in our area?

Eating “seasonal” is when you purchase and consume fruits and veggies that flourish in the different seasons (fall, winter, spring, summer). Different types of vegetables and fruits grow better and thrive at different points in the year. For example, squash grows best in summer and fall so you would consume squash within those seasons. For summer in Arizona, apples, tomatoes, and nectarines are just a few examples of what thrives in the summer season.

It is important to consider this because there are actually many benefits of consuming produce grown at their “peak”. For one, you will save money on in-season produce as it costs less for farmers to harvest and distribute seasonal produce. On top of the savings, the biggest benefit of eating seasonally is that you will be ingesting the most nutritious and best-tasting food! You can find what is seasonal for your area by simply searching online and pulling up a list.

Here is a recipe for a seasonal Arizona vegetable dish that I have been making with my mom for as long as I can remember.

Arizona Winter Veggies Dish


  • 1 large broccoli head
  • 2 beets
  • 1 pack of Brussel Sprouts
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 3 tbsp of Olive oil
  • Arugula
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic seasoning
  • lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 375*
  2. Chop the broccoli into smaller pieces and add to a large bowl.
  3. Peel and chop beets and add to a large bowl with broccoli
  4. Chop Brussel sprouts in half and add to a large bowl
  5. Peel and chop sweet potatoes add to another large bowl if no room in the first bowl
  6. Add oil over all the veggies as well as seasoning with salt, pepper, and garlic (to taste)
  7. Mix the veggies up with the oil and seasoning to ensure fully coated
  8. Place veggies on one or two large baking pans and add to oven to cook for 20 minutes
  9. After 20 minutes, pull out pans briefly and add pieces of thyme and rosemary all over veggies.
  10. Cook for 20 more minutes
  11. Pull out, cool for 5-10 minutes, add veggies over a bed of arugula
  12. Top with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, serve and enjoy!

For more information on Arizona’s seasonal produce visit Fill Your Plate.

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Morning Oats

By Sarah Beleski a recent ASU Nutrition Student


There are endless possibilities when it comes to cooking or baking with oats. Even out of the kitchen, oats are used in cosmetic products like facial masks1.


Oats have several healthy qualities, making them a perfect candidate for your morning breakfast. But what exactly are oats so healthy for you?


The soluble fiber, beta-glucan, is a major reason why oats are so beneficial1. This powerhouse fiber has been linked to help slow digestion, increase satiety, and even suppress appetite1. It’s no wonder that this breakfast staple has been recommended by nutritionists for years. Who wouldn’t want a breakfast that left them feeling full?


Oats are also helpful in reducing the “bad” cholesterol, otherwise known as your low-density lipoprotein or LDL2. They accomplish this by reducing the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream3.


According to the American Heart Association Eating Plan, 25 to 30 grams of fiber should be consumed per day from food alone, not supplements4. One serving of oatmeal can provide 3 to 4 grams of fiber, giving you a solid start to your day3.


Not everyone has the time to sit down in the morning with a hearty bowl of oatmeal, so prepared oats are the way to go! This recipe for breakfast cookies includes oats, bananas, and applesauce that will add more fiber to your morning meal. Keep these breakfast treats in the refrigerator, as they are highly perishable. Take them out when you are ready to eat them and enjoy!


Side Note: Although their name includes “breakfast”, don’t be afraid to eat these whenever you please. They work just fine as an afternoon pick-me-up!



Breakfast Cookies:



  • 3 ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup almond or coconut milk
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mash bananas in a medium-sized mixing bowl
  • Add milk to the mashed bananas and stir
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to mixture and stir until everything is fully incorporated
  • Place a heaping tablespoon of mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and continue until all of mixture is used up
  • Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned
  • Let cool completely on a wire rack and then transfer to the refrigerator for storage


*Will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days*






  1. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source.
  2. SELF Staff. Why Oatmeal Might Make You Gain Weight. Sept 2, 2011.
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff. Cholesterol: Top foods to improve your numbers. July 17, 2018.

Increasing Fiber Intake. UCSF Health. https

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Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

By Kenda Hettinger a recent ASU Nutrition Student


Mental health has become a major issue in the United States. According to the CDC, 1 out of 6 adults will have depression at some point in their lifetime and 3.2% of children ages 3-17 years old have diagnosed depression. The evidence is stacking up that diet can be to blame and can also be the fix. Signs and symptoms of depression are:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

If you are thinking about suicide text HELLO to 741741.


In 2014, a systematic review was published in the American Society for Nutrition.  According to this analysis, studies competed on individual nutrients that were inconsistent and did not consider how nutrients work together in whole foods. The authors pooled 13 observational studies and concluded that a diet high in fruit, vegetables, fish, and whole grains is associated with lower depression risk. They also felt like more evidence was needed to confirm this finding.


In 2017, a meta-analysis turned the data around and linked a poor diet with increased depression risk. They found that high intakes of red and/or processed meats, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, and potatoes with high-fat gravy increase your risk of depression.


The most recent study, published on October 9, 2019, found that even a brief diet intervention can reduce depression symptoms. This trial put young adults, who had previously eaten a standard western diet, on a Mediterranean-style diet. They were instructed to increase their intake of vegetables, fruits, wholegrain cereals, lean meats, tofu, legumes, fish, nuts, and seeds. They were also instructed to use the spices cinnamon and turmeric daily. After just 3 weeks on this Mediterranean-style diet, the members of the study improved in not only depression symptoms but also anxiety and stress symptoms. To take it a step further, the researchers called the members of the study back 3 months later and most of them had kept to the diet and were still experiencing a reduction in depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms.


There have also been numerous studies linking physical activity with decreased depressive symptoms. Including a study done in 2017 that focused on children and adolescents. You do not have to join a gym or pick up a sport to reap these benefits, it can be as simple as a daily family walk around the neighborhood.



If you or a family member is experiencing depression symptoms, examine your diet and lifestyle. There may be ways to naturally combat these symptoms and give your brain a fighting chance. Reduce your intake of ultra-processed and fatty foods, and consume more vegetables, fruits, whole food sources of fat, and good quality proteins. Make sure you are getting some movement in daily.




Lai, J., Hiles, S., Bisquera, A., Hure, A., McEvoy, M., & Attia, J. (2014). A systematic review and meta-analysis of dietary patterns and depression in community-dwelling adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99(1), 181-197


Li, Ye, Lv, Mei-Rong, Wei, Yan-Jin, Sun, Ling, Zhang, Ji-Xiang, Zhang, Huai-Guo, & Li, Bin. (2017). Dietary patterns and depression risk: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research, 253, 373-382


Korczak, D., Madigan, S., & Colasanto, M. (2017). Children’s Physical Activity and Depression: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 139(4), Pediatrics, Vol.139(4)


Francis, H., Stevenson, R., Chambers, J., Gupta, D., Newey, B., & Lim, C. (2019). A brief diet intervention can reduce symptoms of depression in young adults – A randomized controlled trial. PloS One, 14(10), E0222768.


Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash


Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

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