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.

coffee

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

Directions:
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.

References:
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/bad-effects-snacking-3832.html
http://www.livescience.com/36188-sugar-bad.html
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/sugar-shockers-foods-surprisingly-high-in-sugar#3
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/10/08/healthy-snack-recipes_n_5953660.html

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!

Stressed? Try these!

By Megan Wine

It’s that time of the year when you have two midterms, five assignments, and three quizzes all in the same day and you feel like there are simply not enough hours in the day to get it all done. For many, eating seems like the last priority during these extremely stressful weeks in the semester, but what you’re eating could actually play a major role in your overall stress level. Many studies have shown a link between stress/anxiety levels and the foods that are consumed throughout a day. So next time you’re feeling stressed, try these healthy options rather than the bag of chips, or sugary processed snack you would usually try.

1. Dark Chocolate: I know what you’re thinking, Chocolate?! Healthy?! No way! But yes! Studies have shown that eating small amounts of dark chocolate everyday can actually boost not only your mood, but also improve your brain function! A 2009 study by the Journal of Proteome Research showed a direct link between daily dark chocolate consumption and a reduction in the stress hormone, Cortisol, levels in individuals. So it looks like mom was wrong all along, chocolate is actually good for you (in moderation, of course).

2. Foods containing Vitamin C: You know that old saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Well an orange a day could actually keep your stress away! Eating foods rich in vitamin C like oranges, grapefruits, or any other citrus fruits can help to lower not only stress hormone levels, but also lower blood pressure in stressful situations and can even keep your immune system strong as well!

3. Complex carbs: And no this doesn’t mean candies and sugary treats, a complex carb is something like whole grain bread, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, etc. these are broken down by your body much more slowly than sugars (simple carbs) helping your body to sustain energy for longer and also increase the levels of serotonin that your brain produces! Serotonin is a hormone that increases calmness, so the next time you’re feeling stressed, remember to opt for whole grain bread rather than white (which is much more processed).

4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids: This one might not sound as straightforward as the last three, but it’s still not a difficult thing to find! Good sources of Omega-3’s are fatty fish (salmon, tuna, etc.), nuts, and flax! These healthy fats can help to reduce cortisol levels, and also can help prevent long-term depression and heart disease!

While these four suggestions may not completely relieve the stress from your midterms, work, and life, they can definitely aid in reducing your overall stress hormone levels and keep you from that edge of overwhelming stress (believe me, we’ve all been there). One big thing to remember as well is that caffeine also triggers the release of cortisol, so even though that fifth cup of coffee is keeping you awake at 3 am to study, you might consider calling it a day and getting some good sleep instead to allow your body to rest and be ready for the day ahead! Go ace those finals and remember that what your put in your body can actually affect your health more than you think!

Reference:

Medicine, UCLA Center for East-West. “Eat Right, Drink Well, Stress Less: Stress-Reducing Foods, Herbal Supplements, and Teas – Explore Integrative Medicine.” Explore Integrative Medicine. Shannon Wongvibulsin, 2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2016. <http://exploreim.ucla.edu/nutrition/eat-right-drink-well-stress-less-stress-reducing-foods-herbal-supplements-and-teas/&gt;.

Reading Nutrition Labels

By Madeline Wirth

Have you ever wondered how to make sense of nutrition labels? Understanding nutrition labels is easier than it seems. Anyone can do it! Here are a few things to look for when you read nutrition labels.

 

