Asparagus

by Erin McCleary

 If you haven’t tried asparagus yet, now is the time to do it! You will start to see this nutrient-packed veggie popping up in grocery stores and farmer’s markets more often because it’s a spring vegetable. Asparagus is my favorite vegetable by a long shot, and I can’t wait for the great taste it offers in-season!

 You may be thinking, all I know is that Asparagus makes your pee smell bad! Well I’m here to tell you that it is easily one of the best vegetables for you out there, and if cooked right, Asparagus can be the best tasting too. With all the positive benefits of this superfood, you’ll forget about the weird-smelling pee in no time!

 1. Nutrient Dense

Asparagus is a good source of fiber, folate, Vitamins A, C, E, and K. So not only does it give you a ton of important nutrients to help you live a healthy life, it helps you feel fuller longer because of its high fiber content.

 2. Antioxidant Power

Asparagus has the power to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals, which may help slow the aging process and prevent cancer among several other health benefits.

 3. A Healthy Brain

The folate asparagus offers can work with Vitamin B-12 to fight cognitive decline as we age, preserving memories, keeping you sharp, and enabling you to interact with family and friends for as long as possible.

 4. It’s a Natural Diuretic

The high levels of the amino acid asparagine serves as a natural diuretic in the body, which increases urination. But what is so great about that? Increased urination helps excrete excess salts in the body, which helps decrease bloat and other medical conditions such as edema. It can also help decrease the blood pressure of those who suffer from hypertension and other heart-related diseases.

 To cook Asparagus, I suggest tossing in olive oil, salt, and ground black pepper. Lay flat across on an aluminum foil-covered cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes.

 http://paleoperiodical.com/2011/06/26/quick-link-asparagus-ideas/

http://www.eatingwell.com/blogs/health_blog/5_powerful_health_benefits_of_asparagus_you_probably_didn_t_know

Getting the Most Out of Your Salad!

By Simona Lourekas

Everybody sees salads as the healthy option at the dining hall or on a restaurant menu. But not all salads are created equal! Some provide more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and keep you fuller for longer! While others start to lose their value by being drenched in cheese, croutons, and high fat dressings. It all depends what you put in that salad!

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1) Starting with the most important base ingredient, the type of leafy green vegetable. Darker greens like spinach and romaine provide more health benefits then lighter greens like romaine lettuce. Spinach and collard greens contain beta-carotene that is converted into Vitamin A, and helps repair skin tissues. Kale and collard greens contain lots of calcium and potassium. And all the leafy greens have antioxidants like vitamin C that keep your skin and hair healthy. A spring mix, or a combination of lighter and darker lettuces can be a good compromise.

2) To get those daily servings of vegetables, load on the carrots, pees, tomato, corn, broccoli, sliced cucumber, onionImages, sliced pepper, and anything else you can think of. Pick produce from a variety of colors for the greatest health benefits.

3) Add protein to turn the salad into a meal that keeps you fuller for longer! Some healthy proteins include non-fried skinless chicken or turkey breast, and fish such as salmon. Choose leaner options. Some healthy vegetarian proteins are cubed tofu, legumes, and beans, such as black beans, chick peas, and kidney beans. Beans and legumes are low in the bad type of fat, saturated fat, and high in fiber.

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4) Add on healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and avocado. Chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, and sunflower seeds are packed with healthy monounsaturated fats and with their high fiber content they will keep you full. Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E, making them good for your heart! And avocados also contain healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, and have been shown to lower “bad” cholesterol levels, and risk for heart disease.

5) Be careful with your extra toppings, picking options like dried cranberries and raisins, instead of blue cheese and bacon. Sliced apple, sliced pear, and blueberries and strawberries make great toppings, while helping you get more servings of fruit in your day!

Easy salad recipe:

-1 (10) ounce package of spring mix salad greens

-1/4 cup chopped carrots and cucumbers

-1/4 cup chopped walnuts

-1/2 cup fresh blueberries

-A handful of dried cranberries

6) The dressing is where many salads start to go downhill, with options like caeser and ranch adding over 70 calories per tablespoon. Go for low and non-fat options; make sure to also check for other culprits in store bought dressings like high levels of sodium and sugar. Try using healthier oils like olive oil and canola oil, and buy oil-based vinaigrettes with a short list of recognizable ingredients. You can even use hummus or avocado as a dressing with their creamy texture.

