Tag Archives: healthy

When Life Gives You Lemons, Use Them.

Most people might be familiar with the traditional uses for lemons to soothe sore throats and add some flavor to foods. However, lemons are super useful in the kitchen and around the house and the following list will hopefully make you want to stock a few in your kitchen.

Prevent Browning

Potatoes and cauliflower tend to turn brown when boiling, especially when you’re having company for dinner. You can make sure the white vegetables stay white by squeezing a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice into the cooking water. You can also squeeze some lemon juice on apples to prevent them from browning while they are cut.

Clean Your Microwave

This clever lemon hack will eliminate the stench of crusty food in the microwave and make it easy to wipe down. Simply mix 1/2 cup of water, the juice of two lemons, and the leftover lemon rinds in a bowl and microwave on high for three minutes. Let that combination sit in the microwave for five more minutes before wiping down the sides of the microwave. The steam from the lemon water will loosen the gunk inside your microwave and make it easier to clean.

Keep Guacamole Green

Just imagine. You’ve made guacamole hours before a party and it turns brown before everyone can feast their eyes on the green goodness of it. To prevent this, sprinkle a pretty good amount of lemon juice over it to keep the guac fresh and green. The lemon juice is a natural complement to the avocados.

Refresh Cutting Boards

Onions, fish, garlic, raw meat, and so many other smells all on your cutting board. To get rid of the smells that linger on your cutting board, cut the lemon in half and rub it all over the board to eliminate those odors. You can also mix the lemon juice with water in a squirt bottle and spray it all over the board and wipe it down. Keep that squirt bottle under the sink for when you decide to cut raw fish on the cutting board.

Make Soggy Lettuce Crisp

Don’t toss that soggy lettuce into the garbage. With the help of a little lemon juice you can toss it in a salad instead. Add the juice of half a lemon to a bowl of cold water. Then put the soggy lettuce in it and refrigerate for an hour. Make sure to dry the leaves completely before putting them into salads or sandwiches.


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Why Snacking Is Good For You

To some people, the word snacking is associated with the act of eating processed and high calorie chips, cookies, ice cream, and candy bars. There is a difference between effective snacking and having a junk food snacking binge between meals. We are all guilty of splurging but eating smaller portioned snacks in-between meals is way more beneficial to your overall health.

Hunger is the main motivation behind snacking but factors like location, social environment, time of day, and food availability contribute as well. In fact, people often snack when there is appetizing food around, even if they’re not hungry. A recent study took a group of 55 adults and monitored their snacking habits to find that temptation and hunger were the reasons for eating unhealthy snacks. Replacing those unhealthy snacks with healthy options can make a difference when it comes to weight, metabolism, and energy.

 Good snacking may prevent you from overeating at meal time

Most of us get hungry about every 3 to 4 hours. So, if there’s a long stretch between meals, you’re likely to get hungry –– which is why a snack is appropriate. Without a healthy snack, there’s a good chance you’ll just make up for it by overeating at your next meal and eating more than you would have if you just had a small snack to help you get there.

If you increase your healthy snacking, you might reduce your overall calorie intake

Balance. That’s the biggest thing when thinking about snacking and planning what you are going to eat. If you have a snack to carry you to that next meal that you don’t eat as much at, then your overall calorie intake might be less if you plan correctly.

Gives you an opportunity to incorporate healthy food items into diet

It’s hard to eat healthy all the time. Snacking can help your diet become more well-rounded. Sneak those vegetables, fruits, and natural proteins in during snack time and your daily intake of those necessary vitamins and nutrients will be fulfilled.

Some healthy snack ideas to fill the gap between meals

  • Mixed Nuts
  • Greek Yogurt and Mixed Berries
  • Apple Slices and Peanut Butter
  • Veggies and Hummus
  • Piece of Fruit
  • Smoothie
  • Trail Mix

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Eat Healthier With Proper Preparation

It is inevitable that some day you will need to plan and prepare your meals. This important part of “adulting” isn’t so hard when you’re a college student on a meal plan, but it’s always good to make sure you know the basics.

