Food Swaps You Must Try





Want to improve your diet? Explore your options and try our top healthy choices that you can find at any of the Davis Dining Commons or other on-campus dining venues.

  • White Rice for QUINOA

Quinoa has become a popular grain due to its unique health benefits. It is rich in fiber and antioxidants, which are chemical agents that help fight off disease and prevent cell damage. Quinoa is also a great source of protein and provides all of the nine essential amino acids your body needs to function properly and build and repair muscle. Quinoa serves as a healthier alternative to white rice and other refined grains, which have been milled and lost most of the nutrients that quinoa and other whole grains (e.g. whole-wheat bread and brown rice) keep intact.

  •  White or Milk Chocolate for DARK CHOCOLATE

Dark chocolate, made with 70% or more cacao, has many nutritious benefits that many people may not be aware of. It contains more fiber and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and potassium compared to white, milk and other types of chocolate. Come to the dark side and try dark chocolate for a more healthful choice. Just be wary of any hidden added sugars!

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages for INFUSED WATER

Infused water is a trendy beverage that is flavored with fresh fruits or herbs. It serves as a great alternative to high-calorie, sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, sport drinks, energy drinks and even some fruit juices. Infused water contains little to no calories and offers a fresh and flavorful way to re-hydrate and replenish your body. Find infused water available in all Davis Dining Commons and try a taste of all the different flavors they have to offer!


Want to explore more healthy options in Davis or learn more about food and nutrition? Connect with Healthy Aggies on Facebook and Instagram to check out our upcoming program events!

Sources of information:

Cheaper by the Dirty Dozen?



When passing by the produce aisle of a supermarket, do you ever wonder what makes an organic apple or cucumber worth the extra cost? It’s healthier, you may think. But why?

One reason is that it does not contain pesticides, which are toxic substances that target pests, such as insects and weeds. So does that mean you should always choose organic? Purchasing organic foods may seem like a healthy and environmentally-friendly solution, but the financial cost can be relatively higher than that of conventional foods. Healthy Aggies recommend to find a balance between choosing organic and conventional foods that work with your budget and personal values.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), there are 12 fruits and vegetables often contaminated by pesticides and are referred as “The Dirty Dozen.”

The Dirty Dozen from 2015 (beginning with the most contaminated):

  1. Apples
  2. Peaches
  3. Nectarines
  4. Strawberries
  5. Grapes
  6. Celery
  7. Spinach
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas – imported
  12. Potatoes

What makes these fruits and vegetables so ‘dirty’?

These fruits and vegetables have thin skin and farmers usually use pesticides since they are more prone to pests. Peaches, for example, have such thin skin that pesticides leach in and are absorbed by the flesh of the fruit. Other fruits, such as apples, contain diphenylamine (DPA), a chemical wax that is intentionally applied to the skin for aesthetic appeal.

Why should I avoid pesticides?

According to the Toxics Action Center, an accumulation of pesticides in the body can result to health hazards that range from short-term (i.e. headaches, nausea) to chronic diseases (i.e. cancers, reproductive harm).

How can I reduce pesticide consumption?

You can purchase produce from ‘The Clean Fifteen.’ These fruits and vegetables have more protective skins that help prevent pesticides from leaching in. EWG found that only 1% of avocados showed any detectable pesticides. Additionally, 89% of pineapples, 82% of kiwi, 80% of papayas, 88% of mango and 61% of cantaloupe have had no chemical residues.

The Clean Fifteen from 2015 (beginning with the least contaminated):

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet Potatoes

Ultimately, it is your decision whether to choose organic or conventional produce, which can depend on your financial resources and personal values. Consider getting to know your grower and visit your local farmers’ market (offered on-campus and downtown Davis). Some growers don’t use pesticides and are certified organic but also don’t charge the extra cost. It is encouraged to be mindful of your food choices and take advantage of the EWG and campus resources to make your next produce purchases more healthful and cost effective.

Sources of information:



Start Your New Year “SMART”



Want to feel your best for the New Year? Take steps to improve your health! New Year resolutions offer a great opportunity to enhance your life, and Healthy Aggies encourage you to develop a healthful lifestyle by adopting behaviors and strategies that work for you.

Avoid diet fads or ‘miracle’ products that promise a quick fix, follow a restrictive meal plan, and require little to no physical activity. Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian* and certified nutrition consultant, recommends one of the best methods towards an overall healthful lifestyle is to break big long-term goals into smaller, short-term goals.

Don’t know how to start? Here are some tips on the SMART approach in establishing your nutrition and fitness goals to help you feel confident in making your new year’s resolution a success:

SPECIFIC: Be precise as possible in what you want to accomplish by answering the following questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why do I want to accomplish this?
  •  Who is involved?
  • Where will this take place?
  • When will this take place?
  • General: Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Specific:  Add one piece of fruit to breakfast and a ½ cup of cooked vegetables to dinner 3 times a week.

MEASURABLE: Quantify your goal and establish measurable criteria to track your progress.

  • Not Measurable: Exercise more.
  • Measurable: Walk or bike to class 4-5 times a week.

ATTAINABLE: Evaluate your skills, ability and resources and set goals that are do-able and within your reach.

  • Not-Attainable (for most students): Sleep 10+ hours every night.
  • Attainable: Get 6-8 hours of sleep at least 4-5 days a week.

RELEVANT: Be honest about your values and what you need and want to ensure your goals are worthwhile and important to you.

TIMELY: Set a deadline or time frame to accomplish your goal.

  • Not Timely: Eat more whole grain. 
  • Timely: Use whole-grain bread for sandwiches during lunch 3 times a week for the next month.

It can be difficult to stick with your resolution throughout the year. But instead of giving up, evaluate what happened and adjust your strategies or modify your resolution. Avoid making a list of “chores” and create goals that are fun and enjoyable for a greater chance of success!

Need more help? Contact the Nutrition Hotline and seek the advice of our nutrition expert, Linda Adams. She is the registered dietitian of UC Davis Dining Services who can answer your most pressing questions and concerns and provide personalized nutrition to help meet your needs.

*A registered dietitian is a food and nutrition expert who has the education, training and experience to provide personalized, safe and science-based nutrition guidance you can trust to help you make positive lifestyle changes.

Nutrition Hotline:

(530) 752-9604

Sources of information:



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, 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. (


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