Enjoy the holidays, but skip the stuffing!



The holiday season is upon us, which means spending time with family, friends, and most anticipated, food.  By the end of the holiday season we hear a lot about weight gain from excessive eating and not enough exercise.  Our new year’s resolutions don’t always have to be about beginning a healthier lifestyle after the holidays.  Why not start now?  Here are a few simple, yet rewarding tips for a healthier Thanksgiving feast that doesn’t leave you feeling bloated or out of shape.

  • Stay active—make sure you stay active to burn off extra calories you will consume throughout the day. Start your day off with a workout before you hit the kitchen, and then offer to help prepare/clean up the meals so you stay on your feet.  Going on a walk after dinner can be a fun family activity that will keep you active.  Then you won’t feel so guilty about splurging on some delicious pie (yum).
  • Eat breakfast—you might consider saving your appetite for all the food later in the day, but skipping meals will make you more likely to overeat when you get to the party. Try eating a small breakfast full of protein, such as an egg with a slice of whole wheat toast, that will help tide you over.
  • Control portion sizes—take a look at all the food on the table first and decide what to fill your plate with so you don’t end up with too much of everything. Remember that you can have leftovers the next day instead of stuffing yourself with multiple helpings in one sitting.  Also, remember not to overdo it on the appetizers—it’s tempting, but you don’t want to start your main course already full.
  • Eat slowly—when you eat too fast, you have no time to realize that you are full. Put your fork down in between bites and spread your eating throughout the day.  If you pay attention to what you’re eating, you will be able to keep track of you’re meals without mindlessly snacking.  Don’t be afraid to treat yourself to dessert, but do so a couple hours after your meal.
  • Stay hydrated—make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, which will add to the feeling of fullness and prevent overeating. Try to avoid sodas and sugary beverages that pile on the calories.  If you’re really craving carbonation, limit yourself to just one soda to cut down on extra sugar and calories.  You can also try sparkling water infused with fresh fruit or a dash of fruit juice, which contains more natural ingredients than soda.
  • Substitute heavy ingredients—things such as butter can be replaced in most recipes with lighter options like olive oil, for example, which contains heart healthy monounsaturated fat and is rich in polyphenols that may help prevent diseases such as cancer.

Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple, but they typically contain a lot of fat from butter and cream.  Here’s a lighter recipe for mashed potatoes that contain olive oil and Greek yogurt instead, while still delivering that creamy texture we love.


Using these easy tips to cut back on some of the excess calories during holiday gatherings is a great step toward starting the new year with a healthy lifestyle.  Enjoy your time with family and friends, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!





Whey Too Much Protein?



I’m sure many of you who go to the gym can relate to a familiar scene: guys and girls coming out of the weight room, filling up a bottle with water and some type of powder, shake mixing and drinking this mystery beverage that resembles watered down chocolate milk. You’ve probably even overheard the same people talking about gains and their favorite supplements to take.

So what’s in this mystery drink? In this case, the answer is usually protein powder.

First, let’s talk about protein and its functions. Your entire body is made up of proteins—from the hair on your head to the muscles in your toes. It’s a key macronutrient that serves a multitude of functions. It’s essential for muscle growth, catalyzing metabolic reactions, and DNA replication, just to name a few. Proteins consist of a chain of amino acids, also called peptides, with each amino acid being individually unique.

As humans, we need a total of 20 amino acids. There are 11 amino acids that we can make in our body (called nonessential amino acids). There are some that we cannot make, and we refer to these as the 9 essential amino acids. These can be obtained from the food we eat. The essential amino acids are extremely important for fueling our muscles and bodies on a daily basis.

Where does protein powder fit into this?

Well, you can think of protein powder as a “powder form” of these 9 essential amino acids. It comes in a variety of forms, with the most common being whey, soy and casein. Whey and casein are proteins found in milk and dairy products. Both are considered complete protein, with whey being fast absorbing in the body, while casein is slow absorbing. This makes the ever-popular whey protein great to consume after strength training to quickly re-fuel your muscles. Casein protein is better to consume as a meal replacement, because it will slowly digest in the body to keep you full and focused throughout the day. Lastly, soy protein is a plant-based protein that comes from soybeans. The protein from these legumes is low in fat and a great protein source for vegans and vegetarians.

