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

The Gut Brain Connection

By Shelby Grande
“OUR SECOND BRAIN”, the gut. To most, it doesn’t make much logical sense to say that our gut, bacteria, the foods we eat and digest have anything if at all to do with our emotions. Sounds absorb and crazy right? Well when you think about our simple slang of “getting butterflies in your stomach” or “having that gut instinct” is a symbolic reference to our actual interconnection of the gut microbiome and our emotions.
Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback about how hungry we are, whether or not we’re experiencing stress, or if we’ve ingested a disease-causing microbe.
Our bodies are composed of more bacteria than cells. We are more bug than human! Many people do not realize the complexity of the gut as it is not just a machine that processes and digest foods. It is a large part of our sensory system, signaling system and most importantly, the immune system. Within the layers of our gut we have around 50 to 100 MILLION nerve cells. These cells throw out signals to get rid of foreigners that do not belong in your body such as toxins, rotten food, bag bugs etc. 85% of our immune defense cells are originated and located in the gut. Like any ecosystem inhabited by competing species, the environment within the gut dictates which inhabitants thrive.
So some food to recognize to help sustain your internal ecosystem, keep your gut microbiome healthy and to boost your mood are listed below!
1. NUTS! (Especially walnuts): nuts are loaded with alpha linolenic acid which reduces over gut inflammation and therefore reduces the chance of coming down with a cold. Low ALA levels have been linked to decreased levels of dopamine, which is responsible for the feeling of joy and serotonin, which controls your anger, aggression and keeps your brain chemistry at ease. Incorporate nuts in your salads, trail mix, yogurts, butters or sautéed meals!
2. YOGURT (try kefir too!): cultured dairy products such as these listed are loaded with millions of probiotics, the good bacteria your gut needs to keep you healthy. Your gut and your brain have regular chats with each other via the vagus nerve. Yogurt makes sure that these conversations keep flowing efficiently and spread messages out all throughout the body.
3. Dark chocolate: this delicious dessert provides an instant boost in concentration and mood and even improves blood flow to the brain, which indulges you in a more vibrant and energized state of mind. Dark chocolate when digested releases epinephrine and dopamine neurotransmitters to be carried throughout the body. Skip the sugary chocolate and indulge yourself in the highest percentage of cacao organic chocolate!
4. Vegetables: Asparagus, in particular, is one of the top plant based sources of tryptophan, which serves as a basis for the creation of serotonin, one of the primary mood regulating neurotransmitters. High levels of folate in all vegetables add to the happiness-promoting profile.
5. Mussels, clams, oysters, and fish: mussels, as well as the other seafood listed, are loaded with some of the highest natural forms of vitamin B12. B12 is a brain protecting vitamin and preserves the myelin sheath that insulates your brain cells, helping your brain stay sharp and focused as you get older. Digesting mussels will also release some important nutrients to balancing mood, such as zinc, iodine and selenium. These nutrients keep your thyroid in check which is your body’s master mood regulator.
6. Warm quinoa, spinach and shitake salad with feta cheese and walnuts: this meal helps to prevent against depression and anxiety by increasing your serotonin and norepinephrine levels in your body. Beyond this, the spinach is loaded with B vitamins that protect your heart, your gut, and your brain cells and the shiitake mushroom are an excellent source of selenium which helps your defense immune system and keeps the gut brain conversations in check!

The Round and Purple Eggplant

By Emily Myers

The Eggplant is one of kind, from its smooth purple exterior, to its seedy, sponge-like center. This vegetable, grown on a vine, peaks in mid-July-October.

