Veggie Burgers: Plant-based never tasted so good!

 

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By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant

A little bit about me: I’ve been vegan my entire life…and have tried pretty much every vegan product out there.  Over the course of my journey, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in the quality of these products, veggie burgers being one of them. No longer do vegan “meats” and “cheeses” deserve the bland and dissatisfying reputation they’ve acquired back from when veganism wasn’t so common.  This overview on veggie burgers is a reflection of my personal preferences after trying almost every plant-based product the market has to offer.

Veggie burgers are great meat alternatives for vegans/vegetarians, anyone trying to cut back on meat consumption, or for the average consumer who wants to switch things up.  In 2018, there are so many options out there on the market, as well as recipes for homemade veggie patties.  Most traditional veggie burgers are made from some combination of beans, tofu, grains, seeds, and vegetables.  However, there is now an increasing demand for “mock-meat” burgers, which tend to be higher in protein and contain soy, wheat gluten, or pea protein as the main ingredient.  The more traditional grain-based patties do not necessarily aim to mimic a meat patty, but can still be enjoyed as a nutrient-dense and flavorful plant-based option.

Here is a break down of my personal favorite plant-based burgers on the market:

Most realistic “meat” patty: The Beyond Burger

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This new plant-based burger has been blowing up in the media due to its almost identical appearance, taste, and texture to a real beef burger (it even bleeds!).  This burger is a great choice for fooling meat lovers and is inarguably the most realistically mock-meat on the market.  It has a whopping 20 grams of protein, but is also high in fat and calories (which resembles a real beef patty…minus the cholesterol).  If you’re switching to veggie burgers for nutritional reasons alone, I’d aim for one of the other version listed below. But if you’re really in the mood for an authentic beef burger, this revolutionary product is a great option.

Less expensive/caloric “meat” burger: Boca Original Vegan Veggie Burgers

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Boca burgers are one of my favorite mock-meat options at the grocery store.  At only 70 calories per patty, it has 13 grams of protein, almost no fat, and 16% of your daily fiber intake.  Although they aren’t as realistic as the Beyond Burger, this is a less expensive, readily available, and high protein options on the market.

Grain-Based: Hilary’s “World’s Best Veggie Burger”

 

This brand claims to be the “world’s best veggie burger”…and as far as ingredients goes, this burger is definitely one of the healthiest out there.  With lots of whole grains and vegetables, this burger packs in the nutrients, fiber, and flavor (although with less protein at only 4 grams).   In my personal experience, I’ve found that this burger tends to lose it’s integrity easily (aka crumble), so I’d recommend crumbling it over a salad, or being particularly careful when transferring it onto a hamburger bun.  However, as far as flavor goes, this burger is definitely 10/10.

Grain-based: Amy’s California Veggie Burger

 

Amy’s brand veggie burgers are simple yet delicious, and easily accessible at most grocery stores.   The bulgur wheat and mushrooms give these burgers an amazing meaty and hearty texture.  I wouldn’t say they’re able to mimic a beef patty, but I love these burgers as a healthy, plant-based protein source.  These burgers are only 150 calories and contain 16% of your daily fiber intake along with 6 grams of protein.  Its one downfall is the high level of sodium, but just be mindful of your sodium intake for the rest of the day.

Homemade: Vegan Black Bean Burgers

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Recipe from https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/222247/vegan-black-bean-burgers/

This is a simple and quick recipe for homemade black bean burgers.  The main ingredients are black beans, bread crumbs, flour, vegetables, and spices.  You can simply combine all ingredients, form them into patties, and bake them in the oven.  This recipe is easily adaptable, so feel free to change up the vegetables and spices as you see fit.  Homemade burger patties are a great option for students because they’re cheap to make and freeze well for quick and healthy meals!

My favorite ways to eat veggie burgers are crumbled up on a salad, sliced inside of a wrap, or placed inside of a sandwich.

 

 

Veggie burgers can be used to substitute or mimic meat, but are also enjoyable as a nutrient dense, flavorful addition to any meal.  Brands such as Beyond Meat are revolutionizing the plant-based meat industry, which is much needed as vegan and vegetarian diets increase in popularity.  If you’re in a pinch, veggie burgers are great for quick lunches and dinners.  They aren’t just for vegans either; anyone will benefit from incorporating plant-based burgers into their diet.

