The Other “P” Word of the Season: Pomegranate

By: Anne Custer

Fall is in full swing and by now, most people have indulged in a pumpkin flavored something or other. Pumpkin is all the buzz during the season, but my favorite produce of the season is pomegranate. These seeds pack serious nutritional benefits. This super fruit is rich in fiber, folate, and Vitamins C and K. A full pomegranate will provide you will half the daily about of Vitamin C and over half for Vitamin K. It’s low in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fat. Pomegranates also have a surprisingly good amount of potassium, even more than a medium banana! What you can’t see on the nutrition label is the amount of antioxidants it contains. Flavonoids are antioxidants understood to neutralize cancer causing toxins. In addition, polyphenols have been proven to have a role in the prevention of degenerative diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases and cancers. These seeds truly pack a punch and are a delicious addition to a salad or just to eat on their own. Here is a recipe for an antioxidant smoothie including pomegranate!

pom

Antioxidant Smoothie:

1 cup frozen berries

½ cup 100% pomegranate juice (make sure there is no added sugar!

½ cup chia seeds

½ cup water

Blend and enjoy!

How to deseed a pomegranate:

These suckers are a little more time consuming than your typical fruit. Deseeding can take a while, but this method seems to work best. Think about all the nutrients you will be consuming after the hard work is done! First, wash the fruit thoroughly. The dirt and bacteria on the outside will be dragged through the fruit by the knife thus leading to consumption. After it is washed, cut it in half on the equator. Put on half in your palm over an empty bowl. Hit the back of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon or spatula until the seeds fall out through your fingers. That way the fleshy white part will be separated from the seeds. Repeat with the other half and enjoy your bowl of antioxidants!

SO, WHAT IS GLUTEN?

By: Alex Liddy

Earlier this year, Jimmy Kimmel’s camera crew took to the streets of LA to ask people who followed a gluten-free diet if they actually knew what gluten was. Some of the responses included “it’s in products like bread, pasta, and rice” to “it’s like a grain, right?” and even “this is pretty sad, but I don’t know.” I spent my summer researching celiac disease with a registered dietitian in Boston; she specializes in celiac disease and has it herself. The more I worked with her the more I wondered to myself: how many people actually know what gluten is and how it affects someone with celiac disease?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Each previously mentioned grain has a specific storage protein: gliadin in wheat, hordein in barley, and secalin in rye. If a person with celiac disease eats any food products containing wheat, barley, or rye, the storage proteins within the grains will trigger their body to begin attacking the villi lining the small intestine. This autoimmune response classifies that celiac disease as an autoimmune disease, not an allergy. Gluten is actually a toxin to people with celiac disease. Interestingly, other autoimmune diseases (lupus, type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, etc.) are often associated with celiac disease.

It seems that there is a lot of misconception about gluten-free diets. The gluten-free diet is not inherently healthy, which may surprise most people, especially those who follow it to lose weight or become healthier. Currently, research has shown little to no benefit of following a gluten-free diet if you do not have celiac disease. Most of the products out there that are advertised as gluten-free are processed and low in nutrient density. The registered dietitian I worked with found that some of her patients gained a significant amount of weight when first starting their gluten-free diet. However, following a gluten-free diet complete with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and gluten-free grains (quinoa, teff, millet, rice, sorghum, amaranth, etc.) would provide a celiac patient with all the necessary nutrients to live a healthy lifestyle.

gluten

References:

http://bidmc.org/Centers-and-Departments/Departments/Digestive-Disease-Center/Celiac-Center/CeliacNow/INTROCD/Level2.aspx

http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/archives/faq/what-is-the-difference-between-gluten-intolerance-gluten-sensitivity-and-wheat-allergy

http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/wheat-allergy

http://bidmc.org/Centers-and-Departments/Departments/Digestive-Disease-Center/Celiac-Center/CeliacNow/NUTRAGFD/INTROGFD/Level3.aspx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdJFE1sp4Fw

http://www.eastewart.com/recipes-and-nutrition/the-super-seven-7-super-nutritious-gluten-free-grains-grain-alternatives-to-add-to-your-diet/

PROPER NUTRITION IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Fall is in the air which means it’s prime time for hiking and camping! The weather is warm enough to hike and cool enough to gather around a fire. Being healthy is easy with outdoor activities, and proper nutrition is an essential part of fueling them! When going on a rigorous hike or outdoor trip, it’s important to eat complex carbohydrates for slow absorption and sustained energy, to repair muscle with adequate protein, and to not skimp on calories! Our bodies can keep up with the physical demands we challenge it with as long as we fuel it plentily. Lastly, don’t forget to drink lots of water. A good measure is to bring one gallon of drinking water for each day of camping, and more if you are drinking soda or alcohol.

Try these snack ideas and recipes for your next outdoor adventure!

