Vegetarian Substitutes

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Many people think twice about adopting a vegetarian diet because they believe it is inconvenient to eliminate meat from their everyday diets. Although meat and fish consumption is generally encouraged in moderate amounts, there are still a variety of plant-based alternatives that can be used as substitutes for those who do wish to eliminate or reduce meat consumption due to health or personal reasons.

Below are some commonly found foods that can substitute for popular meat items, like meatballs, burgers, and more:

Tempeh

While tofu is a popular product, it should not be confused with tempeh. While both are derived from soybeans and are excellent sources of protein (tofu provides 40%DV protein per one cup serving, while tempeh provides 62%DV), the two differ in how they are produced and both vary in taste – tempeh is less processed and carries a stronger flavor (see here for a more complete breakdown of the two).

Tempeh contains a significant amount of calcium and iron (18%DV and 25%DV, respectively), and is rich in minerals manganese and phosphorus. Studies have shown that low manganese intake may be linked with bone malformation and signs of manganese deficiency include poor eyesight, memory loss, and muscle tremors. Similarly, studies indicate that phosphorus (in conjunction with calcium) is necessary for optimal bone and teeth health.

Tempeh’s dense texture makes it a perfect substitute for meats. Check out these recipes for easy tempeh meatballs or an even simpler BBQ tempeh. Alternatively, the sweet and sour sauce from the tempeh meatball recipe can be omitted and the tempeh meatballs can be added to any pasta sauce for versatility.

Lentils

Lentils, like peas, are part of the legume family and come in a variety of color (the most common are green, brown, and red). Due to their small size, lentils (unlike other legumes) do not to be pre-soaked before cooking – their small size allows them to be cooked quickly and with ease. Furthermore, because lentils are purchased dried, they are said to have an “indefinite” shelf life when properly stored in an air-tight container, away from heat and moisture.

One cup of cooked lentils provides 63%DV of fiber and 18 grams, or 36%DV, of protein. Lentils are also an excellent source of vitamins folate and thiamin, and minerals manganese, phosphorus, and iron. Folate is a form of vitamin B and is necessary for proper liver, skin, and eye health. Adequate folate intake may aid in the prevention of osteoporosis, age-related macular degeneration, depression, and sleep issues, among other conditions. Thiamin is also a form of vitamin B (there are 8 B vitamins total!) and thiamin deficiency has been linked with dementia in Wernicke-Korsakoff disorder, a brain disorder characterized by nerve damage and memory issues.

Craving burgers? Check out this lentil hamburger recipe here! While this recipe falls more on the challenging side, there are also commercial brands of lentil and bean-based patties that are frequently sold in stores.

Mock/Soy Meats

For the busy person or those who favor convenience above all, there are many brands of mock meats commonly found in grocery stores. The ingredients these mock meats consist of vary from brand to brand, although most are made from either soy or grains. A few of the more popular products include: Gardein Beefless Tips, MorningStar Farms Sausage Patties, Boca Burgers, and Garden Malibu Vegan Burgers.

Prep for these commercial “meats” are simple, as most are already cooked.

Although plant-based foods lack some of the essential nutrients that meats and seafood provide, plant-based alternatives are naturally void of cholesterol and saturated fat and may be a good substitute for those wishing to decrease cholesterol or saturated fat intake (some meats, like beef, are high in both).

What meat substitutes do you most commonly use? Feel free to comment below!

Decoding Sugar and Sweeteners

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We need sugars from whole, unrefined foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables because they are actually essential as brain food. Unfortunately, much of the food found in stores and restaurants today contain added sugars from other sources. Let’s focus on understanding the sweeteners added to convenience foods. This is where you can make a positive change.

There are five categories: Modified Sugars, High-intensity Sweeteners, Sugar Alcohols, Natural Caloric Sweeteners, and Natural Zero Caloric Sweeteners. Within each we’ll look at appropriate uses and any cautions with overuse.

Glucose

Uses: Found naturally in whole foods (whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables).

Benefits: Glucose is the body’s main source of energy. Glucose is vital! The digestion of carbohydrates produces glucose, which our bodies use to produce a form of energy called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is like the gas in our cars, it feeds our brains and runs nearly all of our bodily functions; without it we would be stuck motionless.