Easy dressing recipe:

-Whisk together (with either a whisk or a fork) a little bit of vinegar and mustard.

-Then add any type of oil, like olive oil, use double the amount of oil as you used vinegar. So it you used one tablespoon of vinegar, use two tablespoons of olive oil.

-You can also add lemon, pepper, or herbs like thyme or basil. And pour on to your salad!

 References:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-daily-meal/the-healthiest-and-unheal_b_3517759.html

http://www.joybauer.com/photo-gallery/tips-for-building-a-healthier-salad/dont-forget-the-protein.aspx

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/blueberry-walnut-salad/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/nuts/art-20046635?pg=2

Pistachios: Ever Wonder Why You Should Get Crackin’?

By Kirsten Boestfleish

     If you have ever seen a commercial produced by Wonderful Pistachios, which have featured Stephen Colbert, Miss Piggy, The Harlem Globetrotters, and many others, you may have wondered why you should follow their slogan and get crackin’. Pistachios have definitely risen in popularity and here’s why:

Just 1 ounce of pistachios (about 49 nuts) contains…

· 160 calories

· 6 grams of protein

· 7 grams of monounsaturated and 4 grams of polyunsaturated fats

· Less than 2 grams of saturated fat

· 3 grams of fiber

· No trans fat

· No cholesterol

· Vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B6, Potassium, Copper, Thiamin,                           Phosphorus, and Manganese

· 342 grams of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that support eye health

· Pistachios are considered to be a very heart healthy food due to their mono- and                 polyunsaturated fat content as well as their low amounts of saturated fats and                     zero trans fat.

· Pistachios may support the maintenance of healthy blood glucose levels in                         people with already healthy levels.

· Pistachios are an easy snack to take along with you when you’re on the go!

Things to keep in mind:

· Pistachios are tree nuts so people with nut allergies should still avoid them.

· The best pistachios are the ones with shells that are already cracked open!                         Pistachios with closed shells have not fully matured yet and could taste bitter.

· Store pistachios in an airtight container to make sure they maintain their crunch.

· Pistachios come seasoned in many different flavors, but remember you can                       always add your own seasoning or eat them plain! Just remember to not load                     them up with salt, as many will come salted already.

References:

http://americanpistachios.org

http://www.eatright.org

Chia Seeds

by Amanda Sperry 

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Chia seeds have been growing in popularity for some time now. Edible chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, which is a member of the mint family. The plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala and history shows that the seeds were more than likely an important crop for the Aztecs. There has been evidence of chia seed’s positive health effects including a boost in energy, stabilization of blood sugar, digestion aid, and cholesterol lowering effects. Like most foods, to get the most out of chia seeds, they need to be consumed in their whole, natural state. Supplements or oils may not contain all of the natural, beneficial nutrients. Chia seeds can be easily added to any kind of food. They can be sprinkled raw into cereals, salads, soups, added into bread and muffin recipes, and even mixed in with water to make a thick gel. It is recommended that 15 grams or one tablespoon of chia seeds be eaten every day. Since chia seeds are so high in fiber, it is equally important to consume lots of water when eating them.

 

5 simple reasons to make chia seeds a part of your diet:

1. Chia seeds are gluten free.

2. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, is also found in chia seeds. Tryptophan helps regulate appetite, sleep and improve mood.

3. They contain 20% Omega-3 fatty acids, making them a superb food for the brain and heart. (More than Salmon!)

4. They have a positive impact in balancing blood glucose levels and improving blood pressure (making it awesome for diabetics).

5.  Chia seeds make a great egg replacement. Just combine with water to form a gel, and add it to recipes that call for egg.

 

Easy Recipe: Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 Tbls chia seeds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 8 Tbls butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup Greek vanilla yogurt (non fat)

For glaze:

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 – 2 Tbls fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 12 cup muffin tin with non stock spray or liners.
  2. In a small bowl combine flour, chia seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well each addition. Mix in lemon zest and vanilla. Using a spatula mix in the flour and yogurt until just combined. Fill muffin tins about ⅔ of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for a few minutes, before removing to a wire rack.
  3. While the muffins are cooling prepare the glaze. Whisk together the lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle a little over the top of each muffin. Allow glaze to set before serving.

