Are All Greens the Same?

Are All Greens The Same?

Karen Leibowitz


We all know eating greens and salads are a healthy
option, but did you know not all greens are created equal? There are differences between the benefits you get from eating different varieties and colors of leafy greens. Darker greens like collards and swiss chard contain vitamin C and beta carotene, an antioxidant more commonly known as forming vitamin A when consumed. These vitamins may slow aging and help protect you from cancer. A bit lighter variety of green leafy vegetable is Kale, which is a great source of vitamin A, C, and K, and also contains calcium, folate,  and potassium. Other varieties of greens supply folate, fiber and lutein, as well.

Greens have many flavors too! Here’s a quick guide
for the flavor profile of different greens to spice up your next meal:

arugula, watercress, mustard greens

peppery flavor


crisp texture

boston or bibb lettuce, mache

mild flavor


bitter raw, mild cooked

swiss chard

beet-like taste, soft texture when cooked

References: Different Kinds of Lettuces and Greens. 2014. Available at:
. Accessed November 10, 2015.

Weight Loss & Muscle Gain

By Trevor Lomax


Lately I’ve been getting a lot of texts from friends that all go something like this: “Trevor, can you give me some advice on what to eat? I want to lose weight and gain muscle mass.” For all of my knowledge-hungry friends, here’s your answer:

The goal for this process is to burn more calories throughout each day than you eat through food. How do we do this? We do it through weight training, cardio, and eating the right foods.

What does the weight training do? The resistance training increases your muscle mass so that your resting metabolic rate increases, or in smaller words, the amount of calories you burn simply living is higher. As a beginner, it’s advised you weight train 3-4 times per week, which is enough time for your muscles to repair and rebuild stronger in between trainings. As for cardio, you should do these on your days off, usually spaced evenly with at least one rest day a week to completely revitalize your body. So if you weight train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, you should do cardio, like running, biking, or swimming, Wednesday and Saturday. That leaves Sunday to rest your body, but don’t just sit around! On your rest day you should still get outside and go for a walk or play some basketball with friends, even if its just shooting around.

As for what you should eat, eat what looks like it came from nature. You should space your meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism up. This means somewhere between 4-7 meals a day. Keep your calories low, but not too low. This number is hard to find but a good guide is to eat every meal to when you’re satisfied, not completely full or stuffed.

Eat enough protein to allow your muscles to rebuild. An easy way to figure this out is a gram of protein per pound of body weight. The best sources of protein include poultry like chicken or turkey, meat such as beef, or fish such as salmon or tuna.

Carbohydrates should come from sources that add fiber to your diet. Fiber slows the absorption of nutrients into your body to provide a longer sustained energy rather than a rush of energy like candy would give you. Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains from brown rice, whole grain pasta, and whole grain bread, as well as carbs from vegetables and fruit. Be careful consuming too many carbs from whole grains because although they provide essential micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), they are very dense and can add too many calories to your diet especially on rest days and cardio days. Vegetables and fruit on the other hand provide critical micronutrients your body needs to run efficiently, as well as make you feel full and are not very calorie dense!

As for fats, don’t worry; they don’t all make you fat! The main fats to avoid are saturated and trans fats. These are fats your body doesn’t need but are very difficult to avoid completely. As for the other fats, these are okay to have and can even help you with your goals. Remember, fats have 9 calories per gram while protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. This means that you must limit your fat intake to lose that excess weight. Try avoiding things like pizza, cheeseburgers, and fried foods, which have a high concentration of unhealthy fats. Foods like olive oil, nuts, avocados, and fish have the healthy fats you want!

Overall, losing weight is hard! Set firm goals and write them down to look and think about daily. Find friends or other sources of motivation and support to help you on your journey. Learn to cook. Do your research and find good, reliable resources. Use UREC’s Personal Training and Nutrition Analyst programs to get started. I promise, once you start seeing results, you’ll want to keep going and set new goals for yourself.

The Mysterious Microbiome

By Caroline Thomason


*not gummy worms*

You may have heard of it… the Microbiome has become somewhat of a nutrition buzzword lately. Some also call it the microbiota or the human gut flora. Either way, if you haven’t heard of it, the microbiome is a collection of trillions (!!!) of bacteria found inside the human gut. This topic isn’t sexy at first; but bear with me, and you’ll see that there is more than what meets the eye (literally, they are microscopic ;)).

Our intestines house these little gut bugs – who out number our human cells up to ten times! There are thousands of different strands of bacteria amongst them. Normally when we think of bacteria, we think of contamination or disease. The bacteria of the microbiota play a beneficial role in helping us digest and process certain foods – predominantly indigestible fibers. Some researchers have suggested that we should consider the microbiome its own organ because of all the metabolic processes in which it plays a role.