Warnings: Glucose is necessary for everyone, however some people do not properly metabolize glucose and must carefully track the foods they consume to avoid over-consumption of glucose. When carbohydrates are broken down in the digestive tract, glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream. We don’t want too much or too little sugar in our bloodstream, so to stabilize our blood sugar level we produce insulin. Insulin allows our cells to use the consumed glucose immediately if needed, to store the consumed glucose when we have too much sugar in our blood, or to use our stored glucose when our blood sugar levels are too low. People with impaired glucose metabolism may produce too much insulin, not enough, or may not respond to the insulin produced.

Fructose

Uses: Found naturally in fruit and as an additive in processed and prepackaged foods.

Benefits: Low glycemic index – does not lead to a huge spike in one’s blood sugar level, which is beneficial for someone with impaired glucose metabolism like a diabetic.

Warnings: Fructose is metabolized in the liver and is stored as fat if not needed immediately for energy. According to Harvard Medical School, fructose puts strain on the liver when consumed in excess, increases the concentration of triglycerides (the fat in our blood), makes tissues insulin-resistant, increases blood pressure, and elevates the production of free radicals. Excess intake of fructose, as suggested by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, has also been linked to obesity, heart disease, and higher levels of uric acid (which can cause gout).

Sucrose

Also known as sugar, white sugar, table sugar, granulated sugar, Sugar in the Raw, Turbinado, evaporated cane juice

Uses: Baked and cooked foods, processed foods, beverages

Benefits: Provides quick joust of energy. Raw sucrose contains minimal nutrients, but most of the sugar consumed today is highly refined, effectively removing all nutritive value.

Warnings: Sucrose consists of from 50% glucose and 50% fructose. All of the concerns with fructose apply to sucrose as well. Excessive intake of refined sugar has been linked to many health problems like high blood sugar, obesity, type II diabetes, gallstones, osteoporosis, heart disease, tooth decay, and feelings of lethargy or fatigue, nausea, anxiety, and depression. Some scientists have even declared sucrose a drug, similar to that of cocaine (more on that here).

SUGAR ALCOHOLS

Sugar alcohols are a carbohydrate typically derived from berries or other fruits, corn, or seaweed that are changed in a chemical process.

Sorbitol

Uses: Found in diet and “light” beverages, sugar-free chewing gum, diabetic candies, dried fruit, and toothpaste.

Benefits: Does not cause as great an insulin rush as sucrose; Commonly used in sugar free products marketed to people with impaired glucose metabolism or Diabetes. Does not cause tooth decay

Warnings: Sorbitol is known to have laxative effects, cause bloating, diarrhea, gas, and, sometimes, abdominal pain when consumed in large amounts. Not recommended for anyone with sensitive digestion and/or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Consume in moderation.

Xylitol

Also known as Miracle Sweet, Nature’s Provisions, XyloSweet, XyloPure

Uses: Found in most of the same products as sorbitol – sorbitol is more commonly used as it is cheaper. Xylitol is also used in some medicines.

Benefits: Low in calories; Does not cause tooth decay; Occurs naturally in very small amounts in birch wood, vegetables, and fruit.

Warnings: The same as those for sorbitol – should not be consumed in large quantities due to a laxative effect; consume in moderation.

Maltitol

Uses: Found in chocolate most commonly.

Benefits: Lower in calories than sucrose, by almost half (2.1 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram); Does not cause tooth decay.

Warnings: The same as for sorbitol and xylitol; it has been shown to cause abdominal pain, flatulence, and diarrhea when eaten in large amounts. Consume in moderation.

Erythritol

Also known as Zerose, ZSweet

Uses: Can be used for baking

Benefits: Low in calories; Low glycemic index; Does not cause tooth decay

Warnings: If consumed in large quantities, could have similar side effects as the other sugar alcohols. However, erythritol appears to be the safest of them all as it is not metabolized in the stomach but rather partially absorbed in the intestines after fermentation, leading to the lowest possibility of discomfort. Consume in moderation.

Lactitol

Uses: Found in chocolate, ice creams, pastries, chewing gum, and candies.

Benefits: Low in calories; Does not cause tooth decay.

