Homemade Products: Cheaper and Safer!

By Anne Custer

Ever read a label for a product and wonder how to pronounce the ingredients? Many times these unfamiliar words are additives and chemicals that damage our health over time. These synthetic chemicals can be skin irritants, skin penetrators, and are carcinogenic. In foods, these toxins get into our systems through digestion and can cause a multitude of issues including vision problems, cancers, respiratory diseases and symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fainting and delirium in large doses.

These toxins build up in our body because of the volume of our exposure. In 2002, it was found that there were approximately 100,000 chemicals in commercial use in the United States. This number grows each year as new chemicals are registered for use in foods, medications, and healthcare and hygiene products. The Federal Food and Drug Administration recognizes many of these chemicals as GRAS, or generally recognized as safe. Generally, really, FDA?! Our European counterparts have banned many chemicals and additives that we allow in foods because of health concerns. Since these toxins are a foreign substance, they cause an inflammatory response in the body. This chronic inflammation can lead to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, psoriasis, asthma, and arthritis, among other inflammatory conditions. In addition, excessive toxins in the body can cause gastrointestinal problems, skin issues, cognitive function, and hormone imbalances.

The best way to stay away from these chemicals and additives is to not buy them! It sounds much easier than it actually is because these hide in many products we use daily. There is still a need or want for these things though, so I recommend making your own products or finding a safe alternative. Many things we use daily can easily be made at home with a little time and TLC. Overall, it’s cheaper and ensures you aren’t exposing yourself to harmful chemicals.

Some overall tips while shopping for food and beauty products: if you can’t pronounce more than one or two ingredients, don’t buy it. If you don’t have time to make homemade products, don’t beat yourself up! Try your best to find healthy and safe alternatives. Try to eat as clean as possible; if you don’t buy packaged foods and stick to organic produce and bulk items, you will avoid consuming most chemicals and additives. Simplify your beauty routine to decrease the amount of products you need to buy and/or make. Figure out what is most important to you and stick to it! Finally, do your own research and educate yourself. There’s so much information about this topic out there and I can only tell you so much in this short blog post!

Here are a few recipes for homemade beauty products! A piece of advice: coconut oil has a plethora of uses including moisturizer, make-up remover, shaving gel, hair conditioner, and many more. It appears as the base of many homemade beauty products because of its versatility and amazing properties!

Homemade Deodorant

  • 3 T Coconut Oil
  • 3 T Baking Soda
  • 2 T Shea Butter
  • 2 T Arrowroot (optional) or organic cornstarch
  • Essential Oils (optional)


  1. Melt butter and oil in a double boiler until barely melted
  2. Remove from heat and add baking soda and arrowroot (add more baking soda if you don’t have arrowroot)
  3. Mix well and add essential oils
  4. Pour into glass container and let cool.

Homemade Shampoo

  • ¼ cup of coconut milk
  • ¼ cup of liquid castile soap
  • 20 drops of essential oils


  1. Combine all ingredients in bottle or jar
  2. Shake well before each use!


As for food, most packaged products can be made easily at home. Here are a few of my favorites!

Easy Hummus Recipe

  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of tahini
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 2 T olive oil
  • ½ t cumin
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-3 T of water


  1. Combine tahini and lemon juice in a food processer for 1 minute, scrape, and then 30 seconds more.
  2. Add olive oil, garlic, cumin, and salt.
  3. Add half of the chickpeas, blend, and then the rest of the chickpeas.
  4. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until smooth consistency in achieved.

Almond Milk

  • 1 cup raw almonds-soaked overnight in salted water
  • 4 cups water
  • Optional for flavor/sweetness: agave, vanilla beans, honey, cinnamon, etc.


  1. Rinse almonds well before blending with water in blender
  2. Blend for several minutes until smooth
  3. Strain mixture through kitchen towel or cheesecloth
  4. Pour into glass jar and refrigerate!



For more information and where I got the recipes and information, visit:









Moo-ove over Cow’s: Alternatives to Cow’s Milk

By Shelby Grande

As a Senior Dietetics Major, I get asked questions pertaining to all the food fads and trends that come along social media on a daily basis. One question I got asked recently was “is coconut milk healthier for you than regular milk?” These types of questions are not to be answered with “yes or no”, rather you have to look at the person who is asking the question and evaluate why they would want to switch to a different food brand or in this case, milk.

