Eat the Rainbow This Holiday Season!

winter veg

By Alana Olson, Nutrition Peer Counselor

No matter what you’re celebrating this festive season, food is sure to be a part of it. Though many of our favorite holiday meals are delicious and fun, they are often lacking in fruits and veggies. But fitting in extra greens (and oranges, and reds…) can be just as fun and festive as enjoying those cookies you look forward to all year. Believe it or not, winter is a time of bounty in the produce world. Here’s a list of seasonal fruits and veggies—and some ideas for how to use them:

  • Beets: Roast them in the oven and eat them as is, toss them into a salad, throw them in a smoothie for a boost of color and nutrition, or puree them in a soup!
  • Broccoli: Great sautéed, roasted, mixed into stir fries or pasta, pureed in soup, or added to casseroles
  • Brussels Sprouts: These versatile vegetables are excellent roasted with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Cauliflower: Coat the florets in a light batter, bake, and toss with buffalo or barbecue sauce to make delicious plant-based “wings”
  • Kale: Great raw or cooked, try adding some to a smoothie or making easy baked kale chips!
  • Mandarins: These are great by themselves or added to a salad
  • Pomegranates: These make a beautiful garnish for salads and soups!
  • Root vegetables (turnips, rutabagas, parsnips…): Try these roasted, pureed into a creamy soup, mashed, or made into crunchy baked “fries”
  • Sweet potatoes: Bake them, roast them, shred them into latkes, mash them and add to baked goods (like biscuits and muffins!), or substitute them for regular potatoes in your favorite holiday recipes
  • Winter squash (delicata, butternut, spaghetti, and kabocha—just to name a few): These are also great roasted, added to curries and soups, or stuffed. You can also swap spaghetti squash for noodles and top with your favorite pasta sauce!

For more recipes and ideas, check out

Taming the holiday sweet tooth…


By Zona Jin, Nutrition Peer Counselor

It’s the holiday season again. All the pies, candies, ice cream, cakes, etc. can increase our simple sugar intake. Recipes for most of these desserts are high in energy, sugar, fat, and sodium. It is really hard to enjoy them without being concerned for our health. Today I’ll examine some ways to enjoy all the sweets without pumping the energy and simple carbohydrate intake quite as much.

One good way to accomplish this is to downsize the portion size, such as sharing a dessert with your significant other or friends. This way you still get to taste your favorite dessert, but only consume half the sugar and calories. If you are by yourself, you can simply save the other half for later and spread the calorie intake.

Another good substitution for high simple sugar desserts is fruit! Fruit tastes sweet but, unlike cakes and cookies, is high in vitamins and fiber. Make a fruit salad instead of baking a pie! Other options to consider include subbing fruit sorbet for ice cream or make a fruit- based dessert.

If you have sweets around the house, try to store them away from sight. When you decide to have some sweets, take out only a small serving. For instance, you can scoop out a serving of ice cream instead of having the whole container in front of you. Or you can take only one piece of chocolate out of the jar, and leave rest of it in the closet. This way you more likely avoid over eating.

Sometimes there is an opportunity to adjust the sugar level. For instance, when ordering a beverage, many places offer 50% and 30% sugar option. If you are preparing your own dessert, you can decrease the amount of sugar, fat, and sodium in the recipe in proportion. When shopping for ingredients, compare the nutrition label of similar products and choose the one lowest in sugar and sodium.

It is hard to avoid dessert, especially during the holiday season. Follow some of the tips above and enjoy dessert in moderation.  Try this Gingered Winter Fruit Medley (pictured above) as a healthy, sweet alternative.

Did you know that you can stay healthy and enjoy pie?


By: Haley Guadagni, Nutrition Peer Counselor

We’re in week 7 of the fall quarter, and the holidays are quickly approaching! Holidays can be a wonderful break from our jam-packed schedules as we spend quality time with loved ones and relax, but they can also be a source of stress. Since holidays typically involve all-day appetizers and large meals followed by a couple helpings of dessert, many people think they should just throw their healthy eating habits out the window for a couple days, weeks or even months. However, it isn’t necessary to abandon your goals! There are several steps you can take to prevent post-meal bloat and sluggishness, as well as overall weight gain, all while enjoying your time off.