Note: No refrigeration required! (Vacuum-sealed tofu can last up to 2 days without refrigeration)

  • Kebabs of cubed onions, peppers, pineapple, herbed tofu, or mushrooms held on the grill over hot coals for about 15 minutes
  • Trail mix of unsalted nuts, unsweetened dried fruits, seeds, coconut shavings, or make it exciting with herbs and spices like cayenne pepper or dill. Visit the bulk-foods aisle of stores like Martin’s or Friendly City Food Co-op, get a bag, and fill it up with all sorts of ingredients!
  • Chili prepared with unsalted canned beans, canned tomatoes, peppers and onions, spices, and/or canned meats. Heat in a pot until warm
  • Boxed milk packs which are ultra pasteurized so they don’t need to be refrigerated until you open it! Soy milk, almond milk, and cow’s milk are the most common milks sold in box form. Pour over whole grain cereal or granola and add sliced banana
  • Sandwiches made with sliced avocado, tomato, onion, and other ingredients that stay fresh without refrigeration, sandwiched between large slices of hearty whole grain bread
  • Sweet potatoes stabbed several times with a fork, wrapped in foil, and placed directly in the campfire or in hot coals. Garnish with cinnamon and/or honey when cooked

Almond Butter Protein Wrap

Easily portable meal or snack on the go! Pack it heavier to hold you over for longer

1 Large Whole wheat tortilla wrap

2 Tbsp Almond butter (or preferred nut butter)

1 Tbsp of Fruit jelly (or more if desired)

1 Scoop Protein powder (vanilla, chocolate, or unflavored)

¼ Cup Rice krispies

Honey to taste

Mix all ingredients except tortilla in a bowl and spread into tortilla. Roll up and enjoy!

By: Karen

Health Tracking: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

By: Caroline Thomason

There are a million ways to keep track of your health… calories, miles, pounds, macros, weights, portion sizes. We have Apps, notebooks, and food diaries to measure each one of these.

Tracking can be a wonderful tool in our toolbox when it comes to checking in with ourselves on our health and fitness journey. In fact, tracking has proven to be an extremely effective method for behavioral change. When we track anything, we can physically see the progress and changes we have made over time. For example, keeping track of the weights you use in the gym will allow you to see how much stronger you have gotten. Apps like My Fitness Pal will even graph your progress – whether it’s miles, pounds, calories, etc. Tracking is also an excellent source of motivation. Keeping a record or journal of some type is the perfect way to develop a sense of purpose and establish goals. When starting out with running, you might want to track how many miles you run each week as part of working toward an endurance event. Lastly, tracking acts as a measurement system. We can compare our improvements and setbacks by assessing what we have tracked. For example, we can compare our daily food journals to better understand certain eating habits and trouble areas. In these ways, tracking your health can be an amazing addition to your life.

 myplate myfitnesspal

However, tracking becomes problematic when it is used under the wrong conditions. After understanding a tracking system, it is incredibly easy to become obsessive about the details. These types of technical details might include the logging calories in a packet of ketchup or the extra 0.15 miles you need to run. When these OCD behaviors take over, tracking is no longer about benefitting your health; it becomes about micromanaging it. This use of tracking is negative and no longer benefiting you. If tracking becomes more about the numbers and less about your overall health, it’s time to ditch it.

The bottom line is that tracking is a great way to begin to learn more about your habits or to take on a new behavior change. It can benefit anyone looking for a change of pace, a little more routine and extra motivation. However, tracking will reach a point of diminishing returns when you are no longer logging information for your benefit. In particular, tracking is an excellent resource for those of us who are new to a particular health change. It takes the confusion out of behavioral change and makes it much easier to control. Ultimately, tracking is a tool that you can use to create an awareness of your behaviors and their influence on your health. J

So you think you can track? How to start:

When considering new health changes, it’s always best to identify your goal first. Figure out what you want to accomplish (for example: fat loss), and then decide what you want to track to support this goal (ex: sugars per day). You can start a log through an app or your personal notebook. Either way, you are creating a database to refer back to later. You may want to spend time thinking about how to minimize your sugar consumption over time, and then, you will have a better awareness of how sugars are affecting your fat loss. Through this awareness, you can learn about the different ways in which different habits influence yourself and then begin making substantial lifestyle changes.

Kombucha Krazy

kombucha

I first heard about this mysterious drink over the summer and decided to try it for myself. My first experience was…let’s just say very interesting. The smell was unfamiliar when I took a quick whiff, and the hiss accompanying taking off the cap signified the carbonation, but it left me unprepared for my first sip. My taste buds were overwhelmed by the carbonated liquid resembling a taste somewhere between cider and vinegar with a twang. I was brave enough to take a second sip and eventually I was able to finish the bottle. Shortly after that experience I decided to give another bottle a try because I had heard about its health benefits, and I’ve been hooked since.

Recently, I have heard this funky fermented tea become a topic of discussion among my peers and others, so I decided to look into the health benefits for myself:

Kombucha is usually black or green tea that is fermented by adding sugar and some bacteria and yeast. The bacteria and yeast feed on the sugar for at least a week, allowing it to ferment. The benefits of Kombucha result from the bacteria in the tea, also known as probiotics. You might have heard of probiotics supplements or about probiotics being in yogurt. While bacteria are usually given a negative connotation, humans actually have bacteria in their digestive system that aids in digestion and the production of nutrients. There have been claims made that Kombucha aids in cancer prevention and other diseases, but there is little research to support these claims.