Cow’s milk has been primarily used in teas, coffee, baking etc, but for individuals with dietary and allergy concerns, there needs to be alternatives to cow’s milk. Each type of milk has its advantages and disadvantages depending on a person’s diet, health, needs, and taste preference. Let’s take a look at some cow’s milk alternatives!

1. Unsweetened Almond milk: This milk is made from ground almonds and is lower in calorie (50% less calories than cow’s milk) then other leading milks. It is free of cholesterol, saturated fat, and it is lactose free! This milk is high in vitamin E, fiber, and minerals such as magnesium, selenium, potassium and iron. It has a hint of sweetness, a little nuttiness and it does not need to be refrigerated. Almond milk can be added to smoothies, in cereals, an alternative to baking, in ice cream and more!

2. Coconut milk: Coconut milk isn’t actually milk at all, it is a liquid naturally found inside of mature coconuts. Coconut milk has a creamy texture and a slightly natural sweetness. It is known as a “miracle liquid” since its nutrition offers a great ability to build up the body’s immune system. It is a full-fat milk that is high in calories, so it is better in small servings (¼-1/2 cup). It is completely free of dairy, lactose, soy, nut, or grains.

3. Cashew milk: Cashew milk has a creamy taste. It is a perfect substitution for low calorie recipes. It is rich in calcium, lactose, cholesterol, and saturated fat free! This milk has no naturally occurring sugars, so it won’t send your blood sugar into a spike. A cup contains 50% of your daily vitamin E needs so it is good for the skin and can help protect against sun damage. When the nut gets strained it loses most of its protein and fiber, so if these two nutrients are of main concern then I would look elsewhere

4. Rice milk: rice milk is the most hypoallergenic of all milks. Rice milk has more calories than the other milk alternative, but the high sugar content is naturally occurring. It is a good source of B vitamins which are essential to your metabolism, circulation and nerve function. Rice milk contains more manganese and selenium than any other alternative. These are powerful antioxidants that help protect you from all kinds of infections. Do not rely on rice milk for calcium as it has 20 mg of calcium per serving.

5. Goat’s milk: Goat’s Milk is easier to digest for many people because the size of its protein molecules. It has just as much calcium as whole milk and more tryptophan than cow’s milk. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. Goat’s milk does contain lactose, giving it the same disadvantage as cow’s milk. Goat’s milk can be used in cereals, ice cream, fudge, caramel candies, and yogurt!

As you can see there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these alternatives, the best advice I can give you is try them all out if you can and see which one works the best with your body!

Try out these recipes that include milk alternatives!

Tofu Chocolate Pudding:


1 Tofu

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

5 stevia packets

1 tablespoon Vanilla

¾ cup almond milk

Directions: Combine all ingredients into a blender. Blend until a smooth consistency. Pour the mixture in a container and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. The longer the mixture is refrigerated the better the consistency. Remove the fudge and enjoy! I add walnuts, chocolate, or fresh fruit to spice it up!

Curried Coconut Chicken:


2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tsp. salt and pepper

1 ½ Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbs. curry powder

½ onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

14 oz. coconut milk

8 oz. tomato sauce

3 Tbs. sugar

Directions: season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat oil and curry powder in a large skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes. Stir in onions and garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add chicken, tossing lightly to coat with curry oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center and juices run clear. Pour coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and sugar into the pan, and stir to combine. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, approximately 30-40 minutes.

Vanilla Cashew Ice Cream:


2 vanilla beans

2 cups raw cashews (ground into a powder)

1 cup maple syrup

Plastic wrap

Ice cream machine

Directions: Grind cashews into a fine powder using a coffee grinder. Cut the ends off the pods of the vanilla beans. Using the tip of the knife, carefully slice the vanilla bean down the center from end to end. Scope open the pods. Using the dull side of the blade firmly scrape the seeds out of the pods. You want to avoid puncturing the pod or pulling up too many fibers. Blend all ingredients together in a blender to get the base on the ice cream. Start by adding 2 cups of ground cashews and the seeds from 2 vanilla beans into the pitcher of the blender. Add 1 cup of the maple syrup (our sweetener). Add two cups of water. Blend the mixture until well combined. Pour mixture into ice cream machine and churn per its instructions. Put plastic wrap over the mixture. Put mixture into the freeze for a minimum of an hour.

