Category Archives: Eat Right

The Ugly Truth about Energy Drinks

Before you reach for another energy drink, you should know the facts.

From supermarkets to drug stores, you’ll spot students buying energy drinks to not only quench their thirst but help them survive all-nighters in the library.

Since Red Bull was introduced in 1997, energy drinks have seen a major growth, outpacing nearly every other offering in the beverage market. But do we really know what we are buying? Are these drinks safe?

What is really in energy drinks?

There are so many different kinds of energy drinks now-a-days. From Red Bull to Five Hour to Monster, students have many options when deciding their liquid source for energy. So of course recipes vary, but the common element in energy drinks is caffeine.

A standard cup of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine, a cup of tea 50 mg and a can of coke cola 35-55 mg. How much caffeine does energy drinks have? Well, definitely more. Try anywhere from 50 to 500 mg of caffeine in a single serving.  And the addition of guarana (a South American plant extract that contains additional caffeine) ups the caffeine dose even more. Although the FDA regulates the amount of caffeine in soft drinks (maximum of 71 mg per 12-oz serving), there is no such limit for energy drinks.

Caffeine is a stimulant. Scientific studies in adults show that caffeine can increase alertness, improve concentration and enhance mood. Modest caffeine intake (less than 400 mg per day) is safe for most adults. But too much caffeine can cause problems, including restlessness, irritability and difficulty sleeping. Massive caffeine overdoses can cause reduced blood flow to the heart and abnormal heart rhythms.

Many energy drinks also contain sugar. Sugar is “real energy.” Your body can use the sugar as fuel to do work. But don’t forget that extra sugar means excess calories. A steady consumption of sugar-filled energy drinks will lead to weight gain.

Other ingredients, including the amino acid taurine, ginseng and assorted vitamins, probably have little to no impact on a person’s perceived energy level. Although manufacturers tout the importance of these additives, their purported benefits are unproven. One note of caution-ginseng can interact with a variety of prescription medicines.

Are energy drinks safe for you?

Energy drinks have not been proven safe. In fact, because they are classified as supplements, they are not even regulated by the FDA. This means that their ingredients are not tightly controlled and their health effects are largely unstudied.

We do think that an adult who consumes an occasional energy drink (one a day) is unlikely to suffer harm. But too much can lead to caffeine overdose and health problems, and mixing energy drinks and alcohol is such a bad idea – Don’t do it for the sake of your health!

Before you reach for that magic bottle that promises enhanced alertness, concentration and physical performance, you need to remember the facts. Instead get a good night’s sleep, exercise regularly and eat well… these are the real energy magic-makers.

Why You Should Eat Like a Turtle

Are you a fast or slow eater? One thing that these two people have in common is being made fun of. Slow eaters get in trouble for taking too long and making their friends wait while fast eaters are consistently being asked questions like, “did you even chew your food?” Studies have proven that one pace is actually better than the other, in terms of your health.

So which is better for you… to eat quickly or slowly?

The answer – it’s better to be a slow eater. Why?

Problems of eating too fast

Eating too much

Most Americans eat too fast, and as a result, they take in too many calories before they realize how much they ate. According to WebMD, it takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness. Leisurely eating allows ample time to trigger the signal from your brain that you are full. And feeling full translates into eating less.

Recent research presented at a meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity showed that overweight men and women took in fewer calories when they slowed their normal eating pace.

Higher risk of diabetes

Healthy experts have long warned that fast eating can lead to weight gain, but what you might not realize is that wolfing down your food can also lead to another health consequence: a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Yeeks! Lithuanian researcher found that speedy eaters were two and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than those who eat at a more snail-like pace.

Bloating

According to Live Strong, bloating can occur when you add excess air to your stomach, causing your stomach to feel larger or uncomfortable than it usually does. One of the problems with eating quickly is that it introduces excess air into your digestive tract. Also, you have a tendency not to chew food as thoroughly when you eat quickly. This can cause larger pieces of food to become trapped in your stomach, which might give you the sensation that food is sitting uncomfortably.

