Healthy Late Night Snacking

late night snack

By Marisa Morales, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

In college, you will likely find yourself staying up late at night just to finish your paper that’s due at 11:59pm, or study for an exam you have the next day. Seems like it is just part of college life. You may also notice that the longer you stay up the hungrier you get-you may even find yourself eating as a response to the stress you’re feeling. Have you ever wondered what these late-night snacks might do to your health?

There have been numerous studies on the hypothesis that gaining weight occurs more easily with snacking past 8pm. A nutrition professor at Penn State University, Barbara Rolls, confirmed that this hypothesis is a myth. She states that of the studies and surveys conducted thus far, there has been no significant correlation between weight gain and snacking at night. There is, however, significant evidence showing a positive correlation between weight loss and eating breakfast. In general, we shouldn’t focus on when we eat but instead focus on what we eat. If you feel the urge to snack past 8pm try to opt for nutrient dense foods. Nutrient dense foods are those that provide a high amount of nutrients for the calories. For instance, oranges are a nutrient dense food while cookies are low in nutrient density (provide few nutrients relative to the large amount of calories). Check out the list below for some nutrient dense late night snacks!

  • Apple slices with nut butter
  • Carrots with hummus
  • Greek yogurt
  • Walnuts
  • Plain popcorn
  • Banana and nut butter on wheat toast
  • Eggs
  • Crackers and cheese
  • Celery with nut butter
  • Frozen/unfrozen grapes
  • Protein smoothie

I have always believed that we should listen to our body’s signals. If your body is telling you it is hungry, feed it. Your body knows when it needs energy and it knows when to tell you. I, for one, find it very difficult to continue any task if my mind is focused on food. I know how difficult it can be to find the time to eat when you are running around campus going from classes, to office hours, to work, etc. What you must remember is that in order to get through the day you need to eat. Pack a lunch box with some of the snacks mentioned above (they make great mid-day snacks, too!). If you can try to avoid the hunger, I would highly encourage you to do so. I’m sure I am not the only one who feels like eating a full-on feast of pizza, burgers, and ice cream when I let myself get too hungry. I’ve found that if I have a morning snack, afternoon snack, and night snack in between my normal meals then I feel perfectly satisfied eating smaller, healthier portioned meals.

Recipe: Bedtime Smoothie

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup kale leaves

1 cup vanilla yogurt

1 ripe banana

1 tbsp almond butter

2 tsp flax seeds

2 kiwis

½ cup almond milk

Instructions:

  1. Blend all the ingredients together, that’s it!

*take a look at this website for more information on the sleep benefits behind these tasty ingredients! https://helloglow.co/bedtime-smoothie-better-sleep/

What is your favorite late night snack?  Let us know in the comments!

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/late-night-snacks

 

Intermittent Fasting – does it help Weight Loss?

timed eating

By Maggie Zeng, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

The concept of intermittent fasting continues to grow in popularity; people tout the effect of fasting on weight loss or even report it boosts their mood. There are many versions of intermittent fasting, including the “16/8 method”, “5:2 diet”, and “Eat-Stop-Eat”, among others.  Is there any evidence that fasting is advantageous?

What is Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a way of scheduling your meals into a restricted time frame. You are not necessarily changing the amount of food eaten, rather you’re changing when you eat.

There are three common ways of intermittent fasting:

16/8 method

This method splits a day (24 hours) into two blocks. One is 16 and the other 8 hours long. During the 8 hour block, you eat whatever you want (the amount of food you normally eat for a day). You may still eat 3 meals within the 8 hours or skip one meal. During the 16 hour block you fast, drinking only water.

16_8

5:2 Diet

The 5: 2 Diet is a weekly pattern during which five days a week you eat normally, and two days (recommended not consecutive) you limit your calorie intake to below 500-600 kcals.

Eat-Stop-Eat

This method involves a 24 hour-fasting period once or twice per week. During the fasting day, only water, black coffee and other non-caloric beverages are allowed.

Any benefits?

Potential benefits to intermittent fasting include possible weight loss due to decreased calorie consumption, possibly a positive effect on blood glucose control (more research needed) and enhanced brain health.  One study found that mice on a brief intermittent fasting diet had better learning and memory than mice with free access to food.  Further research, in animals, suggests that intermittent fasting can suppress inflammation in the brain, which has links to neurological conditions.

What about the down side?

Potential pitfalls include individual tolerance to fasting times – some people find it convenient to skip meals, others find it difficult. Overeating during non-fasting times can contribute to excessive calorie intake and weight gain. Finally, the lack of research on long term effects prevents these regimes from being a recommended practice.  Talk to your medical provider if you are considering any new eating pattern.

***

Harvard Health Publishing. “Not so Fast: Pros and Cons of the Newest Diet Trend.” Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/not-so-fast-pros-and-cons-of-the-newest-diet-trend.