The first way is portion control during meals. This doesn’t mean you can’t get seconds! This means that you’re starting with a reasonable portion of food each meal. Try to avoid using the biggest plate you can find to pile on the food. Instead, use a normal-sized plate, eat and wait about 20 minutes. Then, go back for more if you still aren’t satisfied. Drinking enough water with and between meals is also a great way to prevent you from overeating and improve your digestion of the food you do eat.

Another way is quality control. You don’t have to eat some of every dish. Some dishes are healthier than others, so choose at least one or two things that have high nutrient value, anything containing fruits or veggies! But don’t deprive yourself. Making sure that you’re enjoying the meal is important – so if you want to try everything, get small amounts. If you’ve got your eye on some pie but don’t want to feel totally sluggish after the meal, try going for the veggie appetizer rather than the garlic bread earlier in the day.

Lastly, a non-nutrition related way to maintain your healthy habits is to include exercise. Going for a walk or jog with family or friends can be a great way to get your heart rate up, burn some calories and strengthen your relationships. Walking after meals can also improve your digestion and help relieve some of that food-baby bloat.

What should you not do to prevent holiday weight gain?

On common, yet ineffective way, is starving yourself until mealtime, to avoid extra calories. You may even do this by accident if you’re busy cooking, getting things in order, etc. However, fasting like this can actually slow your metabolism, which means your body won’t be as ready to handle the high amount of calories it receives later in the day. Eating a balanced breakfast will get your body using food for energy and keep you full enough to prevent you from becoming ravenous and overeating later.

Since breaks from school may still be busy, it may be hard to implement all of these steps; utilizing even one of these suggestions can help improve how you feel throughout the holidays.  Focus on things that are most important to you.

How do you enjoy the holidays?  Let us know in the comments!

Do I need supplements?

By Joel Paniagua Soto, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis

The market for supplements has boomed immensely in the last 30 years. You see advertisements for nutritional supplements everywhere, especially on social media! The dietary supplement industry is a $132 billion market and is expected to double in the next six years! This brings me to the topic of our blog today, does anyone even need to take supplements?

What is a supplement?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a supplement “includes such ingredients as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and enzymes. Dietary supplements are marketed in forms such as tablets, capsules, soft gels, gel caps, powders, and liquids.”

Supplements can be helpful, but this is very subjective. Supplements can help individuals who lack vital substances or who suffer from some sort of disease. But, on the other hand, they can be dangerous if not taken carefully or you simply don’t know what you are taking. Every case is different and for that reason it is recommended that you seek professional help from a physician before taking a supplement. Supplement products are not regulated either before, or while, they are on the market. Claims about a supplements safety, effectiveness or ingredients are not verified by anyone. The only time the FDA will ban a supplement is when the manufacture of a product notifies them that it poses risk for some reason. This might be something to consider when buying supplements. Do your research first and ask your physician to be safe.

Some common supplements include: multivitamins, fish oil, vitamin D, calcium, whey protein, BCAA’s, creatine, and many more! Here at UC Davis, Campus Recreation, we have developed a supplement policy to help students make informed decisions. Some sport activities call for major supplement use which is why Fit-Well at UC Davis has developed a policy coinciding with the NCAA regulations. This policy highlights which supplements are recommended and which are not. This way, people do not simply take a supplement because their friend told them or they saw it online somewhere. Always seek advice from a registered dietitian or physician if you are in doubt.



Everyone wants that magic pill that contains all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals we need. But the truth of the matter is, we can get most (if not all) nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from food! Having a variety of whole foods is key and choosing nutrient dense foods will make getting the proper nutrients easier. Now, not to say that ALL supplements are bad, but a healthier approach would be to follow an individualized diet plan, then supplement only if you need to. That magic pill has been in front of us this whole time, we’ve just been avoiding it!


Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Information for Consumers – Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,

Anotis. “20 Facts About the Supplement Industry That Will Horrify You.” Best Life, Best Life, 15 Oct. 2018,


2 Easy Recipes with Pumpkin!

halloween pumpkins

Photo by Umberto Cancedda on


           Happy Fall everyone! As the weather begins to cool down and the leaves change into an array of colors, we are reminded that fall is among us. In addition to this temporal change, new seasonal fruits and vegetables pop up into our local grocery stores and farmers market. In this spirit, we are using the classic autumn fruit, pumpkin, in two different ways! Pumpkin is not only an amazing fall flavor, but it is also filled with nutrients such as beta-carotene and vitamin C which are important for healthy skin and immunity. Pumpkin is a powerhouse source for antioxidants, and it contains fiber which can help satisfy hunger due to its ability to slow down the rate of sugar absorption into the blood.

     With school already in week 5, it’s hard to balance maintaining grades, do extracurricular activities, self-care, and eating healthy. This first recipe is given in the hopes that eating healthy is easy and delicious. It’s especially great since granola is so versatile since it can be used as a topping for yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, or just as is in between classes. Happy snacking!         

Recipe: Pumpkin spice granola 

*Recipe adapted from simplyquinoa

  • 4 cup of rolled oats (make sure they aren’t quick cooking)
  • 2 cups rice cereal
  • 1-1.5 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tspn pink himalayan salt
  • ½ c maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ c coconut oil
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoon fave nut/seed butter
  • 1 cup of favorite raw unsalted nuts/seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, Mix the oats, cereal, salt, and spices.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the maple syrup, coconut oil, pumpkin puree and nut/seed butter. When melted completely, pour entire mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10–15 minutes so the granola doesn’t burn. Remove from the oven and stir in nuts/seeds. Put it back in the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the nuts are golden brown.
  5. When browned, remove from the oven and let cool completely before storing.

     Additionally, with any leftover pumpkin puree, you can use it as an opportunity to create your own DIY face mask. If you haven’t FALLen into the autumn spirit yet, this can  hopefully get you into the spirit of this new season, help you feel more relaxed, and allow you to take care of yourself!


Pumpkin Face mask


  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon ground oats
  • 1 teaspoon milk

Mix all of the ingredients together and then put it on a clean face. Wait 5-10 minutes then rinse it off with warm water and make sure to moisturize afterwards!


LD, Megan Ware RDN. “Pumpkins: Health Benefits and Nutritional Breakdown.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 5 Jan. 2018,


Seeing different Nutrition Facts labels? Here’s why.

nutrition facts panel

By:  Rheanna Smith, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis

You might be familiar with the nutrition label on the back of all packaged food items, well, that age-old label is finally getting a makeover! On May 20, 2016 the FDA announced that there was going to be an update to the nutrition facts label based upon new scientific research. While the announcement was made quite a while ago, companies were not required to comply and update their packaging until July of 2018. Even so, there was quite a bit of push-back from companies and so the FDA decided to extend the compliance dates. Currently companies with less than $10 million in annual sales have until January 2021 to update their labels, but larger companies with over $10 million in annual sales must comply by January 2020. That being said there are a number of companies who have already made the switch so you might already be seeing the new label on your groceries!

The iconic look of the nutrition facts label still remains, however, the information on it has been updated in five major ways to reflect modern eating habits and dietary deficiencies in the United States. The first major change is that standard serving size has been updated to reflect the amount that people realistically eat. For example, chip bags that are not resealable must include the nutrition information for the entire package and not just a portion. Another example is that the standard serving size for ice cream has been increased from ½ cup to ¾ cup to more accurately represent the amount that is typically consumed in a sitting. This simple change will make it much easier for consumers to stay informed and keep track of serving sizes.

The second notable change is that any added sugar in a food product must now be listed. This change is huge because, up until now, food manufactures could use as much added sugar as they wanted- without having to list it on the nutrition facts label. Although added sugars and intrinsic sugars (sugars found naturally in food) are structurally the same and are treated the same by our bodies, recent research has correlated added sugar consumption with metabolic disease states, such as obesity and diabetes. The current dietary guidelines recommend to limit your added sugar consumption to less than 10% of your caloric intake per day. By listing the amount of added sugar on the new nutrient facts label it will be much easier to monitor added sugar intake.

