Get Juicy, Aggies!

By Monika Ax, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness

Whether you spent the weekend eating junk food, had a little too many drinks the night before, or simply need to get in a vegetable fix, pressed juice is a healthy, and refreshing way to satisfy your cravings. Finding the right place can be difficult, especially as a college student who can’t afford to throw down $10 or more for a light snack- and lets be honest, juices do not fill you up like a meal. I chose three popular spots in Davis to sample: The Nugget, Jamba Juice, and Sun and Soil. Specifically, I chose only green juices, so that I could select the most similar juices at each place. Through careful tasting and evaluating, I was able to find a favorite supplier that fit my college budget and taste preferences.

So here goes my honest opinion…

Nugget Market

  • Time to make: 3 ½ minutes
  • Price: $5.00
  • Verdict: The “Purifier” was recommended. It contains kale, ginger, lemon, pineapple, and cucumber. Surprisingly, I was the only customer at the time, and the juice only took a few minutes to come out. Granted, every other time I have come to Nugget to get a juice or acai bowl, it’s been busy and taken at least 10 minutes to get what I ordered. I received a 12oz plastic cup, with another 4oz cup full of the leftovers. So I got about 16oz total for only $5. The taste was overall refreshing and cleansing. It was pretty tart from the lemon, but I enjoy tart flavors and it did not bother me. There was a subtle sweetness from the pineapple, and you couldn’t taste the kale at all. After finishing the whole drink, I had that “Ah I feel so refreshed” feeling. Another plus is that all of their produce is locally sourced.  It was definitely a good juice given the price and amount.

nugget juice

Jamba Juice

  • Time to make: 4 minutes
  • Price: $5.99
  • Verdict: The juice I ordered was called “Tropical Greens” and it had apple, pineapple, super greens, and chia. It also came in a 12 oz plastic cup, but this time with no extras. I’m not sure what the “super greens” were, but they definitely gave the juice a more chalky consistency. It was blended with ice, which made it thicker than a normal juice. The apple and pineapple were more overpowering in this juice and made it a lot sweeter. It definitely did not feel very refreshing, and the sweetness and thickness made it heavier than what I was expecting from a green juice. At this point, I was wishing I had my nugget juice back.

jamba juice

Sun and Soil

  • Time to make: none, because they are already prepared
  • Price: $11.50 (but you get $2 back if you return the bottle, so technically $9.50)
  • Verdict: Now, I know that the price is almost double that of Nugget’s and Jamba Juice’s, but the juice is organic and comes in a recyclable glass bottle. I ordered the “Sweet Greens” which has apple, cucumber, spinach, filtered water, lime and ginger. The juice was very flavorful and the perfect consistency: not too watery and not too thick. It was also not as tart as the juice from the Nugget. I give this place creds for their eco-friendly reusable bottles and use of organic fruits and veggies.

So which juice would I recommend to my fellow broke college student craving a healthy fix?

I would rule Jamba Juice out of the equation. Although it was relatively cheap, I couldn’t get over the chalkiness and thickness. It was more like a melted smoothie than a juice.

Sun and soil definitely had high quality ingredients and great tasting juice, but it cost me $9.50 for 16oz, whereas at the Nugget it was only $5.  Now, if $9.50 per bottle is in your budget, I would definitely recommend Sun and Soil. But personally, the Nugget is within my price range, and perfectly satisfied my green tooth.

What is your favorite juice place?



The UC Davis Farmers Market

BeFunky Collage

By:  Debbie Dang, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

Guess what’s back Aggies? That’s right! The UC Davis Farmers Market!

The UC Davis Farmers Market (UCDFM) is a seasonal opportunity for students to have better access to fresh and local produce! This market is a smaller-scaled version of the main Davis Farmers Market (occurs at Central Park on Wednesdays and Saturdays), and is geared more towards students!

The campus market has two seasons, Fall and Spring. Fall markets run on Wednesdays from October 4th through November 8th. The UCDFM occurs at the Memorial Union North Quad from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM! Spring dates are Wednesdays from April 4 through June 6 at the same location. UCDFM vendors accept a variety of payment options including cash, debit, EBT, credit, and even Aggie Cash! Using your EBT card gets you additional ‘market match’ dollars – up to $10 more produce.

So what are some reasons you should shop at UCDFM?