 

Adapted from Nutmeg Nanny

 

References:

http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442472548

http://www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au/2012/08/13-awesome-reasons-to-eat-chia-seeds-every-day/

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/06/03/chia-seed-benefits-_n_3379831.html

Lets Go Bananas!

By Madeline Radigan

Everybody knows bananas are chock full of potassium, but what else can they do? Do they have any other benefits that make them worthwhile? Here’s a handy list of reasons you should keep on (or start!) buying those bananas.

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  1. Bananas have about 3g of fiber! This can help you stay fuller for longer and keep all your digestive processes healthy.
  2. They’re low in calories! A medium size (7 to 8 inches) provides on average 110 calories.
  3. They provide a great source of vitamin B6! One banana will provide about 35% of your daily requirement for B6, which is important for the growth of new cells.
  4. Bananas contain carbohydrates! Carbohydrates are our body’s primary source for energy, which makes them essential in our diet. One medium banana can provide around 27g of carbs. This makes them a great addition to breakfast, post workout fuel, or just a snack anytime during the day.
  5. Bananas make great additions to smoothies! Throw some ripe bananas in the freezer to use for smoothies anytime. They make a great ice replacement so your smoothie doesn’t get watered down, while providing extra nutrients!
  6. Frozen bananas can be turned into ice cream! Just grab the frozen bananas and put them into a food processor or mixer, and blend until you reach an ice-cream-like consistency. Be sure to chop the bananas into bite-size pieces before freezing to make life easier for you and the mixer! A delicious idea, courtesy of my roommate, is to add some peanut butter while blending and drizzle chocolate syrup on top.
  7. Bananas are cheap! As college students, we are all familiar with a strict food budget. Bananas typically cost around 50-60 cents per pound, depending where you buy them. Keep an eye out for the overly ripe bananas; many stores sell those at a discount, but they make perfect freezing bananas for ice cream and smoothies!
  8. And finally, bananas are perfectly portable! Bananas are the best snack to grab on the go, because they grow naturally in their own containers! Bring one to class, in the car, to a movie, on a hike, to the gym, or anywhere else you can think of!

 

Sources:

http://jessamynnotjasmine.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/banana-happy.jpg

http://www.livestrong.com/article/505406-top-ten-health-benefits-of-bananas/

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1846/2

 

Happy Birthday!

To Splurge or to Diet?? Why not both!

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By Kenny Parker

Well today is the best of days, my birthday! I also know that the cupcake I had for breakfast was so worth it, but how much is too much? Birthdays are the best reason to have fun, let’s face it, it is your day, the day that everyone pays attention to you and your wishes…but don’t let that take away from being healthy. I am by no means saying don’t have cake or ice cream, maybe even a little of both, but it also is not a reason to fall off the wagon. There are plenty of food options that are healthy substitutes for all the good sweets we love so much. For example those brownies your roommate made you and left in front of your door could be made from black beans rather than brownie mix, or that cake you indulge in could be made using avocados!  Fruit can always be added to increase the amount you eat to feel full while not having to consume as much of the processed foods, and make sure to eat a regular diet along with the birthday celebrations. Keeping up with normal eating habits will make you feel more normal as the day goes on, rather than each meal being a birthday splurge. There are countless ways to find recipes that alter the foods we expect to eat on our birthdays but keep us from going in a food coma of sugar and fat. Treat yourself as you deserve e to be treated on your birthday, and that is with a guilt free yet delicious dessert with your friends…or if you are like me they can have the other cake. If you are interested in either of these recipes for inspiration follow the links below.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/black-bean-brownies/,

http://joythebaker.com/2009/07/vegan-chocolate-avocado-cake/

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Tea Time!

By Corey Crowe

Cold outside? Warm yourself up from the inside with a nice hot cup of tea.

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, and can be found in almost 80% of all U.S. households. It is the only beverage commonly served hot or iced, anytime, anywhere, for any occasion. On any given day, over 158 million Americans are drinking tea.

Why is tea the most consumed beverage in the world?

  1. Tea comes in many varieties to suit your taste buds.
  2. It is easily accessibility, cheap, and convenient to make.
  3. It is ingrained in many cultural rituals or habits.
  4. The caffeine content draws many people to it as an alternative to coffee.

It also has many health benefits depending on its type:

—  Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.

—  Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.

—  White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.

—  Oolong tea: In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.

All types of tea leaves are derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.

All these teas also have caffeine, which affect the brain and seem to heighten mental alertness.