Benefits of eating slowly

Eating slowly not only helps you eat less calories, it enhances the pleasure of the dining experience. Here are the benefits of eating slowly:

Eat less calories

No bloating

Savor your food

Enjoy the dining experience

Feel full faster

Solution

To master the art of slow eating, put on some music, light a few candles, turn off the TV and any other distractions, and concentrate on your meal. Perhaps the perfect place to start your turtle-like eating pace is at dessert. Take a bite, eat it slowly, savor it, and do nothing but enjoy the flavor, texture, and experience of the delicious dessert. Try also putting your fork down between bites, this can help to extend the amount of time you eat.

The researchers aren’t sure exactly why this is the case, but it’s worth remembering next time you’re sitting down to a meal. Eat a little slower and savor your food longer.

Are you a fast eater or a slower eater?

Mother’s Day Breakfast Idea

Mother’s Day is this upcoming Sunday. While browsing through recipes on the Whole Foods website, we came across this cute bed-in-breakfast idea. It’s a morning treat that’s super easy to prepare but special enough for mom.

Heart Shaped Egg-in-a-Hole

Ingredients

2 slices brioche loaf, each about 3/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large eggs
Chives for garnish
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Using a large (2.5- or 3-inch) heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out a heart from the center of each slice of brioche. Or, use a paring knife to cut the heart shapes. Reserve slices and hearts.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the slices and the heart cutouts to the pan and cook until slightly toasted. Turn slices and cutouts; carefully break an egg into the center of each slice. Cover the skillet and cook until the egg white is just set and the yolk is cooked to your liking, 3 to 4 minutes.

Carefully transfer a slice and a cutout to each of 2 plates and snip some chives over the top. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Per serving: 240 calories (150 from fat), 17g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 205mg cholesterol, 480mg sodium, 14g total carbohydrate (0g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 9g protein

Source: Whole Foods Recipes

Five Vegetables Anyone Can Grow in a Small Spot

There are a lot of benefits to growing your own organic food. You’ll save money, get the nutrition you need, and best of all, enjoy tastier food.

Sounds great, right? Except for one little problem… I don’t know too many college students who live in a house with a large yard. Well here’s a solution – You can grow these five vegetables in a small area, like on a balcony, back porch or fire escape. Perfect for apartment or dorm living!

1. Black cherry tomatoes
They have a different, well… interesting color than other tomatoes. And though they’re small, they have a rich tomato flavor. Perfect for salads and pastas!

2. Genovese basil

This type of basil is really popular for many reasons, but mainly because its broad leaves have such great flavor. It’s perfect for pesto. Plus the plant will keep giving and giving too. All you have to do is just not let it flower.

3. Rainbow Swiss chard
Not only is it tasty, but it grows into so many beautiful different colors. Once you cut it, it keeps coming back. Swiss chard is so versatile too — you can eat it raw in a salad, sauté it as a vegetable side or braise it with cooked meals.

4. Hot peppers

Perfect for when you need to give a dish that extra punch. You can choose any you like, but I happen to be partial to the serrano. Try putting them into sandwiches and salads.

5. Fairy Tale Eggplant
This plant grows pretty compactly — it’s about an 18-by-18-inch bush — and grows pretty quickly. They’re very sweet and you want to pick them when they’re about four inches long. Roast them on the grill or serve them in pasta.

Source: Food Matters

Three Ways to Spring Clean Your Diet

It’s spring, which means it’s time to clean your place from head to toe. Sounds like fun, right? But with final exams coming up — who has the time? I’m sure that you would pick cleaning over studying any time… but for now, here are three easy ways you can spring clean your diet before finals week.

1. Switch from soda to lemon water

One of the easiest ways to clean up your diet is to ditch the soda. Whatever you do… don’t fail for the diet or zero calorie nonsense. Diet-soda or regular, there are plenty of health warnings about the stuff. A favorite drink among detox enthusiasts is lemon water — warm or cold. Just squeeze the juice of a half of a fresh lemon into water and sip.

