The Simple, Easy Weekend Zucchini Lasagna Recipe

By Noor Nouaillati, ASU Nutrition student


Being a college student means living on a tight budget and waiting for that next paycheck. It can be tough. I know, I’ve been there. So, when it comes to the food items in your budget, it’s probably the best place to find ways to save.

We’re often influenced on how to spend depending on how thick our wallets are and grocery shopping tends to entice us to spend more than we need. We start eating out after the first two days when we get our paycheck, then we are forced to cook at home. One simple recipe that spreads dollars involves four main ingredients.


This easy recipe that I have been making for a while now has become a staple weekend dish in my house. This is my famous zucchini lasagna. I recommend this to all college students, the ones trying to cut out on carbs and live a healthy lifestyle and the ones that just love to try new things!


Zucchini Lasagna Ingredients:

  1. One zucchini
  2. Ground Meat
  3. Marinara Sauce
  4. Cheese (your preference of cheese)


Salt and pepper to taste


Slice the zucchini long ways and thin layers. Cook your ground meat and season it with salt and pepper. I added a pinch of chili flakes for that spicy kick. Get a baking plate and put a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom. Then, layer it with the zucchini and add ground meat on top. Then add more sauce and some cheese. Repeat this step for about 3-4 layers and then top it off with more sauce and then cheese to cover. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Take it out and let it rest for 5-10 minutes and then you can serve it with garlic bread, a house salad, or even alone. It tastes ridiculously delicious, very flavorful and tremendously light!


When you’re done, go to Fill Your Plate and discover a myriad of recipes that you can search for either by the main ingredient or by category. Many of the recipes are provided to us by Arizona’s farmers and ranchers. Additionally, Fill Your Plate’s 10+Plus Easy Tips to Help Stretch Your Food Dollar will be helpful for us because we always want to stretch our grocery bill where we can.


I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it and make it a weekly dish just like how it has become at my household!


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How Energy Drinks are Affecting Your Health

By Kat Brown, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student 

6 tips to preventing caffeine addiction

  1.       Pre-existing conditions
  2.       Know your limits
  3.       Read the labels
  4.       Beware the “buzz”
  5.       Instant energy boosters
  6.       See the signs

Pre-existing conditions

Many conditions may heavily influence how these energy drinks affect your body personally. Often times fatal incidents that site energy drinks as the cause are combined with a pre-existing condition.  Most often these conditions involve some type of cardiac arrhythmia. Conditions that involve jeopardized heart health, blood pressure, or other major organ functions can intensify the effects of energy drinks creating the platform for a lethal combination.

Know your Limits

Just because your coworker can down 2 Rockstar’s before lunch and seem totally fine doesn’t mean you can do the same. Caffeine can affect individuals differently based on their tolerance. A research study from The Journal for Nurse Practitioners reviewed the effects of caffeine on individuals found that people develop a caffeine tolerance. Someone who drinks a red bull every morning may have developed a tolerance to that caffeine dosage and may not be affected the same as someone who rarely drinks energy drinks. Also, studies have shown that while smaller doses of caffeine, 40mg, may help improve cognition, 80mg or higher may impair cognition. Dr. David Kruse states, “The ability to tolerate caffeine with exercise is based on fitness level, hydration status, pre-existing medical conditions, and medication use.”

Read the labels

How often do you flip over that can you just bought at the convenience store? In order to know how much caffeine you are consuming it is important to know what is in these energy drinks.  The FDA regulation for caffeine is 72mg per 12 fluid ounces, many of these energy drinks contain anywhere from 6.67mg/oz to 33.33 mg/oz of caffeine.  After receiving scrutiny from consumers many of these energy drink brands have begun to suggest that their products are more “natural”. They site the use of ingredients such as taurine, B vitamins, inositol, ginseng, ginko biloba, L-carnitine, and L-Theanine.

Beware the “buzz”

Many of these drinks use “buzz” words to attract consumers. Pimp juice and Cocaine are two energy drinks that have used provocative names to entice consumers into purchasing these drinks. Other energy drinks use words like “zero-crash” and “party like a rockstar” to attract consumers. Companies such as Kraft promote their energy drink Mio Energy by stating that the black cherry flavor is “so wild it could get you arrested on a plane, but it’s worth the lawyer fees.”