Eggplant is a very good source of Dietary Fiber, which is key when talking about gut health and weight management. Dietary Fiber increases the feeling of fullness by partnering with water in the stomach to create a gel-like Chyme. The gel, in a way, tricks the stomach by taking up more volume than it necessarily holds in calories. As the Dietary Fiber passes through the GI-tract, to the laeggplantrge intestine, bacteria breaks-down the Dietary Fiber and expels gas, which puts pressure on the on intestinal wall. The pressure comes out as a nice little stinker (we hope). Eggplant is also a good source of Thiamine, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, and Magnesium. Eggplant is a winner when looking at the Glycemic Index, with a ranking of 2 out of 100. The Glycemic Index is often used when taking about the Diabetic Diet. It describes the rate carbohydrates are broken down to simple sugars and used as energy by the human body. High Glycemic Index foods are said to have an adverse effect on blood sugars.

Try this Baba Ghanoush recipe! Fun to say an easy to cook, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Yield: 2 cups of dip, enough for 8-10 people Ingredients:

* Eggplant, 2 medium

* Olive oil, 2Tbsp

* Tahini butter, ½ cup

* Garlic cloves, 1Tbsp

* Lemon juice, ¼ cup

* Salt and pepper

* Optional cilantro to taste

Preparation:

1) Preheat oven to 450oF. After washing and drying eggplant, rub olive oil on the outside for roasting. Place eggplant on baking sheet and cook for 15-20 min, until the center of the eggplant is tender. Let it cool.

2) Peel the eggplant and cut into manageable pieces. Place into the food processor along with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and optional seasonings.

3) Taste and manipulate as needed. If it is a bit thick, add several teaspoons of water.

4) Serve alongside warm pita, or freshly cut cucumber and carrots.

 

References:

SELFNutritionData. Eggplant cooked, boiled, drained with salt Nutrition Facts and Calories. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2858/2 . Published 2013. Accessed September 20, 2016.

iDiet. The 2 Kinds of Fiber for Fullness/ Useful Dieting Tips. https://www.theidiet.com/2013/05/fiber-for-fullness-useful-dieting-tips/#.V916dPkrJhE. Published May 20, 2013. Accessed September 20, 2016.

SELFNutritionData. The Glycemic Index. http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/glycemic-index. Published 2014. Accessed September 20, 2016.

Grocery Shopping 101

by Madeleine Wirth
Do you ever wish there was a class on “adulting”?
Life skills like grocery shopping are hardly taught in high schools or college campuses. Many students come to college and begin regularly grocery shopping for the first time in their lives with few prior experience food shopping.
There are challenges that come with grocery shopping, and perhaps the greatest challenge is budgeting your grocery list around healthy, nutritious foods. Developing the knowledge of how to shop resourcefully and plan a realistic grocery budget requires experience. However, with the proper knowledge, you can feel empowered to navigate the grocery store knowing how to shop and what to buy. Check out these tips on how you can be an informed consumer, buy nutritious foods, and save money!

1. Plan how many meals you will need during the upcoming week. Whether or not you have a dining plan, everyone should plan to eat at least three meals a day. If you have a dining plan, consider your punches and dining dollars before buying more than enough food at the grocery store. If you don’t have a meal plan, consider how many breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks you will need. Be sure to consider if you plan to eat out! This will save you from buying food that will go bad before you eat it!

2. Develop a grocery list. Knowing what you need before you walk into the grocery store saves you from impulse buying. Purchasing foods you do not need is the greatest threat to your bank account. Take 20 minutes to write down the foods you need to avoid impulsive food buys.

3. Never shop hungry. People are more likely to buy highly processed and sweet foods if they shop hungry. Grab a healthy snack before hitting the grocery store. You will save money and avoid junk food you would have bought otherwise!

4. Look for the generic brand. Most foods usually have a name-brand associated with them; think of your favorite cereals, soups, and tomato sauce. Brand versions are always more expensive than the generic store-brand, but the two are usually just the same thing. You can save a dollar here and there by choosing store-brands like MyEssentials or GreatValue!

5. Compare unit prices. Unit prices are listed on the price label, usually as a cost per ounce of the food item. This helps you compare brands for the best price. For example, one box of pasta may be listed as $2.49, and another box of pasta may be listed as $3.00. Check the unit prices to determine which option is cheaper.

