Subtle ways to add more veggies into your Thanksgiving!

By Ruth Vodonos, Healthy Aggies Intern


Thanksgiving is a holiday built around coming together to overeat. For most, their plate this holiday will be overfilled with turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, corn, dinner rolls – all finished off with a slice of pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream. There is no need to avoid any of the food you love and have been looking forward to, but for a nutritious and still equally filling dinner consider sneaking some more vegetables onto your plate!

For a snack/appetizer – offer a veggie platter! Include all your favorite vegetables, like slices of bell peppers and celery sticks, all around a dip such as hummus.

For a side dish green beans are the obvious choice, but consider adding some other greens such as mustard greens, peas, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, broccoli or asparagus to your dinner as well. Sheet pan cooking is an easy way to prepare vegetables and save more time in your day for cooking the main entrees. Mixing up a salad, even from a purchased pre-made mix, is another time saving idea!

For an entree – Sneak some vegetables into the usual entrees you serve, add kale to the stuffing, mushrooms to the gravy, etc. Think about serving even one vegetable-centric entree, not only will this contribute to the overall vegetable content on your plate, but anyone at your table who may be abstaining from eating meat will appreciate this too! Consider making stuffed squashes, there’s an endless list of things you can stuff them with – tailor them to your own crowd! There’s also plenty of vegetable casserole recipes, find one you can pre-make and just pop in the oven the day of!

 For a dessert – Even include some vegetables in your dessert by serving carrot cake or zucchini brownies!

You may not be the one cooking Thanksgiving dinner and thus not in control of what will be served, but a host will usually be alright with you bringing a dish or two – especially something small and simple like a vegetable platter for an appetizer or a vegetable side dish!  What will you bring?








Boba milk tea…healthy?


By Anna Bui, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Intern

Boba. Pearl milk tea. Bubble tea. Whatever you call this sweet, delectable, Taiwan based drink it has sure grown in popularity. The supposed origin of bubble tea was in Taiwan during the 1980’s. Since then boba shops are popping up everywhere. In our own little cowtown many UC Davis students are familiar with these shops: ManDro Teahouse, OnTap, T4, TeaBo Cafe, Lazi Cow, Gong Cha, The Old Teahouse, ShareTea, Honey D Cafe, i-Tea, and the newest addition, Akira Coffee & Tea. There certainly are plenty to choose from!

The rise in popularity of milk tea is projected to continue in the United States. According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global milk tea market was valued at $1.9 billion in 2016. By 2023 it is projected to reach $3.2 billion. Definitely beloved, but is milk tea good for us?

Healthy Misconception?

There are many benefits to the consumption of green/ black tea. To name a few, green tea is known to have antioxidants, which lower risk of cardiovascular disease, LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure. Although milk tea contains green tea, it doesn’t ‘un-do’ the excessive amounts of added sugar. Just because milk tea has “tea”, is it healthier than other sugary drinks (eg soda)? Not hardly. Compare a 16 fl oz Coca Cola , 190 kcals and 52g of added sugar, to Kung Fu Tea, 16 fl oz Milk Tea, 180kcals and 25g of sugar.  Plus if you add the very popular Boba topping (272 kcal and 67.5 g carbohydrate (USDA)) you’ve just outdone Coca Cola.

Healthier Alternatives

If you are craving milk tea, you have some options!

  1. Adjust the sugar level – many milk tea shops allow you the option to adjust a drink’s sugar level. This can range from 100% to 0% sweetness. It may be difficult to completely transition to 0% if you typically drink milk tea at 100% sweetness. Start out with a small reduction first, like opting for 80% sugar; gradually decrease.
  2. Opt for a small size serving – enjoy just enough to satisfy your craving.
  3. Limit toppings – just opting out of boba is helpful; or ask for a half serving.
  4. Opt for regular tea! – using a simple tea bag can not only cut down calories and added sugar, but also is cheaper!

Boba milk tea is delicious. Limiting the amount of “boba trips” per week, reducing the amount of toppings, and adjusting the sugar level will help cut down excessive sugar intake over the long term.

Are you a boba fan?  Will you try something new?


Bubble Tea Market Expected to Reach $3,214 Million, Globally by 2023,

Kung Fu Tea | Fresh – Innovative – Fearless Leading Tea Brand,



5 Tips to Avoid Getting Sick In College

girl study

By:  Esther Garcia, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Intern            

As winter approaches, students are seen sneezing and coughing in class. There is no evidence on why students are more prone to get sick in the winter, compared to other seasons. We all tend to be inside more, where everyone comes in contact with the same things.  It may be simply because viruses peak in the wintertime. However you get it, we all know there are many struggles that come an illness of any kind: skipped classes, missed (or late) assignments, and even missed exams. To help avoid an illness and the consequent academic nightmare, there are five tips below to minimize your risk of getting sick.