  1. Serving Size. Every nutrition label shows the serving size and the number of servings contained in the package. Be sure to check out the serving size of snack foods! Some snack bags may include up to 4 servings.
  2. Calories. Most people need around 2,000 calories on an average day. If you are active, you may need more than 2,000 calories depending on your stature and activity level. It is important to remember that calorie needs vary by individuals! Compare calories to the serving size you portion yourself. If a serving size of mixed nuts is 1/3 cup, and you eat 2/3 cup of mixed nuts, multiply the calorie amount by 2 to get the calories in your snack.
  3. Saturated Fat. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that most Americans eat abour 13 grams of saturated fat daily. Some of the biggest sources of saturated fat in our diets are cheese and pizza. Some snack foods like chips also have a noticeable amount of saturated fat. Keeping your saturated fat intake to healthy amounts is a good way to moderate your fat intake. In the long term, only moderate amounts of saturated fat is beneficial for cardiovascular health!
  4. Sodium. It is recommended that most people consume only 2,000 mg of sodium on a daily basis. Sodium is so likely to creep up on us because so many foods have quite a bit of sodium in their packaging. As college students, many common dorm foods like Ramen noodles, Kraft Mac and Cheese, and salty snacks have more than half of the daily recommended amount of sodium. Seasonings, sauces, and dressings also can have a lot of sodium. Eating a food that is high in sodium should be balanced with water to keep you hydrated and energized. Keep your sodium to about 2,000 mg to keep you from feeling bloated later!
  5. Total Carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are divided into sugar and fiber subcategories. Foods that are higher in fiber will fill you up faster and improve digestive health! Whole grain foods, fruits, and vegetables will be high in fiber! Foods that are advertised as high in fiber will have at least 5g of fiber per serving.
  6. Protein. Most people need about 1 g per kilogram of their body weight. Take this into account when looking at the grams of protein per serving!
  7. Ingredients are listed in quantitative order. For instance, if water and sugar are the first ingredients on a dressing bottle, then water is the number one ingredient, and sugar is the second most ingredient. Common food allergens will also be listed directly below the ingredient list.

 

Reading nutrition labels doesn’t have to be confusing. Once you understand the elements of the nutrition label, making healthy choices becomes easier and easier!

 

Carbs, Caffeine, & Crabbiness

By Kat Huntley
Have you ever heard the old adage: “You are what you eat”? Well here is another one for you, “What you eat is what you feel”! What we choose to eat and drink can affect how we feel, both physically and emotionally. A very real connection exists between nutrition and our emotional health. This should be encouraging news, because it lets us know that eating food that is good for us can also make us feel good!
Indulging, at times, in sweet and fatty foods can certainly be a part of living a wholesome life, but if we don’t make sure to balance the sweet stuff with other foods, then those foods choices can really start to have a negative effect on our bodies-both physically and emotionally.
A great example is the way that Morgan Spurlock responded to his 30-day McDonald’s challenge in the film Super Size Me. Not only did his physical health suffer, but he became fatigued and depressed. . While not all Americans eat fast food for every meal every day, this serves as a learning moment for us all. A month of extreme eating took a happy and healthy person to the point where he was just a shadow of himself emotionally.
Balance is the key here, and I want to share with you some of the areas that are most often found out of balance in our diets.
Carbohydrates with Fiber
Carbohydrates provide us with energy and are found in a wide variety of food. Fruits, grains, and starchy vegetables are some of the best sources of since they are also naturally high in fiber. Fiber has a lot of functions and one of them is to slow the absorption of simple carbohydrates (e.g. starch and sugar).
The slower absorption rate prevents blood sugar highs and lows. These highs and lows aren’t just referring to your blood sugar levels. This spiking of our blood sugar mirrors the way that we can feel after eating and digesting a bunch of refined sugar and starch- we feel high and then we feel low (Sommerfield, et al., 2004).
Caffeine Kick
While caffeine can be enjoyed in a balanced way, it is good to think about it for what it is- it is a type of drug that is classified as a stimulant, and stimulants have the power to alter our moods. The adverse effects of too much caffeine can include things like jitteriness, anxiousness, an irritated stomach, and sleeplessness or poor quality of sleep (Persad, 2011). Withdrawal from caffeine can lead to feelings of irritability and depression accompanied with headaches and even constipation (Juliano, et al., 2004).
Balancing caffeinated with non-caffeinated beverages is the key. On average, a person can have up to 400 mg of caffeine and consider themselves to be in balance, a little less than that if the person is sensitive to caffeine. To give an idea of what that translates into:
• a 12 oz. caffeinated soda will typically have anywhere from 30-50 mg
• a 6 oz. coffee typically contains 100 mg,
• a 16 oz. a Starbucks coffee drip coffee contains about 400 mg of caffeine

Slowly weaning off caffeine will make the dietary transition easier and will help to avoid the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. For example,
1. If you have 4-5 cups of coffee a day, try cutting back to 3 cups and having one cup of decaf.
2. Stay with that for a few days.
3. Then step back down another step and try only having 2 cups of regular.
Once you have made your changes into a habit, you will feel better emotionally and physically and you will be happy to find yourself actually feeling more in balance than you were before.
Balance can be best described as boundary management. It is about making choices and enjoying them. It is not always something that we find, but instead is something that we can create. By keeping in mind the areas of life that are easy to let get out of balance, we can better maintain our ability to correct those areas, bringing us a sense of accomplishment, happiness and overall well-being!

