Leeks: The Underrated Allium Vegetable

By: Sarah Beleski a recent ASU Nutrition Student

If you don’t know what leeks are, you are missing out! This allium vegetable is in the same family as the commonly used onions and garlic, yet somehow usually overlooked. When cooked, leeks have a somewhat milder and slightly sweeter taste than their close relative, the green onion. They offer a creamy texture, making them an ideal addition to soups and stews. Not only are they delicious but they are also full of nutrients, and our retail farmers in Arizona grow leeks!


Leeks are full of vitamin K and also manganese, vitamin B6, copper, iron, folate, and vitamin C. This underrated vegetable includes a lot of vitamins and minerals while maintaining a low caloric value. They are able to help with vision health, immune function, reproduction, and cell communication due to their carotenoid properties. Vitamin K, the most abundant vitamin found in leeks, is known for its positive effects on heart health. They are also full of antioxidants that fight harmful oxidation. Another connection to heart health is their association with allium vegetables. Studies have been conducted that show the positive benefits of allium vegetables in reducing inflammation and protecting heart health.


It’s no secret that adding more vegetables to your diet will benefit your health. This vibrant green and white vegetable can easily be added to meals to boost your amount of vegetables consumed. They also happen to be relatively inexpensive, so your wallet will thank you! A particularly simple and economical recipe that includes leeks is the classic French Potato and Leek soup.


Last winter, I spent a week in Paris, and I ordered this soup while out for lunch. It was creamy, filling, and warmed me up from the bitterly cold weather in Paris. Recently, I found a recipe that tasted almost identical to the one I had in Paris and it just so happens to be extremely easy to make! Try out this super simple French classic and start incorporating more leeks into your meals to make them more nutrient-rich.


Potato Leek Soup (adapted from Once Upon a Chef)



  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • 7 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Chives, finely chopped (for topping)



  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot
  2. Add leeks and garlic to the pot and stir regularly, until soft and wilted (about 10 minutes) (You may have to adjust the heat so that you don’t brown the leeks)
  3. Add the potatoes, vegetable broth, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to low
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are very soft
  5. Take out the thyme sprig and bay leaves, then purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth (be careful not to over-blend the potatoes because they tend to become a glue-like texture if over-worked)
  6. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
  8. If the soup seems too thin, allow to simmer until it thickens
  9. If the soup seems too thick, add more vegetable chock or water to thin it out
  10. Serve and garnish with fresh herbs






(2019) Leeks. The world’s healthiest foods. Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/    genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=26.


Petre, A. (2019) 10 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Leeks and Wild Ramps. healthline.     Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/leek-benefits.


Segal, Jenn. Potato Leek Soup. once upon a chef. Retrieved from https://www.onceuponachef             .com/recipes/potato-leek-soup.html#tabbox.

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25 Really Fun Facts about Root Vegetables

Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Outreach Director

We’re all about root vegetables. And, we have a lot to tell you about root vegetables. Here, we share some fun facts!