 

It’s Pumpkin Season Again!

pumpkin bars

By Haley Adel, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

It’s October so everyone knows what that means…Pumpkin Season! Starbucks has been serving up its assortment of pumpkin spice drinks for weeks, while Trader Joe’s has been lining its shelves with loads of pumpkin-inspired products. To get with the season, we thought we would provide some of the health benefits of pumpkin, and share some of our favorite pumpkin dishes.

For starters, pumpkin is a fruit! This winter squash has seeds inside, and therefore falls into the fruit category. Contrary to its categorization, most culinary preparations of pumpkin treat it as a vegetable. Either way, it is a great source of nutrients! For starters, pumpkin is high in carotenoids. Carotenoids are nutrients that serve as antioxidants. That means they help protect the body from certain damage and stress.  Carotenoids are also converted to Vitamin A, making pumpkin a great way to increase Vitamin A. This vitamin supports both eye sight and skin health.

More importantly for students, pumpkin is full of nutrients that help strengthen the immune system. These include Vitamin C and Vitamin E, in addition to Vitamin A. The benefits come from the ‘meaty’ part of pumpkin. If you don’t like the taste of pumpkin, but love the seeds, there are health benefits for you too! Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are packed with antioxidants. Additionally, they are high in magnesium, which is important for bone health.

Pumpkin is a delicious seasonal treat. Since it is commonly available for only a part of the year, we may not always take advantage of its different culinary prospects. We know pumpkin pie is always a favorite, but we wanted to include some recipes for less common uses of pumpkin. Our first recipe is for pumpkin turkey chili. It’s a tasty meal that will keep you warm as the weather begins to chill. Our second recipe is for easy yet scrumptious pumpkin chocolate chip bars that satisfy the sweet tooth.

Not only are these recipes delectable, but they also provide the nutritional benefits mentioned above because they include pumpkin puree. If you want the health advantages of pumpkin, make sure the product you consume is made from actual pumpkin. A pumpkin-flavored treat can also be delicious, but will just not provide the same favorable benefits. If you enjoyed the recipes we included, please let us know in the comments section!

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

pumpkin chili

Prep time: 15 minutes             Cook time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can white beans, drained
  • 1 14-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1/5 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Add oil to large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in onion, garlic, carrots, and bell pepper and sauté until soften, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add in ground turkey. Cook until meat is no longer pink.
  3. Add in diced tomatoes, white beans, pumpkin, tomato paste, broth, cocoa powder and seasonings, stirring everything together.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Enjoy!

Recipe from:  Clara Norfleet @foodfitnessandfaith

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bar (pictured above)

Prep time: 5 minutes             Cook time: 28 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups oats
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8×8 glass pan with cooking spray
  3. Mix oats, pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, honey, vanilla, salt, and spices in bowl until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Pour mixture into greased pan and bake for 28-30 minutes.
  5. Let sit for 15-20 minutes
  6. Cut into squares and devour!

Recipe from:   Melanie   http://www.nutritiouseats.com/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-oatmeal-bars/

References:

Brown, Mary J. “Top 11 Science-Based Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds.” HealthLine, 24 Sept. 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds#section5.

Raman, Ryan. “9 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin.” HealthLine, 28 Aug. 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/pumpkin.

 

Integrating Veggies (college edition!)

food_epicurious1-1

By:  Ines Cheng, Healthy Aggies Intern

As college students it is often difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The time and energy it takes to make healthy meals can sometimes seem burdensome. However, there are many different strategies to more easily integrate vegetables and fruits and other healthy foods into your everyday life!

  1. Smoothies!

It can be difficult to eat as many fruits as you would like throughout the day. One easy way to incorporate fruits is to make smoothies in the morning. Combine some of your favorite fruits and add some protein (like yogurt or soy milk) to make a smoothie for a quick and easy breakfast. An extra step is to add spinach! Spinach is great for your skin, hair, and bone health and provides protein, minerals, and vitamins.

  1. Pack Veggies as Snacks

A great way to incorporate veggies throughout the day is to pack them before you leave the house. This way if you are hungry throughout the day you won’t have to buy a snack; the one you have is healthier than the alternative you could buy at the store on campus. Some easy snacks to carry around are carrot sticks, tomatoes and celery; pack a little cup of hummus or a string cheese stick to round it out.

  1. Meal Prep

Everyone is constantly raving about meal prepping because it really helps! Setting aside a couple hours in one day is much more efficient than spending time each day making food. Create big batches of healthy meals that you will be able to eat throughout the week. You will be less likely to eat out if you know you have food all ready to eat.

  1. Side Orders

It can be difficult to choose the healthier option at a restaurant. However, by making a conscious effort to replace one side with a healthier alternative benefits you. An example is to choose a salad instead of fries. Or replace certain pieces of the meal with healthier choices, such as a lettuce wrap instead of bread with a burger. This is a fantastic way to incorporate vegetables in meals when you go out.

  1. Know Where To Eat Out

In Davis it can be difficult to find restaurants that have healthy options. However, most restaurants will have at least one healthier option or one that you can alter in some way. Whenever you can, look for that balanced plate in the meal your order – a serving of protein, a whole grain, if possible, and some fruits and veggies.  Ask for what you want!