Don’t take my word for it; you can try Kombucha for yourself! Martins and the Friendly City Food Co-op both sell Kombucha, and I even know some people who make it themselves! Talk about Kombucha Krazzzzzy.

-Amelia

Sources:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/09/30/226531998/kombucha-magical-health-elixir-or-just-funky-tea

http://www.foodrenegade.com/kombucha-health-benefits/

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics

http://www.synergydrinks.com/

O-O-O-OATS

By: Alana Misiura

What does your daily breakfast consist of? Here’s the answer to getting the most nutritious breakfast to keep your hunger controlled until lunchtime that is fast and easy! The delicious meals and snacks you can make with oats are limitless and they open you up to a creative side. The many products you can create with oats provide an enormous amount of health benefits and decrease the risk for chronic disease.

Oats are high in protein, providing 10-14% of your protein needs for the day (following a 2,000 calorie diet), and they have high fiber content. Dietary fiber is important for the body to remove cholesterol from the digestive system. The antioxidant properties that oats provide help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol. In addition it is also well known to consume whole grain products to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks. Eating whole grains have also been proven to enhance immune response to infection. Beginning your day with a bowl of oatmeal may boost your immune response as well as your energy level in the morning!

Oats contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan. Studies have shown in individuals with type 2 diabetes, beta-glucan has beneficial effects such as lower rises in blood sugar compared to those who have been given white rice or bread. Beginning your day with oats will help stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day! Another benefit of oats and Type 2 diabetes is that oats and other whole grains are rich sources of magnesium, which act as a cofounder for the body’s use of insulin and glucagon. Studies have shown consumption of whole grains, and other foods rich in magnesium were proven to decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Now for the fun stuff- what can you make? The fun thing about oats is creativity! Soak oats overnight, cook them in the morning, blend them in a smoothie, bake granola, grind them to use as flour for cakes, cookies, or muffins… there are no rules! One of my favorite things to do with this whole grain is making overnight oats. Overnight oats involves no cooking, so it’s easy and you are welcome to add anything to it! I usually like to mix oats up with some berries, a banana, almond/coconut milk, cinnamon, flax seed, and chia seeds, shake it up in a mason jar and leave in the fridge over night. In the morning you have a delicious, nutritious, and filling breakfast! Plus soaking oats helps the body to digest the grains easier. In addition to cold overnight oats, hot oatmeal in the morning can be done by heating up hot water and/or milk, stirring in desired amount of oats, and whatever else you may want to flavor your oatmeal with. Some suggestions include a banana and peanut butter, berries, or vanilla and cinnamon. You can make cookies, pancakes, banana bread, and muffins with ground oats (as substitute for any flour) that can be easily done using any blender. Be creative and eat your oats!

jar oatmeal pancakes

References:

Oats. The World’s Healthiest Foods. George Mateljan Foundation. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=54

Katz, David. A Scientific Review of the Health Benefits of Oats. The Quaker Oats Company. Sept 2001. http://roscomoss.com/pdf/HealthBenefitsofOats.pdf

Pumpkin Seeds: The Hidden Panacea

By: Erin Jordan

pumpkins

It’s beginning to look a lot like fall! As the chilly weather begins to take over the valley, the healthy food options seem to dwindle. One healthy food that thrives during the fall is the underrated pumpkin seed. So when Halloween pumpkin carving rolls around this season, instead of tossing those pumpkin seeds in the trash, roast them and give your body a healthy boost!

Pumpkin seeds have a multitude of amazing health benefits. They are high in magnesium and antioxidants, which both play a huge role in heart health. They are also full of zinc, which gives your immune system a boost. They can help regulated sleep and mood because they are a good source of tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin and then melatonin, often referred to as the “sleep hormone,” in the body. Pumpkin seeds have also been linked to improved insulin regulation and helping reduce oxidative stress, which is a very natural way to help with diabetes.

Pumpkin seeds, along with most other raw seeds and nuts, contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. According to the Cochrane Collaboration, more and more scientific studies have proven that there is a definite link between consumption of omega-3 dietary fats, particularly DHA, and improved cognitive function. These fats are believed to be involved in preserving nerve cells in the brain in better condition for longer periods of time, therefore helping prevent the cognitive decline that is seen in dementia.

Not only are pumpkin seeds great for you, they are tasty and easy to prepare! Roasting them in the oven is a simple and delicious way to prepare them. Or if you are really feeling stressed and busy, most grocery stores sell them already prepared to eat. They are the perfect snack to take on the go to class or work because they are small and mess-free but full of essential nutrients. So for you busy health nuts looking for your fall health fix, keep these nutrient-dense seeds in mind!

Sources

http://www.cochrane.org/features/omega-3-fatty-acid-prevention-cognitive-decline-and-dementia

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/09/30/pumpkin-seed-benefits.aspx

http://huskypress.com/category/eats/