When is protein powder a useful dietary supplement?

According to the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), released by The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences, the RDA for protein is 0.8 grams/kilogram of body weight.  This is the “average daily dietary intake of a nutrient that is sufficient to meet the requirement of nearly all (97-98%) healthy persons.”  That means the average American man needs about 56 grams/day, and the average American woman needs about 46 grams/day.  To visualize, one egg, a lean 3-4 oz. chicken breast, and a 3-4 oz. piece of fish combined are around 50 grams of protein, about what the average woman needs daily.

The average person likely has no need for protein supplementation. But if you fall under one of the following categories, you may consider additional supplementation from protein powder.

  • During a period of growth. Teenagers, who are still growing, may not get enough protein, or tend to consume protein rich foods that are also higher in saturated fat. Efforts to educate these consumers on healthy eating can help; a protein supplement is typically unnecessary.
  • If you’re weight lifting. If you’re resistance training, your body will require an increase in protein to aid in muscle recovery. Consuming adequate protein in a snack that also contains carbohydrate [think chocolate milk or peanut butter on whole grain] within 1 hour of your workout will most effectively help with muscle recovery.
  • If you’re recovering from an injury or suffering an illness. Protein is the foundation of scar tissue, and once an injury occurs, protein needs dramatically increase to help repair the damage. Anytime the human body must rebuild for any reason, including during the time one has a cold or flu, protein needs are elevated.
  • If you’re vegan or vegetarian. Vegan and vegetarian diets sometimes eliminate a lot of meat, eggs and dairy sources of protein. Adding protein powder to a snack or smoothie helps, but optimal protein sources for vegan diets should continue to be proteins like tofu, beans, nuts, seeds.

Protein is an extremely important macronutrient, not only in the diet, but for many biochemical processes in the body. Eating a healthy balanced diet, as recommended by myplate.gov, is the preferred method for getting nutrients. There may be a time when protein supplementation is required, however always speak with your healthcare professional beforehand.

How To Navigate Halloween Weekend



October is here, and that means Halloween is too.  As kids, the scariest part of Halloween can be the witches, ghosts, and monsters that go bump in the night. However, as we get older sometimes the scariest part of Halloween is what’s wrapped in colorful packaging– Halloween candy. In order to help survive this holiday season, here are some tips and TRICKS for eating more healthful Halloween TREATS.

  1. Attend Halloween Parties for the Atmosphere and Not the Food
  • Plan ahead of time; know what you’ll allow yourself to eat and drink at the party, and stick to that plan.
  • Position yourself away from the temptation. Make sure that there is an appropriate amount of space between you and the table of goodies.
  • Have a snack at home before you arrive at the part that will keep you full for a long period of time.
  1. Don’t be Afraid of the Dark
  • If you’re craving chocolate this Halloween season, consider switching to dark chocolate
  • Depending on the brand and cocoa percentage, dark chocolate has less sugar, may be dairy-free, and has more antioxidants compared to white chocolate or milk chocolate.
  1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
  • You’re much more likely to consume your sweets, regardless of whether you’re hungry or not, if it’s out in the open.
  • Be sure to store your Halloween treats in areas that are not easily seen, such as drawers, cabinets, behind the door, or on a high shelf.
  1. Fill Up on Fiber and Protein First
  • If you plan on indulging in a sugary treats this Halloween, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can “simply cancel out the difference” earlier that day by either skipping meals or consuming less calories.
  • Be sure to drink lots of liquids, such as water and tea, as well as, consuming whole grains, proteins, and foods high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables. Keeping your body well-nourished will lessen the damage done by sugary treats.
  • Including lean protein can help keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day and balance hunger and cravings. Eating foods like an egg for breakfast or a chicken Caesar salad for lunch will help keep you satisfied throughout the day leading to fewer cravings that night.
  1. Choose Hard Candies
  • Sugar is still sugar at the end of the day, but if it takes longer to consumer your treats than you’re more likely to eat less.
  • Try switching to lollypops, Jolly Ranchers, Tootsie Pops, Smarties, Sweet Tarts, or Wonka Nerd; these take a longer time to eat than other types of candy.
  1. Stick with the “Fun Size”
  • Although “King Size” may be the best value for your wallet, switching to a smaller portion might help you out in the long run. Often times the “Fun Size” version of your candy craving will be a single serving instead of multiple servings.
  • Even if you tell yourself that you’re only going to eat half of your “King Size” chocolate bar, you will inevitably finish the whole thing (and possibly feel guilty afterwards). So save yourself the guilt and switch to a smaller size of your favorite Halloween treat.
  1. Make it At Home
  • It can be a little spooky sometimes to look at a packaging label of your favorite sweet. Consider making your own healthy treats this year.
  • When you make candy at home, it will most likely be free of the preservatives, artificial dyes, and sweeteners used commercially.
  • Get your witches’ brew ready, and try out some delicious homemade Halloween treats! Find such favorites as, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, and Mounds. (http://greatist.com/health/homemade-candy-recipes)