Instant Energy-Boosters

Now that you’ve been reading those labels your starting to second-guess guzzling down that 24oz. can of sugar. Try some of these energy-boosters instead:

  • “Sunlight energizes and elevates mood,” says Dr. Lorraine Maita, a board certified internist and author of Vibrance for Life: How to Live Younger and Healthier in Short Hills, New Jersey.
  • Tap your thymus with your fingertips for 20 seconds, while slowly and deeply breathing in and out. “Your thymus is located at center top of your chest, below the collar bone, between your breasts. When tapped it triggers the production of T-cells, boosts energy, relieves stress, and increases strength and vitality,” says Marian Buck-Murray, a nutrition coach and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner in Maplewood, New Jersey
  • Stretch often, energy can be zapped from periods of inactivity. Blood vessels constrict during prolonged periods of stillness and can make you feel drowsy. Do not stay stagnant for too long and make sure to get up and stretch often.

See the Signs

It is important to be aware of the signs of caffeine intoxication. Excessive caffeine intake can result in migraines, cardiac arrhythmia, compromised sleep cycles, dehydration, increased blood pressure, nervousness, anxiety, headaches, tremors, and dysphoric mood changes. Caffeine meets all the requirements for being an addictive substance, including dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal and should be recognized as such.


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Is Your Whole Grain Bread Lying To You?

By Alise Robers, Recent Arizona State University Student 

When grocery shopping there are so many different options and brands to choose from. It can sometimes be overwhelming! If you want to pick out a loaf of bread that is 100 percent whole grain, you have to be wary of the many breads that are pretending to be healthier for you. Breads that claim to be “wheat breads” are often enriched with over 50 percent white flour with molasses or caramel added to make them look like whole wheat.1 To avoid the headache, here are some hints for finding true whole grain bread, rolls, and crackers.

Hint #1: To ensure the bread you are buying is in fact whole grain, it’s important that you first read the ingredient list on the food label.  It’s helpful to know that the ingredient that weighs the most will be listed first and the ingredient that weighs the least will be listed last.1 For example, if the whole grain is listed first, then you know that ingredient makes up the majority of that product. Look for whole wheat, whole oats, whole rye, whole grain corn, whole grain barley, or brown rice as the first ingredient. Stay away from breads that list wheat flour, de-germinated cornmeal, or enriched flour as their first ingredient because these are not good sources of whole grain.1,2


Hint #2: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends you make half or more of the grains you eat whole grains.3 This means 3 to 5 servings of whole grains every day. When picking out your loaf of bread look for the packages that have the Whole Grains Council stamp, which will show you how many grams of whole grain are in one serving of the product.2 One serving of whole grains is 16 grams, and your goal should be to eat about 48 grams per day!


Hint #3: Keep an eye out for the whole grain health claim on food product labels: “Diets rich in whole-grain foods and other plant foods and low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce the risk of heart disease.”1,2 This claim ensures that the product contains at least 51 percent or more whole grains by weight and is low in fat.


Hint #4: Pay attention to the amount of fiber listed per serving on the nutrition label. If the product contains a substantial amount of whole grain ingredients it should have a minimum of 2 grams of fiber per serving.1 Keep in mind that it is very possible for a product to have a large amount of fiber but no whole grain ingredients. Food manufacturers will add functional fibers to certain foods and depending on these in order to meet your daily fiber needs is not as healthy as eating a diet rich in whole grains.1



Eating a diet that is nutritionally balances is one of the best ways to keep yourself fit and healthy. Whole grains are a big part of that, so don’t forget to get your daily serving! For more information about whole grains, visit Fill Your Plate!





  1. Drummond, Karen Eich, and Lisa M. Brefere. Nutrition for Foodservice and Culinary Professionals. 8th Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010. 55, 92-93. Print.
  2. “U.S. Dietary Guidelines and WG.” U.S. Dietary Guidelines and WG | The Whole Grains Council. N.p., n.d. Web. 2017.
  3. “Chapter 1 key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns.” A Closer Look Inside Healthy Eating Pattersm-2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. N.p., n.d. Web. 2017.







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Salad for Every Season

By Lori Meszaros, ASU Nutrition Communication Student


Arizona’s climate gives you an abundance of produce that can be grown year-round, making it salad time any time of the year! Adding more salads into your weekly meal plan is an easy way to add fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables into your diet. Helping you get your recommended 5 a day, and they’re not just limited to lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Gone are the days of salads only making an appearance as an appetizer or side dish. Now salads are taking center stage and filling your plate for lunch and dinner.