  1. Convenience
    The UCDFM is perfect for students because it is located at the hub of campus, the Memorial Union. Buy some ripened, ready-to eat produce to add to your lunch!
  2. Taste
    Locally grown produce tastes better than conventional produce because it is fresher, seasonal and travels less distance compared to produce from the market.
  3. The Environment
    Local, family farmers likely use fewer pesticides and minimal processing—techniques that increase sustainability in production! And because the produce travels a shorter distance, this reduces the carbon footprint of the food’s production.
  4. Local Agriculture
    As the global economy is expanding, family farmers struggle to keep up with large agribusiness. When you buy from small, local farmers you help them stay competitive in the food market!
  5. The Community
    Contribute to UC Davis’ strive to promote nutrition and sustainability by meeting our farmers and supporting different school organizations like Healthy Aggies, the Student Farm, and the UC Davis Olive Center!

Here are some highlights you want to check out!

  • Free Samples with Healthy Aggies
    IMG_20171004_123758Healthy Aggies is having free food demonstrations at the UCDFM and providing free samples and recipe sheets. Ingredients are provided by the Coho and local vendors.


  • Raw and Infused Honey from Pure Honey
    IMG_20171004_120506Sourced in Winters, CA, Pure Honey provides a unique array of honeys that are only available in this region! You can choose from this selection:Raw Honey
    Orange Blossom
    Wild FlowerInfused Honey
    Caramel with HoneyFor more information, you can visit their website at


  • Olive Oil and Vinegars for sale at the market
    The UC Davis Bookstore is collaborating with the UC Davis Olive Center by selling our very own Olive Oil and community produced vinegars! You can choose from this tasty selection:Olive Oils
    Wolfskill Reserve Estate—an herbaceous, grassy olive oil that is blended with picual, mission, arbequina and empeltre olives)

    Gunrock Estate
    —A tribute to UC Davis’s mascot, Gunrock, this olive oil is blended with 20 different olive varieties to create a stone fruit and grassy taste.
    Roasted Garlic Olive Oil—A simple, must-have olive oil flavored with roasted garlic.Vinegars
    Barrel-aged Balsamic Vinegar—An all-round sweet and tart vinegar that is perfect for not only for dressings and marinades, but also ice cream and berries, too!

    D’Anjou Pear White Balsamic Vinegar—
    A flavorful vinegar that is tart, yet sweet.Mission Fig Balsamic Vinegar—This vinegar is a mixture of the classic Californian mission fig and a traditional vinegar from Moderna, Italy.

    More information is posted on the UC Davis Olive Center website at


  • Fresh Produce and Products from Various Vendors
    Don’t miss out on fresh produce from our local farmers! The Student Farm will also be there to sell fresh produce that is produced on campus. They are dedicated to providing fresh flowers, vegetables, and culinary and medicinal herbs to our students.Check out the Student Farm on Facebook or their website, here.Support your local farmers and join the health community by eating fresh produce!


Healthy Aggies’ welcome to Fall 2017!

jackie (2)

By:  Jackie Ahern, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

Fall is upon us once again! For some it’s the beginning of a whole new college adventure, and for others it’s the beginning of the end. It’s no doubt an exciting time, where everyone has something to look forward to, new changes to make and novel things to try. Change can be scary, but it can also be beautiful and fun and exciting if you look at it the right way. As we go into the new school year I encourage all of you to embrace all that is new, and reflect on how far you’ve come.

I remember when I first started at Davis, I felt alone and scared of this giant new campus. I voiced the fear of being alone and lost to a yoga teacher of mine and he said to me,

“Do what you love and what makes you happy, and your true friends will gravitate towards you.”

I found this hard to believe at the time, when the only friend I had was my roommate; regardless I took that advice and ran with it. That seems like only yesterday when I first started, but here I am now, beginning my fourth year at Davis, with an incredible group of friends that just seems to keep growing. I’m surrounded by people I’ve known since the first few weeks of freshman year, to new people I’ve met in the last month. And like my teacher said, it feels like they just keep gravitating towards me. I’d like to extend this advice to you all as well. Do what you love, be open to new experiences and you will find the supportive, amazing people you deserve.

