The Wonders of Whole Grains

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So, before we jump right into it, what are grains exactly?

Grains are the fruits and seeds of cereal grasses. There are 2 types of grains you can find at the market: whole grains & refined grains.

Whole grains include the entire seed: germ + endosperm + bran. Refined grains are processed to only include the endosperm. Thus, stripping away much of its nutritional value.

Grains provide us with fiber, B Vitamins, and minerals. Fiber helps keep a healthy bowel and aids constipation. B Vitamins aid the body in releasing energy from carbs, proteins, and fats. Minerals commonly found in grains include iron, selenium, and magnesium. Wheat, rice, oats, & corn are probably some grains you already incorporate in your diet.

Here are several “up and coming” grains you’d probably like to try next!

Quinoa

Quinoa

Pronounced as “keen-wah,” this grain is better classified as a “pseudo –grain.” It is actually a seed, but falls under the grain category because of its similar nutritional content and how it is prepared in meals.

While most other grains are considered low in amino acids, quinoa is one of the exceptions. It is considered to be a complete protein source, meaning it provides all 9 of the essential amino acids. One cup of quinoa contains about 8 grams of protein, about 15% of our Daily Value.

Spelt

Spelt

This plump grain often substitutes wheat in a variety of ways.

Some health benefits to switching your wheat for spelt include its richness in B-Vitamin, niacin. Niacin assists our nervous system, regulating stress hormones. Additionally, niacin is great at maintaining efficient blood circulation. Spelt also contains high levels of potassium and low levels of sodium, keeping blood pressure levels at a steady level.

Freekah

Freekah

Freekeh (pronounced as “free-kah”) is an ancient roasted grain. It is simply wheat harvested at an earlier age, providing optimum nutritional value. The young grains are then roasted to give it a rich smoky and nutty flavor.

This ancient grain is abundant in carotenoid antioxidants that have been studied to be beneficial towards eye and skin health. Lastly, freekeh functions as a prebiotic inducing “healthy” bacterium in our digestive tract.

Eating in Season: Winter Edition

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Winter has a lot going for it: trips to the snow, cozy blankets, and rich hot chocolate. Fresh produce, however, isn’t usually first on this list. Here in Northern California, we are lucky enough to have a variety of produce available year-round; check out all of the options with these seasonality charts here.

Eating locally through the winter can be challenging. The good news is that every meal doesn’t have to revolve around potatoes and onions, regardless of where you spend your winter. With a bit of advanced planning and creativity, it’s possible to eat fresh fruits and vegetables that contain plenty of nutrients and flavor. Aiming for five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day can also prevent illness and keep you happy and healthy all winter long.

Here are some of the unexpected vitamin-rich cold-weather foods you should stock up on right now:

Citrus Fruit

Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C and flavonoids, which may reduce the risk of cancer. Citrus consumption has also been linked to lower risk of a laundry list of ailments including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cholera, gingivitis, cataracts, and Crohn’s disease. Stock up on Meyer lemons, oranges, grapefruit, kumquats, blood oranges, and mandarin oranges to get your citrus fix this season. Citrus fruits are grown in warm climates and are ripe for picking between late October and March. These fruits can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or at room temperature for up to four days.

 How to eat it: Enjoy citrus fruits as a side of breakfast or tossed into a salad for lunch or dinner.

 Beets

Sweet, earthy and deep red, beets are pretty unique in the vegetable aisle. Beets contain antioxidants called betalains, which can help fight cancer and other degenerative diseases. They’re also rich in vitamins A, B, C as well as potassium and folate. Beet roots can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a month.

How to eat it: Beet salad with goat cheese green apples and honey

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprout, a relative of cabbage, boasts some of the same health benefits as cabbage. Like other cruciferous veggies, Brussels sprouts have high levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants that can protect DNA from oxidative damage. Peak season for Brussels sprouts is late fall through early winter (September through February). Brussels sprouts can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks. The outer leaves will shrivel, so remove them just before cooking your sprouts.

 How to eat it: Toss halved sprouts with olive oil and roast until crispy and brown. Top with a light coating of brown butter and sage for a side dish.

