Start a Spring Garden!

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

There is nothing like having fresh vegetables to use in your meals at home. I’m not just talking about locally grown fresh vegetables from the store or farmers market, but rather about ones that you grew and harvested yourself!

My mom absolutely loves gardening, so we often have an overabundance of fresh vegetables in our fridge, especially during the summer months. Now that spring is upon us, it is the perfect time to begin planting a vegetable garden that will provide you with fresh veggies throughout the summer! Here is a quick guide to what veggies you can begin planting in the spring!

According to Summer Winds Nursery, there are some veggies that can be planted by seed, and others that need to be transplanted from starter plants. Both are listed below!

Vegetables to plant from seed:

  • Basil (60–75 days)
  • Beans (Lima, Snap, Yardlong) (60–90 days)
  • Cantaloupe (80–120 days)
  • Carrots (60–100 days)
  • Chives (80–90 days)
  • Collard Greens (80 days)
  • Corn (70–90 days)
  • Cucumbers (60–90 days)
  • Green Onions (90–100 days)
  • Mint(80–90 days)
  • Oregano(45 days)
  • Pumpkins(90–120 days)
  • Radishes(35–60 days)
  • Rosemary(70–90 days)
  • Sage(75 days)
  • Summer Squash (60–90 days)
  • Thyme(70–80 days)
  • Watermelon(90–120 days)
  • Winter Squash (90–120 days)

Vegetables to transplant from starters:

  • Artichoke(4–8 months)
  • Eggplant(70–120 days)
  • Peppers(90–120 days)
  • Sweet Potatoes(120–160 days)
  • Tomatoes(50–120 days)

While it may seem slightly intimidating, gardening is actually very easy, and it is very rewarding, as you’ll have lots of fresh veggies to use when making all of your meals for your family! Not to mention, it is also a great way to get outside and get some sunshine! So, go buy some seeds or starter plants, grab your gloves, and shovel and get planting!

For more gardening articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog! Plus, your county extension service can provide master gardener classes.


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A Collection of Fill Your Plate’s Past Easter Articles

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Spring is in the air, which means that Easter is also right around the corner! Whether you’re dying and hiding eggs with your kiddos, or enjoying breakfast or brunch with family and friends, Easter is always a fun holiday to celebrate! Below you will find a collection of all the past articles that Fill Your Plate has written about Easter!

They’re full of recipes, activities, and fun facts about the upcoming holiday. Enjoy!

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Spruce Up Your Salads!

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Did you know that Yuma, Arizona is known as the lettuce capital of the world for a portion of the year? For five months out of each year, Yuma produces approximately 90 percent of the lettuce here in the United States and ships the vegetables all over the United States and Canada. In fact, 1,000 to 1,200 semi-truck loads of product are shipped out daily from Yuma during the peak of the leafy-greens harvest. And, Arizona families get this incredible product too!

This is great news for salad lovers like me because it means that having access to locally-grown lettuce is incredibly easy! Not to mention, salads are the perfect meal when you want something that is light, but still delicious and nutritious! But the toppings that you put on your lettuce are what make or break the healthiness of that salad. Depending on the toppings that you choose, you can either have a complete, balanced meal, or a bowl of lettuce with a lot of unhealthy mix-ins. Below are some dietician-recommended salad topping ideas to spice up your salads and turn them into complete, nutritious meals!

When building a salad to make it a complete meal, it’s important to top it with foods that will provide you with necessary nutrients such as fats, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. The following toppings are examples of each!

  • Fresh and roasted vegetables
  • Fresh and dried fruit
  • Meats such as pork, beef, chicken, or seafood
  • Cooked whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Fresh herbs
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Salsa
  • Oil and vinegar-based dressings

It is so much fun to experiment with different topping combinations, and not to mention, it is an easy way to get a lot of variety in your diet! So, head to your favorite grocery store or farmers market and pick up some Arizona-grown lettuce! Then, head home and build yourself and your family a healthy, nutritious salad using some of the topping ideas above, or some that you thought of yourself!