  1. Arizona grows nearly every kind of root vegetable that exists.
  2. The root vegetables are considered some of our best mix of vegetables to produce in the fall and winter months in Arizona.
  3. Obviously, these are all vegetables that grow below the ground.
  4. Technically, they’re not all roots, for example, onions and garlic.
  5. Root vegetables are low in calories and high in antioxidants.
  6. Each type of root vegetable contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.
  7. A medium baked russet potato (including its skin) has 164 calories and 935 mg of potassium (more than twice the potassium of a medium-sized banana).
  8. A cup of mashed turnips has 51 calories and 76 milligrams (mg) of calcium — as much calcium as half of a slice of cheddar cheese.
  9. The flesh of a medium baked sweet potato has only 103 calories and enough vitamin A — 1,096 micrograms (mcg) — to meet your entire Recommended Dietary Allowance for the day (for adults 51 or older, that’s 700 mcg for women, 900 mcg for men). Carrots are also a good source of vitamin A, with 1,069 mcg in a cup of chopped raw carrots.
  10. Carrots are best known for being rich in beta carotene, a compound that may reduce heart disease and certain types of cancer, and Vitamin A, which bolsters vision, bone growth and tooth development.
  11. Originally, wild carrot varieties ranged in color from white to purple.
  12. In the 1600s, Dutch agriculturalists developed carrots that emphasized orange tints and phased out purple. The tinkering didn’t stop there: Researchers at Southern Illinois University report that the British developed high-carotene carrots during World War II in order to enhance pilots’ night vision. Today, geneticists are breeding carrots in a wide color spectrum, including purple, red and yellow, all with slightly different nutritional properties.
  13. High in fiber, vitamin C and folate, parsnips make a nutrient-rich alternative to the potato when mashed or roasted as a side dish. Look for small- to medium-sized roots; larger parsnips can be woody.
  14. The average American eats 120 to 126 pounds of potatoes per year, and while Super-Size fries may have a lousy nutritional reputation, don’t blame the spud itself: fresh potatoes have more potassium than bananas as mentioned earlier, spinach or broccoli and are full of fiber and Vitamin C.
  15. There are as many ways to prepare potatoes as there are pots to cook them in, and they’re so cheap that there’s no reason you can’t experiment.
  16. One of the best things about beets is that they’re high in folic acids, which protect against birth defects.
  17. Fresh beets offer more than just crunch and a variety of colors — the greens attached to the beets are also tasty and can be sautéed with garlic and some olive oil and be eaten just like spinach or used in soups to provide some extra texture and nutrition.
  18. Claims that garlic prevents cancer and lowers cholesterol have been challenged.
  19. Garlic is delicious. Cut off the top, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in tin foil, and roast at 400 degrees until the cloves (only 4 calories apiece) are soft and spreadable.
  20. Root vegetables, including the onion, even have a place in the cocktail world. A Gibson is one of the few cocktails that’s garnished with an onion.
  21. Probably to all the wonderful flavor they contribute to a recipe, Americans consume about 20 pounds of onions per capita every year.
  22. A serving of onion has only 45 calories and can transform the taste and aroma of casseroles, sautés, salads and sandwiches — and just about anything else.
  23. Rutabagas are considered a cabbage-turnip hybrid. They’re easy to grow and, once you pull them from the ground, they can keep in your cupboard for up to three whole months. The big, yellow root vegetables have a stronger, more peppery flavor than their mild-mannered turnip cousins, and have more vitamin A and beta carotene, as well.
  24. More and more, cooks and chefs are turning the turnip into a more popular root vegetable. Often, they’ll blend turnips into their next batch of mashed potatoes. Turnips have a sweet flavor and plenty of vitamin C.
  25. Root vegetables are not always as popular with kids but when blended with their favorite vegetables, parents can introduce the little ones to new flavors.

Arizona Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate has a variety of vegetable recipes that include the root vegetables. Check out the recipes that mainly come from our Arizona farmers and ranchers.

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Bust the Myth: Healthy Food can be Tasty!

By Danielle Sharkey, a recent ASU Nutrition Student


It is time… to start eating for better health and longevity. In these modern days, we are starting to see a shift happening in the United States. People are starting to understand the importance of nutrition and are eager to learn and do more to be as healthy as possible. But, the road to a healthier you can be a rough and bumpy one. I have been through it myself. I grew up on the typical American diet that consisted of mac and cheese, burgers, pizza, Top-Ramen, processed snacks, and much more. It was not until college that I found my interest in nutrition and health foods. It is not easy switching from your typical highly-processed, junk food American diet to a new one that is full of fruits, veggies, lean protein meats, and fresh foods. I get constantly poked at by my family for my new clean diet. Them, along with many people, have this idea that nutritious health-promoting foods cannot taste good or be satisfying. That is why there is a lot of pushback to make the switch over to a healthier diet.

Well, I am here to tell you from personal experience, healthier food can be just as delicious and make you feel so much better than junk food! I have provided a couple plant-based recipes for you to try and enjoy. Hopefully, this may help sway you or your loved one’s opinions on a plant-based healthy diet.


Most people I know LOVE Caesar salads! They are creamy, filled with dairy, salt, and usually an animal protein is added into it. Now, just because it is a “salad” does not always mean it is healthy. Traditional Caesar dressing is known to be high in calories, fat, and sodium which in excess, can lead to health complications.  Caesar dressing contains mayonnaise, eggs, hydrogenated oils, cheese, milk, and sometimes even corn syrup in store-bought bottles. BUT IT’S JUST SOO DELICIOUS! Trust me, I know. That is why I have created my own healthy Caesar salad with an easy at home dressing. The recipe is below.



Caesar Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas


Prep: 7 minutes

Cook Time: 23 Minutes


Salad Ingredients:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Red Onion


Chickpea Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can Chickpeas
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 ½-3 Tbsp Tandoori Masala spice blend


Dressing Ingredients:

  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium lemons (Juiced)
  • 1-2 tbsp honey (depending on preference)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp Spicy Mustard
  • 2 tsp Capers
  • Hot water



  1. Preheat the oven to 375*F
  2. Peel apart garlic gloves. Take the skin off.
  3. Drain the chickpeas and add to a mixing bowl to toss with oil and seasonings.
  4. Cut red onion into slices and add oil, salt and pepper.
  5. Add chickpeas and onion to baking sheet… Bake for 20-23 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.
  6. Add all dressing ingredients into a food processor, blender, or mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to your preference/taste.
  7. Cut up kale and add to large salad bowl along with the spinach.
  8. Mix in 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of lemon juice to greens. Massage with hands to soften the texture of the Kale and make it less butter. Then add dressing.
  9. Top with chickpeas and onions and serve! Delicious



Another huge part of the average American diet is, believe it or not, pasta! Italian restaurants are abundant in the beautiful melting pot we call the United States. Like many of my friends and family, I grew up having spaghetti, fettuccini, mac and cheese, and more!


