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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Tea Time Scones

By Sarah Beleski a recent ASU Nutrition student

From a very young age, I have enjoyed having tea time with my mother and sisters. It is a tradition in our family that we still hold onto today. I suppose our obsession with Afternoon tea stems from our British roots but it has since evolved into so much more. It has allowed us to have time to relax and enjoy each other’s company.


During tea time, we like to enjoy our hot tea with a sweet treat. On a normal day, a cookie or tea biscuit will do just fine, but when we are in the mood for a more sophisticated indulgence, we whip out the scones.


My mother, sisters, and I have made hundreds of scones since I was a little girl but I have finally recently perfected my scone recipe. In this last year alone, I have made over 350 of these insanely delicious scones for bridal showers and various meetings. For the past couple years, I have considered myself to be a proficient baker, and these scones are my specialty.


Below is the scone recipe that has been tweaked and perfected over the years. I always pair it with homemade whipped cream and my favorite jam or lemon curd. Enjoy them with an English black tea (with milk and sugar, of course) and you have yourself an Afternoon tea!




  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 4 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • ½ Tsp Fine Salt
  • 5 Tbsp Chilled Unsalted Butter
  • ½ Cup Chopped Cranberries
  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 egg




  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Combine All-Purpose flour, baking powder, only 3 tbsp of the granulated sugar (the remaining sugar will be used near the end), and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl
  3. Cut in butter (You can use a pastry cutter or even just your hands to break up the butter) It should resemble coarse meal when you are done. Make sure the butter is very cold before you cut it into the dry ingredients so that it does not melt immediately. If using your hands, make sure to work fast so that the butter does not melt from the heat of your hands. TIP: When measuring the butter, cut the 5 tbsp into cube shapes and put it back in the fridge until you are ready to use it
  4. Once the mixture resembles coarse meal, add the dried cranberries and mix
  5. Add the heavy cream to the mixture and use your hands to knead into a dough ball for 5-10 seconds.
  6. Transfer the dough to a clean, floured countertop and use your hands to flatten the dough into a ¾ inch thick circle. (It does not need to be perfect) From here, you can chose to use a cookie cutter to cut out your preferred scone size or you can cut the circle into 8 pie slices
  7. Place scones on a pizza stone (if you don’t have this, a baking sheet pan will work just fine)
  8. In a small bowl, whisk one egg and lightly brush the tops of the scones with the egg mixture
  9. Sprinkle each scone with the remaining sugar
  10. Place the scones in the oven for 12-15 minutes (or until golden brown) in the middle wire rack
  11. When they are finished baking, take them out of the oven and keep them on the pizza stone or sheet pan for 2-3 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool
  12. Serve with whipped cream and your favorite jam and enjoy!

Go to Fill Your Plate recipe section for more yummy recipes.

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Fall Salad

By Sarah Beleski a recent ASU Nutrition Student


If you’re looking for a fall salad that will not disappoint, look no further! The first time I ever ate this salad, I couldn’t get enough! I could have eaten the entire bowl if my family would have let me.


This recipe calls for dinosaur kale (aka Lacinato kale) instead of regular, curly kale and this makes all the difference. My whole family eats this salad, from my 60-year-old father to my 3-year-old niece, which is saying a lot because they are very picky eaters. I prefer dinosaur kale over curly kale because of the texture.


Of course, if you wanted to use regular kale instead of dinosaur kale, that is perfectly acceptable and it will still taste great. However, the added bonus of using dinosaur kale is the look on a small child’s face when you tell them that you are using DINOSAUR kale.

Below is the recipe for the fall salad:




  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale, very thinly sliced
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice or wild rice (you could also use quinoa if you don’t have rice on hand)
  • 1 diced apple
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup sliced, toasted almonds
  • 2-3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled



  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (if you prefer less spice, substitute with black pepper)




  • For the dressing, place all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shake to combine. Set aside for later use
  • Place the dinosaur kale in a medium-sized mixing bowl, squeeze lemon juice over it, and massage for 2 minutes until its dark and softened
  • Add rice (once it has completed cooled), diced apple, cranberries, toasted almonds to kale and mix
  • Toss with ½ of dressing (set aside for later use) and sprinkle with goat cheese


*This salad usually keeps for up to 4 days in the fridge*

Wondering what produce is in season. Check out the Arizona Produce in Season section on Fill Your Plates website.


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How to reduce ultra-processed foods in your diet

By Kenda Hettinger, a Recent ASU Nutrition Student

I grew up on microwave lasagna meals and Velveeta shells and cheese. I am not the only one, this is normal for many people. Ultra-processed foods have become dominant in our food system (1). It happens because we keep ourselves so busy. In a lot of homes, both parents work and multiple kids are in after school extracurricular activities. This leaves us scrambling to create easy and fast meals. Processed and fast food become the go-to.