Meal Prep Tips

 

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By Jessica Bonilla,  Dietitian Assistant

Meal prepping can be very practical and beneficial, especially when you are in a rush and don’t have time to be cooking every time you go home. By meal prepping you can avoid the temptation of buying fast food or low-nutrient snacks and stop compulsive eating behaviors when you’re hungry. In addition, it’s easier to control the number of portions you eat, and therefore, to control the number of calories you consume as well.

Try to include a variety of foods such as protein, whole grain, vegetables, fruits, and fats with all your meals in order to feel satisfied. Don’t forget to vary the texture, color and flavors to make your meals more appealing and delicious. Also, leftovers can be a great way to save up time and to avoid wasting food.

Below are four tips for meal prepping:

  • Plan ahead. Before you even go to the grocery store to buy food, make a list of the ingredients that you are going to use in your meals. Make an estimation on how much money you are willing to spend at the beginning or end of each week and make a plan. That way when you go to the store you won’t be wasting time deciding and will know exactly what to get.
  • Choose a day to cook. Choose a day during the week when you are not very busy and dedicate a couple hours to cook. Most people find it easier on the weekends because they have more time to go grocery shopping and to plan their meals, but it can be whatever day is easier to you.
  • Make a big batch. In order to save time during the week, you can cook big batches of food and freeze them. You can place your meals in tupperware/containers to make it more convenient and on-the-go.
  • Be creative. Try to use different ingredients and add color to your meals. This is a good opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and to try new things. You can challenge yourself each week to make it more interesting. For example, you can try cooking only plant-based meals or to only cook with seasonal fruits and veggies.

 

Check We Love Clean Food and Meal Prep Mondays for some inspiration!

Assorted fresh fruit at an outdoor farmer's market

Energy Drinks: What are the health risks?

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By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant

Energy drinks are commonly used by busy college students as an easy source of caffeine. While they can help you to stay alert and focused throughout the day and night, it is important to understand the safe dosage and health effects of energy drink consumption.

Next to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by American teens and young adults.  Because of their compact and convenient design, it is important for consumers to pay attention to the caffeine and sugar content, as well as the ingredients, of these beverages.  A 24 oz energy drink may contain as much as 500 mg of caffeine, while the median sugar content of sugar-sweetened energy drinks is 25 grams per 8-oz serving (comparable to that of sodas and fruit drinks).   Other ingredients that are often found in energy drinks include glucuronolactone, B vitamins, ginseng, gingko biloba, antioxidants, and trace minerals.

Caffeine Content

According to Mayo Clinic, up to 400 mg of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults.  If we assume the average amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee is 100 mg, you could consume up to four cups of coffee a day without adverse side effects.  For energy drinks or energy shots, you need to check the caffeine content on the nutrition label to keep track of your caffeine consumption.  Beverages and supplements are not legally required to disclose the caffeine content of their product, so aim for brands which do disclose this information (Monster and Rock Star Energy began disclosing this information in 2013).

Brand Comparisons

 

Here is the nutrition label for a can of Monster Energy Drink, one of the most common energy drinks.  One 8 oz can has 28 grams of added sugar and 83 mg of caffeine.  The main ingredients are sugar, glucose, citric acid, natural flavors, and taurine, along with seventeen other ingredients, including the artificial sweetener sucralose, B vitamins, and added color.  Taurine is an amino acid known to influence various physiological functions and is generally recognized as safe as a food additive.  However, the European Commission has been inconclusive on establishing an upper safe intake level and the health effects of taurine when combined with caffeine.

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Here is the nutrition label for a can of Guayaki brand Yerba Mate tea in the flavor “Bluephoria”. This can contains 14 grams of sugar (per 8 oz serving) as well as 150 mg caffeine (more than the Monster’s 83 mg).  Yerba mate is described as having “the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate”.  This beverage tends to deliver a more balanced energy boost compared to coffee, and contains many naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants. In contrast to Monster, this beverage contains only natural, recognizable ingredients, such as organic cane sugar and blueberry juice concentrate.

 

 

This third energy drink variety is by the brand RUNA, and contains 0 calories, 0 grams of sugar, and 120 mg of caffeine.  Notice there are only four ingredients (all of which are natural) in this beverage.  While it may not be as widely available, or as flavorful, these natural energy drinks are on the rise as consumers look for healthier alternatives to popular, more artificial and sugar-rich brands.