Quite literally, whatever we eat; our microbiome “eats”. This simple fact has proven to be pretty important, as the microbiome changes its composition of good or bad bacteria based on OUR diet. For example, a diet high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat is known to increase the amount of bad bacteria in our gut. If that’s not already disturbing, these bad bacteria will secrete their own hormones that are picked up by the human cells to create a desire for more salt, sugar, and saturated fat. Thus, it appears that there is a cycle: the types of food you eat influences your gut bacteria which in turn influences you to crave more of the food you have been eating! However, the silver lining is that foods that promote the good bacteria will also reinforce us to eat more of the same foods.

Foods that nourish the good bacteria in our gut include prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are found in fibrous vegetables. These compounds are indigestible fibers that human cells cannot break down. However, the microbiome “eats” these fibers and allows us to better absorb nutrients. Probiotics are found in fermented foods (think: sauerkraut), dairy products (think: Greek over regular yogurt), or supplements. If you are considering a probiotic supplement, you will want to find one that contains not only *millions* of bacteria, but also a diversity of strands. As prebiotics are food for our microbiome, probiotics replenish and diversify the different strands of the microbiome. Probiotics add more bacteria to our gut.

The microbiome has proven to influence more than digestion: cognitive function, insulin production, and even the immune system positively benefit from a healthy microbiome. These are all great things! There is so much emerging research on the microbiome… next time you hear of it, I hope you understand a little more of what they’re saying!


Tips for improving YOUR microbiome:

  • Eat a variety of vegetables for the prebiotic properties (Bonus: you might find that you want to eat more vegetables once you start)
  • Eat fermented foods for added probiotics (sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, or even Kombucha)
  • Eat a diet high in healthy Omega 3 fats (Salmon, walnuts, coconut oil) to assist in anti-inflammatory gut healing
  • Eat foods naturally low in salt, sugar, and saturated fat

The Disillusion of Diets and Detoxes


By Anne Custer

The definition of the word diet is the “types of foods that a person habitually consumes”. Our society, latched on to the idea that we need to be thinner, has changed the meaning of this word. It now has a second definition of “a special course of food to which one restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.” How many times have you heard the phrases “I’m going on a diet” or “my diet starts tomorrow”? The problem with thinking as such is that we are seeking a temporary solution to a potentially lifelong problem of unhealthy eating patterns.

Simply stated: diets do not work. As a whole, they are unsustainable and ineffective. They seek to cut out one or more crucial food groups (I’m talking to you, Atkins Diet) and cause weight gain in the long term. The main reason people lose weight on diets is because of calorie restriction. Their weight loss likely has nothing to do with the food they have been avoiding or on the other end, eating copious amounts of and nothing else. To eat like this is doing a great disservice to your health. Eating is a time of nourishment for your body and you need a variety of healthy, nutrient dense food to do so. Cutting out carbohydrates, for example, is near impossible and a risky choice for your health. Carbohydrates sustain our body. This macronutrient gives us the energy we need, reduces the risk of disease, and even aids in weight loss. Carbs are found in legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grain products, and grains, but they are also found in refined sugars, processed products, and white breads. The former list of sources of carbohydrates are what we should be filling our plates with, not the latter. When people think carbs, they unfortunately think of the simple, or bad, type of carbohydrates, not the healthy sources. This is why diets that cut out carbs are so popular and ultimately unsustainable. Our bodies need the energy and benefits carbs provide. Carbohydrates is just one example of diets that cut out a certain food group and restrict intake. There are many more, but it seems in our culture that carbs are what people fixate on the most. (aka “Is butter a carb?”)  Most people on a diet gain the weight and more back after they get off of it. From so much restriction, your body goes into starvation mode and anything consumed is stored as fat. Binging can also be a problem after going off a diet by giving into cravings that were suppressed during the diet. For these reasons, diets are ineffective and should not be seen as a viable way of weight loss for the general population.

is butter a carb

Another facet of “health” society has latched onto is the idea of detoxes. These may have certain nutritional benefits, but for the purpose of detoxification, they do not have a role. Our body detoxes by itself with minimal help from what we consume. The liver is the most vital component to our body’s detoxification by breaking down toxic substances so we can excrete them. By eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, caffeine, and saturated fat intake, we keep our liver healthy, thus keeping the process as efficient as possible. If you’re eating a poor diet, you would likely have a buildup of toxins in your liver, but that can easily be fixed by eating a proper diet. If you are worried about the buildup of toxins, don’t turn to pills or fads! Add some fresh parsley or cilantro to a dish or create a gelatinous fluid with chia seeds and water. These help move toxins through the body and flush it of any heavy metals. However, detoxing should not be of such concern that we place on it now due to our bodies’ physiological function of doing so itself.