 Carrots

This vegetable is loaded with the antioxidant beta-carotene, a compound that converts to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for a strong immune system and healthy eyes, skin and mucus membranes. The orange veggies are also loaded with vitamin C, cyanidins, and lutein, which are all antioxidants. Some studies show that eating carrots can reduce risk of cancer and even prevent cardiovascular disease. Carrots are available through late fall, although some varieties are harvested through the winter. Like many root vegetables, carrots will last for a few weeks if kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

How to eat it: Gingery carrot soup

Escarole

This uncommon green is slightly bitter, but adds freshness to late-winter cooking. It’s a bit crunchy, like lettuce, and wilts easily, like spinach. It’s a member of the chicory family, so it is related to endive, radicchio, kale, and chard. Like other greens, escarole is high in folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A and K. Escarole grows through fall and early winter in warmer climates. This green is a bit delicate, so eat it quickly. Wrapped in paper towels and stored in an open plastic bag, escarole can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days.

 How to eat it: Salmon with escarole and lemon

Radicchio

Radicchio is a member of the chicory family along with endive and escarole. Its red and white, slightly spicy and bitter leaves are loaded with vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K. There are three main varieties of radicchio available in the U.S.: Chiogga, Treviso, and Tardivo. Tardivo radicchio is available throughout the winter. Keep it in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic for up to three weeks.

 How to eat it: Tuscan chopped salad with radicchio and kale

Cauliflower

Fresh cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C; 100 g provides about 48.2 mg or 80% of daily recommended value. Vitamin-C is a proven antioxidant helps fight against harmful free radicals, boosts immunity, and prevents infections and cancers.

Its florets also contain about 2 g of dietary fiber per 100 g, providing about 5% of the recommended value. It contains good amounts of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as folates, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3) as well as vitamin K. These vitamins is essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish and required for fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

How to eat it: Penne with crispy cauiflower

Pears

A medium-sized pear supplies 212 milligrams of potassium. Potassium is a mineral that helps your heart beat normally and keeps your muscles working the way they are supposed to. The same pear contains about 10 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin C. Pears also supply a good dose of vitamin K to help clot your blood, as well as vitamin A for your eyes.

How to eat it: Winter pear salad with meyer lemon viniagrette

Do you enjoy cooking with fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables? Do you have a recipe that features seasonal fruits and veggies you think fellow Aggies would enjoy cooking? Submit your recipe today to Aria at awexler@ucdavis.edu for a chance to be published! Chosen recipes will be featured in a special edition Aggie Seasonal Recipes cookbook. Recipes must be submitted before 2/27/15.

The Best Foods for Your Mind

ucdhealthyaggies:

Finals week is next week and we’re reblogging our past posts to help you ace your finals!

Originally posted on Healthy Aggies:

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Did you know that some food can actually help you think better?

If you’re feeling forgetful, it could be due to a lack of sleep or a number of other reasons including genetics, level of physical activity, and lifestyle and environmental factors. However, there’s no doubt that diet plays a major role in brain health.

The best menu for boosting memory and brain function encourages good blood flow to the brain — much like what you’d eat to nourish and protect your heart. A recent study found that the Mediterranean Diet helps in keeping aging brains sharp: a growing body of evidence links foods like those in the Mediterranean Diet with better cognitive function, memory and alertness.

Here’s how to eat your way to success during this upcoming finals week.

Eat your veggies.

Getting adequate vegetables, especially cruciferous ones like broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy greens, may help improve memory…

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Benefits of Tea

Ever since 2737 B.C. when Chinese legend says leaves from an overhanging Camellia sinensis plant fell into Emperor Shen Nung’s cup of boiling water, tea has been recognized by cultures around the world for its capacity to soothe, restore and refresh. According to the Tea Association of the USA, the number of Americans who will drink tea today is about 160 million, about half of the U.S. population.