You may also face pressures to a join a certain group or declare a particular major but in the end it’s your life. Being on your own, making your own choices, doing your own laundry; that’s adulthood. Take a moment to reflect or journal about what truly makes your heart sing and follow that path. The new school year is the perfect time to reevaluate your life choices and habits up to this point, and make a change if you find it’s necessary. Be open to life as it unfolds before you. This campus is vast in both the people on it and in what it has to offer, so take a new class, talk to a stranger or try a new cuisine. This is just the beginning of your entire life. Emphasis on the “your” life part!

I wish you all good luck this year, remember that you are part of a huge community full of opportunity and goodness. Take each day by the horns, take a deep breath, and be true to yourself. Everything will happen exactly as it should!

Is Coconut Oil healthy?

By:  Jackie Ahern, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center


This is what a simple Google search says:

“Yes, Coconut Oil is Still Healthy. It’s Always Been Healthy”

“Coconut Oil Isn’t Healthy. It’s Never Been Healthy”

…and the AHA directly says: “We advise against the use of coconut oil.”

So what’s going on? Should you buy island paradise in a glass jar or not? Let me break it down.


I’d like to clear up some misconceptions around fat. For many people this word brings about bad feelings and has been misunderstood for a long time. The reality is that we need fat, it’s an important part of our diet and serves our body many purposes, from keeping us warm, to storing certain vitamins, and holding the very shape of our cells. The USDA recommends we eat 30% of our daily calories from fat, which is 50 to 80 grams depending on your caloric goals. That’s like 8 tablespoons of peanut butter, or 5 tablespoons of olive oil a day for someone eating a 2000 calorie diet. However, not all fat is created equal, so the USDA recommends that less than 10% of total calories should come from saturated fat. Primary sources of saturated fat are non-lean meats, high fat dairy, palm oil, butter and… coconut oil.

Saturated vs Unsaturated Fat

The USDA has made is clear that we should be eating less of saturated fat and more of unsaturated fat instead. Why? Because it has been shown that diets higher in saturated fat lead to higher levels of “bad” cholesterol that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.1 While coconut oil is natural, plant based and often marketed as organic, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s completely healthy to consume.

Science Speaks.

The AHA released an Advisory on Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease this year with a specific section dedicated to the investigation of coconut oil on cardiovascular health. This review of numerous studies brought to light two important points:

  1. The consumption of coconut oil, which is primarily composed of saturated fat, raises LDL significantly more than that of unsaturated fats such as olive or safflower oil.1
  2. One study showed that there was no “difference in raising LDL cholesterol between coconut oil and other oils high in saturated fat such as butter, beef fat, or palm oil.” In other words, coconut oil raised LDL cholesterol as much as other saturated fats.1

But I Heard…

One of the main arguments supporting the “perks” of coconut oil is that compared to other saturated fat sources, it has a higher concentration of medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs. Because of their structure, they are digested differently by the body than regular fat.2 One source even claims that “MCTs cannot make you fat!” The reality is that if a person consumes more calories than they burn, they will gain weight; however when consumed as a direct caloric substitution, studies have shown that the consumption of MCTs over other fats can lead to weight loss due to an increase in energy expenditure.3 That said, if someone is really looking to lose weight, a change in diet and exercise will be more effective than simply switching out butter or olive oil for coconut oil.

The Verdict.

You don’t have to cut coconut oil completely out of your diet, just treat it as you would any other saturated fat, like butter or animal fat. It’s certainly a great vegan alternative for other saturated fats. Because coconut oil is around 60% MCTs, it could potentially exhibit the beneficial effects of MCTs; however per the USDA guidelines no more than 10% of total calories should come from saturated fats like coconut oil due to the cardiovascular health consequences. Mix up your intake with other delicious and nutritious unsaturated fats like olive oil, avocado, walnuts, salmon and nut butters. Moderation and balance is key! (Click here for an awesome list and explanation of different kinds of fats!)

Have a bunch of coconut oil that you don’t know what to do with? I love to use it everywhere from my hair to my skin! Check out these uses for coconut oil other than cooking.

Additional Questions? Concerns?

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List of fats:

Uses for coconut oil:





“Because the only way out is through, Brian…”  Those were the words uttered by my friend, Kristi, as she and my friend Brittany sat with me in the Emergency Room that fateful night I was admitted.  Their eyes stared back at me concerned but tired amidst the 2 a.m. hustle and bustle of the hospital.  I felt uncomfortable and exposed in the dark green hospital scrubs they made me change into; I wasn’t even allowed to keep my underwear on underneath.  A security guard stood nearby within sight to make sure I “stayed safe.”  My head spun from exhaustion, fear, and sadness.  “What is going to happen to me?” I wondered.