We all know how hard it can be to throw together good, healthy meals if you have a busy schedule (which, who doesn’t?), so make sure you’re getting the proper nutrients by planning your meals ahead of time. One way to approach this is to pack your meals ahead of time. For example, you could try some of these recipes for lunches. Doing the work ahead of time makes these quick grab-and-go items in the morning. Just be sure to pack foods that will sustain you throughout the day, mixing both simple and complex carbs.

A lot of times, being in a hurry to get out the door in the morning leads to skipping breakfast and being hungry the rest of the day. This can lead to making poor decisions with regard to food.

“Who cares if this bag of chips is 200 calories? I’m hungry!”

If you make breakfast ahead of time, you can easily grab it to-go no matter how much you overslept. For example, if you enjoy a savory, egg-centric breakfast, try this recipe for baked egg muffins! If you’re looking for something sweet, you could make overnight oats with just a few ingredients or these baked oatmeal cups!

Breakfast, lunch and dinner aren’t the only way you can plan ahead. Realistically, you’re still going to want to snack during the day, so make sure those snacks are healthy and homemade when possible. You could pre-portion nuts or even make your own flavored ones like these. If you want a nut-free option that is still protein packed, try roasted chickpeas, which are super easy to make ahead!

The most important aspects of meal prepping are to utilize your freezer and make large batches of yummy, healthy food ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to pre-portion your servings to avoid overeating either. Dedicate one day a week to plan next week’s meals and you’re set!


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Healthy Meal Substitutions Worth Trying

A common misconception with food is that in order to make smarter, healthier choices, you have to give up all your favorite meals. That isn’t necessarily true. If you get creative, and a little adventurous, you will find there are plenty of ways to still enjoy your go-to meals by substituting ingredients with other, healthier alternatives.

We found a couple meals that fit the bill with simple substitutions that can be made to add a fresh, healthy twist. These meal substitutions are definitely worth trying in your home kitchen.

Breakfast

Everybody loves to start the day with pancakes from First Stop or Pulley Diner. While you’re home for spring break, try a new twist on this breakfast staple. You can replace regular pancake batter with two bananas and two eggs for a gluten-free meal! Try this basic recipe with suggestions for common add-ins! Added bonus: bananas are high in fiber and antioxidants.

Lunch

If you’re a fan of Boneless Wing Wednesdays, you can switch it up a bit by replacing the chicken with cauliflower! It’s super easy to make this vegetarian dish and definitely worth a try. Just bake some cauliflower, cover it in as much sauce as you want and bake again. Here’s a recipe straight from the source. Replacing chicken with cauliflower makes this dish more vitamin rich, lower in calories, and gluten-free.

Snack

A great snack for the warmer months ahead is one that will bring with it a twinge of nostalgia. Throwback to childhood summers of pouring juice into popsicle trays, but now imagine an updated, more health-conscious version. Try replacing sugar-rich juice, found in the popsicles of your youth, with greek yogurt. All it takes is your favorite sliced fresh fruit, plain greek yogurt, and a natural sweetener like agave nectar or honey. The creamy and delicious treat will melt in your mouth … literally.

Dinner

Even fans of The Q can get in on this whole substitution thing. Barbeque pulled pork gets a healthy twist by replacing the meat with … fruit! Jackfruit can be prepared so that it has the texture of the average pulled meat. Adding barbeque for flavor and then using it on a bun, taco shell, or plate of nachos turns the fruit into a great meat substitute. This cuts down on cholesterol and calories and adds in more nutrients. It is definitely worth giving a try in your home kitchen!


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Which Foods Can Help You Sleep Better?

A good night’s sleep is like a Golden Ticket to college students. Whether it’s noisy neighbors, a lab report that’s due in the morning or too much coffee in the evening, it can be hard to fall and stay asleep. The amount and quality of sleep you get can have a significant impact on your everyday health and what you eat during the day can impact your sleeping patterns. Let’s take a look at the various foods that may help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and really catch those Z’s.

