Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Power of Chia Seeds

(No, not these chia seeds)

This past summer when I went to the supermarket to look for Chia seeds, I asked an employee if they sold them, and her response was "If we have them, they should be in the gardening section."  I was confused at first, because why would chia seeds be in the gardening section?  Then, I realized that she thought I meant Chia seeds, the ones that grow into Chia pets.

The Chia seeds I was looking for are the edible kind.  They come from the Salvia Hispanica plant, and although they are relatively unknown now, they are one of the best Superfoods that you can possibly eat.  Chia seeds are very small (around the same size as a sesame seed), have a dark color, and an oval shape.  

Chia seeds are full of inflammation fighting antioxidants and heart-healthful omega 3 fats.  They are also high in fiber, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.  In fact, they have about 6X the calcium found in milk!

[Yogurt sprinkled with Chia Seeds]

Another thing about Chia Seeds is that they absorb a lot of water, which causes them to increase in size.  This causes you to feel full, so if you are feeling an afternoon craving for some chips, instead have a yogurt sprinkled with chia seeds.  Because they absorb a lot of water, you might be feeling thirsty afterwards, so it is recommended to drink some water after eating chia seeds.

In addition to eating chia seeds by themselves, they can be sprinkled on yogurt, mixed with oatmeal, and blended with a smoothie.  Overall, chia seeds are one of the most versatile Superfoods available!

Source: Vegetarian Healing Foods cookbook 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Aloe-Ha! The Benefits of Aloe Vera.

Aloe Vera Plant

You may have used aloe before to treat a sunburn.  However, the benefits of this medicinal plant go more than skin deep.  Aloe's healing properties extend to internal ailments as well.  Aloe juice, derived form the fleshy pulp inside aloe vera leaves, may aid people with digestive disorders and type 2 diabetes, and may help boost the immune system.

Aloe contains digestive enzymes such as amylase and lipase,Vitamins C and E, and all eight essential amino acids.

Note: Aloe seems to increase the absorption of what you consume with it, so be careful when taking aloe with medications.

Unsweetened Aloe juice has a sour, slightly unripe flavor.  Adding a small amount of fruit juice can help dilute the taste of the aloe.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Calorie Burning Drinks: Legit, or Fake?

You have seen them on supermarket shelves: Skinny Water, Fuze Healthy Infusions Slenderize, Enviga.  These beverages claim to help curb your appetite, boost your metabolism, and burn fat.  "Wow, this is such a great deal!" you may think to yourself.  "Not only do I get to drink something that tastes good, I also get to burn fat, and lose weight!"  Not so fast.

The key ingredient in many of these beverages is green tea extract or caffeine.  Short-term studies have shown that these additions can give your metabolism a small boost (about 3.5% average), and burn an average of 78 calories.

But in a 2006 issue of Obesity Reviews, researchers noted that additional studies were needed to determine whether the products actually help you lose in the real world, over the long haul.  Some products included ingredients that you find in over-the-counter weight loss supplements (ex: Citrus aurantium, chromium picolinate).

Bottom line: Do not expect to lose weight just by drinking these beverages.  The best way to lose weight is to combine exercise with a healthy diet, not by drinking "Skinny Water" and hoping the pounds will come off.

Source: Drop 5: The Small Changes, Big Results Diet

Friday, November 2, 2012

Carbohydrate Myth Buster

Hey guys, sorry for not posting in a month.  I have been very busy with school the past few weeks, with midterms and all that.  Also, I have been a bit lazy in terms of updating this blog, so I apologize.  

People might ask if I will stop updating this blog all together.  The answer is: No.  I will continue to update this blog, just not as often.  It may be once a week, once every two weeks, who knows.  If I come across something interesting, I will try to share it with you.  (Today's post will be a short one about carbohydrates)

This past week, Hurricane Sandy came through my area.  I was fortunate to not be hit hard, I only lost power for a few hours overall.  My hometown, however, was hit pretty hard.  The folks there are going on 5 days now without power.  Hopefully they will get their power back soon.


Many people on diets are limiting or even avoiding carbohydrates because they think carbs are bad for their weight loss plan.  Well, that is a myth.  Carbohydrates are actually an important source of energy.  Even so, that doesn't mean there's nothing to learn from low-carb diets.  Carbs are not all created equal, and to help you lose weight you want to limit processed carbs such as white bread and croissants.

Instead, enjoy beans and whole grains such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread.  Of course, don't forget fruits and vegetables, which provide a host of nutrients and fiber, are low in calories, and can help reduce the risk of obesity and heart disease.  The body also uses carbs as fuel during exercise to burn body fat, which is another reason to keep bread and pasta on the menu.

Source: Drop 5: The Small Changes, Big Results Diet

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Taste Test Awards: Yogurt, Chocolate Ice Cream, and More!