“Ok, Brian, we’re going to go now.”  It’s Kristi again.  “I don’t think the hospital really allows for us to sit here with you this late.”  Brittany gives her a look of apprehension, to which Kristi returns a firm nod.  Brittany relents and then turns to me.

“Try and get some sleep, ok?” She said getting up.  “And remember, be honest with the therapist when they come to assess you in the morning.  Tell them what’s REALLY going on and how you REALLY feel.  It’s time for you to get some help.  You deserve better than this.” She urges, gesturing to the self-inflicted cuts on my arms.

And before I knew it, they were gone.  And there I was alone, in my thin hospital patient scrubs being watched constantly by a hospital security guard.

That night was the climax of a rollercoaster of a journey that I am on with mental health.  To give a little more background information, I always struggled with extreme depression and anxiety all my life.  To the world, I was a ray of sunshine, striving to make everyone’s day.  But behind closed doors, I retreated to a very dark place, which led to very destructive behaviors including self-cutting and suicidal thoughts.  Clearly, it hit a point where I could not hide it anymore as my friends caught on and took action by checking me into the Emergency Room as a danger to myself.  Talk about true friendship.

Fast forward, I was assessed by a therapist the following morning, where she determined that I needed to be placed on a 72-hour 5150 hold at the psychiatric hospital.  It was while I was on this hold that I was further assessed by a psychiatrist and diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (aka Depression) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  It was while I was on this hold that I was prescribed medication to help me with this condition.  It was while I was on this hold that I realized that all of this WASN’T my fault, and that I CAN be happier.  Kristi was right.  The only way out of this jungle in my head was to face it and go through it, one day at a time.

At the end of my hold, I was discharged, and immediately entered an intensive outpatient program where over the span of two weeks, I received counseling and skill-building.  Fast forward again to today, where I am doing better and still trucking along.  I’m still working with my assigned psychiatrist on trying to find the right combination of medication for me.  I have also had several attempts of trying to find the right therapist for myself, and with the most recent person I met with, I think I’m finally onto something.  Also, I’m happy to report that I have not cut myself to this day.  I feel urges to do so every day, especially when I’m stressed, but I use the coping tools I was taught to help thwart it.  Needless to say, I’m still at “through” right now.

So, why all the graphic details, you ask?  Because we need to talk about it.  Mental health issues plague so many of us.  Yet, they remain hidden.  There’s this silent expectation or pressure that to be a functioning human, we have to constantly “hold it together.”  When in reality, that’s just not possible.  Life is beautiful, and it’s also messy.  As humans, we are beautiful, AND we’re also messy.  It’s ok.  I’m telling my story to spread a message that it’s ok to not be ok.

Because I wasn’t ok with not being ok, I held in my demons and they grew to the point that they became bigger than what I and my loved ones could handle.  I was lucky that my friends possessed the compassion and initiative to say something and take action.  But in the end, I had to help myself.  I had to be honest about what was going on with me, and ultimately ask for and ACCEPT help.

So, if you’re struggling, please speak up.  People care about you more than you know.  And if you’re worried about someone, also speak up.  They need to know that you care.  Silence can be deadly in these situations.  And no one should ever have to suffer silently alone.  When it comes to mental health, we have to be there for each other.  We have to help each other see that it will be ok.  There is always a way out.  But the only way out is through.

Mysterious Secret InGredient: What is MSG?


Mysterious Secret InGredient: What is MSG?

We have a few notions about MSG. It’s salty. It makes an appearance in Asian cuisine. And it may not be good for us. But what exactly is it? Can we really experience side effects from eating it? And overall, could it actually cause harm so that we can never eat instant ramen and Chinese cuisine again?? HELP!

What exactly is MSG?

To explain it in a way that is not terrifyingly scientific, MSG or monosodium glutamate is a compound of glutamic acid (a non-essential amino acid) and a sodium molecule.

You can find glutamic acid naturally in foods like tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. MSG on the other hand, was manufactured by a University of Tokyo chemistry professor Kikunae Ikeda in 1908. The discovery of MSG, added to the four basic tastes of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter with a new taste called umami. Umami is used to describe a meaty and savory taste like in a juicy cheeseburger hence the popular burger chain called UMAMI Burger.