2. Repair cells with kale

Kale is antioxidant rich and considered nature’s scouring pad for its ability to scrub your cells clean. My favorite way to eat kale is to boil kale for about 5 minutes (you don’t want it to turn brown) and sprinkle a small amount of vinegar on it — preferably plum vinegar, which can be found at your local supermarket, like Publix and Whole Foods. Loaded with that dark green pigment, kale is chock-full of antioxidants that fight disease and cell damage.

3. Swap out refined sugar for fruit

If you normally sprinkle sugar on your cereal in the morning, try slicing a banana on top instead. The goal here is to think of fruit as your sweetener of choice — and get creative with it! Try apple slices on your almond-butter sandwich instead of jam, or kiwi slices in your Greek yogurt in place of honey.

There are many ways you can clean out your system, but at least these 3 ways will get you started before you say bye spring semester and HELLO to summer.

Q: How do you spring clean your diet? Any advice for people trying a detox plan this spring?

What’s for dinner tonight? How about the B.B.B… Black Bean Burger!

Homemade black bean burgers make a delicious vegetarian meal that’s cheap, easy and healthy. Black beans are more than just a meat substitute… they are high in fiber and antioxidants to help you keep a good waistline and prevent diseases.  Vegetarian or not — you want to include beans in your diet. The bottom line is that they are a protein rich superfood!

VEGAN BLACK BEAN BURGER RECIPE

Ingredients:

1 (16 ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup of corn, drained and rinsed from the can

2 slices of bread that are crumbled

½ cup of crumbled crackers

¼ cup of finely chopped onion

2 teaspoons of garlic powder

2 teaspoons of chili powder

¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper

2 teaspoons of olive oil

Steps:

Drain and rinse the can of black beans and corn. In a large bowl, mash the black beans but leave half of the black beans in their original bean form (un-mashed). In the large bowl, mix the black beans, corn, onion, chili powder and garlic powder. Then mix in the crumbled crackers. With your hand, divide the black bean burger mixture up into four parts. Form the mixture into 2 inch thick burger patties and set aside. You should have about 4-6 burgers from the mixture.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Carefully place burger patties unto the skillet. Heat each side of the burger patty for about 5 minutes. Be very careful when flipping burger patties. The burgers will hold together, but they have a tendency to crumble if handled too much or too roughly. Make sure each side of the burger patty is slightly brown. Add salt and pepper when burgers are finished.

Place your black bean burger on a bun, of your choice and garnish with your favorite burger toppings. We recommend adding a tomato, lettuce, spicy mustard, ketchup and an onion roll as your bun.

Halloween treats can be tricky!

For many of us, having pounds and pounds of Halloween candy in the house is scarier than any horror movie or haunted house attraction! Before you know it, you’re picking up bags and bags of candy “just to have it” and find yourself pigging out on it well before All Hallow’s eve. If this is you, here are a few tips to ward off the evil chocolate delicacies:

  • Don’t buy your Halloween candy until a day or two before Halloween. Don’t worry that the store will be all sold out. They know what day it is and they’re not going to miss out on making a buck on candy sales.
  • Buy a candy that you don’t like. If you hate coconut, plan on giving out Almond Joys. If you’re not a fan of dark chocolate or mint, think about peppermint patties.
  • Go with the bag of mixed candy that includes hard candies, lollipops and tootsie rolls. You’ll find yourself less tempted and it’s actually a better treat for the littler ones who come to the door.
  • Don’t give chocolate! Give gum, gummy bears or similar fat free candy and lollipops. Don’t be afraid to buy popcorn balls or Doritos or chips in small bags. Kids get sick of chocolate after a while and welcome a little change of pace. Look for light up necklaces or other trinkets that kids will go crazy for.
  • Give out cold waters or juice boxes to the trick or treaters. They’ll appreciate the treat they can use right then and there. It’s a pretty good gamble that they didn’t bring anything to drink, and after traversing around the neighborhood and sampling their goodies, they could use a cold drink.

Don’t let Halloween be an excuse to get all scary with your sweets. Take a few precautions and keep Halloween healthy for you, your family and your trick or treaters.