If you want to make a change in your eating habits, seek to do so long term. Start with small goals for the week and build on them as you go. For example, if you load up your white toast in the morning with butter, switch to whole grain bread and use less butter or try nut butter instead. Eat fruit instead of chips with your sandwich and add in veggies whenever possible. Look for little ways you can change your dietary habits. Instead of meeting someone out for lunch, go for a walk with them or just hang out! Often, our social lives revolve around food. We tend to eat worse when we eat out and more amounts as well. These little changes add up over time and you can start to see a real change. Ultimately, the motivation to live a healthy lifestyle comes from within. Make the right choices for health and your body will thank you. Next time you see an ad for a “magic” diet, know that nothing more than eating well and regular exercise will aid in a healthy body, mind, and spirit.

Fresh vs. Frozen: Which is best?

fresh v froze

By: Cara Christie

Most would find it appealing to purchase the brightly colored fresh fruits and vegetables displayed in the grocery store rather than the less appealing frozen, plastic wrapped fruits and vegetables. Many shoppers don’t even take into consideration if there is a difference between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. Little do they know, there is a significant difference between those appealing pieces of produce and those cold, darkened frozen vegetables.

Based on studies performed on the nutritive value of fresh and frozen produce, there were multiple cases in which there were more antioxidants in frozen fruits and vegetables when compared to antioxidant levels in fresh produce that were kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days (Marinos). Some of these important antioxidants included vitamin C, beta carotene, polyphenols, and lutein (Marinos). Those are only just a few of the many important nutrients that can be obtained from fruits and vegetables.

How is it possible to have processed fruits and veggies be more nutritious than the real deal? Turns out the secret goes all the way back to the farm in the harvesting and packaging process. The process of harvesting fruits and vegetables is different for fresh and frozen. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their absolute peak of ripeness. This means that it has been fully developed and its nutritional value is at its peak (Dreifke). From there the produce must be blanched in order to kill any bacteria and stop enzymes that may cause further degradation. Despite that some water-soluble nutrients, such as vitamin C and B, may leach out during the blanching process, frozen vegetables still contain a high amount of nutrients (Driefke). Followed by the blanching process is the flash-freezing process in which the produce is frozen to be packaged and shipped. The flash-freezing process freezes produce in its ripest stage which is the key to keeping produce from degrading and losing nutritive value. Once purchased, keep in mind to store your frozen fruits and veggies properly. Excessive oxidation can lead to eventual nutrient loss of your frozen produce, so make sure to check any expiration dates and eat within that date (Dreifke).

The process of picking fresh produce involves neither blanching nor freezing. Fresh produce is picked before it has ripened. This means that the produce has not had time to fully develop and reach its peak ripeness. This is done so that the produce can last the transportation process from farm to store. You may think that fruits still ripen once they reach the store and would be nutrient rich by the time we consume them, however, that is not the case. The fruits picked pre-ripened will never have the same nutritive value as those that are picked when fully ripe (Gorman). This is because they did not experience as long of time absorbing vitamins and minerals provided by the soil for adequate growth. Additionally, during the transportation process produce may be exposed to all different kinds of temperatures and lighting which can cause degradation of vitamins that are sensitive to such factors. Sometimes these exposures can even affect the taste and texture of the produce (Barrett).

It is still very important to consume fresh fruits and vegetables daily as part of a healthy diet and should never be excluded. But if you’re looking to get a bigger bang for your buck or trying to cut back on cooking time, go purchase some highly nutritious frozen produce for a few meals.


Barrett, Rhianon. “True or False: Fresh Food Is Better Than Frozen or Canned Food.” EBSCO, 2008. Web.

Dreifke, Sarah. “Myth or Fact: Fresh Produce Is More Nutritious Than Frozen Produce.” Fit Day. Internet Brands, Inc., 2012. Web.

Gorman, Rachael. “Fresh vs. Frozen Vegetables: Are We Giving up Nutrition for Convenience?” Eating Well. Meredith Corporation, 2007. Web.

Marinos, Sara. “Fresh vs Frozen Food: Which Is Best?” Body and Soul. News Life Media, 2015. Web.

Keen-what?! Everything you’re dying to know about quinoa!

By: Ali Anderson

quinoa 1

Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is quickly becoming a popular food  that can be found in health food stores and supermarkets across America. It is commonly mistaken as a whole grain, but is actually an edible seed from an Andean plant that originated in South America. Archeological evidence indicates that quinoa was domesticated as early as 3,000-5,000 BCE in Chile and Peru—it was a well-developed crop by the time the Spanish had arrived.