Overall, living a healthy lifestyle can seem difficult but it is all about making small changes over time. Choosing healthy options over others (and doing it consistently) will alter your health for the better. Incorporating any of the above tips will help you eat in a more healthy manner without dramatically changing your life.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270609.php

 

 

My Chocolatey Valentine’s Day!

chocolate-detail-2

By Clara Matsumoto, Healthy Aggies Intern

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate loved ones and often includes an iconic romantic gift: chocolate. In fact, more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold for Valentine’s Day. Though chocolate is thought to be unhealthy since it is a “dessert”, some chocolate possesses health supporting qualities. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about candy bars like Kit Kat since the amount of processed, added sugar in those do more harm than good. I’m talking specifically about dark chocolate which should be 72% cacao or more, and is not processed with added fats and loads of sugar. Dark chocolate not only has a much more complex and rich flavor, it has a multitude of health benefits!

Dark chocolate contains beneficial nutrients. These include polyphenols and flavanols, plant pigments that protect the heart by supporting the production of nitric oxide in the vessel endothelium which helps them relax and improves blood flow, lowering blood pressure. Flavanols also boost brain health by increasing the cerebral blood flow to gray matter. Chocolate contains an abundance of antioxidants which help fight against free radicals, highly reactive molecules that can damage our DNA, and make our skin age faster. It is rich in minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus. These minerals help aid in the production of red blood cells, boost the immune system and energy levels, aid in calcium absorption, and keep our bones strong.

Though dark chocolate offers benefits, it’s important to keep the portion small because it is calorie dense!  A recommended portion of chocolate is about an ounce. One ounce of dark chocolate with 70-85% cacao contains about 168 calories, mostly contributed by fat since fat contributes 9 kcal per gram. The good news is that the fat in cacao has a good amount of unsaturated fat in it and the saturated fat (stearic acid) has been shown to have a neutral effect on serum cholesterol.  Palmitic acid, the other type of saturated fat in dark chocolate, does effect blood cholesterol levels, further enforcing that it should be eaten in moderation.

So when you are trying to figure out what to eat for dessert on Valentine’s Day, consider eating some dark chocolate. In small amounts it helps boost cardiovascular and brain health, fights free radicals, and contains beneficial micronutrients. After all, you deserve a sweet indulgent treat that not only tastes great and satisfies your sweet tooth, but also packs a punch in optimizing your health!

Sources:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263176.php
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288165.php
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286839.php
  4. 4. https://www.thespruceeats.com/fun-valentine-candy-facts-521446
  5. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/dark-chocolate/
  6.  https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16774-heart-healthy-benefits-of-chocolate

2 Easy Recipes with Pumpkin!

halloween pumpkins

Photo by Umberto Cancedda on Pexels.com

 

           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!

Recipe: 

Pumpkin Face mask

Ingredients

  • 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!

Sources:

LD, Megan Ware RDN. “Pumpkins: Health Benefits and Nutritional Breakdown.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 5 Jan. 2018, ww.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279610.php.

 

Why should I eat locally?

By Jessica Bonilla, Dietitian Assistant

Have you ever wonder why we can eat certain fruits, such as bananas and pineapples, that don’t grow in the area naturally? Or how are we able to get certain vegetables all year round even when they’re not in season? Surprisingly, the food industry has been taking care of this issue for decades, and the seasons and distance are no longer an obstacle to get the food we want at any point of the year. However, not all of us are aware of the implications that these actions may have in the long run because we don’t see it directly.

Banana-from-Ecuador.jpg

Clearly, there are fruits and vegetables that are not produced in the US due to the environment and soil conditions (for example tropical fruits, such as mango and papaya) which only grow in very specific areas. This type of produce is usually imported from other countries, which implies huge expenses in transport, conservation techniques, and huge carbon monoxide emissions.

By consuming locally, we can avoid this mass production, which is not based in seasons, natural cycles and biodiversity and that encourages cultivating only a few types of fruits and vegetables. Here are five reasons why you should buy locally:

  • Fresh fruit and veggies

Seasonally fresh fruits are picked up when they are at their peak and therefore will have a more optimal flavor versus the fruits that have traveled thousands of miles and got harvested way before they were ripped.

A bag full of carrots on the soil in Dambulla

  • Reduces carbon footprint

Local produce doesn’t have to travel long distances, which will result in a reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gases. Also, it will be cheaper because transport charges are not added.

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  • Support local businesses

Money invested locally will help farmers and the money will stay at our local community, which will benefit all of us directly.

Image result for handshake farmer

  • Increase your creativity

By having a wide variety fruits and veggies every season, you will be able to challenge yourself to cook differently and to use your creativity.

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  • Increases education and makes you more aware about where your food comes from

We are usually disconnected from the food process. We don’t know how and where our food is produced, and this perception can affect the agricultural process and the way we consume foods.