For more articles on salads, AZ-grown produce, or just on food in general, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!

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Dress Up Your Veggies!

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

It doesn’t matter what meal, vegetables will always be my number one favorite food group for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, because they are so versatile, as the possibilities are endless when it comes to how you can prepare them and what flavors to add to them! While I am sure that some share my love for veggies of any kind, there are also those who find it hard to choke them down.

Farmers Markets

Eat Your Veggies! (photo credit:

Regardless of the category that you fall into, I am sure that both veggie-lovers and veggie-haters alike will both agree that dressing up your vegetables with homemade dressing takes them to the next level! Below are some dietician-recommended homemade dressing recipes that are both nutritious and delicious!

Registered dietician Jessica Ball says that making homemade dressings is incredibly easy, as all most dressings require items that are already staples in your pantry, such as spices, salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar! She also notes that homemade dressings are a great way to get healthy fats into your diet and avoid all the excess sugar and additives in pre-made dressings!

Here’s some healthy Dressings

Try whipping up one of these dressing recipes and use it on a salad, on top of roasted vegetables, or as a dip for raw vegetables! Dressings are a great way to add more flavor and variety to your veggies!

Also, when shopping for vegetables, make sure to look for vegetables that are grown right here in Arizona! There are always lots of different produce items in season throughout the year. To see a list of what’s in season, or to find a farmers’ market that sells a particular food, check out the resources on the Fill Your Plate website!

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If You Can’t Drink Dairy, What about the Alternatives?

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Growing up, I absolutely loved drinking milk. There was nothing like a big glass of ice-cold milk first thing in the morning, or even throughout the day.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten to where I’m intolerant to dairy and can no longer consume it. But, because I still wanted to drink glasses of milk, it made me switch to milk alternatives. As I made the switch, I realized just how many different milk alternatives are out there! It made me wonder if there was any nutritional difference between them, and if so, which one was better?

Before we look at which alternative milk is the healthiest, just how many different milks are there? Some of the different alternative milk options that exist include oat, almond, soy, pea, quinoa, coconut, rice, pistachio, walnut, spelt, hemp, macadamia, cashew, hazelnut, sesame, flax, and even banana! While it is incredibly unfortunate that some of us can’t have cow’s milk, it is nice that there is a wide variety of options available to us!

Out of all of those different milk varieties, which one is healthier? A study was done to compare the nutrient content of pea, soy, almond, hemp, oat, cashew, coconut, and rice milk. According to Dr. Ben Redan, “Pea-based milk alternative products contained, on average, higher amounts of a majority of the measured mineral micronutrients versus soy-based milk alternatives. Either soy- or pea-based milk alternatives contained higher amounts of target mineral micronutrients in comparison to the other six types of plant-based milk alternatives we assessed.”

The next thing that you might be wondering is which one tastes better. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer on which alternative milk tastes the best, as it all comes down to personal preference. Of all of the milk alternatives that I have tried, I have found that I like each one for a certain reason. Oat milk is nice because of its creamy, nutty flavor, and I think it is the best in coffee. Almond milk is much waterier but is smooth and almost flavorless, and in my opinion, it is the closest to cow’s milk. Cashew and coconut milk are the creamiest, and in terms of their flavor, cashew has a very mild flavor, but coconut tastes strongly of coconut. And while banana milk might sound weird, it is actually delicious! It is super thick, creamy, and sweet, almost like melted ice cream!

While there is no perfect substitute for cow’s milk, it is nice that there are some alternative options for those of us who can’t consume dairy.

And remember, nothing is added to cow’s milk. It’s 100% milk. Every serving of milk provides vitamins, minerals, protein, and energy (calories). This includes 13 essential nutrients, just as protein, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, pantothenic acid, zinc, selenium, iodine and potassium. Most milk alternatives have a list of additives, including sugar.

If you’re drinking an alternative because you’ve been told it’s healthier and not because of dairy intolerance, you might need to revisit the nutritional gain from drinking good ‘ole dairy milk.

For more health-related articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!


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