Sugar, Spice, and Everything (Not So?) Nice

By: Michalea Gale

Sugar, what’s not to love? It’s what makes our food taste sweet and keeps our brains and bodies wanting more. According to the USDA, the average American consumes more than 22 teaspoons of added sugars per day. That’s equivalent to consuming about seven Krispy Kreme doughnuts! The American Heart Association advises no more than six teaspoons per day for women and nine for men. There are two types of sugars in our diet, naturally occurring and added. Naturally occurring sugars are found in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). Added sugars are ones that may be added to your food during preparation, such as the sugar used in baking a cake or the sugar you add to your coffee.

Reading the Food Label

Unfortunately finding added sugars in food is not always the easiest. The sugar line on the nutrition facts panel of food includes both added and natural sugars, making it hard to decipher what you may actually be consuming. A closer look at the ingredient list can help you identify if the product contains any added sugars. These may appear as

* Brown sugar

* Corn sweetener

* Corn syrup

* Honey

* Fruit juice concentrates

* High-fructose corn syrup

* Molasses

* Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)

With all this focus on the overconsumption of sugar, consumers have been turning towards using alternative natural sweeteners to fix their sugar craving. Unfortunately, the truth is that “natural” doesn’t always mean “healthful.” Keep in mind table sugar, or sucrose, is in fact a “natural” sweetener that is extracted and refined from either cane or beet sugar. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular natural sweeteners on the market today…

* Honey- Primarily composed of glucose and fructose, honey is known to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and soothing effects on the body. A raw tablespoon of honey contains about 64 calories, is fat-free, cholesterol free, and sodium free. Sugar like this will directly enter your bloodstream, causing a rise in blood sugar and providing a quick boost of energy.

* Maple Syrup- One of America’s favorite breakfast condiments, maple syrup is about 50% glucose and 50% fructose (the same as table sugar), but contains slightly more minerals (primarily manganese and zinc). It is also known to have polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help reduce inflammation. Maple syrup may raise blood sugar more slowly than table sugar.

* Agave Syrup- More processed than consumers realize, agave is 1.5 times sweeter than table sugar and has 1.5 times the calories! Agave syrup is composed of 90% fructose and 10% glucose. Fructose doesn’t cause blood sugar to spike as quickly as other forms of sugar but recent research indicates that consuming too much fructose has serious health implications. It serves as a great vegan substitute for honey, but use sparingly!

* Stevia- This noncaloric option is about 200 times sweeter than table sugar. This sweetness comes from its chemical structure containing glycosides, which cannot be metabolized by the human body, creating its noncaloric property. The FDA has granted generically recognized as safe (GRAS) status to highly refined stevia preparations like REB A and purified stevia glycoside, but whole-leaf and crude extracts are not yet approved. It may be available in tabletop packets, liquid drops, dissolvable tablets, spoonable products, or baking blends.

* Coconut Palm Sugar- This sugar is made from boiling down the nectar of coconut plant flowers. It shouldn’t be treated any different than regular sugar, as it provides just as many calories and carbohydrates (45 calories and 12 grams per tablespoon) as table sugar. It is known for its low glycemic index, thus raising blood sugar slower than regular sugar.

Moral of the Story- Sugar is sugar!

It’s important to remember that just because a product is sweetened with an alternative, it doesn’t always mean it’s good for you. With everything in life, moderation is key! Aim for naturally occurring sugars (see recipe below) when your sweet tooth takes over. Limiting the amount of sugar you consume is going to leave you feeling more energized and alert throughout the course of day. Trust me, your mind and body will thank you!

Peanut Butter Banana “Nice Cream”

Try this take on peanut butter ice cream, the same creamy, cold consistency without the sugar and fat of typical ice cream!

Ingredients, makes 2 servings, one serving ½ cup:

2 large bananas, ripe

2 tbsp peanut butter or almond butter, creamy

1 tsp vanilla extract

Almond milk, to desired consistency


* Cut bananas into about 1 inch thick chunks. Place on a freezer safe plate in the freezer for 1-2 hours.

* Place frozen banana pieces into the bowl of a food processor and process until completely smooth, add almond milk as needed.

* Once the banana is creamy, add the peanut butter and vanilla and process until combined. Eat immediately for a soft serve like treat or place in a freezer safe container and freeze until firm or up to 1 day.

Stress & Binge Eating

By Tess Donnelly

College is a stressful time for every student, especially when exams can be worth up to half your final grade. A semester is jam packed into sixteen weeks of endless papers, assignments and exams that all lead up to one week of non-stop scrambling to understand every bit of information possible. How are we expected to cope under the pressure?

