What is Kale?

Kale.  You see it everywhere. Superfood.  Rich in Iron. Savior of the universe.  Why is Kale called all these grandiose names? Why does it seem like everyone from surfers to soccer moms are looking amorously towards this curly leaf?  Should I be too?

To start off with, Kale isn’t just some mystery food that showed up out of no where. Kale is part of the cabbage family of leafy greens.  Dark green veggies like Kale, cabbage, and spinach are all very important to our hair and skin health.  Kale stands away from its relatives in several ways.

Kale is very low in calories, very high in fiber, and has no fat.  Research has shown that a diet high in fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels in individuals suffering from Diabetes, as well as improve lipid and insulin levels. Kale is a great source of an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which is uniquely known for helping regulate glucose and insulin levels.  The high fiber and water content in Kale helps with digestion and promotes regularity and a healthy GI tract.  A diet high in fiber is also a great means of maintaining a healthy body weight.

Kale is also a great source of Iron.  One of the most difficult nutrients for a vegetarian to get enough of is Iron.  Usually found in meat, Iron is necessary to develop healthy blood cells and hemoglobin.  Kale has become known as a vegetarians best friend because of its high iron content. Iron deficiency is also a common cause for hair loss.

Kale is also a good source of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is becoming known as a way of supporting healthy bone growth.  Vitamin K helps with the bodies absorption of Calcium.  One cup of Kale contains nearly 700% of the daily requirements of vitamin K. Recent findings even show Vitamin K as a help to people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Kale is a great source of antioxidants. Just as alpha-lipoic acid is known for helping with diabetes, other antioxidants found in Kale are thought to help prevent the effects of free radicals and carcinogens that can lead to the development of cancer.

If you are interested in learning all the health benefits of eating Kale, check out these articles from Medical News Today or MindBodyGreen.

What are these surfers and soccer moms doing with all these leaves?  Kale has become common in everything from soups to salads, and provides a great, rich flavor to any dish. You can find kale chips as an alternative to greasy potato chips, or as a hearty replacement for lettuce in a sandwich.  Check out some favorite Kale recipes here.

Kale

Protein Supplements Vs Natural Intake

It is much harder to cook in college and with the popularity of protein supplements among many students, I’ve decided to investigate the pros and cons of doing so.

    vs

First, I’ll be doing a comparison of the nutrition between the most popular protein supplement brand, Optimum Nutrition: Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein and plain chicken breast. The main ingredient in this protein powder is Whey Protein and contains 24 grams of protein and 130 calories per serving. Chicken breast on the other hand only contains 13 grams of protein and 281 calories per 8 ounce serving. A quick look at this shows that protein supplements are statistically superior and it is easy to see why they are so popular among college students who don’t want to cook.

However, if something is too good to be true it probably is right? Protein powder is generally marketed as having a higher protein quality,faster absorption for better muscle, and predigested amino acids to promote growth.

Protein quality is determined by a multitude of things, one of these being biological value. Biological value is the most used measurement and arguably the best way to measure protein quality. The biological value is how much of a food’s protein you keep after digestion. For example, a food with a biological value of 100 would mean you keep 100 percent of it, while a food with a value of 0 would mean you keep none of it. Most protein supplements market their brand as having a biological value of close to 100 to their consumers. However, in reality this doesn’t mean much as it really just shows how much you’re eating. The difference is usually negligible compared to, for example, an egg which also has a similar value. The importance of a high biological value is often exaggerated by the marketing teams.

Whey protein is also marketed as having a fast absorption rate to prevent the body’s muscle from deteriorating after a heavy workout. However, though studies claiming that absorption rate is faster are indeed true, there is no clear correlation between absorption rate and muscle growth.

Protein supplements are also supposed to contain predigested amino acids to promote faster absorption. Now, this is where the problem is. The human body is superior at digesting whole foods versus broken down amino acids. When eating whole foods, your body absorbs amino acids better as it is in the process of being broken down in the intestines. Whole foods also have the advantage of having the “thermic effect” which is when your body’s metabolism increases corresponding to consumption, so a statistically higher calorie chicken breast may end up being much less due to this.

So in conclusion from this information, protein supplements should be treated as just that, supplements, due to their advantage of being so convenient. However, they offer no clear advantage over tradition whole foods.

Resources

Chicken Breast Nutrition Facts | FatSecret. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/generic/chicken-breast-ns-as-to-skin-eaten?portionid=5041&portionamount=8.000

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey | Bodybuilding. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/opt/whey.html

Protein Supplements Vs. Protein Foods | BodyBuilding. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/issa4.htm

Limited in the Kitchenette? Think Again – The Microwave

It is one of the most essential tools in a college dorm. Got some leftovers? Heat it up. Forgot the water boiler at home? No problem. What about Hot Pockets? Pizza rolls? That’s what it’s made for. We generally use the microwave to prepare quick, easy meals and to just heat up what we already have on hand. But what about using the microwave to cook? And I mean cook in the same sense as how you would use the stove or an oven. Now wouldn’t that be great? – Especially if you live in the dorm. Today I will be providing you with 2 simple recipes you can easily make using a microwave alone. Have fun and good eats!