The lesser evil?

While having a Red Bull in moderation will most likely have negligible health effects, students who want a quick and easy energy boost can gravitate towards the healthier, more natural energy drink options when they are available.  In general, consumers should focus on reading nutritional labels and being mindful of sugar content, caffeine content, and list of ingredients.  For a healthier energy boost, aim for minimal added sugars, and more natural ingredients in your energy drink.

It is also important to keep in mind that every individual responds to caffeine differently. Some people may be able to drink over 400 mg of caffeine with minimal effects, while others will experience jitters and heartburn from one energy drink alone.  With caffeine available in compact, sugar-rich cans, it is important to be mindful of how many of these beverages you are consuming in a day, and avoid consuming over 400 mg of caffeine in a day.  Energy drinks can be a quick fix for fatigue, but nourishing your body through calories from real food with naturally occurring sugars, vitamins, and minerals, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts, will also help to boost your energy.

 

Earth Day- Let’s make a better place for all of us

By Jessica Bonilla, Dietitian Assistant

We are only four days away from Earth day, which makes it a perfect time to think about our actions for the past years. According to the ASCE, Americans generate around 258 million tons of material solid waste every year, only about 35% of the waste is recycled and 53% goes into landfills. What have we done so far to solve the problem about pollution and solid waste? The best way to help is to start with ourselves by making more sustainable decisions.

This year, Earth Day is dedicated to raise awareness about plastics and how to reduce them. Here are four ways to reduce our overall carbon footprint and waste:

  • Meatless Mondays

Meatless Mondays is a movement around the world that consists in cutting meat once a week. The purpose of this movement is to decrease the carbon and water footprint generated by the production in meat, which is generally larger than crop products. Actually, it’s estimated that one pound of meat requires more than 2,000 gallons of water for its production.

By making this shift and decreasing the amount of meat in our diet, we are not only helping the planet, but we may also reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases.

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  • Eat local

Buying local is a great strategy to support sustainability. This is because we will be buying food that hasn’t traveled very far distances and therefore hasn’t emitted lots of greenhouse gases during the trip. Our food will be fresher, and we will be supporting local businesses and economy. In addition, we can also buy food cheaper because there is a high supply in the seasonal fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies out of season can have a higher price due to the distance and the number of people involved in the process.

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  • Reduce, reuse, recycle

The three R’s reduce, reuse and recycle are three actions that we all should include in our daily basis in order to decrease our overall waste and to conserve natural resources

The first R, reduce, has the purpose decrease the amount of waste that we produce in a day-to-day basis. Implement this action to your routine by avoiding disposable items, printing in both sides of paper, drinking from reusable water bottles instead of plastic bottles, switching to cloth napkins for paper napkins and by decreasing consumption of products with lots of wrapping.

The second R, reuse, consists in using again older things that we have or finding them other usages than what they are intended for originally. Some examples are: using old envelopes as note pads, using old jars to store kitchen stuff, using paper that is printed already on one side, donating books and old clothes.

The last but not least is recycle, which means collecting and transforming into new products materials that would otherwise be considered as trash. Some materials that can be recycle are plastic bottles, cardboard, metal (tin, aluminum, steel), and glass.

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  • Bike more and drive less.

Riding a bike is beneficial to the environment by the simple fact that no pollution is excreted. Riding a bike will also increase your strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness and can help as a stress reliever. In addition, you will save money because no oil is required. Skip traffic and try to use your bike to get from point A to point B. Luckily for us, Davis is a very bike friendly town!

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Did you know that UC Davis is planning to meet the goal of zero waste by 2020? Help to reach the goal by making sustainable choices and reducing your waste!

UC Davis Farmers Market back for spring!

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By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant

Attention all Aggies: the UC Davis Farmers Market is back on campus for Spring Quarter! Here you will find tons of fresh produce, raw honey, bread and baked goods, UC Davis made olive oil, and much more.  The market aims to be a destination in itself, not just something students stumble upon during their commute across campus.  The Farmers Market will be at the North Quad every Wednesday from 11 am to 1:30 pm for Spring Quarter.