Wash Your Hands! – Everything is full of germs. The pencil that you shared, the notebook your friend let you borrow to study, and your desk – all have various good and bad germs.  It is important to wash your hands each time you come in contact with an object. Make sure to wash your hands for at least 30 seconds:

  • Before eating
  • Before rubbing your eyes or nose
  • After using the restroom
  • After sneezing and coughing
  • After shaking hands

Rest – Sleep is the last thing on a student’s mind, however; “all-nighters” are not be effective for infection control! The body needs rest to regenerate and fight any viruses it came in contact with. Students who get an adequate amount of sleep tend to have a better immune system than those who don’t. So, having a consistent sleeping schedule not only gets the body ready for your school day, but also for a healthy day!.

Eat a Balanced Diet – Having plenty of fruits and vegetables strengthens our immune system. The vitamins and minerals we get from fruit and vegetables provides ammunition to fight illness. Many of us tend not to eat many fruits and veggies during the winter; however, having at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits can help our immune system utilize vitamins and minerals like Vit C and potassium work together to get the body stronger. Proteins like lean meats, legumes, and  dairy is also important because the amino acids help the body create strong components  of the immune system.

Physical Activity  Staying active during the winter is difficult because most students want to remain in doors where it is cozy and warm; nonetheless, evidence has demonstrated that people who exercise year round tend to get less sick. Similar to eating a balanced diet, exercise helps the body get stronger for any viruses. If it’s too cold to go for a run try:

  • Going to a gym
  • Finding an exercise video
  • Going for a walk around the library
  • Taking an indoor exercise class

Stay Hydrated – During the winter, most of us opt out from consuming water and prefer to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. As much as we enjoy the warm cup of liquids, theses type of beverages tend to dehydrate us. Water is important for staying hydrated and transporting all of the vitamins to the site of absorption.

Considering these tips will not only help you get through a healthy school year, it will help many others too! Always remember, clean hands and a healthy balanced lifestyle will help keep you free of infection by viruses and bacterial.


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


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


  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!

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



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.


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.


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,


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


  • 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


  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


  • 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


  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


Brown, Mary J. “Top 11 Science-Based Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds.” HealthLine, 24 Sept. 2018,

Raman, Ryan. “9 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin.” HealthLine, 28 Aug. 2018,


Be S.M.A.R.T. About Your Health


By:  Cecilia Chen, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

“I will eat a lot of fruit and vegetables…”

“I will exercise more…”

“I will never skip breakfast again…”

“I will go to bed before 12 am…”

“… but I never did.”

Do any of the above statements sound familiar to you? College life can be stressful when you need to balance your social life, academics, and health. Often times, students will compromise health because they do not have enough time for things like meal prep, working out and sleep. When a new quarter starts, do you find yourself vowing to eat healthy or exercise more. Maybe you have tried going to the gym for a week when the quarter first starts, but midterms come up, and you never go back. Then, you feel bad about yourself and not achieving your health goal. How could you set up lifestyle change goals differently?

Instead of setting long-term goals, break down the goal into little steps that are more manageable and trackable. We call this SMART goal setting. Building SMART goals about your health consists of five components: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

  • Specific: Being specific about your goals means you need to consider who, what, where, why and how.
    • Who will make this change?
    • What do you want to change, and what is your plan?
    • Where will your plan be carried out?
    • Why do you want to make the change?
    • How often will you make the change?
  • Measurable: Your goals need to be measurable because it is easier to track how you are doing when it can be measured with a specific number. For example, your goal can be to cook dinner two times per week or meet with the nutrition peer counselors once a week.
  • Attainable: Attainable means realistic. Is your goal something within your capability and not out of your reach? Setting your goal to eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day is unrealistic if you barely eat any now!
  • Relevant: Is your goal related to what you value in life? Will achieving this goal make a meaningful change?
  • Timely: Set a specific timeline for your goals can be helpful. For example, if going to the gym for the next month seems a bit challenging, you can set your goal to go to the gym two times during the next week. See how it works; adjust as necessary. Again, be specific in how you’ll carry out the change.

Instead of saying, “I want to be healthy,” say, “I will eat an apple for breakfast this Friday,” or “I will go to the gym at least two times this week.” Setting up your SMART goals can not only help you actually achieve your goal but also improve your sense of confidence.

Now it is your turn. Work on a SMART goal today and let us know how it goes!



“10 ‘SMART’ Healthy Eating Goals.” 10 “SMART” Healthy Eating Goals – Unloc Food,

IU, Positive Outcomes for Women. “How to Make SMART Nutrition and Physical Activity          Goals for Your New Year’s Resolution.” POW IU, 2 Jan. 2018, pursuinghealthi