Studies have shown that high-glycemic foods (those that release glucose rapidly) can significantly shorten the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. Foods that are high on the glycemic index include rice, potatoes and bread. Over 100 foods have been ranked on the glycemic index here. The same study showed that high-glycemic foods were most effective in shortening the time it takes to fall asleep when consumed four hours before bedtime. 

While high-glycemic foods can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, there are other foods that may take a more direct route to prompting sleep. The hormone that induces sleep is melatonin. According to some studies, foods high in Vitamin B6 and/or foods high in tryptophan have been found to aid in the “biosynthesis and secretion” of melatonin, which then, in turn, induces sleep. Vitamin B6 is required to make melatonin and tryptophan, the chemical responsible for maintaining a proper sleep cycle, is the same amino acid found in turkey that leads to the inevitable midday nap on Thanksgiving Day.

High-calorie foods, however, were shown to decrease the amount of melatonin found in blood. So, switching out ice cream for bananas, a food high in Vitamin B6, might be the best option if you’re trying to get to bed unless, of course, you get creative and make yourself some one-ingredient banana ice cream for the best of both worlds. 

Other foods rich in Vitamin B6 include certain types of fish like salmon, halibut or tuna, along with pistachios, prunes and sunflower seeds. As for tryptophan, foods like poultry, nuts, seeds and cheese are good sources.   

Whether you’re looking for a full meal or a small snack before bed, be aware of how the foods you eat may impact your sleeping patterns and, hopefully, your roommate lets you stay asleep! 


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Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation

As the semester kicks into full swing, it is important to stay on top of your mental health as well as your physical health because both go hand in hand in contributing to personal well-being and even academic success. One simple way to address mental health is to spend some time in quiet thought, aka meditate. While there are various forms of meditation to choose from, we took a look at one, in particular, that may not only help you relax after a busy day, but also may provide additional benefits.

One of the more popular types of meditation is called focused attention (FA) meditation where you, quite simply, focus on one thing. This “thing” could be a sound, an image, an object, your breath, or a sensation. Some examples are the sound of a metronome (there are apps for that), scented candles or a picturesque view of nature. Whatever you feel is captivating can work. Once you’ve picked your sound/image/object/etc., sit with good posture, close your eyes, relax your body and focus on that thing. The goal isn’t to think about the thing, but to experience it. Focus on the sensation it provides and be fully present in the moment. If you are just starting out, this may be difficult, but if you continue to work at it, meditation can be very rewarding.

According to scientific studies, repeated practice of FA meditation may help you sustain attention longer and more easily, which is pretty helpful for a two-hour lecture. Like any other skill, attention takes training. To start increasing your skill level in this area, try practicing focused attention meditation in five-minute sessions and work your way up to 30-minute sessions. As you improve, you may start to reap the benefits of a higher attention span in and outside the classroom!

Evidence from UCLA suggests that the number of years of meditation practice has a positive correlation to increased ability to process information at higher speeds, make decisions, form memories and more. A variety of meditation types were tested, all with similar results, so pick your favorite and get to it. Other possible benefits include increased emotional control, self-regulation and awareness. 

A healthy diet can also go a long way in helping you focus on focusing rather than how hungry you are. Recent scientific findings indicate that brassica vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi, containing isothiocyanate, could work to prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases and improve brain function. Another healthy option is switching out simple carbohydrates with complex ones like whole grain. This switch will keep you full longer and sustain your energy levels throughout your meditative practice.

Practicing meditation and improving your diet can be positive lifestyle choices for people from all walks of life. Particularly as this semester continues on, don’t be afraid to take some time to for yourself and meditate!


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What Kind of Exercise is Right for You?

A couple weeks ago, we asked our friends at the Miami University Recreation Center what dining tips they had for students who were starting new workout regimens. This time, we asked Shannon Posey (Assistant Director of Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor), to breakdown the different types of exercise out there and how you can get the most out of your workouts at the Rec Center.