Here are the vendors you will find for the Spring 2018 season:

  • PURE honey
  • Ahmad Farms: fruit
  • Toledo Farms: assorted organic veggies and fruits, potatoes
  • Fruit Factory: fruits
  • Williamson Farms: Strawberries
  • Shoup Farms: avocado
  • UC Davis Student Farm: flowers, veggies
  • Gotelli Farms: cherries in May
  • Upper Crust Bakery: breads, cookies, apple tarts

Visiting the UC Davis Farmers Market is a great way to promote health and wellness in all aspects of your life.  Here are some of the benefits of taking some time out of your day to visit the market:

 

Education

In addition to buying food at the market, you can learn more about health and wellness through visiting the Student Health and Counseling Services and Healthy Aggies booths.  These organizations seek to educate individuals on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a busy college student.  Be sure to visit these booths to hear about campus resources, play fun games, get some free swag, and learn more about various nutrition and wellness topics.

 

Nutrition

The accessibility of a Farmers Market on campus makes getting your fresh fruits and vegetables even easier! Here you don’t have to worry about your produce containing pesticides, waxes, or genetic modification. Additionally, fruits and vegetables contain lots of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber to keep you full, energized, and nourished throughout your day.

You can find easy recipes using ingredients found at the farmers market on our website at:

https://healthy.ucdavis.edu/food-nutrition/farmers-market/recipes

 

Self-Care

The Farmers Market is able to bring the community together and create a calming environment for everyone to enjoy.  At the market you will find picnic blankets strewn across the grass where students can take a break from their busy day to relax and enjoy the sunshine.  Taking time out of your day to unwind, spend time with friends, and get some vitamin D are extremely beneficial for mental wellbeing.  These study breaks will help you retain information and focus more effectively for the rest of the day.

 

Supporting Local Business

As large agribusiness is increasingly dominating U.S. food production, a great benefit of the Farmers Market is the ability to directly support local growers and businesses.  Instead of buying produce harvested before ripeness halfway across the globe, your money is directly supporting family farms in the Yolo County area.  This also benefits the environment through reducing the amount of fossil fuels used to transport produce from farm to consumer.

 

 

In summary, visiting the UC Davis Farmers Market is a quick and easy way to support a healthy lifestyle.  Be sure to head to the North Quad on Wednesdays between 11 am and 1:30 pm to buy fresh produce and take a break from your busy day.

 

Healthy Aggies Promotion:   the market will be giving away $10 bundles in market dollars to the first 10 people who visit the Market Information Booth on April 11 and say “I read about $10 in free vouchers on the Healthy Aggies blog”! While supplies last!

 

You can find up-to-date information on the UC Davis Farmers Market and subscribe to their weekly newsletter at: https://healthy.ucdavis.edu/food-nutrition/farmers-market

Boost your Mental Health! … Exercise!!

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By: Michele Lum, Healthy Aggies Intern

After another 10 weeks of classes and 1 horrifying finals week, we’ve finally reached what we have all been waiting for: Spring Break!!! We can finally let go of those organic chemistry mechanisms (briefly) and think about other things. It may be hard to think about much else if you neglected your mental health during finals; however if you’re looking for a simple, healthy, and inexpensive cure for your finals hangover, I’ve got the solution for you! Studies have shown that exercise is a great way to improve mental health below you’ll find 5 ways on how it can help!

 

  • Mood Enhancement

 

When you exercise, feel-good endorphins and dopamine (natural cannabis-like brain chemicals) are released in the brain. They improve your mood and make you feel happier. Concentrating on exercise also helps get your mind off worries and other negative thoughts that may feed into depression or anxiety. Research has shown that people who were previously active and then became inactive were more prone to depression than those who maintained their activity throughout the study.

 

  • Boost Brainpower

 

Physical activity can also boost your memory and increase your ability to learn new things. When you sweat, it stimulates the production of cells in the hippocampus: the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning. Cardiovascular exercise in particular has been shown to improve brain processes such as decision making, higher thinking and learning. If you have trouble memorizing material for your quizzes or midterms, exercising regularly can help out with that!

 

  • Increase Productivity

 

Feel lethargic or sleepy while studying? Exercise helps boost your energy and allows you to be more productive and less sleepy throughout the day so you can get more work done. There is also an increase in blood flow, which improves your awareness and alertness. This allows you to complete tasks more efficiently and possibly with higher quality.