Warnings: Lactitol can cause digestive discomfort like the other sugar alcohols, which include abdominal pain, flatulence, and diarrhea. Consume in moderation. 

MODIFIED SUGARS

Defined as a sugar that is produced from the modification of starch by the use of enzymes.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Also referred to as corn syrup or fructose on food labels

Uses: Produced from field corn through a chemical process and found in many processed and prepackaged foods and beverages.

Bonuses: None

Warnings: HFCS is made from modified corn starch and during its manufacturing it may be contaminated with mercury. HFCS has high levels of fructose. All of the concerns with fructose are of most concern in relation to HFCS since HFCS 55, found in soft drinks, contains 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Fruit contains a ratio of 50/50 of fructose and glucose and the balance, with fruits’ fiber and nutrients, eliminates any concerns of excess fructose when consumed from whole fruit. This cannot be said for HFCS.

Caramel

Uses: Found in processed and prepackaged foods and beverages, including ice cream, desserts, salad dressings, and condiments. Used as a sweetener or for color or for both.

Benefits: None

Warnings: Caramel is made by heating table sugar to 170 degrees Celsius, therefore it holds the same warnings as sucrose.

Golden Syrup

Uses: Found in desserts.

Benefits: None

Warnings: It is a byproduct of refined sugar and therefore has the same cautions as sucrose.

HIGH-INTENSITY SWEETENERS

Defined as an FDA-approved sugar substitute with a high level of sweetness but, typically, a low glycemic index. To imitate the sweetness of sucrose, high-intensity sweeteners are often used in very small amounts and sometimes mixed with dextrose or maltodextrin.

Aspartame

Also known as NutraSweet, Equal, Sugar Twin

Uses: Found in soda, sugar-free chewing gum, mints, cereals, shake mixes, juices, tea, coffee, and many more. Sold under the names of NutraSweet® and Equal®.

Bonuses: Zero calories; Zero glycemic index

Warnings: Although studies have not been strictly “conclusive”, many studies were on the verge of proving a link between aspartame and brain and bladder cancer, birth defects, seizures and epilepsy, diabetes, and emotional disorders but studies were stopped due to issues with the data or severe reactions to the sweetener.

More on aspartame can be found here and there is a video on it here.

Saccharine

Also known as Sweet N’ Low, Sweet Twin, Necta Sweet

Uses: Found in drinks, candies, cookies, medicines, and toothpaste.

Bonuses: Zero calories; Zero glycemic index; does not promote tooth decay.

Warnings: According to ScienceNews.org on a scientific report published by Jotham Suez et al in 2014, saccharine impairs “glucose metabolism, a warning sign for type 2 diabetes”. Glucose metabolism is also important just for our everyday energy supply, so this could be problematic. Saccharine has been found to cause cancer in lab rats. Under the Delaney Clause (provision in the Food Additives Amendment, 1958) which states that any chemical used in food that is found to cause cancer in humans or lab animals should not be approved by the FDA, saccharine should be declared as unsafe, however it is still in use today.

Sucralose

Also known as Splenda

Uses: Beverages

Benefits: Low glycemic index and caloric value

Warnings: One study by the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found that sucralose reduces the amount of good bacteria in our intestines by 50% and increases the pH level in our intestines, both of which could lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, poor digestion, and a weak immune system. In 2013, the Center for Science in the Public Interest degraded sucralose from “Safe” to “Caution” once they reviewed an unpublished study that provided evidence against the safety of sucralose. The data showed a link between sucralose and leukemia in mice.

NATURAL CALORIC SWEETENERS

Natural caloric sweeteners are natural sweeteners that contain nutritional value.

Honey

Uses: Baked goods, tea, coffee, as a spread, etc.

Benefits: Does not contain any chemicals since it is produced by bees! Honey may have medicinal and antibacterial properties, soothes sore throats, and possibly promotes faster recovery from the flu. Local honey specifically is thought to relieve allergy symptoms.

Warnings: Honey can contain up to 50% fructose. If eaten in large amounts, the concerns are the same as those for table sugar. Consume in moderation.

NOTE: When buying honey, look for labels that read “natural honey” and check the ingredients. There is artificial honey made from heated refined sugar and some can have additional sweeteners.