6. Shop at Sharp Shopper or Costco for nonperishable items. These Harrisonburg stores are stocked with great deals on bulk items. If you find yourself eating many of the same foods, like canned beans, pasta, and peanut butter, buy these foods in bulk to save money. Other stores like Kroger, Martins, and Food Lion offer deals on purchases made with a special store member card. Anyone over the age of 18 can apply for Bonus or MVP cards. If you regularly shop at those stores, be sure to register! You will be surprised by the money you’ll save! You can also save money by planning meals around special deals offered with Bonus or MVP cards.

7. Consider “making it yourself”. Although convenient, many frozen dinners are highly processed with additives and extra salt. Buying the ingredients to make the meal yourself is likely much more nutritious. It will also save you money in the long run as you can make larger batches to last you through the week!

8. Visit the freezer aisle for produce. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables is often cheaper than buying fresh produce. The fruits and veggies are frozen shortly after being harvested, making them just as nutritious. Be sure to wrap frozen veggies and fruits tightly to avoid freezer burn.

9. Check the nutrition label for fiber, saturated fat, and sugar. Choose snack options that are low in refined sugars and saturated fat. Instead, choose foods that are high in fiber. Fiber is great for digestive health while keeping you satiated longer!

With these things in mind, you can approach and leave the grocery store feeling confident about the food you buy!
Happy shopping!

12 Tips on Saving Money [Part 1]

Noteworthy Nutritional Yeast

By: Michalea Gale
Nutritional what…? I will admit what many of you may be thinking, the name or appearance does not make you particularly excited to try this product. This summer I found myself continuously coming across nutritional yeast in various articles and recipes. After deciding to give it a try I was pleasantly surprised, not only does it taste great in dishes but is LOADED with several health benefits. What’s not to love about that?
First of all, what is nutritional yeast? It’s made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisae, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to kill or “deactivate” it. You may be familiar with brewer’s yeast, Torula yeast, or active dry yeast. Nutritional yeast differs from these as it does not grow or have leavening ability due to its inactive state, hence these ingredients should not be used interchangeably!
These flimsy little flakes pack a big punch when it comes to nutrition! Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contains 60 calories and 9 grams of protein. That’s more protein than an egg (6 grams) or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (8 grams). It’s also high in fiber, which plays an important role in terms of gut health and functional digestion. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar, thus improving blood sugar levels and potentially reducing the risk of developing type II diabetes. Also, nutritional yeast contains a full day’s supply of Vitamin B-12 in just one tablespoon. Most sources of B-12 are animal based, making this a great option for vegans or vegetarians. Vitamin B-12 is required for proper functioning of the brain and nerves, as well as red blood cell production. Rich in folate, nutritional yeast is great for women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant as folate is known to prevent many major birth defects. Oh and one last added bonus- it’s gluten free!
Okay so it sounds great on paper but trust me, its flavor is delicious too! Nutritional yeast is known for its nutty, cheesy essence. With its somewhat umami (savory) characteristics it can be used as a seasoning for a wide variety of foods. Many individuals, especially those who are lactose intolerant or dairy free, use it the same way one would use shredded cheese. Sprinkle it over roasted veggies, pasta, eggs, or salads for that same “cheesy” flavor. Another fan favorite is sprinkling it over popcorn with some olive oil, salt, and pepper for a crunchy and satisfying snack. Overall it can serve as a replacement for cheese in any recipe, while saving calories and adding an abundance of essential nutrients.
This product is not typically something you’ll find on the corner stand of your local grocery store, I actually had to try three different locations before I could find it back at home. Luckily if you’re in the Harrisonburg area there is a few places you can be sure to find it.
1. Friendly City Food Co-op: 150 E Wolfe Street, Harrisonburg
2. Kate’s Natural Products: 451 University Blvd, Harrisonburg
3. Sue’s Super Nutrition: 3060 S Main Street, Harrisonburg
It stands out with it’s bright yellow color and is most commonly sold powdered or in flakes that resemble fish food. Below I’ve included one of my favorite recipes to use it in, enjoy!