Cardiovascular Exercise vs. Weight Training

There are a variety of ways to participate in activities that challenge cardiovascular health. Things such as golfing, yard-work, and bowling are all technically forms of cardiovascular exercise. It is recommended to participate in cardiovascular activity 3-5 times per week at a moderate to vigorous intensity, for about 30 minutes. In total, you should be getting 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week, but how you break it up is really up to the individual. For some people golfing may be vigorous enough to serve as an appropriate form of exercise. However, it’s more likely that college students will need to engage in activities like running, biking, basketball, or climbing stairs.

Weight training is also an important component of exercise. It is recommended to weight train 2-3 times per week, making sure to take rests between weight training days. The Recreation Center has a multitude of weight training machines, in addition to free weights. If you are just beginning with a weight training regimen, it can be daunting and the first few days may be a struggle, but it’s well worth it.

Each have their own benefits. Cardiovascular exercise can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, improves cardiovascular and respiratory function, and decreases anxiety. Weight training is known to improve bone density, decrease the risk for injury, and increase fat-free mass. Many people will choose to participate in either cardiovascular exercise or weight training, but the reality is that they are both most effective when combined. Both improve overall quality of life and contribute to enhanced feelings of well-being and self-confidence.

Group Fitness vs. Personal Training

This is a long standing battle for some as Group Fitness and Personal Training are complete opposites. Group Fitness in is a group setting of anywhere from 2 to 50 people and offers a variety of modes of exercise. For example, at the Recreation Center our offerings include: Pilates, Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Yoga Pilates, Barre, Spinning, Toning, Bootcamp, Tabata, Zumba®, Indo-Row®, Shockwave®, TRX®, SilverSneakers®, Kettlebell, Baby & Me Yoga, Kickboxing, Abs classes, Cardio classes, and a variety of classes with different combinations of those options. The downside is that Group Fitness isn’t as personalized. There are many instructors that cater toward regular participants, but there are no fitness assessments performed to monitor progress, and sometimes your favorite class is only available once a week.

Personal Training is personalized. A health assessment and profile is typically completed beforehand to gauge where to begin in the fitness program. You also have the capability of meeting with the trainer more than once per week. The downside is that you may not have the support of a group, and personal training may not be as entertaining for those that like the music and interaction with others. In some cases there is a happy medium, and we do offer this option at the Rec Center.

Small Group Training isn’t a new form of fitness, but it’s not something that many people know about. In this setting of 2-5 people you have the best of both worlds: a social network, and individualized attention. If you’re considering beginning a Group Fitness or Personal Training program, you should make sure you’re aware of all of your options so you can choose what’s best for you.

Informal vs Formal Recreation

Most people don’t understand the difference between these two forms of recreation because “formal” is often associated with staunch or uptight. However, the real difference is really whether or not you are participating in something organized or unorganized. Informal recreation is anything from going to the fitness center to run on the treadmill, to playing a pick up basketball game, or climbing at the rock wall during open climbing hours.

Formal recreation, on the other hand, includes activities like participating in an intramural soccer game, training with a personal trainer, or going on an organized adventure trip. More often, formal recreation is performed with friends or a social network whereas informal recreation may be on your own. That said, both are forms of recreation and, as long as you are getting exercise, are great options.

Most of the time your choice between informal and formal recreation is based on a personal preference. Do you prefer to exercise on your own or do you prefer to exercise with others? Or maybe you’d rather do both? There’s nothing that says you can’t participate in both an intramural soccer game, and run on the treadmill in the fitness center on your own.


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Best Practices for Your Diet When Beginning an Exercise Program

It should be no surprise that a healthy diet is an essential part of any exercise program. Whether you are just beginning a new program, or have been working out for a while, eating enough food and eating the right food can go a long way in maximizing your workout efforts.