Cutting back on the quantity of sweets you consume this Halloween is a great step towards a healthy lifestyle! Happy Trick – or – Treating!




Escape Hunger! Four Quick and Healthy Snacks Prepared in Your Dorm


When you first move in to your new dorm room, you’re excited about the all-you-care-to-eat DC without your parents’ scrutiny: French fries, ice cream, and burgers galore! Unfortunately, not only do these start to weigh you down but they get plain old borrrring. Plus, when you’re in your room STARVING with the DC and C-stores closed, you feel like your options are limited and you wind up eating something unhealthy and unsatisfying.

Proper nutritious meals can help you stay focused, improve your mood, and make you feel GOOD– and that goes for snacks too. Snacks should give you an energy boost, help you stay focused, and keep you full until your next meal. Good carbohydrates- like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains- will provide that needed energy boost while stabilizing your blood sugar. This will help reduce your cravings and help you feel satiated. Protein, fiber, and healthy fats will sustain you until its time for a full meal. You can be more focused on the task at hand than at your grumbling belly.

Check out these 4 easy recipes that can all be cooked in your dorm!

PRO TIP: Utilize the DC’s Meals To-Go Program to fill up on ingredients while you’re at the DC to use for snacks later! Plan ahead and be creative.

1. Chocolate Covered Bananas


  • 1 Banana*
  • 1 Cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Tablespoon Nuts or Seeds*, chopped or crushed (Optional)


  1. Microwave chocolate chips in a microwave-safe dish for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between.
  2. Cut or break the banana into bite-size pieces (about one inch) and place into the bowl with the melted chocolate. Coat thoroughly. Add the nuts or seeds now, if desired.
  3. Place the banana slices in a glass jar, or a reused plastic container, and place in the freezer for at least 45 minutes. More time may be needed depending on your freezer and the thickness of your slices.

 2. Dip and Crudité*


  • 1 Cup Plain Yogurt (or ½ yogurt, ½ hummus)
  • 1 Tablespoon Curry Powder
  • 1 Lime or ½ Lemon, juiced
  • Fresh Veggies


  1. Mix all of the ingredients together.
  2. Eat with fresh veggies, raw or cooked, of your choice.

 3. Deviled Eggs


  • 2 Hardboiled Eggs, shelled
  • 1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise (or ½ mayo, ½ yogurt)*
  • 1 Teaspoon Mustard*
  • 2 Small Pickles, cut into pieces*
  • Salt and Pepper*


  1. Cut eggs in half and scoop out yolk. Mix yolk with the rest of ingredients.
  2. Scoop the mixture back into the middle of the eggs.
  3. Eat with whole grain toast or fresh veggies! You can also mix the entire egg with the same ingredients, scoop into a piece of lettuce, and top with a tomato for something a little different.

4. Baked Apple*


  • ½ Cup Yogurt or 2 Tablespoons nut/seed butter
  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Teaspoon Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Honey (optional)


  1. Carefully remove the core from the apple. Place the apple into a mug or microwavable bowl.
  2. Add the butter, cinnamon, and sweetener of choice into the center of the apple.
  3. Microwave for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on it. The apple should be soft enough to easily stick a fork through. Serve with toppings of your choice: yogurt, nuts/seeds, dried fruit, coconut flakes etc.