Eggplant Cannelloni

Ingredients, Serves 4

Basil & Spinach Filling
2 cups cashews, soaked for minimum 4 hours
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup almond milk
½ cup basil
¾ cup spinach
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 Eggplant

Tomato Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp honey or other sweetener (optional)
salt & pepper
2 tbsp chopped basil
2 tbsp grated parmesan or nutritional yeast (optional)

Directions
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
• Drain the soaked cashews and place them in a blender or food processor with the garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and almond milk. Blend until the cashews have broken down into a creamy consistency. Add in the spinach and basil and continue to blend until completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside
• Cut the eggplant lengthwise into ¼ to ½ inch thick slices. Lightly salt each side and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes to remove excess moisture. After 15 minutes wipe the eggplant with paper towels to remove the salt.
• The eggplant can be grilled for 2-3 minutes per side on a well oiled grill or baked in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Once cooked remove and set aside
• To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a pot on medium heat and add the garlic. Allow to cook until soft before adding in the can of chopped tomatoes and sweetener. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes until it begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and pour a small amount of the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish.
• Place about 2-3 spoonfuls of the spinach and basil mixture onto the end of each slice of eggplant and roll tightly, placing them seam side down on top of the sauce in the baking dish.
• Pour the remainder of the sauce overtop the rolls and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
• Serve straight from the oven sprinkled with parmesan (or more nutritional yeast) and chopped basil.

References:
http://research.omicsgroup.org/index.php/Nutritional_yeast
http://www.foodandnutrition.org/Stone-Soup/July-2013/Get-to-Know-Nutritional-Yeast/

Eggplant Cannelloni

Pushin’ Protein

By Kat Huntley

If you are someone who glances at food labels, you might notice that many of them have a featured nutrient in common that food companies are eager to highlight to the public. The common denominator? Protein!
I call it the protein push, because it seems that protein has been made everyone’s favorite macronutrient to love. Proteins are never the “bad” nutrients. Unlike carbs or fat they have always been included in every trendy new diet- and it’s easy to see why! The amino acids that make up proteins are the building blocks of life. Protein is essential in the body to help repair cells and make new ones. Because of this, protein is vital for growth and development. Protein has even been proven to help curb the appetite by helping people feel fuller, longer ¹. But, just like with everything else in life, it is better to stay in the moderate zone than to leap ahead to extremes. So that raises the question- “How much protein do I actually need?”
The Realities of Recommendations
The recommendation from 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is for protein to account for 10-30% of your total caloric intake². Every gram of protein breaks down to give us 4 calories of energy. If you are eating around 2,000 calories a day, your recommended range is anywhere from 50g-150g of protein. If you want to shoot for the middle at 20% of total calories, that would come to a neat 100 grams.
That might sound like a large amount of protein, but this is actually a very manageable amount that most people consume in their everyday meal pattern without even thinking about it. Here are a few ways to look at it:
• One serving of fish, lean meat, or poultry is considered to be 3 oz. (about the size of a checkbook⁴). Just one ounce of these foods typically contains 7 grams of protein. That adds up to 21 grams of protein in just one serving!
• One large egg contains 7 grams
• ½ cup of cooked beans or lentils also contain 7 grams of protein
That means that if you have 2 eggs with breakfast, a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and one serving of fish, a lean meat, or poultry for dinner with a side of beans, you’ve already consumed well more than 50 grams of protein! And that is not even taking into consideration all the other sources of protein that people enjoy eating every day.
Sources of Protein
Protein is found in many food sources, not just meat, fish, poultry or beans. Dairy products like low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources of protein. Tempeh, tofu, quinoa, green peas, chickpeas, and vegetables like spinach and broccoli also have notable amounts of protein. Whole grains that are not refined or “white” products also are great sources of protein to enjoy. The reality is that if a variety of whole foods are enjoyed, there shouldn’t be any worry about not getting enough protein.
Individualized Approach
It is important when thinking about nutrition to understand that everyone’s needs are going to be different. This is because your nutrient needs are based on many factors that are unique to you, such as your gender, age, body size, physical activity level and health status.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommends that females from ages 14-18 that are consuming a little less than 2,000 calories a day get 46 grams of protein each day, while males of the same age group are recommended to eat a little more than 2,000 calories a day and get 52 grams of protein². As ages change so to can the recommended amount of protein. Females ages 51 and older are still recommended 46 grams of protein each day, while males in that same age group are recommended 56 grams².
Besides considering age and calorie consumption, the amount of physical activity and the actual size of person can change recommendations too.
Athletes, for example, have a greater over-all calorie need than others. Many athletes may be concerned with trying to consume more protein than they did before they began their exercise routine, because they might know that protein helps to repair and strengthen muscle tissue⁵. But protein needs for athletes are not as great as they are commonly perceived⁵. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic and the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes⁵. This means if you weigh 170 lbs (77 kg), then the recommended range of protein for you as an athlete at that size is 92g-154g of protein. As was pointed out earlier in this article, the highest end of the range for non-athletes who are consuming a typical 2,000 calorie diet is 150 g of protein. The difference in between the recommended amount of protein for an athlete and a non-athlete does not actually add up to be that large.
Expensive Powders, Bars and Supplements
This leads to the topic of the popular protein blends that are available on the market for today’s consumers. Many types of proteins supplements and powders exist, and each one has their own claim to benefits for the body. Protein powders and supplements can be great because of their convenience. It can be quicker for someone to throw a few simple ingredients in the blender with a scoop of protein powder than it is to plan, prep, or cook a full meal. But besides offering convenience, these products are not a necessity, even for elite athletes.
So as for the common “Now with ‘x’ amount of protein” advertising that can be seen on many food products, just know that it isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t something that was typically an issue before either.