The pressure to perform successfully can be overwhelming and intimidating. There are several ways an individual can choose to handle this pressure. For a lot of people when the going gets ruff, who can refuse the satisfying taste of a cookie?

Our mood plays a large role on what we choose to eat, which is ironic because the food we eat also has the ability to make us feel a certain way. An apple can make you feel energize while reaching for a bag of potato chips can make you feel drowsy.

Bad habits can lead to even worst outcomes. Binge eating is an example of a habit that causes negative consequences. Unfortunately resisting extra sweets and treats during stressful study sessions can be almost impossible. When you are dealing with stress, a scoop of ice cream could lead to the bottom of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Being aware of the dangers of binge eating and alternative coping methods is important for your health.

Binge eating is the most common form of an eating disorder. The term is characterized as an uncontrollable episode of eating where an individual consumes a large amount of food at one time. This behavior can be caused by genetic, biological or environmental factors. For example, a desk covered with textbooks and endless study guides.

This behavior can have severe consequences and be a potentially life-threatening condition. There is a correlation between health risks for an individual with a binge eating disorder and clinical obesity. High blood pressure, heart disease and type II diabetes are also possible consequences that can occur from a binge eating habit.

The good news is that there are several ways to combat this unruly habit and method of coping. Next time you find yourself in need of a study break, try one of these options before hitting the candy aisle.

1. Take a step outside. Stretching out your muscles in the fresh air will help you feel more awake and alert.

2. Socialize during study breaks to rest and refresh your mind.

3. Clean your room and clear your mind. Tidying up your space can be relaxing and studying in an organized area will help you to focus.

4. Refresh your mind, body and senses with a shower.

5. Take a deep breath. Deep breaths in and out stimulate a sense of calm throughout the body.

6. Boost your energy and bring out the kid in you by coloring in a coloring book.

7. Stimulate productivity by checking off a simple errand on your to do list.

8. Treat yourself to a healthy snack. Carrots and hummus or edamame are two great options that will leave you feeling satisfied and in good spirits.

Happy studying!

Skin Care Tips that Can’t Be Beat!

By Sarah Frost

Your skin is the biggest organ in your body. It spans from your head to your toes and without ever saying a word to someone, this is what they see first. So why not keep it beautiful, healthy and glowing?

Acne is the worst. I don’t think you’ll meet a single person who has said they’ve had a good experience with the oily, bumpy condition. Why would you? Skin issues always seems to strike when you really need a clear complexion. Picture day? Boom, mountain right in between your brows. Job interview? Dry skin, and irritation. First day of school? After a summer of clear, glowing skin, you wake up with a half erupted volcano on your nose. As if you didn’t have enough to stress about. But it’s important to remember that acne happens to everyone. And just because you don’t have clear skin now, doesn’t mean you can’t get it later. In fact, you can help clear your skin just by changing your diet. Stop using harsh chemicals on your face. They may work short term, but do you even know what’s in the stuff you’re applying onto your body? Not to mention they smell heinous. Check out these skin care tips for a great complexion!

Skin care tips for things you should be eating:

* Go Nuts: Nuts contain selenium, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and acne in many cases. Along with vitamin E it helps to fight free radicals that can often damage your skin. A diet rich in brazil nuts and almonds can help keep your selenium levels high, and your acne low.

* Start avocaDOing: Avocados contain omega 3 fatty acids. Don’t let the word fatty scare you, these are good fats to have in your diet! They are also a great source of vitamin C, and E, which keep acne causing bacteria under control. Using avocado as a mask or avocado oil as a moisturizer can naturally hydrate your skin and keep it clear.

* Boost your beta carotene: Beta Carotene is an important part of Vitamin A which keeps your skin strong and is a natural shield against the sun’s harsh ultra violet rays. Beta carotene is found in bright, colorful foods, especially yellow, orange and green. Sweet potatoes, carrots, dark, leafy greens and peppers are great options!

* Add tomatoes to your diet: Tomatoes contain lycopene which is an anti-oxidant and anti-aging super substance. They keep your skin hydrated and healthy, and will even out your complexion!

* Water: whether you’re drinking it from the glass, or getting it through foods with high water content, water is one of the best things for your skin. Make sure you’re getting the recommended 8 cups a day to flush out any toxins, and to keep your skin from drying out. Water is the easiest way to keep your skin from getting cracked and dry and it also regulates blood flow and keeps your cells nourished. Cucumbers, watermelon and greens have high water content.