The third major change is that the calories from fat section has been removed. The gram amount and percent daily value for fat are still required, but the specific amount of calories is no longer required. This is because recent research on fat has shown us that different types of fat effect the body differently and that not all fat is bad! The calories from fat were required to be listed because all fat was considered bad due to association with heart disease. We now know that it is only saturated fat that leads to heart disease and that mono and poly unsaturated fats, like olive and avocado oil, are actually heart healthy oils that are important to include in the diet. Due to this new concept of ‘good fats’ versus ‘bad fats’ the calorie amount has been removed because it matters much more which type of fat you are consuming rather than the sheer caloric amount.

The fourth big change seen on the new label is an update to the nutrients required to be listed. On the old label Vitamin C and Vitamin A were required, but they are no longer required on the new label! This is because deficiencies in these vitamins are very rare in the U.S., therefore the FDA deems it unnecessary to have them listed any longer. However, recent research has indicated that the average American doesn’t get enough Vitamin D or Potassium so those two nutrients are now required to be listed. The goal of this is to make it easier to monitor your daily intake of important nutrients.

The fifth and final change is an update of the daily values for a number of nutrients listed on the label. Daily values (DV) represent the percentage of a certain nutrient’s ‘daily requirement’ contained within the food product based on a 2000 calorie diet. This makes it helpful for consumers because sometimes the gram or microgram amount of a nutrient is not easy to interpret. If you read a DV of 25% calcium then you know that the food product contributes 25% of the necessary daily value for someone on a 2000 calorie diet. The DV’s for fiber, potassium, calcium, and fat have increased on the new label. The DV for fiber has increased from 25g per day to 28g per day, the DV for calcium has increased from 1000mg to 1300mg, the DV for potassium increased from 3500mg to 4700mg, and the DV for fat has increased from 65g to 78g. These changes all reflect recent research that has indicated that Americans are not getting enough of these nutrients, with the exception of fat. The DV for fat has increased not because Americans aren’t getting enough fat, but rather because research has shown that healthy fats such as unsaturated fats and omega fatty acids are essential and therefore should be incorporated daily. The increase in the DV for fat is aimed towards increasing these healthy fats, not necessarily all fat.

While there have been a lot of updates to keep track of, the major take-home message is that the nutrition facts label is a tool that is available as you decide which foods meet your goals! Reading nutrition labels is a great way to take control of your health. When you are more aware about a food you can make more thoughtful decisions on your own eating habits, and therefore optimize your health! Next time you’re out grocery shopping take some time to look at the nutrition facts label!


Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Labeling & Nutrition – Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,

“Nutrition.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Sept. 2016,

Do you have to sit a lot? Flexibility & Function


By: Reed Phinisey

The start of fall quarter brings a lot of different assignments and studying but more importantly it requires you to sit a bunch. Now I know you are thinking, “Oh gosh. One of these sitting is the new smoking guys”.

I’m not here to scare you but rather bring to light some of the harmful effects of sitting and give you some easy to implement strategies that can help in preventing the damage that sitting can wreak on our bodies.

Sitting can bring a multitude of changes. However, I’m going to focus on flexibility. Staying in a static position, such as sitting, results in changes to our length/tension relationship. Length refers to the muscles being shortened and tension refers to the muscles in opposition to the muscles being shortened.

EX: In a seated position the hip flexors are shortened and the result being the hamstring and glutes becoming outstretched.

This length/tension relationship results in the quads becoming dominant and the hamstrings/glutes becoming weak relative to the quads. A proper length/tension relationship is necessary for proper joint mechanics, injury prevention and daily movement. Sitting causes many such disturbances throughout the body. If ignored they can lead to injury of associated tissues and actual changes to our posture long-term. (Google Janda’s Upper/Lower Cross Syndrome)

Sadly modern life requires us to sit during some parts of our day but with some intention and effort we can reduce its long term effects on our flexibility.

Try these (4) Exercises 1-2x a day for 10-12 reps to break up those long study sessions:

  1. Glute Bridge –

glute bridge

  1. Lying Hip Flexion –

Lying hip

  1. Cat/Cow –

Cat cow

  1. Broomstick Rotations –


If you have any questions, visit the Fitness and Wellness Office in the Activities and Recreation Center.