This little powerhouse is often referred to as a superfood, and for good reason! It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that cannot be made by the body. In addition to its high protein content, quinoa is high in antioxidants that give it anti-inflammatory properties and help to prevent damage in some types of cells.

Quinoa also contains omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are healthy fats that are very good for you, but similar to the essential amino acids, omega-3’s cannot be made by the body. This makes them an essential part of your diet! Additionally, quinoa has a low glycemic index, which means it raises blood sugar slowly and thus will result in longer satiety and greater control over cravings. Quinoa is also high in fiber and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron.

quinoa 2

Cooking quinoa is very similar to cooking rice. In a pot, combine 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water (1 cup of dry quinoa to 2 cups water, for example). Before you cook it, however,  it should be rinsed in order to remove the saponins that give it a bitter taste.  You can also soak the quinoa for a few hours to reduce phytic acid content. Phytic acid makes the minerals in the quinoa more bioavailable. After the quinoa has been rinsed it’s ready to be cooked! Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. It’s done when the water is gone and the quinoa looks fluffy.

One of the best things about quinoa is its versatility! It’s delicious hot or cold,  in salads or chili, burgers or cookies, the list goes on and on. It also has a lot of friends; it goes well with greens, root vegetables, stir-fries, nuts, and even several fruits for breakfast. The seeds can be ground into flour, which is used in many commercially produced gluten-free products.  So pick up some quinoa next time you’re out grocery shopping and give it a try! There are several varieties, including white, red, black, and rainbow quinoa. Don’t know where to get started? Try the Cucumber & Tomato Quinoa Salad recipe below!

quinoa 3

Cucumber and Tomato Quinoa Salad

2 cups quinoa (I usually use rainbow quinoa, but any kind will be equally delicious)

1 large cucumber

1 cup cherry tomatoes

½ avocado

¼ cup sunflower seeds, toasted

2 tbsp pesto

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp fresh basil

1 tsp fresh parsley

Salt & pepper

Add quinoa and 4 cups water to a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover; simmer for about 15 minutes. Refrigerate after it’s done. Wash the cucumber and tomatoes, then chop them into bite-size pieces and set aside in a medium-sized bowl. Cut the avocado in half, then slice that into bite-size pieces as well. Chop the basil and parsley and add them to the bowl, along with the thyme and oregano. Toast sunflower seeds on the stove until slightly golden. Add to bowl with cucumber and tomatoes. Combine everything in this bowl with the chilled quinoa. Add the pesto and extra virgin olive oil to the quinoa mixture, then toss to combine all ingredients evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!!



Power Balls, Protein Balls, Energy Balls… Roll it into a ball and anyone will eat it.

By: Caroline Thomason

Call them whatever you would like, but these healthy snacks are becoming super popular… And for good reason! They can pack a powerful punch with healthy fats, high protein, fiber, and some good carbohydrates all in a couple bites. They’re easy to make, often require no baking, and they are conveniently portable. Even more than that, they are fun. Who doesn’t love finger food? It brings out our inner five year old.

I’m going to help you build the perfect bite. Listen closely.

You need a base: something that is going to hold your ball together. This is typically a nut or seed butter. It’s the perfect texture and stickiness, and it’s delicious. Win-win.

Next, go for the crunch. Add chopped nuts, coconut flakes, or chocolate chips… Or all of them. :)  You could also buy the crunchy version of your nut butter instead!

After the base and the crunch, you want to think about adding sweetness. If you added chocolate, you’ve already got a start here. Your best and most wholesome bet may be dried fruit, dates, or honey. Go easy at first… you can always add more.

Lastly, and the best part, is the “extras”. Play around here. There are so many options to try! For example, whey protein powder can bump up your protein content and create a more dense texture. Flax or hemp seeds will give you a healthy dose of Omega-3s for brain function. For extra carbs, consider adding oats.

When you’re getting started, think about your flavor profile overall. What ingredients will go well together? Try imitating a favorite like cinnamon raisin, peanut butter/chocolate, or pumpkin spice. I suggest you to mix all your ingredients together before adding your base to ensure the perfect bite.

A sample recipe is given below! I found the majority of my ingredients at Martin’s in the bulk isle. I encourage you to be creative. The possibilities are endless, and all it takes is getting started!

2 cups                   Sunflower seed butter

¼ cup                    Dried cherries

¼ cup                    Hemp hearts

½ cup                    Whey protein powder

½ cup                    Pistachios

¼ cup                    Coconut flakes

You do not need a blender or any hardware… Just mix with your hands and enjoy!

Pro tip: storing them in the freezer creates a melt-in-your-mouth appeal for later!