White Wine Pasta + Brussel Sprouts & Mushrooms

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes


Sauce and Pasta:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 ¾ Unsweetened macadamia nut milk (or cashew, soy, almond)
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 4 Tbsp Arrowroot Starch
  • 4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • Sea Salt + Black Pepper to taste
  • Vegan Parmesan ¼ cup
  • pasta (10 oz), including the Gluten-free variety for those with celiac disease. I prefer to use lentil flour pasta but brown rice or quinoa flour pasta works as well!
  • Chili flakes for topping (if wanted)

Brussel Sprouts and Mushrooms

  • Handful of chopped mushrooms
  • 16 oz halved Brussel sprouts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste


(add a side salad if wanted)



  1. Chop Brussel sprouts in half if not already done
  2. Preheat oven to 395* and add the Brussel sprouts to the baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season to your preference.
  3. Add mushrooms to a separate baking sheet and drizzle oil and add seasoning to preferred taste. Mix them around.
  4. Boil a large pot of water and add salt.
  5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add oil and garlic to sauté for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant. Add the wine to the garlic. BE CAREFUL! Stir for a few minutes.
  6. Add arrowroot and milk and stir/whisk. Then, transfer to a food processor or blender and add the remaining ingredients. Blend on high until creamy.
  7. Adjust and season as needed to taste.
  8. Transfer the sauce back to skillet and warm over low-med heat until slight boiling while stirring. When sauce thickens lower the heat and simmer until pasta is done cooking. If needs thinning, add more nut milk. If too thin, increase heat.
  9. Add mushrooms and Brussels to the oven. Cook for 15 minutes or less… pay attention to how they are looking.
  10. Add pasta to boiling water. Cook according to your brand choice and packaging!
  11. Drain pasta when cooked and add to the sauce. Add half of the Brussel sprouts and mushrooms and mix around.
  12. Top with the remaining veggies and vegan parmesan as wanted/needed for flavor. Enjoy!



I hope these couple of recipes can help persuade you and your loved ones to try some healthy alternatives. Eat well, live long, enjoy life. Much love everyone!

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Surprise You’ll Never Guess What Makes You Eat More!

By Sarah Beleski a Recent ASU Nutrition Student

Over-consumption is a problem in America that has been prevalent for decades. However, the topic of overeating usually only revolves around the actual food that is being consumed. The choice of food is definitely an important factor in the research of overconsumption, but there are many other factors that go into the reasons why people tend to overeat. Environmental factors play a big role in influencing consumption intake.


Some people are defensive against the notion of environmental factors influencing consumption because they believe that they are fully in control of their diets. Although it is true that some individuals are capable of eating the correct amounts of food, it would be foolish to ignore the environmental factors that affect the majority of the population.


Reviewing some of the factors that influence the amount of food you consume could be beneficial to you and your family’s health. It can be shocking to realize how often we overlook these influencing factors, so hopefully, this will give you some insight into what some of the factors in your own life might look like.


In Brian Wansick’s journal article (Journal of food quality) about overconsumption, he splits environmental factors into two categories: the eating environment and the food environment. He describes the eating environment as social gatherings, the atmosphere of a location, the effort it takes to obtain food, any distractions that could occur while eating, and basically any ambient factors related to eating food. The food environment, contrary to the eating environment, is described as factors that deal with the way food is presented or provided. This would include factors such as the structure of the food, packaging, portion size, or the manner in which it is served.


What are some of the factors that influence your own consumption volume? It may be hard to pinpoint exactly what drives some of us to overeat but breaking down those environmental factors into situational examples can be a good starting point.




Location, Location, Location:

Where we choose to eat matters a lot. It not only matters about the actual food we eat but about the atmosphere of the eating environment. Temperature, lighting, odor, and noise all play a role in how much food we consume. Studies suggest that if people are eating in an environment that has high temperatures, they are less likely to overeat than if they are in cold temperatures. The possible reasoning behind this is because more energy is required by the body to regulate its core temperature.