References:

1. Leidy, H. J., Hoertel, H. A., Douglas, S. M., Higgins, K. A. and Shafer, R. S. (2015), A high-protein breakfast prevents body fat gain, through reductions in daily intake and hunger, in “Breakfast skipping” adolescents. Obesity, 23: 1761–1764. doi:10.1002/oby.21185
2. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. Published December 2015. Accessed September 1, 2016.

3. Wax E. Protein in the diet. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm. Published April 25, 2015. Accessed September 1, 2016.

4. What is a serving? American Heart Association Web site. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Caregiver/Replenish/WhatisaServing/What-is-a-Serving_UCM_301838_Article.jsp#.V8ie8_krLIU. Published December 18, 2014. Revised February 18, 2015. Accessed September 1, 2016.

5. Caspero, A. Protein and the athlete- how much do you need? Eat Right. http://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/sports-and-performance/fueling-your-workout/protein-and-the-athlete. Published July 19, 2016. Accessed September 1, 2016.

Plant Based Nutrition 101

By Anne Custer

Plant based diets have become a trend in the past few years, with meat and dairy alternative sales skyrocketing, more public interest in sustainability, and increased research in the health effects of these diets. However, it’s more than just a trend- it’s an overall lifestyle change driven by compassion. I made the change three years ago to a completely vegan diet. After my certification in Plant Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center of Nutrition Studies, I can confidently take pride in my lifestyle and the benefits I (and the animals, and the environment, etc.) reap.

Definitions

Before you read, here are a few definitions to be aware of:

– Pescetarian. Eats fish, dairy products, and eggs, but not poultry or red meat.

-Lacto-ovo-vegetarian. Eats both dairy products and eggs. This is the most common type of vegetarian diet.

-Lacto-vegetarian. Eats dairy products but not eggs.

-Ovo-vegetarian. Eats eggs but not dairy products.

-Vegan. Does not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other animal product.

The terminology between plant based and vegan differ slightly. Plant based eliminates oils, refined sugar, and processed foods. It is exactly how it sounds- plant based! Vegans may or may not consume these products depending on their preference.