Maple Syrup

Uses: Baked goods, ice cream, on top of pancakes or waffles, etc.

Benefits: Maple syrup is extracted from the sap of maple trees. Maple syrup contains zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, and antioxidants. It also causes a slower rise in blood sugar than sucrose. Does not contain any chemicals.

Warnings: Although maple syrup has some nutritional value, it has a very high sugar content. Therefore, consume in moderation to prevent the adverse effects linked to high intakes of sugar.

NOTE: When buying maple syrup, look for labels that read “Pure Maple Syrup” rather than “Maple-Flavored Syrup”. These are not the same. Maple-flavored syrup does not come from the sap of trees, but rather from other sweeteners, and does not contain the same nutritive value.

If you’re curious on how to make maple syrup, this is a neat video.

Agave Syrup

Also known as Agave Nectar

Uses: Similar to any syrup – used in beverages and in cooked and baked goods.

Benefits: Agave is made from the same plant as tequila. The nectar in its natural state has fructans, which the British Journal of Nutrition declared as having “promising effects on glucose metabolism, body weight, and fat mass development”.

Warnings: Agave nectar is turned into agave syrup through a refining process, during which the fructans break down into fructose. This increases the sugar content of the syrup. Agave syrup is 85% fructose, which makes it the most fructose rich of all the sweeteners. Therefore, the same caution taken with sucrose must be taken with agave syrup

Sorghum Syrup

Uses: Uses are similar to those of maple syrup.

Benefits: Sorghum syrup is made from the sap of sweet sorghum, originally from Africa. It contains calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and riboflavin.

Warnings: High in sugar and has a high glycemic index. The same concerns apply as those for         table sugar.

Coconut Palm Sugar

Also referred to as just coconut sugar

Uses: Baked goods, beverages, chocolate, etc.

Benefits: Coconut Palm Sugar is made from the sap of coconut palm trees and contains some levels of magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, polyphenols, and antioxidants. It also has a low glycemic index and does not contain any chemicals.

Warnings: Coconut palm sugar is 70-79% sucrose and since sucrose is half fructose, this means it is very high in fructose, which poses potential health issues like those of table sugar.

Palm Sugar

Uses: Used most often in southeast Asian recipes, but it is appearing in North America as a replacement for sucrose in cooking and baking.

Benefits: Palm sugar is made from the sap of a sugar palm tree. There have been some claims made on its medicinal effects, but nothing conclusive. Low glycemic index. Does not contain any chemicals.

Warnings: Palm sugar is not much different than the typical table sugar we use. The same concerns apply.

NATURAL ZERO CALORIC SWEETENERS

Natural zero caloric sweeteners are not carbohydrates and do not contain any calories.

Stevia

Also known as SweetLeaf, Truvia, PureVia, Rebiana

Uses: Beverages, baked and cooked foods.

Benefits: Stevia is a plant grown in South America. It has a zero glycemic index.

Warnings: The sweetener itself is highly refined, which could cause concern for some. Some varieties of stevia have shown to have adverse effects in animals, but the varieties sold in the U.S. do not appear to be of any concern.

Monk Fruit

True name:  Luo Han Guo

Uses: Beverages and cooked foods.

Benefits: Luo Han Guo is a plant native to China and has been used there for its proposed medicinal properties for hundreds of years. It is used for respiratory ailments and sore throats.

Warnings: No known concerns.

IN CONCLUSION

Read ingredient lists! There are tons of different sweeteners, most of which should not be consumed in large amounts, especially artificial sweeteners and modified sugars. Even though most- but not all- of these sweeteners have only been shown to cause harmful effects if eaten in excess, why take the risk? It’s not worth it. Instead of buying processed foods full of additives, make your own version at home with whole foods. Fruits are amazing natural beauties that are both sweet and beneficial for the body and thus are the best sweeteners to use in baking or cooking. Try using bananas, plantains, apples, applesauce, or dates the next time you’re craving a sweet treat.

Here are some incredible recipes that give those refined foods a run for their money:

And if you really do need just a little something extra, use some honey or maple syrup in moderation since they do have more nutritional value than the other sweeteners. BUT remember that their nutritive value is minimal and does not mean you can eat crazy amounts – they’re still high in sugar and must be consumed in moderation!