The main health-promoting substances in tea are polyphenols, in particular catechins and epicatechins. Studies say these molecules have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Harvard-led studies of large groups of people over time have found that tea or coffee drinkers are at lower risk for diabetes and possibly cardiovascular disease. It remains unclear whether the tea itself is the cause of these benefits and, if so, how it works its magic. The studies attempt to rule out the possibility that tea drinkers simply live healthier lifestyles, but it’s difficult to be sure. That said, tea itself appears to have no harmful effects except for a case of the jitters if you drink too much caffeinated brew. It fits in perfectly well with a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Here are some teas with health benefits to try:

ginger teaGinger:

Ginger, a light brown root with a distinctive taste, contains high levels of Vitamin C, magnesium and other minerals. Once made into tea, you can add peppermint, honey, lemon, or peppercorn to enhance the taste of the ginger. Watch this video for a hands-on demonstration of how to make ginger tea from fresh ginger.

peppermint

Peppermint:

The menthol that is naturally present in peppermint tea is a muscle relaxant, allowing for natural stress and anxiety relief. The consumption of any warm liquid, namely tea, helps to clear sinuses and soothe sore throats. Peppermint tea in particular is a known natural decongestant.

rooibos

Rooibos:

A favorite among South Africans for years, rooibos is said by some to have 50% more antioxidants than those found in green tea. Antioxidants are the organic substances believed to scavenge “free radicals,” the toxic by-product of natural biological processes that can damage cells and lead to cancer. Rooibos is also rich in vitamin C, caffeine-free, and low in tannins, the residue in teas that can sometimes cause digestive problems, according to WebMD.

green tea

Green Tea:

Green tea has a more delicate flavor than black tea. The leaves are dried and heat-treated soon after they’re picked, which stops the fermentation process. It contains about 25 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Green tea is full of antioxidants called catechins; a subgroup known as EGCG may ward off everything from cancer to heart disease. One study found that each daily cup of green tea consumed may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10 percent. In 2010, Japanese researchers reported at least one cup of green tea per day was associated with significantly decreased odds for tooth loss. Other studies have suggested tea may lower the pH of the tooth surface, suppressing the growth of periodontal bacteria. A more likely reason for tea’s anti-cariogenic effect is its fluoride content. Tea is usually brewed with fluoridated water and the tea plant naturally accumulates fluoride from the soil.

black tea

Black Tea:

Black tea is the most common variety and accounts for about 75 percent of global tea consumption. Like many of the teas here, it’s made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which are typically rolled and fermented, then dried and crushed. Black tea has a slightly bitter flavor and contains the most caffeine—about 40 milligrams per cup. (A cup of coffee has 50 to 100.) Flavonoids in both black and green tea prevent oxidation of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, reduce blood clotting and improve widening of blood vessels in the heart. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ studies that looked at the relationship of black tea intake and heart health reported decreased incidence of heart attack, lower cholesterol levels and significantly lower blood pressure..

oolong

Oolong Tea:

Oolong is similar to black tea, but it’s fermented for a shorter time which gives it a richer taste. It contains about 30 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Oolong activates an enzyme responsible for dissolving triglycerides, the form of dietary fat that’s stored in fat cells, thus aiding in weight loss. One study showed that women who drank oolong tea burned slightly more calories over a two-hour period than those who drank only water.

yerba_mate

Yerba Mate:

Yerba mate tea is a South American beverage made by steeping the ground leaves and stems of the yerba mate plant. Yerba mate contains caffeine, as well as a number of other nutrients including antioxidants, amino acids, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals.

Great news: Yerba Mate is available at the Dining Commons! Various types of Numi Tea, a USDA Certified Organic and certified Fair Trade brand, are also available.  

Fall Spices

Fall-Spices

Ahh, it’s that time of the year again. The leaves are changing colorand there is pumpkin flavored everything at Trader Joes. But most of all, the wind is blowing and the air has a crisp chill to it that wasn’t there 4 weeks ago . . .So what better way to cozy up and stay warm than to have a delectable dish (or drink!) flavored with a Fall Spice.

Here’s a list of some fiery fall spices to keep your taste buds excited this season!

Cinnamon

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Cinnamon is an ancient spice that has been used since 2000 B.C to treat sore throats & arthritis. Today, it has also been discovered to treat vomiting, diarrhea, & the common cold. But what cinnamon is best known for is in aiding stomach aches/digestive problems.