What is processed food?


Not all processed foods are bad, and it is important to differentiate between processed foods and ultra-processed foods.


  • Processed food is one that has been altered from its original state. For example, a peeled and steamed carrot is processed.


  • Ultra-processed foods are manufactured using several ingredients and a series of processes. Examples are soft drinks, potato chips, pre-prepared frozen meals, refined pasta.

When food becomes an ultra-processed food it depletes the food of essential nutrients. These foods are also often calorie-dense and higher in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium. Multiple studies have linked ultra-processed foods to obesity, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and overall increased rates of death (2,3,4).


How to reduce your consumption.


  1. Make time to plan out your meals. Being prepared makes all the difference, especially when you are first starting to cut out highly processed foods.
  2. Take time on a non-busy day to prep for the rest of the week. This doesn’t have to mean prepping entire meals. A lot of times I just take time to wash and rinse vegetables and fruits.
  3. Start switching your white pasta and bread to whole grain pasta and bread. If you have a family sensitive to texture, start slow. I started mixing white and whole wheat pasta, steadily increasing the amount of whole wheat until I was cooking only whole wheat pasta.
  4. If you are going out to eat, take time beforehand to look up the restaurant’s menu online. Knowing what you are going to order ahead of time gives you an upper hand.
  5. Read all labels. Avoid pre-packaged items that contain ingredients that are not whole foods such as but not limited to; high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, aspartame, and sodium nitrate.

Check out the Fill Your Plate Blog for articles about healthy eating. Ever wonder what produce is in season? Check out the Arizona Produce in Season section.



  1. Monteiro, C., Moubarac, J., Cannon, G., Ng, S., & Popkin, B. (2013). Ultra‐processed products are becoming dominant in the global food system. Obesity Reviews, 14(S2), 21-28.


  1. Schnabel, L., Kesse-Guyot, E., Allès, B., Touvier, M., Srour, B., Hercberg, S., . . . Julia, C. (2019). Association Between Ultraprocessed Food Consumption and Risk of Mortality Among Middle-aged Adults in France. JAMA Internal Medicine, 179(4), 490-498.


  1. Srour, B., Fezeu, L., Kesse-Guyot, E., Allès, B., Méjean, C., Andrianasolo, R., . . . Touvier, M. (2019). Ultra-processed food intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: Prospective cohort study (NutriNet-Santé). BMJ, 365, L1451.


  1. Micha, R., Wallace, S., & Mozaffarian, D. (2010). Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Circulation, 121(21), 2271-2283.
  2. Photo by Rustic Vegan on Unsplash
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Homemade Granola

By Sarah Beleski, a recent ASU Nutrition Student

I have loved granola since I was a little girl. I would eat it plain, in yogurt, in milk, on ice cream- you name it. We always had the store-bought bags in our pantry, and in my little girl’s naivety, the thought never even crossed my mind that you could make granola at home.


Imagine my surprise when I was visiting my cousins from out-of-state and I saw a huge glass jar full of granola sitting on their countertop. It shouldn’t seem like a big deal, because it was just granola after all, but I really was shocked! My aunt explained that she made a big batch and then she offered me some with milk. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it was the best granola I have ever had.


When I got older and started experimenting with things in the kitchen, I came up with my own granola recipe. It is a very simple recipe and it resembles my aunt’s original recipe very closely.


Need any more reasons to try this extremely easy recipe? Here you go!


  • Makes your kitchen smell like a delicious, fall candle
  • More economical than store-bought (most items are found in your pantry)
  • Can be customizable (change out the almonds or walnuts for any type of nut that you prefer
  • Makes for a healthy snack on-the-go


  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw almonds (or walnuts), chopped
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut flakes
  • 2 tsp melted coconut oil


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix oats, nuts, and coconut flakes in a glass baking dish and toast them for 10-15 minutes in the oven. Stir occasionally.
  • While the oats are in the oven, combine the maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and coconut oil in a smaller mixing bowl
  • Take the oats out of the oven and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  • Spread the oats out so that it covers the entire baking sheet and pour the wet ingredients mixture over the oats
  • Stir the oats around on the baking sheet until it is all combined and transfer back to the oven
  • Once the oats are back in the oven, immediately turn off the oven and let the oats finish toasting for another 6-8 minutes. (They will burn if you leave the oven on)
  • Take them out of the oven after the 6-8 minutes and let it cool completely.
  • Store in an air-tight container and enjoy!


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