Here are some creative ways to use honey or maple syrup:

If you are looking for a sweetener to cook and bake with that has a low glycemic index, experiment with one of the sugar alcohols or the natural zero caloric sweeteners. And although they are low in calories, be conscientious of how much you consume – moderation should still be applied.

Here are a few fun recipes:

You can replace sugar with Stevia in any of your favorite recipes with this conversion

Xylitol can replace sugar in a 1:1 ratio

In regards to all of the sweeteners: remember to be kind to your sweet self, nourish with nature, and exercise balance.

By Giulia Tondo, Clinical Nutrition Student

Fresh Spring Recipes

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Spring is associated with more than just Kleenex, pollen, and runny noses. The season “spring” runs from March to May and is prime time for many fruits and vegetables due to the warmer and milder environmental conditions. Though the exact times of planting and harvesting can vary greatly due to the geography, precipitation, and average temperature of the location, spring months in California are especially good for these delicious foods below:

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Strawberries

In California, strawberries are grown from January to November, with the prime of its harvest from April until June. Strawberries are a good choice since they contain more vitamin C than other berries and also contain folate and the minerals manganese, potassium, and magnesium, among others. Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is one of the B vitamins that assist the body in converting carbohydrates into glucose for energy and are essential for liver, skin, and eye health. There are some studies that indicate that folate may reduce the risk of heart disease, although this evidence is not yet conclusive. The vitamin C present in strawberries aids the body in battling infectious agents and harmful free radicals. Ripe strawberries will be a bright, ruby red – avoid strawberries that are too dark (overly ripe) in color if you wish to store them for more than two days.

Enjoy strawberries in a more natural form as frozen strawberry pops. This quick and hassle-free recipe is in perfect timing for Davis’s hot weather just around the corner. Add thin slices of strawberry to each popsicle for a nice aesthetic look. Alternatively, chunks of other fruits, like raspberries or blueberries, can be added as well.

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Asparagus

Asparagus, though native to the eastern Mediterranean area, gained popularity among royalty in France and England in the 16th century and was later introduced to America by subsequent colonists. Coined the “Food of Kings”, a half cup of chopped asparagus contains 57% of the daily value of vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting to stop excessive bleeding. Vitamin K may also play a role bone health by promoting bone formation inside the body.

The same serving of asparagus also contains 18% of the daily value of vitamin A. There are two kinds of vitamin A – retinoids and carotenoids (the latter being found in plants). Beta-carotene, a carotenoid, is an antioxidant which reduces inflammatory action inside the body. Furthermore, some studies have indicated that obtaining vitamin A through dietary supplements may not have the same beneficial effects as obtaining it through natural food sources.

Asparagus can be included as part of a simple and healthy breakfast here.

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Artichokes

Though artichokes can generally be found year-round, their peak season is also from March to May. Just one-half cup of artichoke hearts (the inside of the artichoke) contains seven grams of fiber and two grams of protein. The water-insoluble fiber in vegetables is beneficial in helping prevent constipation and promote health of the digestive tract, and is linked with decreasing risk of gastrointestinal diseases or cancers. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume 25g of fiber daily, while men need 38g daily. Thus, just a half cup of artichoke hearts fulfills a substantial amount of this requirement. A half-cup also contains 19% of the daily value of folate and 16% of the daily value of vitamin K.

How do you know if an artichoke is ripe? The leaves of the artichoke should cling to each other and not be loose to touch – leaves that are loose can cause the artichoke to lose its flavor. Fresh artichokes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Don’t worry if you’ve never cooked with artichoke before- canned artichokes (which contain almost the same amount of nutrients as fresh ones) can work well also. Check out this artichoke dip recipe that can be paired with multigrain tortilla chips as a delicious snack.

For ingredients for these recipes and more, head to the UC Davis Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays from 11-1 on the quad!

What other fruits and vegetables do you love to eat in the spring? Comment below!