Just as there are things that you can add to your diet, there are also things that would be better left alone. These skin care tips involve a few things to steer clear of, if you’re trying to keep your skin clear!

* Dairy: There are a whole lot of things that bother me about dairy, but this is one that may finally get people to listen. Believe it or not, cow’s milk is meant for cows and not humans. For example, a hormone in milk called IGF-1 is amazing for calf growth, but results in inflammation in people. In addition to this, cheese, milk and other dairy products actually increase the amount of oil that your sebaceous gland secrete. The excess oil is more likely to clog pores and lead to acne. Finally, dairy makes it harder for dead skin cells to clear out which allows for oils to collect and become inflamed. Bottom line is, dairy is an oil making machine. You are what you eat, and if you’re putting a greasy slice of pizza into your mouth, your body is going be representative of that.

* Processed and greasy foods: Not all fatty foods cause acne. In fact, healthy fats are good for your skin! But when you eat fat that isn’t natural, that’s when a problem starts to form. Greasy foods fried in canola oil or margarine with scary ingredients—these things are not good for you or your skin. French fries tossed into a deep fryer is going to fry your chances of a good complexion.

* Soda: You probably already know that soda is bad for your teeth. Moms always use the “You’ll rot your teeth” intimidation factor to keep kids from overdoing it. But did you know that it’s also contributing to your aging skin? The high sugar content not only produces a lot of inflammation, but it also reacts with your skin cells and causes dryness, decrease in color, and premature wrinkles.

Though the causes of acne are greatly affected by genetics, you can start to clear your skin by making lifestyle changes. There are plenty of things you can do as an individual to keep your skin looking young, clear and beautiful. Even though good skin can be a result of genes, I guarantee that people with a glowing complexion are doing things themselves to keep it that way. Using these skin care tips, you will find your complexion clearer in no time!

Whether it’s due to stress, too much sun exposure or poor diet, we all lose the elasticity and glow of our skin at some point. But you can delay that as long as possible. In fact, you can do it naturally!

The great thing about natural remedies is that sometimes you have to look no further than the kitchen! There are plenty of ways that you can clear up your complexion and glow with the power of organic and natural foods! Here are some easy homemade skin care tips and ideas for masks and other skin repairing treatment:

Natural ways to fix your skin:

* Avocado masks and oils for hydration

* Tomato juice to shrink pores

* Honey for an anti-acne facial

* Coconut oil for moisturizing and anti-aging

* Cucumbers for hydration

But it’s important to remember that there are a variety of other things that can harm your skin and keep you from looking your best. Make sure that you are protecting yourself when you go out in the sun! Too much sun exposure early on can lead to wrinkles and even cancer later in life. That tan may look great now, but don’t forget, that’s damaged skin. Even sleep has an effect! Lack of sleep can keep your skin looking pale and sallow. They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing! There are a plenty of skin care tips that don’t involve the use of harsh chemicals. By changing your diet and day to day choices, you can start getting healthier skin!

Butternut Squash, the Best Winter Squash

By Dinar Yusufov

A lot of people, this time of year, are talking about butternut squash, one of the most popular winter squashes. Personally, it’s my favorite. I eat it at least twice a month, if not more. The taste and smell just feels so fall-ish and warm, it’s pretty hard to resist. So, what is the big hype over these wonderful squashes? WELL, let me list you off some reasons why it is such a yummy and craving-worthy vegetable, as well as so versatile.

* You can make delicious soups from it.

* You can use it as an appetizer with Brussel sprouts, and even a quinoa dish.

* It can be used as a substitute for mashed potatoes.

* It pairs VERY well with cinnamon, maple syrup, and even balsamic vinegar!


There are so many uses of this wonderful and delicious squash. The possibilities are basically endless! So, now that you have some ideas of how to use it, let me give some reasons why you should definitely indulge in this healthy winter squash.

1. It contains lots of Vitamin A. This vitamin is great for making your hair and skin look radiant and glow, as it keeps them moisturized.

2. It promotes regularity. Since butternut squash is high in fiber (6.6 grams (wow!) of it in one cup of cooked, cubed butternut squash), it helps with preventing constipation and keep your digestive tract healthy.