Lighting can influence consumption by increasing or decreasing the length of mealtime and also increasing or decreasing a person’s comfort level. The duration of mealtimes can increase in dimmed lighting because comfort levels rise, and they can decrease in bright or distracting lighting because people are more likely to feel self-conscious or put off by the lighting. Odor and noise seem like more obvious factors that could influence the amount of food consumed. Say you’re at a restaurant and you’re holding a baby who needs a diaper change and is crying their little eyes out. I think it’s safe to assume that you probably wouldn’t be staying for dessert. However, if the noise and odor weren’t an issue, you might be inclined to stay for dessert and even another drink. Everything around us affects how much we eat; we just have to look for those factors.



The more effort that is typically involved, the more people tend to not overconsume. It also works in the opposite direction. If obtaining a certain food requires little effort, overconsumption is more likely to occur. A study performed in a cafeteria showed the effects of this factor. The study revealed that people ate more ice cream when the lid was removed than when it was closed. Another study showed that people ate almonds more frequently if they were already shelled than if they were unshelled.



When eating with people that you feel comfortable around, it is more common for a meal to be extended than if you were around strangers. Studies have also shown that student’s food preferences and the amount they consume are affected by how much their peers consume.



Watching a movie or television show can lead to overconsumption because it distracts the person from monitoring how much food they have eaten. More importantly, this situation can easily become a habit and lead people to associate those scenarios with food. Personally, this factor greatly affects my life because I became accustomed to mindlessly eating while watching television. If I go to watch a show, I always feel the urge to grab a snack. You can see how unhealthy this is if I’m constantly snacking during a show.





In his article, Wansick states that just looking at or smelling food can cause unplanned overconsumption. In one study, sandwiches that were placed in clear wrap were more likely to be overconsumed than the same sandwiches left in a nontransparent wrap. The sandwiches that were in the clear wrap acted as a constant temptation, whereas the sandwiches that were concealed were out of sight, and out of mind.



This environmental factor is probably the sneakiest one of them all. Portion sizes have been increasing steadily for the past 30 years. Just look at the difference in bagel size from the 1990s (left) to now (right). The calories went from around 140 to 350, more than doubling the amount consumed.


Here are some tips to help you alter your eating and food environments:

  • Keep tempting foods in a less-convenient location (top shelf of pantry or out of sight)
  • Decide how much to eat before you start a meal
  • Pre-serve portions if you’re going to be distracted by watching TV while eating
  • Wrap tempting foods in something that conceals it, so that it is out of sight



Fill your plate has many wonderful resources for a healthy lifestyle. Check out the recipe section or the produce in season tab for more information




Amidor, T. Portions: Then and Now. Foodnetwork. Retrieved from https://www.foodnetwork.             com/healthy/packages/healthy-every-week/portions-then-and-now.


Armendariz, M. (2014). Television Food Network. Retrieved from https://www.foodnetwork



Kuo, S, & Lin, H. (2019). Effects of Food Environments and Eating Environments on Consumers’   Food Consumption Volume. Journal of Food Quality, 2019, 1-7.


Wansink, B. (2004). Environmental Factors That Increase the Food Intake and Consumption        Volume of Unknowing Consumers. Annual Review of Nutrition, 24, 455-479.

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How To Protect Our Children From Childhood Obesity

By Kenda Hettinger a recent ASU Nutrition Student

Why should we be concerned?


We recently got some sad news regarding childhood obesity, it’s has not gotten much better over the last few years. The national obesity rate for children age 10-17 is 15.3%, compared to 16.1% in 2016. Another way to look at this, 4.8 million kids in the United States are obese. Arizona is below the national average, at 13.2%.


Obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, certain types of cancer, sleep apnea, fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, and many more complications. Controlling our weight is so much more than how we look and fit in our clothes. Our weight affects how our bodies operate and grow.



How do we protect our kids?




  1. Education – Start by educating your children on why we eat. We consume food to fuel our bodies. In my home, we eat dinner together and we often go over the benefits of what we are eating. My five year old will tell you that nuts help your brain, vegetables help prevent illness, and water is the most important thing you put in your mouth. It helps when our kids understand that our foods have very important roles in our bodies.


  1. Exercise – Make it a family affair. There are great kids yoga and exercise videos available for free on YouTube. Buy a ball and go outside to kick it around while you grill some non-processed meats and veggies. Pack up dinner and take it to a park to play and picnic.


  1. Diet – The best change most anyone can make is to take the refined sugars out of the diet. Candy, desserts, sodas, sweetened teas, and juices should all be limited to special occasions only. Focus on vegetables because they have the most nutrients for the least amount of calories. When losing weight specifically, vegetables should make up the largest portion of your plate.



Below is a great illustration from Harvard Chan’s school of public health on how a kid’s plate should be structured.

Fill your plate has many wonderful resources for a healthy lifestyle. Check out the recipe section or the produce in season tab for more information














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