Disease Prevention

Right now, about 3 out of 4 Americans are on some type of prescription drug. The majority of these medications are for chronic diseases that could be prevented and reversed by proper nutrition. The underlying problem behind this is the fact that the majority of medical professionals and the general public do not believe in the power of nutrition. Doctors are paid based on the number of patients they see, the tests they order, and the pharmacotherapy prescribed. This type of system doesn’t allow for a holistic approach where the needs of the patient are priority and the curative option (usually diet and lifestyle change) is taken. Diet and lifestyle changes can be cures for long term chronic diseases, while medicine temporarily treats a symptom of the disease, until they need a new medication for a different symptom. This is how people end up prescribed many different pills to take each day, all while the sustainable, cost effective solution is in their kitchen.

Of course, the nutrition I am speaking about is plant based. I learned a great deal about chronic disease prevention and reversal from my certification program. For example, there was a study out of the Pritkin Center that looked at the relationship between plant based diets and type 2 diabetes. 40 patients with the disease were prescribed a low fat, plant based diet along with exercise and within 26 days, 34 of the patients (85%) discontinued all medication. All medication! Perhaps the most controversial is the ability to turn on and off tumor growth in rats injected with cancer. The rats were fed a diet containing 20% of casein, which is a protein found in cow’s milk, then a diet containing of 5% casein. Scientists found that tumors continued to grow at a fast rate when fed 20% casein, but when switched to the lower amount, the tumors not only stopped growing, but they shrunk. This is controversial for many reasons, but mainly it contradicts the animal rights movement, which is one of the main reasons people decide to switch to plant based diets. I was first interested in veganism after hearing about the health benefits and the amazing power it has to combat disease. However it has grown into an appreciation for the Earth and the environment, as well as a desire to see the suffering of animals for our consumption come to an end. Unfortunately, these tests cannot be undone, but we have this information now that we can utilize to be a voice for the animals harmed in the process.

Diet patterns

I get endless questions about what I eat. How do you get protein, iron, calcium, B-12, etc.? What can you eat? Do you get bored? Do you eat a lot of salad? (The answer to that is a firm no.) So, just for the curious reader here is a vegan food pyramid. An example dinner from this would be brown rice with lime juice and cilantro, sautéed veggies, black beans, topped with fresh Pico de Gallo and guacamole. Sounds boring, right? No, but really there are bountiful options and many foods I didn’t discover on a SAD. (Standard American Diet. Yes, it is as sad as it sounds.) As for things like iron, calcium, and B-12, these micronutrients are of concern in a vegan diet because they aren’t as bioavailable to be absorbed in plants as they are in animal products. This shouldn’t discourage you because it is still easily achievable to get these nutrients. Fortified tofu, cereals, and nut milks have plenty of absorbable calcium and sometimes iron. It’s important to pair iron sources with a source of vitamin C. Put some lemon juice on sautéed kale, have a snack of cashews and an orange, or make a creamy chickpea salad with craisins. The possibilities are endless! As for B-12, if you are like me and hate the idea of supplementation, either buy fortified foods or use nutritional yeast as a seasoning on potatoes, vegetables, pasta, or even popcorn.  The last word I would use to describe a vegan diet is restrictive or boring. I can eat whatever I want and feel good about the choices I make. I rarely have the same thing for dinner in a week and look forward to trying new foods and recipes. Plus, most people eat vegan meals without consciously deciding to and many common recipes are easily made vegan.

Vegan-Food-Pyramid-New

 

Resources

These resources have challenged, inspired, and educated me throughout this transition. If your interest is sparked, I encourage you to do your own research and seek out resources that can do the same for you.

 

Documentaries:

Forks Over Knives

Cowspiracy

Vegucated

PlantPure Nation

 

Books:

How Not to Die by Michael Greger

Whole by Howard Jacobson and T. Colin Campbell

Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman

Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran

 

Websites:

NutritionFacts.org

VRG.org

Nutritionstudies.org

PCRM.org