By Esther Chen, Clinical Nutrition Student

How to Stay Hydrated

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During this time of the year in Davis the sun isn’t shy and the temperatures are heating up. Everyone can agree that Spring Quarter can be tons of fun, but it’s essential to take care of your body and stay hydrated as the temperature rises. Water protects and hydrates our organs, transports nutrients to our cells and helps us stay energized and mentally sharp. It also balances the level of electrolytes — minerals such as sodium and potassium — in our bodies to keep our muscles functioning properly.

The best way to stay hydrated? Drink water of course! We’ve all heard we should be drinking a minimum of 8 glasses of water a day. That is two of your handy 32 oz Nalgene bottles that you can constantly refill at any hydration station on campus. If you are looking for a more personalized number, here is a method often used by dietitians to calculate the amount of water a patient needs: multiply your body weight in kilograms (divide pounds by 2.2) by 30 to get the milliliters of fluids you should be drinking per day.

Drinking enough water can be challenging, so check out these helpful tips to stay healthy and hydrated every day:

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BE PREPARED!

Always have that refillable water bottle handy. Most of the time we forget to drink water when we don’t have any on us. There are plenty of different water bottles on the market now that make staying hydrated more exciting. Opt for a stainless steel water bottle or a glass water bottle with a silicone sleeve in a fun color. Another tip is to stash your water bottle in the refrigerator overnight so it is chilled and ready to go for you in the morning.

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SIP ON ELECTROLYTES

Water is the most beneficial liquid to keep your body healthy and hydrated. However, if you’re looking for some more excitement in your life, there are plenty of other liquids that can refresh and replenish your body. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes, which are minerals found in the blood that help to regulate (among other things) the amount of water in the body. For this reason, electrolytes are especially important for exercisers. While an ordinary workout may not require electrolyte-replenishing, those participating in longer and more intense periods of exertion, such as running a marathon or going through a particularly intense workout, will benefit from a good dose of electrolytes mid-workout. Sports drinks, as well as coconut water, contain electrolytes that can help replenish our bodies.

Tip: Fill your ice cube tray with coconut water, then pop the cubes into your glass to give water a nutty, slightly sweet taste.

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TURN TO FRUIT

Fruit-infused water can also add some natural flavors and added benefits to what you’re sipping on throughout the day. A quick and easy way to improve the taste of your water is to add some lemon, a natural detoxifier and metabolism booster. Mint leaves are another way to add a refreshing flavor to water. The UC Davis Dining Commons resident dining locations have a variety of infused water available each day. Use these flavors as inspiration and come up with your own infused water flavor combinations at home. Some fruits and vegetables even have high water content that can contribute to your daily water intake. Watermelon and strawberries have the highest water content at 92%, while iceberg lettuce and cucumbers hold the highest percentage for vegetables with 96% water content.

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LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

Whatever you’re drinking, be it water, juice, or sports drinks, make sure to take a sip or two whenever you feel thirsty. Even if you’re not feeling totally parched, mild thirst is still a sign of impending dehydration. Another great way to monitor if you are dehydrated or not is when you go to the bathroom. Dr. Liz Applegate, UC Davis sports nutritionist, tells athletes that when properly hydrated, urine should be pale yellow in color. Although it might seem like a nuisance, if you have to go a minimum of four times a day, you are treating your body right.

Share your tips for staying hydrated in the comments below!

by Nikki Saheb, Clinical Nutrition student

Spectacular Seeds

Non-GMO Seed Scoops

After experimenting with adding chia seeds to smoothies, I became curious about other seeds that have become popular lately. Seeds grow into plants, so they obviously contain the large number of nutritional building blocks necessary to nurture new life. The general consensus is that most of these seeds are very good for you, although there is limited scientific information to back up the health claims. The best way to achieve optimal health is with a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. While they may not live up to their most extreme health claims, these seeds can be used as a building block for a healthy diet and lifestyle as a way to pack in those extra nutrients.

Here are a few of the most popular and nutrient-rich edible seeds:

Chia Seeds

The fad seed of the hour, it seems the benefits of chia seeds are being exalted everywhere across the health food world. After trying them, I can definitely understand the appeal. In their dry form, chia seeds have a subtle nutty taste and crunchy texture. When soaked in water they develop a slight film that makes them slippery and chewier — and with their ability to absorb 10-12 times their weight in water, these seeds can keep your stomach feeling full long after you’ve eaten them. They pack a mean punch when it comes to consolidated nutrients per serving, providing good fats, protein, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.