So, we asked our friends at the Miami University Recreation Center for the best practices, in terms of your diet, when beginning an exercise program. Shannon Posey (Assistant Director of Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor) and Jeff Molter (Assistant Director of Fitness and Certified Personal Trainer) offered their valuable insight.

1. Always Drink Water!

Maintaining adequate hydration levels is crucial prior to, during and post workout.

  • Individuals should drink 2-4 Liters of water throughout the day, depending on their size.
  • Emphasis should be placed on drinking water during and immediately following exercise.

2. Get Your Protein

Supplying the body with adequate levels of protein will be crucial for assisting in muscle repair (MyPlate recommends 5.5 ounces).

  • Include a healthy source of protein with each meal consumed.
  • Examples include: lean meat (turkey, chicken), fish (salmon, white water fish), legumes, eggs, peanut butter, nuts/seeds, and tofu.

3. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Incorporate the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet (MyPlate recommends 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables).

4. Macronutrient Ratios

Understand and balance macronutrient ratios (Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates) for desired goals.

  • Make ‘healthy’ choices from each macro when building meals.
  • Do not avoid fat, but instead choose from healthy options.
  • Examples of healthy fats include: fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, and whitefish), canola and vegetable oils, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, and eggs).

5. Real Over Processed

Eat real food, and avoid processed foods.

  • Processed foods hide unwanted additives like unhealthy oils through hydrogenation, plus excess amounts of sodium and sugar.

6. Plan Ahead

Plan out your meals ahead of time. Most people choose to eat out, or eat unhealthy from a lack of planning. Take some time on the weekends to plan where you will eat and what you will eat for the week ahead.

  • Minimize ‘added sugars’ as much as you can.
  • Instead of putting sugar in your coffee or tea, try some honey or pure maple syrup.
  • Fruit provides plenty of natural sugars to satisfy a sweet tooth.

7. Nutrition Labels

Read nutrition labels for information regarding ingredients and total fat from calories. This will help better guide your choices.

  • Foods marketed as being healthy are NOT always healthy.

8. Moderation is Key

Eat everything in moderation and don’t necessarily go cold turkey.

  • Removing sugar and caffeine from the diet abruptly can result in detoxification side effects. If you consume these on a regular basis, work on replacing those things with different foods. Instead of eating a donut for a snack, try a piece of fruit instead.

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Dining Tips: New Semester, New You

With a new semester right around the corner, now is the perfect time to begin establishing new healthy eating habits, particularly before the stresses of your classes set in.

Whether it’s a part of your New Year’s resolution, or is just something that’s been on the to-do list, eating healthy plays a large role in any healthy lifestyle. Setting down the potato chips and dialing back your pizza intake can sound scary, but there are a couple simple tips that can go a long way towards eating healthier.

  • Make Healthy Snacking Convenient

One of the simplest changes you can make for the new semester is to focus on healthy snacking. While “willpower” is inspiring, it is a lot easier to simply remove unhealthy snacks from the equation by — you guessed it — moving them out of arms reach. When left with a choice between a sleeve of cookies or plate of celery, the cookies are the likely victor.

However, by surrounding yourself with healthier snacks, you can make it convenient to eat right and easier to choose healthy. For many students, who are pulled every which way by the demands of college, convenience is key. This means stocking your dorm with fruits, vegetables, pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, rice cakes, or other healthy snacks.

Swing by our market locations to stock up on healthy treats for late-night cravings in your dorm and for a little pick-me-up between classes.

  • Don’t Multi-task when Eating

Everyone has experienced that moment where you sit down to watch TV with a new bag of chips and then, to your surprise, find a completely empty bag in your hands a couple hours later. This phenomenon also frequently occurs while studying or multi-tasking of any sort because when you eat passively and don’t pay attention to how much you’re eating, you don’t always recognize when you are full. When your body doesn’t acknowledge it’s full, you tend to overeat.

Avoid multi-tasking and make your meal or snack your primary focus. Set down your notes and be aware of how much you are eating, whether it’s a bag of pretzels or a tray of food at Harris. If you are snacking while studying, try to avoid eating out of the bag or container and set aside your serving on a separate plate or in a bowl beforehand, so you don’t eat more than you intended.