Having a salad every day is one of the easiest things you can do to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. These Dietary Guidelines recommend making half your plate full of fruits and vegetables, and research supports eating more fruits and vegetables lowers your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.1,2 So why not try swapping out one meal a day for a delicious, nutrient dense salad? With all of the salad recipes to choose from on Fill Your Plate, you won’t be left feeling deprived or hungry.

Hungry for fresh local produce to put in your salad? Well, Arizona has some of the best! And you can find out what’s in season by checking out Arizona Produce in Season. Here’s one of my favorite salads I enjoy year round. It makes a great protein packed lunch or light dinner on a hot night.


Chickpea salad


  • Handful of toasted walnuts*, chopped
  • ¼ walnut oil, or extra virgin olive oil- whatever you have on hand
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander


Add all above ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir to coat. While the nuts are soaking up the seasoning chop up the following ingredients.


  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • 1 red sweet pepper
  • 1 generous pinch of salt, about ½- 1 tsp, adjust for your taste


Chop tomatoes and sweet pepper, toss on top of walnuts then sprinkle with salt. Let the tomatoes and sweet pepper sit and rest a bit to sweat. This brings out the juice from the fruit and adds to the flavor of the salad. While the fruit is sweating, add the remaining ingredients to the bowl-


  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 package of spinach, chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped, about ½ cup after chopped
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils, or 1 can drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed**
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or to taste)


Toss all ingredients until combined.

* 1 cup dried chickpeas soaked then cooked = 3 cups cooked chickpeas, same as 2 cans.

** Toasted walnuts- Heat to 375F, spread walnuts on a lined baking tray and roast for 10 minutes.

Looking for seasonal salads to enjoy for lunch or dinner? Here’s a list of yummy salads from Fill Your Plate to try for each season.



Apple Pear Salad

Armenian Cucumber- Tomato Salad

Chutney-Melon Chicken Salad

Country Garden Salad

Farmers Salad

Green Salad

Melon-Cucumber Salad

Pistachio Salad

The Farmer’s Favorite Salad

Tri-Color Penne w/ Cherry Tomatoes & Cheese

Waldorf Salad

Watermelon Salad



Avocado and Tomato Salad

Chopped Medjool Salad

Crunchy Apple Salad


Fall & Winter

Join the Party Salad



Golden Beet & Pomegranate Salad

Golden Beet, Fennel & Avocado Salad

Orange Almond Salad


Winter/early spring

Artichoke Chicken Salad

Cole Slaw


Winter & Summer

BBQ Pork Salad with Summer Fruits & Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Grilled Romaine with Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette

Isabell Rousseau’s Carrot Salad Recipe

Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese Dressing

Wheat Farmer’s Salad


Spring & Fall

Fettuccine and Ham Salad

Country Garden Salad

Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese Dressing




  1. Post, R.C, Haven, J., Maniscalco, S., & Brown, M.C. It takes a village to communicate the dietary guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. J Acad Nutr Diet, 2103;13(12):1589-1590.


  1. Moore, L.V., & Thompson, F.E. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Adults meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2015;64(26):709-713.
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Ripe vs Unripe

By Laura Slatalla, ASU Nutrition Student

As fruit ripens, the nutritional composition of it changes too. Enzymes in the fruit start to break down the starch into simpler sugars, so the glycemic index starts to rise. Riper fruits will give you a greater spike in blood sugar. They’re also lower in fiber, and there’s a loss in some vitamin and mineral content, but that can be slowed down by letting them ripen in the fridge.

Not all the side effects of ripening are negative though. Antioxidants are a byproduct of ripening fruit! That’s right- the more bruised your banana is, the more antioxidants it contains.

So ask yourself, what do you want out of your fruit? Sweeter fruit with cancer-fighting properties, or fruit with more fiber and less simple sugar? It’s a personal choice.

Here’s how to check the ripeness of fruit. Smell it. Ripe fruit will have a sweet fruity scent compared to unripe fruit. It should be soft, but not mushy. Although, even if fruit is a little mushier you can freeze it for smoothies later. The color should be a little darker.

When picking a melon keep in mind they don’t continue to ripen off the vine because they don’t contain ethylene like apples or bananas. Ripe melons should feel heavier, sound hollow, and smell sweet- but not too sweet.

Eat fruit the way you like it. Snack on it and top your breakfast with it! Either way, you’re getting micronutrients and antioxidants!



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