References:
1. Andrew J. Sommerfield, Ian J. Deary, Brian M. Frier. (2004). Acute hyperglycemia alters mood state and impairs cognitive performance in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care, 10, 2335-2340. doi: 10.2337/diacare.27.10.2335
2. Leeana Aarthi Bagwath Persad (2011) Energy drinks and the neurophysiological impact of caffeine. Front. Neurosci. 5, 116. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2011.00116
3. Laura M. Juliano, Roland R. Griffiths. (2004). A critical review of caffeine withdrawal: empirical validation of symptoms and signs, incidence, severity, and associated features. Psychopharmacology, 176, 1-29. doi: 10.1007/s00213-004-2000-x

Tis the Season for PSLs

By Dinar Yusufov

You’re rushing to get to campus on time. Your backpack is overflowing with papers and lecture notes, & the cool, windy air is giving way for the orange and yellow-colored leaves to fall onto the ground. In order to stay alert and awake on this windy Monday, you need to have your daily fix of Starbucks coffee, and considering the cool and crisp weather, you opt for a soothing Pumpkin Spice Latte. So warm and comforting, it helps you be able to tackle on the beginning of the week. Now, let’s take a look into what a PSL really contains. This wonderful and indulgent espresso beverage contains notes of pumpkin, cinnapslmon, nutmeg and clove that is like a fall heaven. You can get it with whipped cream and some pumpkin pie spices as well. A common way that this beverage is bought is as a Grande (medium sized) with 2% milk and whipped cream. This certain drink would equal out to be:

380 Calories

14 grams of total fat

8 grams of Saturated fat

240 grams of Sodium

50 grams of Sugar

14 grams of Protein

A snack should typically contain between 150-300 calories, depending on the level of physical activity, how often you snack, and how many calories are eaten during each meal. Also, according to the American Heart Association, no more than 7% of the total daily calories should be coming from saturated fat. So consuming a typical 2,000 calorie diet, saturated fat intake should be limited to 16 grams per day. Now, comparing the nutrition facts of this drink to the standards of the 2,000 calorie diet, it can be kind of alarming. But, no worries! There are endless alternatives to recreate this drink without all of the saturated fat, sodium, and SUGAR, but still the amazing flavor and comfort it brings during cold and windy fall days!

While at Starbucks,

1) Order with a different type of milk. Starbucks just now announced that they will be offering almond milk! So, now with options such as soy milk, almond milk, and non-fat milk, there is a variety of milks to choose from, that are lower in calories, sugar, and saturated fat. Also, if you opt out of whipped cream, that halves the amount of total fat in your drink, making it a bit more healthy!

2) Order a regular coffee with Pumpkin Spice syrup. Yes, I know the pumpkin spice flavor is just heavenly during this time of the year. I want to put it in everything I eat: granola, soup, pastries, drinks, etc. So, why not just get the flavor into it, without all the extra calories and sugars. Just order your favorite roast of coffee, dark, medium or blonde, add some milk and ask for a pump or two of pumpkin spice syrup! You’ll still be getting the caffeine, but with more than half the sugar, fat and calories included. Much healthier and lighter. Trust me, you will love it.

Not a fan of Starbucks, but still love PSLs?

3) Make you own PSL at home! I love re-creating drinks at home that I try at coffee shops. So, here is one that I hope you all will be pleasantly satisfied with:

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or your favorite milk)

3 tablespoons pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 teaspoons of maple syrup

8 ounces of your favorite brewed coffee

Sprinkle of cinnamon

1) Combine all the ingredients in a blender & blend until it is smooth and creamy.

2) Adjust flavor to taste, if needed and serve warm. Enjoy! J

3) Don’t forget to take a picture to document it.

Good luck with your fall coffee endeavors and hope this provided a little insight on the beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte!

References:

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Healthy-Pumpkin-Spice-Latte-35725456 http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/espresso/pumpkin-spice-latte http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Saturated-Fats_UCM_301110_Article.jsp#.V_GEgPkrKUk