*Ingredients can be found at the DC

Let us know if you try any of these and leave a comment! We’d love to hear your thoughts.


Aria Wexler, Nutrition Coordinator



Author: Giulia Tondo, Clinical Nutrition

Super Foods-What’s the Big Buzz?


Super foods claim to be good for our bodies. But what really are they? And what do they even do? According to foodmatters.tv, a super food is “calorie sparse and nutrient dense,” which means they have a high nutrient to high nutrient to energy (calorie) weight ratio. Below, you’ll find a basic list of most common in the market right now and what they do for our bodies.


Being a leafy, green vegetable, kale can be prepared in numerous ways. Kale-lovers often make it into a smoothie, throw it into their salad, and even bake it in the oven for kale chips. Kale contains 133% of Vitamin A, 134% of Vitamin C, 10% of Vitamin B-6 and the list goes on. So is kale actually a super food? Yes! Maybe, the next time you are craving chips, make kale chips!  Just drizzle some kale with olive oil and a hint of salt and pop it into the oven at 350 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes for a light, healthy snack.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds look like black and white sesame seeds. They are unique because once they are submerged in liquid; they form this gel-like structure around the seed to give the solution a more viscous texture.Chia seeds are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids and are high in fiber. Chia seeds can be enjoyed to thicken up pudding or smoothies. So the next time you make a smoothie, add a teaspoon of chia seeds for health benefits and added texture! Here is a recipe utilizing these seeds:




Quinoa-lovers add quinoa to all sorts of dishes including a topping for salads.  It can be used in place of less ingredients like croutons. Quinoa contains 83% Magnesium, 40% Vitamin B-6, 43% Iron, 48% Protein and 48% fiber. Another bonus is that quinoa is very easy to cook! Just bring about 2 cups of water to a boil then add 1 cup of quinoa and simmer them until it is tender and soft (or whatever consistency you prefer.)

A recipe of fried quinoa as rice can be found here: http://feedmephoebe.com/2014/01/easy-fried-rice-with-quinoa/.




Myth of the Freshman-15



You may have heard about the “Freshman-15” long before you entered college. It refers to the myth that freshmen put on up to 15 pounds during their first year in college. Several stress factors such as homesickness, tons of homework, and a fast paced lifestyle may contribute to changes in their bodies but the Freshman 15 is not inevitable…it is a myth! One of the best things you can do as a young adult is learn to lead a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips for you to consider as you choose what to eat:

Choose fruits and veggies at all meals

It is not surprising to see that fruits and veggies make up a significant part of the dietary recommendations in many parts of the world. They are not only a source of water, but also an excellent supply of various vitamins and minerals that our bodies need.

Many fruits and veggies like strawberries, apples, lettuce, and tomatoes contain over 90% of water by weight. It is essential for you to stay hydrated every day since water helps maintain your metabolic rate and contributes to efficient excretion of waste products. Additionally, fruits and veggies contain many different vitamins, minerals and are a significant source of dietary fiber. Citrus fruits are a bomb of vitamin C, which enhances your immune system and protects you from scurvy, certain infections and possibly the common cold. Cantaloupe is not only rich in Vitamin A precursor, antioxidant beta-carotene, but is also rich in potassium! Vitamin A is critical for eye health and potassium is a mineral that assists in controlling the level of sugar in your blood and regulates blood pressure.

Fruits and veggies are also a good source of dietary fiber. Soluble fibers can be found in carrots, barley, beans and oats. This kind of fiber may help lower blood cholesterol levels, which can indicate artery disease. Another beneficial fiber is insoluble fiber that helps speed up the passage of waste in the intestinal tract. It can be found in potatoes and many other veggies, whole grains and nuts.
Choose Healthy snacks

The temptation is often great to reach for salty or sweet snacks between meals. One of the ways to replace these snacks with healthy ones is to keep healthy foods readily available in your dorm room or kitchen. Things like yogurt, whole wheat bread, nuts and various in season fruits.

