Spice Up Your Life! Protecting Your DNA and Cell Health

By Karen Leibowitz

Did you know that spices are packed with antioxidants? Antioxidants promote healthy cells by preventing oxidative stress to the DNA in our cells. Oxidative stress can consequently increase the risk of many diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease. Just a small amount of spice can make a huge impact on your health!


A study showed that DNA damage may be decreased with eating ginger, turmeric, rosemary, and other spices. Scientists acquired tissue samples and exposed these cells to free radicals. They assigned one group to eat spices, and the other group to not eat spices. The DNA fracture rates were recorded and the results were promising.

A tissue sample showed that about 10% of the cells in subjects’ bodies had DNA damage – breaks of strands in their DNA. However, eating ginger for just one week showed a 25% cut in DNA damage, lowering the percentage of damage DNA to 8%. The same result was shown with rosemary. More astonishingly, after eating turmeric for one week, DNA damage was cut by 50%!

 Just 1⅓ teaspoons of both rosemary and ginger, and just a pinch (⅛ teaspoon) of turmeric daily can do the trick.

In addition, it is cooked (heat-treated) spices that have more of the antioxidant-rich effect of cell repair than raw. However, raw spices are found to have more anti-inflammatory effects! Try eating a variety of both raw and cooked spices to prevent the risk of cell damage.

Lentil Soup for Strong Cells!     (Serves 6 to 8)

2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed

1 cup chopped carrots

1 large onion, chopped

1 15-20 oz can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-2 portobello mushroom caps

7 cups of stock or 7 cups of water plus a bouillon cube

Place all ingredients in a slow-cooker, mix, and cook covered on high for 4 hours.

Sprinkle some extra uncooked turmeric when serving.

Note: If you are missing some of the ingredients, be creative! Swap for different spices and herbs, use fresh or dried. Be sure to check water levels if you are omitting water-retaining ingredients like tomatoes or mushrooms.


Percival, S., Vanden Heuvel, J., Nieves, C., Montero, C., Migliaccio, A., & Meadors, J. (2012). Bioavailability of herbs and spices in humans as determined by ex vivo inflammatory suppression and DNA strand breaks.Journal of American College of Nutrition, 31(4), 288-294. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23378457

The Art of Grocery Shopping

By: Amelia Ritchie

Going to the grocery store can be an overwhelming task, especially when going in unprepared. When you are in the store remember that the outside edges of the grocery store usually contain the least processed foods including vegetables, fruits, meats, and diary. Frozen veggies are also a great option because freezing locks in their nutrients. Local Farmer’s Markets are also a great option because they always have produce that is in season. At the grocery store, produce that is in season will be cheaper!GS1

One important thing to remember is to not go to the grocery store hungry. This can take some planning ahead, but when you shop hungry you are more likely to splurge on foods that are not the best choices. When we are hungry the body most often craves carbohydrates, such as foods with many added sugars because the body recognizes these foods as a quick source of energy. Splurging on any food can be detrimental to your budget!


While you are eating your snack before going to the grocery store it is a great idea to look through the store’s sale flyer. Targeting items on sale can save money, so instead of creating a shopping list around certain recipes, choose your recipes according to the foods currently on sale! Making a grocery list is crucial to keep you on track while shopping. Sticking to your list can help you avoid splurging and purchasing unnecessary items. While at the grocery store it is important to look at the unit prices of foods. Different foods come in different amounts per package, so looking at the unit price allows you to compare unit per unit instead of the price of the already packaged amounts that may vary.


While shopping for the healthiest foods is a crucial part, saving money is also very important, especially since healthy foods can be more expensive. I see grocery shopping as an art that takes time mastering. I know I struggle balancing a budget while looking for the healthiest options. It takes time, but in the end it is worth it!


(images) http://www.funfitflavor.com/mostrecent/2014/22/4/sugar-free-challenge


Anatomy of the Habit:

By: Caroline Thomason

Humans are creatures of habit. This is how we have survived – we figure out that something works for us, and we continue to seek out whatever this ‘thing’ may be. For many, these habits may be small things such as showering in the morning or checking Facebook before bed.