3. Boosts immune function! This lovely squash is high in both vitamin C AND beta-carotene, making it the immunity boost that your body needs to brace these cold winter months ahead!

4. It can help lower blood pressure. Butternut squash is a great source of Potassium. A diet that is high in potassium can help prevent high blood pressure issues, as well as maintain a healthy BP.

5. Has anti-inflammatory properties! This is due to its high antioxidant content. Thus, consuming more of this squash can assist in reducing the risk of inflammation-related disorders, such as arthritis and asthma.

Now that I have lead you through both the uses and reasons why Butternut Squash is so healthy, here are some cooking & cutting tips!

There are a variety of ways to cook Butternut Squash, but I will be going over my favorite way, cubing them & then roasting! So, first we must get the cutting down, which can be a bit tricky, due to its interesting shape.

How to Cut a Butternut Squash:

1. Cut the ends of the squash (both sides) to give a more balanced squash.

2. Use a vegetable peeler to peel off all the skin. (Use a pretty sharp peeler!)

3. Cut the squash in half, where the neck meets the body.

4. Slice the body into pretty thick disks.

5. Cut each disk into long rectangles, and then cube!

6. For the body, cut the squash in half and scrape out all the seeds with a spoon.

7. Cut the halves into strips, and then cube from there!

Once the entire squash is cubed, time to roast it.


Here is my favorite recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash:


1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Toss the butternut squash with olive oil and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Arrange the squash in a baking sheet, in a single layer.

3. Roast in the preheated oven until squash is tender and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

4. Enjoy the yumminess!!

I hope this post has sparked your interest in trying butternut squash! Give it a try and don’t forget to share with your friends and family! J

Staying on Track for the Holidays

By Emily Myers

The joys of eating bagels, hot pockets, and an abundance of coffee are over. You survived finals and are making your way home. For many, this may mean doing away with your usual eating, sleeping (or lack of) and exercise routine, and indulging in one too many sugar cookies. Read these tip to help you stay on track and reduce the post-holiday guilt.
1. Not too Hungry, Not too Full, Just Right
It is important to treat special days like any other in the sense of eating. Wake up and eat breakfast, do as you would if there wasn’t an awesome party to go to in the evening. Restricting yourself for the day may lead to overeating later, whether at the party or after. Likewise, filling up on a large meal right before an awesome party isn’t a smart move either. You want to enjoy all the hard work the hostess put into the event, including the cheese platter, pigs in a blanket, and warm, gooey snickerdoodles.

2. Graze
In short, taste a little of everything and eat all of nothing. For some, like myself, parties are a chance to explore new and different food traditions. There is only one day of the year where Aunt Sue makes here broccoli and cheese casserole, Jake makes his pumpkin crumble, and Olivia shares her almond toffee, and I wouldn’t want to miss out. If you find yourself in a similar situation with too many yummy eats and not enough time, tasting may be the key to satisfying the foodie in you.

3. Eat More of What You Like
On the other hand, eating a well portioned meal may be more satisfying. If you eat turkey but not pork, or prefer green beans over Brussel sprout, portioning out a standard meal may be a better option for you. Stay true to your needs and expectations. You know which track will fill up both your belly and that festive spirit.
4. Sink up with Your Hunger Cues
Mindful eating talks a lot about this term, “hunger cues”. Essentially, it is distinguishing between emotional hunger and physical hunger. Where eating can become a coping mechanism to avoid uncomfortable emotions. It’s no wonder it is a topic so relevant to the holiday season. One tip to help stay in tune with your hunger is to wait 20-30 minutes between helpings. This allows your brain to catch up with your belly, which prevents overeating. Fill the gap with activities, like people watching, or play a game- engage in conversation. Often times, distracting the mind for 20-30 minutes helps distinguish physical hunger from emotional hunger.


5. Slow and Steady
Stay in the moment, enjoy the corny decoration, conversations with guests, and energy of the holiday season. By engaging in your environment the anxiety associated with food may be decreased. Eat your food, notice the flavor and texture- take pride in how it will sustain you through every cha-cha slide and cupid shuffle.

Coffee Craze

By Sarah Frost


There is nothing like the warm and inviting smell of coffee beans roasting. That overwhelming aroma of comfort and quick energy is one of my favorite scents. And it’s because it’s the smell of perkiness, wakefulness, and conversations with friends. “Do you want to grab coffee” is an easy way to catch up with the girls, or have a casual date. Secrets have been gushed over dark roast, and relationships have begun over cappuccinos. After all, doesn’t America run on Dunkin?

