8 Ways to Eat Healthy, Arizona Style

Twenty-four centuries ago, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, advised his fellow Greeks:

[tweetthis] “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”-Hippocrates [/tweetthis]

In spite of enormous changes in the world since Hippocrates’ time, this recipe for good health remains the same. Eating the right amount of the healthy foods and at the right time promotes good health as no other remedy can.

It’s a recipe that people who live in Arizona should find easy to follow.  Most people don’t know that Arizona, and especially Yuma, Arizona, due to its production of vegetables and fruits, has earned it the name “The Winter Salad Bowl Capital” of the United States. In fact, Yuma County is first in the state – and third in the nation – for vegetable production. About 90 percent of all the leafy greens grown in the U.S. during the winter months come from this area.

Yuma Arizona is the Winter Lettuce Capital of the World

So how can you capitalize on this to improve your health and well-being (and that of your family)? Here are eight simple steps:

  1. Buy Fresh Produce. Use your end-of-day commute to shop, because that is when you are really thinking about dinner. This insures that you will get not only the freshest, most appealing produce, but also the right amount. No rejects, and no leftovers, and that means good news for your health and your food budget.
  2. Buy Local Produce: There are over 100 farmers markets in Arizona, but you don’t have to wait for the weekend to eat local! Local supermarkets also carry the freshest produce, delivered daily from local farms, and priced to sell. However, there are mo
  3. Buy Produce in Season. Peaches are to die for, but not in January. Instead, wait until May in the Phoenix area and go visit one of Arizona’s many peach orchards and pick your own. You can choose from many local orchards that also offer apples, apricots, and plums in season. Tree-ripened fruit – as opposed to picked-green and shipped – is so full of nutrition you may find you don’t even need that ladder!
  4. Eat a Salad at Every Meal: In the dead of winter, Northerners can be forgiven for viewing a potato as a vegetable, but Arizona residents have no excuse for not including a salad with every meal. Choose from endive, Spring Mix, Romaine or Butter lettuce, arugula, Swiss chard or any one of 15 locally grown salad vegetables. If all that green still feels uninspired, add sliced apples, walnuts, olives, cooked black beans, croutons, or even cubes of cheese. When it comes to salad, anything goes, including meat.
  5. Build a Healthy Plate:  According to the USDA’s My Plate food guidelines, each meal should contain about 50 percent fruits and vegetables, 30 percent whole grains and 20 percent protein.  Limit fats, sugars, and carbohydrates.
  6. Use Your Grill: Grilling enables you to cook without adding too much fat. Broiling is, according to most chefs, the same as grilling, preserving the same nutrients if done right. Whichever you choose – broiling inside or grilling outside – remember that the sauces also add carbohydrates, fats and calories.
  7. Eat Fruit for Dessert: If your family insists on dessert, try fruit instead of ice cream, or other sugary sweets. Serve the fruit sliced (and peeled if necessary) and eat fresh, or sprinkle with spices such as cinnamon or chili powder.
  8. Pay Attention to Portion Sizes: Four to six ounces of meat is the recommended adult portion, but growing teens may need more. A serving of salad should just cover a salad plate, slightly mounded in the middle. Of course, salad is so good for a person that dieters should be allowed, even encouraged, to cheat. This does not, however, hold true for carbs, which are the leading cause of obesity and diabetes in the United States. Moreover, these two diseases lead directly to other serious illnesses like hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.
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