However, when it comes to diet and exercise habits, many people find themselves flustered with their results. Especially during the New Year, people are resolving to create healthier habits. This blog is going to outline helpful tips to creating new habits and making them last.

With diet and exercise changes, it is easy to want to try to overhaul everything at once. I’m here to tell you to resist that urge. Focusing on just one habit at a time increases your likelihood of being successful. For example, getting up 20 minutes earlier to make a healthy breakfast or gradually getting in bed earlier to get enough hours are two of many examples that can make a huge difference when you are consistent with them one at a time! In a matter of weeks, you might start to notice that the one change you’ve made no longer seems to take as much of a mental effort to reinforce. Now you can begin to introduce a new habit! The key is to not overwhelm yourself and cause resistance to the habit you are working to create.

In addition to choosing only one habit, I also recommend creating more awareness for tasks that may drain your energy and thus cast you away from your new habit. Making changes requires mental effort, and when we are spending our mental energy on a lot of other activities, it may take away from the effort we could be putting into forming our new habit. For example, if your new habit is to prepare a salad each day, and you spend your time surfing YouTube or doing other mindless tasks, you might find yourself opting for a more convenient snack instead when it comes time to make the salad. Acknowledging draining activities might create more mental energy to put toward creating your salad.

Many researchers have studied the psychology of habits. In fact, there is a Habit Loop which has proved to be the primary way in which many of us form habits. It’s very simple, and has three steps: the trigger, the habit, and the reward. The trigger is the initial event before the habit occurs, and the reward is generally a sense of pleasure or fulfillment after the habit is performed. If you can find a way to break your habit at the trigger stage, you are more likely to succeed. For example, maybe the habit you want to change is grabbing a piece of candy or chocolate every time you walk through the grocery line. The trigger here is seeing the chocolate and wanting it. The habit is picking it up and buying it, and the reward is the satisfaction from eating it. In order to stop this habit loop at the trigger point, maybe you can offer yourself an incentive. You could make a deal that if you can leave the chocolate bar two weeks in a row, then the third week you can buy it if you want it. Oftentimes, breaking the habit may even lead to greater feelings of satisfaction that can outweigh the original habit’s satisfaction!

Use these tips and see how easily you can make changes to your health!

Party of One

By: Courtney Kurtz

Cooking for just yourself can be difficult when most recipes make several servings and eating the same meal for several nights is not always appealing. Plus, grocery shopping isn’t always a priority when tests are coming up. So to help prevent you from picking up that phone and ordering take-out here is some helpful tips for cooking for a party of one.

  1. Don’t let your ingredients go bad.

Set up two recipes that will have some of the same ingredients so nothing goes to waste. For example, a recipe for one may call for half of an avocado. If you don’t have another meal set up that will use that other half within the next few days then it will probably go bad and have to be thrown away.

  1. Your freezer is now your best friend.

Freeze the excess of ingredients, leftovers, or any large quantity of food products you may have purchased. They will keep longer allowing you to use them at your convenience.

  1. Frozen fruits and veggies are still a good option if you can’t go grocery shopping every week.

Frozen produce has a bad reputation for not having much nutritional value. However, frozen is a great option if buying fresh produce ends with you having to throw away half of it because it spoils. Frozen produce still has great nutritional value and only a little less than fresh.

  1. Don’t buy bulk unless you know you can finish it before it goes bad.

A bulk pack of frozen produce may go bad before you can use it all, so make sure you know what meals you are making ahead of time. Also, it is okay to buy grains from the bulk section because you can buy the amount you need and it is sometimes less expensive.

  1. Is this still good?

Label anything you put in the freezer with the date so you know when to throw it out. This will help lower your grocery bill and prevent you from wasting any usable food.

  1. Plan ahead!

If you are cooking for just you then it can be easy to plan ahead because no one else matters! You cook what you want to and what you like, this way you can even make healthy cooking your number one priority. By planning ahead you can buy what you need and decrease the amount of impulsive food purchases you make.




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!


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!


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.










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