This old spice contains unique oil that’s great at breaking down fats during digestion. Word of advice: eat some cinnamon before or with a big meal to prepare your stomach for easy digestion.

Cinnamon also has antifungal and antibacterial properties that help clean out your gut and relieve your stomach from excess gas.

I like to sprinkle cinnamon on my favorite autumn produce like pumpkin seeds or Butternut squash!

 

Cinnamon

Turmeric

If you’ve never eaten a curry dish, I highly suggest you head downtown to eat some right now! (Just kidding, but you should definitely go try some sometime.)

What’s in curry exactly? The main component of curry is turmeric. Known as the golden spice, due to its burnt orange hue, turmeric not only adds a delicious punch of heat to any dish but is rich in nutritional value as well.

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This warm, earthy spice is popular for its anti-inflammatory abilities. The main property of turmeric is called, curcumin. Studies have compared curcumin to be just as effective as the over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug, Motrin.

fall spices 5Additionally, its anti-cancer abilities efficiently aids in apoptosis (cancer cell death) and prevention of cancer cells spreading in one’s body.

The only downside to this spice is our bodies do not easily absorb it. To enhance absorption, black pepper is commonly used alongside turmeric — Like in this savory grilled chicken recipe.

Another way to enjoy this spice is by drinking some warm turmeric milk!

Nutmeg

Grown on an exotic evergreen tree, nutmeg is packed with powerful flavor that will greatly enhance whatever drink or dish you sprinkle it onto. This spice works as a strong detoxifying agent, especially for the liver & kidney, which hold the most tonics in our body.

Desert anyone? This recipe makes a hot spice, sweet in a delicate apple cupcake topped with nutmeg frosting.

Nutmeg can also aid those who struggle with insomnia. Studies have shown that this spice increases serotonin levels. In addition nutmeg contains myristicin, a chemical that helps relieve stress. That way you can head to bed feeling more calm and relaxed.

nutmeg

Star Anise 

The final fall spice I have for you all this season is called Star Anise. This pretty little spice gets its name from it’s intricate shape – yep, you guessed it, a star!

star anise

This ancient Asian spice has a strong licorice-type flavor. And with great taste, comes even greater health benefits!

Star Anise is highly concentrated in shikimic acid, an antiviral property that boosts your immune system. This is especially beneficial during these colder months ahead of us. The acid is even used in the production of anti-flu medication, Tamiflu.

Another way it powers up our immunity is by being packed with essential vitamins & minerals. These include vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and B-Vitamins.

Star Anise is often used to flavor the broth of Asian soups. Try this easy Vietnamese pho dish to help stay warm in the chilly weather.

fall spices 10 I hope you’re just as excited, as I am to add some heat to the kitchen.

I challenge you all to even combine some of these spices together to enhance their flavors and their nutritional values.

Happy Autumn!

 

by Janelle Manzano, Clinical Nutrition Student

GMO’s

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So what’s the deal? You seem to hear and see these three letters at every grocery store or farmers market out there. But what does “GMO” even stand for? Or better yet, what do these three letters even mean?

And, oh my goodness! Why is everyone, especially those in this video, so hyped up about it?

 Well, let me lay it out for you all. First, “GMO” stands for:

 Genetically Modified Organisms

 *Side note: GMOs are also known as Biotech or Genetically Engineered

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To some, this may sound pretty scary, huh?

But before we get into whatever pros and cons you may have heard from your friends, let’s also look at the definition of a GMO.

According to the FDA, GMO refers to the alteration of a plant’s “traits and characteristics… to enhance the growth and nutritional profile.”

That doesn’t sound too bad, right?

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Here’s a quick list of why GMO foods are “good”:

  • Allows crops to be resistant to pests, herbicides, and disease
    • For example, Monsanto developed a type of soybean that is herbicide (weed killer) resistant. This way, farmers gain a larger crop yield.
  • Weather, such as drought, tolerance
    • Antifreeze genes from cold-water fish can now be implemented into crops to help them withstand colder temperatures that would normally kill them off.
  • Expanded food supply
    • As malnutrition continues to be an ongoing problem in third world countries, scientists behind GM crops have successfully added Vitamin A to rice, also known as “golden rice”.