Yogurt will not only provide you nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin B12, potassium and magnesium, but it also adds probiotics to your digestion system which are a “good bacteria”.

Walnuts are the nuts highest in antioxidants although other nuts are good choices, too. Antioxidants strengthen your body’s ability to fight inflammation and help repair cellular damage. Furthermore, most nuts also contribute to lower cholesterol level and better heart function. These are excellent options for you if you want to grab something to eat while you study.

Don’t skip meals

It is vital to supply adequate energy to your body during the day. The most important meal is breakfast, which you may not pay serious attention to. After a long sleep, your body is starved for energy. As you wake up and get back to normal work, it is important to fuel your body. Incorporate a blend of complex carbohydrate, a source of protein and some grain. Yogurt with granola and fruit is a great example.

Eating at least three meals each day allows you to refuel your body so that you stay energized and do work or study at an optimal level. If you skip a meal, you will likely feel tired and dull. Skipping meals may actually cause you to binge at the next meal. Your body will try its best to absorb as much as energy as possible to make up for the lost meal, which can result in overeating.

Do more cooking at home

When eating out, you may notice that you have hard time controlling the type and the amount of food consumed. Normally, food made in a restaurant contains more salt, oil, and sugar than the food you make on your own at home.
Doing your own cooking allows you to use fresh veggies and raw foods. You get to decide how much seasoning and dressing you want to add to your dish. While eating in the dining hall, you can use menu information to help decide which dish is right for you. Oh, and take advantage of that salad bar, too.

Hopefully, these tips help you develop a healthy eating style. Enjoy fresh healthy food as your go-to each day!


Fuel Up With Back-to-School Nutrition



With the start of the new school year, most of us college students are pressed for time and can be under a lot stress balancing new class schedules with other commitments, such as work, internships and club organizations. With so much happening and so much to do, healthy eating may be hard to prioritize and many of us may resort to fast food options or end up skipping meals. It is important to be aware of the proper nutrition your body needs, especially when school is starting. A healthy diet can give you energy and keep you focused to put you on the right track for a successful new quarter!


Use these tips to help you make healthful choices and meet your fitness goals to kick-start your fall quarter eating well and feeling your best!


  1. Drink Water

Water is your best choice for hydration. It is important to replenish your body’s water supply for proper muscle and brain function to help you bike and walk around campus and focus in class! Bring a reusable water bottle and remember to hydrate often! Other factors can influence how much water you need, such as activity level, climate, and health status. The weather can be extremely hot and dry in Davis so be sure you modify your fluid intake to ensure you are well hydrated so you do not run the risk of dehydration.


  1. Know Your Options on Campus

UC Davis Dining Services is recognized as a top award winning dining program for its efforts in creating and serving delicious and nutritious foods! Take advantage of the variety of nutritious options they offer and look for the Happy, Healthy Apples labeled on our menu signage and simply-to-go food items. These are designed to help you make healthy choices!


Download our mobile app Aggie Dish to stay connected with UC Davis Dining Services and receive updates on our menu, nutrition information, dining locations, daily deals and upcoming events!


  1. Pack Some Snacks

Keep a well-portioned snack in your backpack! Juggling a new schedule can make it difficult to determine when you’re going to have your next meal.  When hunger sneaks up on you, satisfy your hunger with having snacks on hand, such as a small handful (about ¼ cup) of nuts or piece of fruit. Nuts, fruits and vegetables make for great convenient snacks and can also provide a quick source of energy as well as fiber to help you beat hunger until your next meal. They also require little to no preparation! You can find fresh fruit and pre-cut veggies in the simply-to-go section of our various on-campus dining locations.


  1. Call the Nutrition Hotline

Have a questions about nutrition and wellness? Struggling to eat well as a college student? Call the Nutrition Hotline and meet the dietitian of UC Davis Dining Services, Linda Adams. She can help you with your nutrition concerns and determine your dietary needs for optimal health!


For information and consultation, call the Nutrition Hotline at (530) 752-9604 or email linda.adams@sodexo.com.