 

  • Illness Prevention

 

One of the most common known benefits to exercise is illness prevention. When you are sick, it is hard to juggle attending all your classes while giving your body time to recover. During a fast paced 10 week quarter system, missing class can really put you behind. Exercising routinely can help develop a stronger immune system, which protects you from getting sick during flu season. The increase in blood flow during exercise helps release accumulated toxins and exercising regularly can improve your heart health, endurance.  Additionally burning that energy can aid in weight loss, which then reduces your risk for heart disease and diabetes in the long run. It can also improve muscle strength and endurance.

 

  • Improve Self-Confidence

 

A lot of the activities at the gym are not easy. Running may seem simple, but for some running even a mile is a killer. Working out routinely and improving on different activities gives you a sense of accomplishment that builds self-confidence. It demonstrates that as long as you put effort into a goal, it can be attained. In addition, the enhancement that exercise brings forth in mood, brainpower, and productivity encourages a more positive and confident version of yourself.

Exercise is customizable. You can go outside for a jog, use the elliptical or lift weights. There is no one correct way to do it, so grab your running shoes, put on your workout clothes and get moving. Track your physical and mental health progress over a few weeks. If you’ve noticed some improvement in your mental health, then you will know that it really did work out.

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

https://www.goal-setting-guide.com/ways-exercise-improve-self-confidence/

 

Does Eating really fix the problem?

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Source: OcusFocus/Getty Images

By: Vivian Siu, Healthy Aggies Nutrition Intern

Why do we eat? Besides the obvious reason that we need fuel to keep us healthy and moving, we eat because food is yummy. There’s a form of happiness that comes from eating a warm, fudgy brownie. Eating is also important during celebrations, reunions, or simply hanging out. With so much cultural diversity in this town, there are so many food choices available that make it that much harder to find an excuse to not go eat. However, there’s another reason why some of us eat. We refer to it as ‘snacking’ but sometimes it is a coping mechanism – then it is stress or emotional eating.

Reasons we eat outside of hunger

  1. We relate ‘Food’ to ‘pleasure’.

At the end of a tiring, long day what is one thing you can look forward to? A plate of fries or maybe a bowl of ice cream? Both can give you a temporary feeling of happiness, and if you’re like me, those types of comfort food are often associated with feelings of bliss, at least at first.  

But, instead of associating food that sense of pleasure and then suffering the consequences of too much junk, not enough nutrients, or just eating more food than you need, try using different activities to accomplish the bliss goal. What about that painting class you always wanted to take or learning how to play the guitar to serenade your cat and enjoy some music when you arrive home after a hard day?   This will feel especially doable if you’ve been practicing good, adequate eating habits throughout your day and are not famished! Having other activities besides eating to look forward to can cause you feel that same bliss.

  1. To avoid difficult situations and/or feelings.

During time of hardships and challenges, for many of us – including myself, we tend to avoid feelings. Avoiding feelings makes us more likely to seek out temporary fixes such as eating that feel good during the moment, but are very temporary, in fact may make things worse.  

One important fact to remember is that it’s okay to feel sad, mad, and frustrated. If it wasn’t for these feelings, would we know what happiness really is? Learning how to talk about your feelings, whether it be in the form of journaling, calling a hotline, or talking to a friend, can help you realize the deeper rooted problem that is causing you to want to turn to food for comfort.

  1.     Physiological Response.

One thing I’ve learned from my 2 ½ years of college so far is that there are days where I can be swamped with work, class, assignments, studying, you get the idea, right? If I don’t take the time to feed myself, lovingly throughout the day, I find myself more irritable and more susceptible to my cravings/eating more junk food because I’m “hangry” when I finally get home.

Having a regular and nutritious meal schedule is important to staying healthy and lessening the likelihood of emotional eating.

  1.     Self-Image.

Society has led most to believe that beautiful means thin and skinny, with flat tummies.

Our lives are filled with some of the most innovative and connected technology, it can be hard to avoid societal influences of what beauty is. In reality, beauty is something that cannot be defined, at least not by society. Beauty is more than just appearances. It can be seen through the actions of taking care of yourself, being true to who you are, being kind to friends, family, and strangers, taking care of the earth, and the list could go on. If taking care of yourself means indulging in some sweets once in a while, that’s perfectly fine. Just remember that eating as a temporary fix for whatever challenge you may be facing is okay, but it’s important to remember that addressing the problem can pave the way to a more permanent solution.