What about Side Effects? How did MSG gain a bad reputation?

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, or MSG symptom complex is a group of conditions some people report after having a meal that includes MSG. Symptoms reported included nausea, headaches, and numbness.

However, these symptoms were not reported until 1968 after a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine became popular. Ironically, a Chinese-American man, Dr. Robert Ho Man Kwok in the letter theorized that MSG was the culprit for his symptoms of numbness, general weakness, and palpitation after eating at Chinese restaurants. What adds to this interesting history is that MSG was actually quite popular prior to letter and not just in Chinese cuisine as it was heavily used in World War II to add flavor to bland soldiers’ rations.

Since 1968, studies have been done to confirm the safety of MSG as a food additive.

Harmful for my health?

The FDA has determined that MSG is generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

Double blind studies have shown little correlation between MSG and negative symptoms. The amount of MSG you eat in foods is also typically a very small amount so it’s not likely to cause any problems. But pun intended, take this information with a grain of salt. Because those that are against MSG claim that MSG producers fund these studies (and skew results…), while those that are for MSG claim those that are anti-MSG are just instilling fear in the public.


Studies indicate that MSG is generally safe for most people. There may be an occasional person who is sensitive to it. If that is the case, read labels and avoid foods with added MSG. In addition, the FDA’s designation for MSG doesn’t mean that other aspects of the ingredient, like the sodium level are not of concern. So even though MSG is safe, it does not necessarily mean no consequences can come from eating a spoonful of it everyday. But feel free to enjoy your instant ramen with MSG flavoring as a treat once in awhile!




Let’s Get Physical



It’s not just lyrics to an iconic 80’s song but more importantly an emphasis we should try to achieve. I think we all know by now that being physically active has a multitude of both mental and physical benefits.

Now I’m not saying we all need to go compete in a feat of strength or run a marathon. The amount or intensity of your physical activity depends on you! What I mean by this is that you should look to participate in activities that:

1) you enjoy

2) compare well to your current level of fitness and

3) can be sustained

If you don’t enjoy lifting weights then that’s fine. I wouldn’t hope to have you bench press for a one repetition maximum (1RM) if you hadn’t competed in any sort of resistance training in 3 months because from what I know about you that wouldn’t be a sustainable form of physical activity.

Do not feel obligated to stay physically active via the traditional means (resistance training/stationary cardiovascular exercise) but do feel obligated to stay physically active by any means that speak to you. Find whatever that may be whether it’s walking, hula hooping or throwing rocks. It doesn’t matter! As long as you’re moving for anywhere from 10-15 minutes 3-5 times a day that’s great!

You may ask why it is so important to try and stay “physically active”. Well sadly our culture has developed into one of sedentary behaviors and instant gratification. Work, studies and life have us sitting on an average of 11.5 hrs each day! That’s a lot of sitting! This is beginning to have a serious effect on our general fitness (flexibility, strength, aerobic capacity) but more importantly our overall health. But, we have the tools to take a “stand” and fight back. Unfortunately, the 60 minutes we might be able to squeeze in during our lunch breaks 2-3 times per week won’t cut it anymore. Yes, that is great if it’s all you can manage but your primary focus should be frequency (the number of times you are able to move in a single day). Breaking up these long bouts of sitting will prove to offset the harmful effects of sedentary behavior much more than the 30-60 minute workout you might squeeze in 2-3 times per week.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Incorporate a mindful practice first thing in the morning. Whether it’s journaling, meditation or light static stretching.
  2. Break up long periods of work at the desk with 5-8 minute walks outside.
  3. Take the opportunity to walk to class or meetings.
  4. Incorporate desk stretches when sitting at your desk for longer periods of time. Focus on hip flexors/quads, upper back/shoulders and neck.
  5. Start small and progress from there. Consistency and small incremental changes will pay off much more than periodic impractical workouts.

If you’d like some more examples, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Our guest blogger today is Reed Phinisey.  Reed is Coordinator, Fitness and Wellness, for UC Davis Campus Recreation and Unions, a part of Student Affairs.  His office is in the Fitness and Wellness Center in the Activities and Recreation Center on the UC Davis Campus and he can be reached at