Nutritious, Low-Carb Food Options

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Low-carb diets have been incredibly popular lately, especially for those looking to manage their blood sugar or lose weight. But, as registered dietician Jaclyn London said, carbs are still essential for proper body function, and eliminating them from our diets completely would mean that we’d be missing out on some of their great health benefits. Here are some suggestions of foods from each food group that are both nutrient dense and each serving contains a percentage of carbohydrates that falls into the low-carb category.

  • Vegetables: Leafy greens, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
  • Fruits: Tomatoes, strawberries, melons, apples, and cherries.
  • Meats and seafood: Beef, lamb, chicken, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and anchovies.
  • Dairy and eggs: Plain Greek yogurt, goat cheese, parmesan cheese, and eggs.
  • Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, peanuts, chia seeds, and hazelnuts.
  • Oils and sauces: Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, pesto, and coconut aminos.

This list just goes to show that eating a low-carb diet doesn’t have to be bland, nor does it mean that you have to eliminate healthy carbs completely. Also, many of the items listed above are ones that we grow and produce right here in Arizona! Whether it be veggies or melons from all of the many produce farms down in Yuma, dairy from Shamrock dairy in Maricopa, or eggs from Hickman’s, it’s easy to get fresh, local foods!

For more information on where to find local products, check out all the resources on Fill Your Plate!

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Cabbage Provides a Punch of Health Benefits

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Kimchi, coleslaw, sauerkraut, stir-fry. What does each of these foods have in common? They’re all made with cabbage! While it’s not the most attractive vegetable, cabbage is a super versatile veggie that can be used in so many different dishes, and to make it even better, it has a surprisingly high number of health benefits. It is also a veggie that we produce a bunch of right here in Arizona! Here are some of the specific nutritional benefits of cabbage.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a one-cup serving of cabbage provides you with 54% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, 85% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, more than 2 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein, along with other various vitamins and minerals.

Registered dietician Julia Zumpano says that due to the nutrient content of cabbage, this vegetable can have any of the following health benefits.

  • Maintains your strength
  • Improves your digestion
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Protects heart health
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Promotes healthy bones and blood clotting
  • Reduces cancer risk

With all those great health benefits and its versatility, cabbage is definitely a veggie to incorporate into your meals. For some recipe ideas, consider these recipes that use cabbage from Fill Your Plate!

Looking to find locally grown cabbage? Check out this farmer’s market locator from the Fill Your Plate website!

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Quinoa – The Tiny Grain with Big Nutrition

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Quinoa, the teeny tiny little grain that packs a huge punch of nutritional benefits. It has also become super trendy in recent years, and it’s easy to find so many different recipes that use it. Here, we break down just how nutrient-filled this little grain is, as well as how it can actually help to prevent type 2 diabetes.

According to Dr. Nicole Avena, quinoa is one of the few whole grains that is also a complete protein as well. Being a complete protein basically means that it contains all of the 9 essential amino acids. Because of its high fiber and high protein content, quinoa is great for building and repairing muscles, increasing satiety, and slowing your digestion, which in turn slows your blood sugar release.

But those nutritional benefits of quinoa aren’t all that it boasts. According to a new study, regularly consuming quinoa has been shown to help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. Researchers compared the blood sugar levels of those who ate regular carbohydrates with those who ate quinoa instead. Those who ate quinoa reported having fewer blood sugar spikes than those who ate regular carbohydrates. This can be attributed to the high fiber content, which blocks the rise of blood sugar. Also, quinoa is high in protein, which helps to combat the blood sugar spike that results from eating carbohydrates as well.

Who knew that there could be so much nutrition contained in such a small little grain? Consider incorporating more quinoa into your diet, not only because it can provide you with so many nutritional benefits, but it is also super delicious in my opinion!

For more nutrition articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!

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Teen’s Eating Habits Impact Them in Adulthood

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

We all know that a lot of development occurs during the teen years of life. It is then that kids start to become the men and women that they were created to be. Besides growth spurts, voice changes, and everything else that occurs during this time, teens also start creating habits that they will often carry with them for the rest of adulthood. One of those habits that they will form is their eating habits, which will play a major role in their health later on.

The first habit that teens might develop is how they go about emotional eating. Often when feeling stressed or otherwise emotional, we resort to food to cope, but this can lead to unhealthy weight gain if junk food is our go-to, or if we eat it every time something is slightly stressful. A study shows that teens learn this behavior from their parents, so as a parent, it is important to set a good example for your kids by not reaching for that bag of chips when life gets tough. If they see you turning to food to cope with stress, then they’ll follow suit.

Another habit that teens develop is the kinds of food that they choose to consume. A second study shows that if teens get into the habit of eating highly processed foods during their teen years, they will be much more inclined to continue that eating pattern as they go into adulthood. We all know the negatives of eating junk foods on a regular basis, so helping teens to make smart food choices while young is a great way to keep them from some health consequences later in life, such as weight problems, heart disease, and more.

So, monitor what your teens are eating, and also watch what you eat around them to help them build good eating habits that will benefit them, not harm them as they continue to grow into adults.

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

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How to Handle Gluten Sensitivities at School

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Food allergies and sensitivities are much more common than you think. In fact, researchers estimate that about 32 million people in the united states alone have at least one food allergy, with 5.6 million of them being under the age of 18. One specific category of people that this impacts daily is students who eat lunches at school. Those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance are those affected more frequently, due to the high prevalence of gluten in so many food items.

Registered dietician Jessica Lebovits notes how vital good nourishment is to a successful day at school, so ensuring that students who require gluten-free meals have the proper food items is very important. Here are some tips she provides on how to maintain a gluten-free diet while school is in session.

 

Include naturally gluten-free foods.

When packing school lunches or choosing from cafeteria options, she says to select foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, and seafood. This is because many prepackaged or pre-processed foods often have gluten hidden in them, whereas naturally gluten-free foods are guaranteed to be gluten-free.

 

Always read food labels.

Food labels tell you all of the ingredients that go into that particular food, and also list allergens in bold. Make sure that prepackaged foods are explicitly labeled as gluten-free to avoid any accidental consumption.

 

Keep a backup meal or snack.

Always pack your kids a small stash of gluten-free snack items on hand in the event that gluten-free foods are not available. While it isn’t the best replacement for a balanced meal, it still provides some nutrition and gives them that boost of energy to get them through their school day.

 

Talk to the school staff.

It never hurts to make school staff aware of your child’s gluten sensitivity. This can be alerting teachers, cafeteria staff, and even the school nurse just so that they know to take extra precautions when serving or handling foods. Lebovits also notes that special accommodations can be made, such as providing refrigerator space, access to a microwave, or having gluten-free options available in the cafeteria or classroom.

As a person who has multiple food allergies and sensitivities, gluten being one of them, I know the importance of eating only gluten-free foods. Considering how important nutrition is to a child’s success at school, taking the necessary actions to make sure that they have access to gluten-free foods at school is crucial.

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

 

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