Quiche Recipe – Need a quick and filling breakfast to start the day? How about this?

mug_quiche_post

First you’ll need:

  • A microwavable mug (preferably more deep than wide)
  • A fork
  • A microwave

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large egg
  • Milk or Half and half
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Melted Butter
  • Bread
  • Fresh herbs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cheese
  • Any additional ingredients
    • Ham
    • Salami
    • Spinach
    • Mushrooms

Let’s start!

  1. Cut grape tomatoes in half
  2. Tear up bread into dime-sized pieces
  3. Crack egg into microwaveable mug. Add milk, melted butter, salt and pepper
  4. Whisk with fork
  5. Add tomatoes, cheese and any other additional ingredients
  6. Microwave on high for 1 minute
  7. Add fresh herbs on top
  8. Serve immediately

Meatloaf in a Mug – Feeling hungry but not up for the kitchen work? Give this a try!

Meat Loaf in a Mug Recipe

You’re going to need:

  • A small bowl
  • Microwave safe mug or custard cup
  • Cooking spray

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Milk
  • Ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp preferred soup/seasoning mix
  • ¼ lb lean ground beef

Let’s start!

  1. Combine milk, ketchup, bread crumbs and soup mix in the bowl before adding beef
  2. Mix well but do not overwork the meat
  3. Spray microwave safe mug with cooking spray
  4. Transfer meat into mug
  5. Cover with paper towel and microwave on high for 3 minutes
    1. Or until meat is no longer pink and thermometer reads 160°
  6. Let meat rest for 3 minutes
  7. Serve with additional ketchup and a salad or rice

Resources

1-minute Microwave Quiche in a Mug | Full-thyme Student. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://fullthymestudent.com/1-minute-microwave-quiche-in-a-mug/#recipe

Meat Loaf in a Mug Recipe | Taste of Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/meat-loaf-in-a-mug

Something Smells Fishy Here

As nutrition-oriented college students many of us will turn to fish as a healthy source of protein.  Fish is a great source of not only proteins, but is the leanest in fat of all animal sources of proteins.  The fats that fish contain are typically high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for a healthy heart.  Other animal proteins usually are found together with many longer chain fatty acids like omega-6 or omega-9 which are thought to be a cause for many different diseases. Check out some more benefits of eating a diet with a lot of fish here and learn about healthy fats and where to find them here.

Mmm... fish tacos

Besides the health benefits, fish taste great! Sushi? Give me more.  Fish and Chips? Oh hell yeah. But fish tacos? Now we’re getting somewhere.  Throughout the world there is a huge demand for fish and fish products, all of which are being pulled from the oceans.  Though it can be hard to believe due to the seeming vastness of oceans, overfishing is a problem that fishing companies and the ecosystem need to face together.

The Environmental Defense Fund lays out a plan to help fisherman maximize their profits, while making sure that there will be a population of fish to pull from in the future. Check out what a Catch-share is and how it helps protect both the fishing industry and the fish simultaneously here.

You can help too!  When purchasing fish look to see where it was caught, or if it was farmed. Know which fish are safely caught and are managed appropriately. Click here to see a list of healthy, sustainably caught fish! (They are all pretty tasty!) Many stores now put a rating of how sustainably caught the fish is right on the price tag!

Let’s all do our part to lead healthier lives by eating fish, but we should make sure that the fish we are eating will still be around for the generations to enjoy!

School of fish

Still Hungry???

It’s 3 in the morning and you’re working furiously to get that project done. You have roughly a quarter of it left and all you want to do is power through it. You still have some notes to look over for that test tomorrow. All in all, it’s going to be a long night. But wait, your stomach is making those infamous whale noises; it’s the middle of the night and you’re hungry. You look to your left – 5 cups of coffee. Look to your right – an empty bag of family-sized chips. Either way you have nothing.

Aside from the ramen and potato chips, what else can you have in your dorm room to satisfy that 3 am craving? And not just any random food you can have lying around, but food that tastes good and is good for you.

Let’s start with the basics – Fruit and vegetables. Even without a mini-fridge, the shelf life of certain fruits and veggies are sufficient for a college student. These foods include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Celery

File:La Boqueria.JPG

Maybe you want a little bit more for your after-midnight snacking and fruits just aren’t going to cut it. Other options that you can have in the dorm room (even without a fridge) are:

  • Bread
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jams and Jellies
  • Butter
  • Mayonnaise
  • Nuts
  • Canned tuna/chicken
  • Canned fruits
  • Protein Bars
  • Oats
  • Popcorn

With all the different kinds of food you can keep in your room, there’s no reason to limit yourself with a plain old bag of chips. At least with these foods, you can get your fill at 3 in the morning and get the right kind of energy boost when you need it the most.