And that’s part of the problem. Forget Dunkin Donuts, we need to start dumpin donuts. That’s right. It’s time to break up with fake coffee and start drinking organic. Some franchises are better than others, (I am currently sitting at Starbucks with a coffee in hand while writing this). A lot of mom and pop shops brew organic from natural coffee beans, and when it comes to mainstream shops, Starbucks can offer more when it comes to healthier options for your body. But what’s the deal with all the coffee controversy anyway? One day it’s good for you and the next it isn’t. How can we keep up with the constantly changing media? Well one thing is for sure, there are definitely some real benefits of having of cup of joe in the morning.


Health Benefits of Coffee:

* Energy Booster: This one is a no-brainer. Coffee is most people’s go-to when they need some perking up in the morning. The caffeine from coffee and coffee beans is a stimulant which means that it quickens your bodily functions. This occurs because the drug (yes, caffeine is a drug) blocks inhibitory transmitters so that there can be more epinephrine and dopamine released.

* Rich in anti-oxidants: coffee beans are a great source of anti-oxidants that clear free radicals from the body. These anti-oxidants have been linked to particular disease prevention like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

* Better physical performance: I know it sounds crazy, but caffeine has an interesting effect on your exercise. First, it gives your muscles an extra power boost, letting you lift more or work harder. It can also increase endurance for low intensity endurance sports like soccer or football. The caffeine in coffee blocks certain neurotransmitters in your

brain, making you feel less tired than you normally would and allowing you to continue your workout past your usual wall.

* Decreases mortality: studies have found that drinking coffee lowers your over-all risk of mortality. The likelihood of premature death decreases when you average between three and five cups a day.

* Reduces the risk for certain diseases: there is a correlation between drinking coffee and decreased chance of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke and cirrhosis. That’s not to say that drinking coffee means you’re invincible to these epidemics, but having your daily caffeine does seem to offer at least a little assistance.

* Fat Burner: Caffeine is a natural fat burner! Drinking the right amount of coffee (you don’t need to be throwing back more than one venti) will speed up your metabolism, helping you to burn more calories.

If these benefits don’t constitute a good drink I don’t know what will. But not all coffee is the same. As mentioned before, you should try to stay away from franchises that dump chemicals into your drink. You want to be drinking coffee, not sugar through a straw.

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks worldwide. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they couldn’t function without their morning cup of Joe, I’d be making more money than Starbucks. And as mentioned before, coffee is pretty great for you when done the right way. Organic, on a full stomach, with plenty of water. And that’s not to say you can’t go on your Starbuck’s runs and coffee dates as well. Just be conscious of what you’re putting into your body, because you may be getting more than just caffeine. I always find it funny when I listen to some of the orders of the people in front of me on line at Starbucks. Some of those drinks don’t even sound like English! Simple is usually best when it comes to coffee and if your order consists of more than eight words, you may want to tone it down.

Quick Snacks with Less Sugar

By Dinar Yusufov
During our afternoon slump, on long homework-filled days, we typically go for snacks that can be very high in sugar. Whether it is beverages like smoothies, Frappuccinos, lattes, or foods, like Pop Tarts, flavored yogurt, granola bars, pudding cups, and even some cereals, a lot of our snack foods contain high amounts of sugar and sometimes we don’t even realize. A lot of people may also believe that sugar can give them the little boost of energy that they need to finish the day off. But, if we consume too much sugar through our snacks, we may get a sugar crash later in the day. This sugar crash can consist of headaches, tiredness, or even irritability.
A lot of food companies try to market their foods as being healthier, with lots of fiber or protein. But, they also contain lots of added sugar with that. One example of this is the Nature Valley Strawberry or Vanilla Yogurt Granola Bars. One bar of this granola bar contains 13 grams of sugar! A Sunrise Sunset smoothie from Tropical Smoothie that is made with strawberries, pineapples, mango & orange juice contains 76 grams of sugar. A Grande salted caramel mocha Frappuccino with whipped cream from Starbucks contains 69 grams of sugar. These “wake-up” drinks and snacks can actually be more hurtful than helpful.
If our snacking constantly consists of high-sugar foods, there can be some health implications. This may cause high blood triglyceride levels, and can contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress, which can become conditions of heart disease. Also, risk of tooth decay can increase. Sugar-rich foods, as well as sticky foods, take longer to dissolve in the mouth. Also, since sugar is a calorie-dense food, we get more calories when we eat foods high in sugar. Thus, weight gain and obesity make become a greater risk.
So, lets take a look at how to create healthier snacking habits that will be much more helpful than harmful to your body.