Chia Seed NutrientsProtein, Omega-3 fats, antioxidants, Zinc, Potassium, Calcium, Manganese, Magnesium, Vitamins B1, B2, & B3, and Phosphorus.

How to Eat Them: Add to smoothies, porridges, oatmeal, or puddings. Soak them in fresh juice. Sprinkle on salads, yogurt, cereal, stir fries, rice, and vegetable side dishes.

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are very similar to chia in terms of their nutritional quality, but they do not develop the same texture when added to liquids. They too can make you feel full for longer, which can help suppress your appetite and promote weight loss. High in heart-healthy fats and fiber, flax seeds also stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation, making them an excellent post-work out recovery food.

Flax Seed Nutrients: Fiber, ALA Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and antioxidants.

How to Eat Them: You need to grind your flax seeds prior to consumption — a coffee grinder or food processor works well. If you consume the seeds in their whole state, your body won’t be able to digest them properly and you’ll miss out on the full nutritional benefits. Once you’ve ground your flax seed into meal, add it to smoothies, shakes, yogurt, hot or cold cereal, and baked goods.

Hemp Seeds

These tiny seeds have the ability to lower bad cholesterol while promoting healthy hair and skin. Hemp has all 9 essential amino acids, the building blocks your body needs to create complete proteins. Curious about the taste? Hemp seeds actually taste similar to pine nuts or sunflower seeds. And don’t worry about hemp’s relation to marijuana — hemp contains no THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s effects.

Hemp seed nutrients: Protein, fiber, Omgea-3 & 6 fatty acids, all 9 essential amino acids, and phytosterols (which lower cholesterol).

How to Eat Them: Add hemp seeds to smoothies, salads, cereal, baked goods, and even pasta dishes

Sunflower Seeds

One of the more commonly recognized edible seeds, sunflower seeds have been a popular snack for decades. High in vitamins, these seeds help keep your skin and hair healthy. Sunflower seeds also give your immune system a boost.

Sunflower Seed Nutrients: B Vitamins, E Vitamins, protein, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

How to Eat Them: Sunflower seeds can be eaten raw as a snack, or use them to top salads and stir fry dishes. They also make a great addition to trail mix and baked goods.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds- a common fall treat- contain tryptophans, essential amino acids that are the building blocks of serotonin. Increased levels of serotonin in your brain make you feel happier, providing a natural mood boost and lowering anxiety.

Pumpkin Seed Nutrients: Vitamin B, Zinc, Magnesium, protein, Omega-3s, and highly concentrated tryptophans.

How to Eat Them: Add pumpkin seeds to baked goods, use as a garnish, or roast them.

 What are your favorite ways to add seeds to your meals and snacks? Share below!

Finals Week Survival Guide

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Why are you up so late? Why, it’s finals, of course! This is the time when many students indulge in sugary, caffeinated beverages to keep them focused through long hours of studying. Though you think sugar is exactly what you need to boost your energy, you’re actually plunging yourself further to “the point of no return”. Although sugar gives you an initial energy boost, it won’t last nearly as long as you think. Soon after consumption of large amounts of refined sugar, blood glucose levels rapidly spike, then decline, and can possibly leave you feeling more fatigue and irritable.

What’s a better energy booster? Check out these options below:

Lemon Water

During late night study sessions, the mind can often mistake dehydration for fatigue. Squeeze half a lemon into a 12 oz cup of ice water for a refresher that’s packed with electrolytes and vitamin C.

 Apples and Peanut Butter 

Opt for a brand of peanut butter that doesn’t use partially hydrogenated oils (check the ingredients!). Oils are partially hydrogenated by adding hydrogen gas at a high pressure to prolong the product’s shelf life. Though the percentage of hydrogenated oils in peanut butter is usually low (1-2%), there are also brands that omit hydrogenated oils altogether. Peanut butter is high in mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids (healthy fats), which can reduce “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet.