Additionally, take your time as you eat. It takes 20 minutes for your body to recognize that it’s full, so if you finish your plate and want seconds, it might be best to wait to see if you really are still hungry for another serving.

distracted-eating-ron-weasley

  • Vary Your Meals

By now, you likely have your favorite dining locations and your favorite dining items. It’s normal to get into a habit of going to the same location and grabbing the same meal, particularly as the semester wears on and you adjust to your daily class schedule. Even if your go-to meal is a healthy choice, it’s a good idea to mix it up and introduce new flavors into your routine. Different foods offer different nutrients and introducing variety can help round out a healthy diet.

Cycle through the various offerings at buffet locations or try a location and meal you haven’t tried before. Is Dividends your go-to (of course it is, their salads are DELICIOUS)? Mix it up and give Garden Commons a try or at least experiment with new toppings on your salad. There are a lot of options across campus, so try something new!

  • Watch Portions

Another easy place to adjust dining habits is with portion sizes, which can get a little out of control if you aren’t careful. That said, taking control of your portions is an easy way to take control of your diet.

As a general rule, when fixing a plate, you want to fill half the plate with vegetables and fruit (in favor of the veggies). A quarter of the plate is then used for protein with the final quarter reserved for whole grains like whole-grain pasta or brown rice. While many people tend to start filling their plate with the main course and then add the salad last, it is recommended that you begin at the salad bar. Filling half your plate with veggies and fruit will naturally cause you to dial back your entree portions.

To take it a step further, check out the below graphic for more details.

portion-sizes-harvard-school-of-public-health-min

  • Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a fancy way of saying “think about what you’re eating and why.” Some people eat because they are nervous, stressed or tired. Others eat simply because food is in front of them. Being mindful about your diet means thinking about why you are eating, if you are hungry and then being conscientious of what you are eating.

This idea of being “mindful” means paying attention to your portion sizes, which snacks you choose to consume and making sure you target fruits and vegetables throughout the day. It means limiting your sugar intake, drinking more water and, instead of two or three large meals per day, perhaps eating five to six smaller, nutritious meals that help you better maintain your energy throughout the day and help you avoid overeating with a large lunch/dinner. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to comfort food from time to time and it doesn’t mean you have to ignore half the food pyramid to “diet”, it just means being aware and working to develop healthy dining habits that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle!

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Finals Week Survival Tips

Finals week is here, but instead of freaking out, try these tips for staying healthy and sane during every college student’s favorite time of the year!

  1. Get enough sleep! The average college student requires 7-9 hours of sleep each night for maximum brain power. Close your textbook and take the extra hour of sleep. It will make you more productive in the morning.
  2. Eat a healthy breakfast. Jumpstarting your metabolism early on will help you stay focused throughout the day. Plus, who doesn’t love a good yogurt parfait?
  3. Try meditation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take 10 minutes to put that stress out of your brain. There are many apps for guided meditation and Spotify even provides guided meditation for practically any time limit.
  4. Exercise! When you work out, endorphins are pumped into your brain making you happy, alert and ready to ACE those finals!
  5. Eat 5-6 small balanced meals instead of 2-3 heavy ones. Heavy meals require more time to digest, which can lead to tiredness. Small balanced meals will offer the nutrients and energy needed to carry you throughout the day!
  6. Wash your hands! Your immune system takes a toll when you’re stressed out. Make sure you wash your hands frequently and keep some hand sanitizer on deck. The last thing you need right now is the flu.
  7. If all else fails, coffee is there to wake you up. Just make sure you’re also drinking a TON of water so you don’t get dehydrated and keep the caffeine intake under control to avoid getting jittery. Green tea is a great alternative. 
  8. Let it go. Once the exam is over, it’s over. Don’t let the stress overwhelm you! Treat yourself after a hard exam with your favorite sweet treat, like ice cream from Miami Ice!