1. Pick more nutrient dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods contain more nutrients than calorie-dense foods. Some examples of this are fruits and vegetables (apples, celery, corn, mangoes, avocadoes, bananas). Basically, the possibilities could be endless. These foods help to keep you full longer, and they give you great nutrients!

2. Drink lots of water after snacking.
Drink water after your snacks, no matter what they are, can actually be beneficial. It will help you to feel full for much longer and also prevent tooth decay, if you do choose to consume a sugary snack. Also, it helps everything digest quicker.
3. Replace added sugars with natural sugars. This goes for all those snack foods that are marketed at various grocery stores. It is always a better idea to go for the more natural foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Some snack ideas that contain no added sugars are Skinny Pop (popcorn), Justin’s Almond Butter, and plain Greek yogurt, just to name a few. These foods that contain small amounts of added sugars are great because you avoid the unnecessary processed sugars and also avoid a sugar crash later in the day. Also, overtime, less consumption of foods with added sugar can decrease risk of heart disease, obesity and weight gain.

4. Substitute! When you can, try to find substitutes for your favorite snacks!
*Granola with plain Greek yogurt and your favorite fruit!
*Chocolate dipped bananas.
*Banana “ice-cream.” Freeze some bananas; throw them in a blender and you get an ice cream consistency. You can add chocolate chips, peanut butter, coconut flakes, or anything your heart desires to personalize it!
*Energy bites. Use dates and oats as your base, and then personalize it as you wish. (Coconut flakes, chocolate chips, maple syrup). The possibilities are really endless.

5. Stay mindful when snacking. To avoid overeating and high amounts of sugar in your snacks, remember to keep your snacks around 100 to 250 calories. Also, try to snack without any distractions so that you can really focus on what you’re eating. This can lead to less weight gain and more mindful and healthy eating habits throughout life.

Quick and Easy Snack recipe:

Pumpkin Spice Granola
• 2 cups rolled oats (Old Fashioned Oats)
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
• 1 cup chopped almonds
• ½ cup packed brown sugar
• 1 cup pumpkin puree
• ¼ cup vegetable oil
• ½ cup maple syrup
• 1½ tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, walnuts, almonds and brown sugar. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients until well mixed. Then pour over the dry ingredients and toss/mix until the dry ingredients are wet. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and put in the oven.
3. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes, remove from the oven and stir the mixture to evenly bake.
4. Remove from the oven and allow cooling before transferring to a container.
5. Top with plain Greek yogurt and some pumpkin seeds and enjoy your fall cozy creation.


Local Loves: PULP

By Tess Donnelly

Colorful acai bowls and smoothies are all the rage right now and lucky for us Harrisonburg has their very own organic acai bowl and smoothie place right downtown! Not many people know about PULP because oddly enough it’s found inside a bicycle shop. The Shenandoah Bike Company opened its doors in May of 2000 and has been up and running ever since. PULP followed in May 2010 to compliment the bicycle shopacai-bowl

It is no surprise that the main ingredient found in every acai bowl is Acai, pronounced ah-sah-EE. Acai is a fruit found on the trees in the Amazon region of Brazil. PULP blends Sambazon Acai puree packets that are packed with antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids with ingredients such as organic non-dairy milk, apple juice and a variety of other healthy super fruits. The usual techniques used to prepare this fruit include pureeing and freezing. Freezing is a great technique to use in cooking and handling fruits because it preserves the fruits nutritional value.

PULP’s menu includes four different Acai bowls with the option to build your own bowl. My personal favorite is the “Short Mountain” which is a blend of acai, banana, almond butter, almonds, coconut milk and granola.

In addition to acai bowls and smoothies, PULP also offers a variety of Chinese teas from the Red Blossom Tea Company.

PULP is the perfect spot to check out if you’re in the mood for a healthy snack or in need of a pick me up. The atmosphere is so relaxed and inviting, you may even find yourself inspired to pick up a cycling habit!

Next time you find yourself in downtown Harrisonburg, make sure to pay this quaint downtown bike shop a visit and try out their delicious acai bowls for yourself!