A medium-sized apple (about 3” in diameter) contains around 4g of fiber. An apple contains approximately 30% soluble fiber and 70% insoluble fiber. Soluble fibers dissolve water to form a viscous substance, which can then bind to fatty acids (like cholesterol) to help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fibers bind to water and assist in bowel movement by facilitating the movement of substances through your digestive tract.

 Berries and Cream 

Have a sweet tooth? Chop up half a cup of strawberries and mix in a bowl with a half cup of blueberries. Top with a dollop of Nonfat Cool Whip and you have yourself a guilt-free treat with more vitamins (provides 90% DV of Vitamin C) and minerals (Calcium, Iron) than a candy bar. Vitamin C is a necessary antioxidant that can defend the body against harmful free radicals and is utilized for the growth and repair of tissues. Excess vitamin C is secreted from the body via urine and because the body cannot synthesize its own vitamin C, it is important to receive an adequate amount through diet every day.

 Trail Mix

Many types of nuts such as almonds, pistachios, and walnuts contain high levels of essential fatty acids that help your brain to perform optimally. As an added benefit, nuts contain a good amount of iron and also provide oxygen to the brain, increasing your mental alertness and ability to retain information. A minimum of one ounce of nuts per day is recommended for optimal brain health. Since nuts are high in unsaturated fat (aka the “good” fat) and calories, they make great sources of energy as well. Sounds like a perfect recipe for better grades!

Protein Smoothie

Most of the neurotransmitters in your brain are made from amino acids derived from the protein in your diet. To keep your neurotransmitter levels up, eat high-protein foods such as cheese, eggs, or meats. For a quick protein punch, whip up a high-protein smoothie with protein powder, plain yogurt and a cup of fresh fruit.


Snacking healthy is just as important for the body as it is psychologically for the brain and these foods are sure to keep you satiated throughout your studies. What are your favorite foods to snack on when studying? Feel free to comment below!

Garlic: God of Flavor

garlic

One of my favorite parts of being in the kitchen is experiencing the aroma of cooked garlic. Whether you enjoy the raw & poignant essence or the nutty taste of the small clove, you are definitely in for some power-punching flavor. A little goes a long way with these tiny cloves.

Read on to discover the many health benefits that garlic offers.

A Brief History

For many years, garlic has been used as a medicinal food source. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, prescribed garlic to treat a variety of illnesses. These included parasites, respiratory problems, and intestinal disorders.

Ancient Olympic athletes ate garlic for its fabled “strength enhancing” properties. Today, it has been studied for its potential ability to lessen fatigue as well as improve performance.

In the Middle East and East Asia, garlic has been used as a treatment for high blood pressure, diabetes, bronchitis, and fevers.

The Secret Weapon

The secret to garlic’s powerful properties is the chemical component allicin. Allicin is a compound catalyzed by allinase, an enzyme released when garlic is crushed or cut. Allinase is inactive under high temperatures, thus it is suggested to allow garlic to sit for about 10 minutes after cutting, before letting it in the pan. This will allow allicin to form.

Studies have shown that allicin contributes to a variety of beneficial functions to the body. It lowers low-density lipoproteins while increasing high-density lipoproteins, which can prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Additionally, allicin holds many “anti-” characteristics. These include: anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-virus, and anti-oxidant properties.

Garlic also contains high sulfur levels, which makes it a great agent in defending against organ damage and heavy metal poisoning.

One study observed how a garlic supplement was able to fight colds. Here it showed a decrease of illnesses by 63% compared to a placebo group. It also reduced the time period of a cold from an average of 5 days to 1.5 days.

Recipes to Try

  • This garlic soup will warm you inside & out while also fighting against colds and flus.

Garlic zuchinni

  • Tired of the usual garlic bread? Try garlic zucchiniTip: Use this recipe with your other favorite veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, squash, carrots, etc
    • It’s a great way to sneak more veggies into your diet as well!
  • Not into switching your bread for zucchini? No problem! Try one of these garlic spreads and smooth it over your favorite piece of toast, pastas, crackers, etc!

garlic pesto                      kale + garlic pesto

garlic hummus                         garbanzo garlic hummus

roasted garlic aioli                      roasted garlic aioli

What is your favorite way to eat garlic? Like this post and leave a comment below!

By Janelle Manzano, Clinical Nutrition Student