Now here’s a list of why GMO foods are “bad”:

  • Present new allergens
    • Since the 1990s, when GMO crops were first introduced, the rate of Americans who developed chronic diseases and food allergies greatly increased.
  • Development of “super” weeds
    • GMO crops were developed to protect plants from herbicides. Over time, weeds become resistant to these herbicides, pushing farmers to spray more potent and more toxic herbicides on their crops.
  • Decrease in Antibiotic Effectiveness
    • Some GMO crops are engineered to have antibiotic characteristics. When consumed, this characteristic carries on in our bodies and can cause antibiotic medicine to become less effective.

With these pros & cons at hand (in addition to the many others out there), it is ultimately up to you as a consumer to choose what type of produce you want to buy.

If you are concerned about GMOs keep an eye out for Non-GMO Project’s special label (shown below) on products in your grocery market.

In addition, as non-GMO/ “organic” products tend to be a bit pricier, here are some helpful tips to buying such products.

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Image: Documentary about the GMO Industry

by Janelle Manzano, Clinical Nutrition Student

Breakfast in Under 10 Minutes

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Even if you’re short on time, it is possible to eat a tasty and healthy breakfast every morning. It takes just 10 minutes to prepare one of these breakfasts. There are plenty of options for wholesome breakfast foods in healthy food stores such as Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, but sometimes it’s so much more fun to create your own combinations of food and come up with something that you will not find anywhere else but your own kitchen.  A healthy breakfast will help boost your metabolism and help avoid weight gain; people who eat a nutritious breakfast regularly are more likely to incorporate the recommended intake of vitamins and minerals to their diet and tend not to overeat later on during the day. When you’re planning to spend your day at school or work, there’s nothing better than filling your body with wonderful nutrients that will give you energy, better concentration and an overall good mood.

It takes just 10 minutes to prepare one of these tasty breakfasts:

Overnight oatmeal

Overnight Oatmeal: Overnight oats is a great option if you have limited time in the mornings. Simply combine oats, milk, and your choice of other ingredients to a bowl or a jar and cover and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, give it a stir and enjoy it cold, or heat it up in the microwave if you prefer it warm. Try this recipe for Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats, perfect for fall mornings.

smoothies

Super-Fast Smoothies: The best part about smoothies is that they require zero cook time! Make smoothie packs for quick breakfasts: Split two 1-lb. bags of frozen fruit among six quart-size resealable plastic bags. Add half a peeled banana to each, seal, date, and freeze. On a busy morning you can just dump one into a blender with milk or juice. Add whey protein powder for an extra boost post workout.

Breakfast Polenta

Breakfast Polenta: A great alternative to oatmeal, this breakfast is also great for before and after a workout. This breakfast polenta is gluten-free, vegetarian-friendly, and the perfect balance of protein and carbohydrates. Top with slivered almonds and dried fruit.

Avocado

Avocado Tartine: This is an easy way to dress up simple avocado and toast to make it more delicious. Slice a fresh avocado, place it on a piece of toast, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and enjoy! Other ingredients that could be added include hot sauce, an egg, or smoked salmon.

protein pancakes

Protein Pancakes: What better breakfast than delicious fluffy pancakes? This pancake recipe is a satisfying 350-calorie breakfast that contains 33 grams of protein to give you a jumpstart on the day. You can even make a large batch and store them in the freezer to heat up quickly in the morning.

breakfast boat

Tropical Breakfast Boat: Cut 1 ripe papaya half and discard the seeds. Fill the papaya half with a large scoop of plain Greek yogurt, raw oats, coconut flakes, goji berries, cacao nibs, mulberries, cinnamon, and chia seeds. Optional: squeeze some lime on top.

quinoa scramble

Quinoa Scramble: This satisfying, vitamin-packed quinoa spinach scramble is simple and quick to prepare. If you have cooked quinoa on hand, it takes less 10 minutes to cook, making it a great before-school breakfast.

Eating on campus? Check out the omelet bar at the UC Davis Dining Commons, which features an SPE Certified omelet option every day at breakfast.