Resources:

20 Essential Healthy Things To Keep In Your Dorm Room! – Fit Personality [Web log post]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://fit-personality.com/post/58522521949/20-essential-healthy-things-to-keep-in-your-dorm-room

Coleman, E. (n.d.). Healthy Foods that Stay Fresh in the Dorm. SF Gate. Retrieved from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/healthy-foods-stay-fresh-college-dorm-2982.html

La Boqueria [Food on Display]. (2005, July 5). Retrieved from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_Boqueria.JPG

Namek, P. [Peanut Butter]. Retrieved from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PeanutButter.jpg

O’Donnell, C. (n.d.). Good Nonperishable Food Items for Dorm Rooms. Seattle Pi. Retrieved from http://education.seattlepi.com/good-nonperishable-food-items-dorm-rooms-3080.html

Windtraveler: Top 10 Tuesdays: Top Ten Items That Do NOT Need Refrigeration. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2014, from http://www.windtraveler.net/2011/07/top-10-tuesdays-top-ten-items-that-do.html

What Does “Natural” Mean?

We are all trying to improve the quality of the food that we are buying and eating.  We are making efforts to be healthier and more aware of what we are putting in our body.  When we shop for our groceries and other consumable products we gravitate towards products that match our ideals: natural, real, and whole foods.  We trust that these products are better for us and less processed, or don’t contain artificial additives.

Lets start with the textbook definition of “Natural.” Merriam-Webster defines natural as, “not having any extra substances or chemicals added : not containing anything artificial.” Its fair to assume that we expect this definition to be extended to our food products.  A special report by CBS news claims that a majority of people surveyed expect food products labeled as natural to contain no artificial ingredients, pesticides or GMO’s, and that natural products are both healthier and therefore better than others.

Natural? Bulk? Foods? I don't think so!

Let’s check with the FDA, the government agency that is in charge of food labeling in the United States, to see if these products need to live up to that standard of quality to earn the label of “natural.”

Natural (FDA Definition): “[The] FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives.”

What does that mean for our expectations as consumers?

In short the word natural means nothing, but is an extremely successful marketing campaign led by large food manufacturers.

The types of products that we consume in hopes that they are healthy or good for us is extensive. Check out this list put out by Prevention magazine.

As Health conscious individuals, we must be wary of the label “natural” and be mindful to inspect the ingredients list for additives WE deem to be artificial.  A rule to live by:  If you can’t pronounce it, or imagine what it would look like, its probably not natural.

The Healthiest Dessert

Continuing the trend of simple recipes from the previous week, I’m here to present the healthiest dessert. While browsing the web, I discovered this incredibly simple recipe for mug cake with an amazing amount of protein for all the gym-junkies.

Here is the full list of ingredients (taken from: http://healthyaperture.com/blog/post/the-recipe-redux-high-protein-tart-cherry-almond-mug-cake):

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons powdered peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla whey protein powder
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon unsweetened almond butter
2 teaspoons honey
Dash of salt
Dash of grated orange zest
5 frozen tart cherries
Garnish: whipped cream, Greek-style yogurt or ice cream

Now, I know this looks like a long list of tedious ingredients. But here’s the best part: Just mix it all into a bowl and microwave it for 1.5 minutes to get this result:

(image taken from: http://healthyaperture.com/images/blog/Tart_Cherry-Almond_Mug_Cake_1.jpg)

I decided to input all of the components into a nutrition aggregator on MyFitnessPal Online to get a total of 15 grams of protein for less than 200 Calories in a delicious dessert. This is perfect as a post-workout food as it contains 9 out of the 12 amino acids required to build muscle in the whey protein. According to Bodybuilding Online, you absorb the majority of whey protein during the 20 to 40 minutes post-workout and this is possibly the most delicious way to eat it! Apparently, according to scientific studies comparing 60g of whey protein to a diet pertaining 60g of carbohydrate and 60g of soy protein, whey protein has the added additional fact of even reducing overall body fat.

(information taken from: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/how-whey-helps-drop-body-fat.htm )

I hope this update was helpful and I’ll be back with more recipes next week.

Resources:

Spano, Marie. (n.d.). How Whey Protein can Help You Drop Bodyfat.Retrieved from http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/how-whey-helps-drop-body-fat.htm

Jones, Regan. (n.d.) Tart Cherry Nutty Mugcake. Retrieved from

http://healthyaperture.com/blog/post/the-recipe-redux-high-protein-tart-cherry-almond-mug-cake

MyFitnessPal Online. (n.d.) Total Protein and Calorie Calculator. Retrieved from

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/recipe/calculator

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