In the October 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine, there is a section on Taste Test Winners.  Basically, they served 200 foods to a panel of taste testers.  Foods varied from rice chips to chocolate ice-cream bars to yogurt, and more.  This can be useful if you are comparing different brands and wondering which one to buy when it comes to a certain food.

Here are some of the winners:

Gluten-free rice chips: Lundberg Rice Chips

Description: The company offers these super-thick chips in nine flavors.  The sea salt variety (110mg sodium per serving) complemented the toasty rice flavor of the chip.  Crunchy, hearty-a true snack.

Chocolate Ice-Cream Bars: Blue Bell Fudge Bars

Description: These bars instantly evoke childhood ice-cream truck memories with a refreshing ice-milk quality.  Best for those who prefer milk chocolate over dark, but slight bitter-sweet undertones keep this bar from being boring.

Fat-Free Strawberry Greek Yogurt: Chobani

Description: Superdense texture, almost cheesecake-like.  Tart edge with a hint of sweetness.  Chunks of strawberries (and a seedy crunch) keep the flavor real.

Mixed Nuts: Planters Select Macadamias, Cashews, and Almonds

Description: Plenty of freshness, light on salt (95mg per serving).  Macadamias bring a sweet, buttery quality, while cashews and almonds contribute nice crunch.

Freozen Veggie Burgers: Morningstar Farms Grillers Original
Description: Beef-like texture and taste with a moist interior.  Seasoning gives the all-veggie base an almost sausage-like quality without any overpowering liquid smoke presence.

Source: Cooking Light Magazine October 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Control Your Snack Cravings

Have you been hungry recently, but the only snacks around you are chips and cookies?  The following list, which I found on my school's Campus Recreation page, gives healthy alternatives to common snacks that we eat, based on what nutrients you need.  I found this list interesting and helpful.

Have a look:

(Credits go out to St. John's Campus Recreation Facebook Page)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Healthy Grocery Shopping List

My school, St. John's University, recently sent us an email giving us tips on how to "live swell off-campus".  Because I was stuck inside due to a rainstorm, I decided to take a look.  When we go to the supermarket, there are hundreds of choices to choose from.  Some foods are cheaper than others, but they might not be better for your body.  Inside the document was a list of Healthy Grocery Items to purchase.  By stocking your house/apartment with these foods, you have made healthy eating a lot easier.  

The purpose of this list is to help guide you to buying healthier foods in the supermarket.  Of course, you do not have to follow this like it's a law, but if you incorporporate a few of these items into your diet, it will improve your health.  Here are some to share with you:

Breads, Cereals, Rice, Pasta
Breads: whole wheat, rye, or pumpernickel
Multigrain crackers
Pasta: Whole wheat noodles, spaghetti, or macaroni
Brown Rice

Fruit and Vegetables
Fruits: any fresh, canned, dried, frozen, without any added sugar
Vegetables: any fresh or frozen without cream or cheese sauce
100% fresh or frozen juices, without added sugar (ex: cocktails)

Milk and Yogurt
Fat free, 1% milk, or 2% milk
Low-fat or non fat yogurt

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Beans, Eggs, NutsBeef: eye or round, top round, sirloin, tenderloin
Lamb: leg-shank
Chicken or turkey, white or light meat
Luncheon meats, 95%-99% fat free
Fish (most white meat fish is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol)

Sweets and Snacks
Low fat cookies: animal crackers, devil's food cookies, fruit bars, graham crackers, lemon wafers
Angel food cake
Pudding (fat free or 1% milk)
Gelatin desserts (Jello)
Popcorn without butter or oil, pretzels, baked tortilla chips
Fruit Gushers

Fats and Oils
Canola Oil
Olive Oil
Coconut Oil (see Coconut Oil: The Best Oil? post for more information)
Butter-like spreads with no trans fats

Sparkling water
Coconut Water
100% Fruit Juice, regular or low calorie
Gatorade Series Low Calorie
Naked Smoothies

Herbs, spices
Non-stick cooking spray
Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise
Low sodium soy sauce
Salsa or picante sauce
Spaghetti sauce
Chicken Noodle Soup

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Antioxidant Myth

Examples of Antioxidants
Mostly all of us know that antioxidants are good and that they protect our body against free radicals and our cells from aging.  That is true.  Most people also think that all antioxidants come from fruits and vegetables.  That is false.  Infact, the entire plant kingdom, which includes beans, nuts, seeds, and grains, is rich in antioxidants.
These also are Antioxidants

 The reason is because all plants produce antioxidants to fight against predators and UV rays.  The one exception is refined grains, which is found in white rice, cookies, and brownies (to name a few).  Even meat, dairy products, and eggs contain antioxidants.  These come from the nutrient-rich plants the animals eat. 

Unfortunately, these don't contain Antioxidants

So for those of you "allergic" to fruits and vegetables, do not worry.  You can still get your antioxidant filling every day. 

Source: 1001 Muscle Meals

Monday, September 10, 2012

Coconut Oil: The best Oil?

When cooking, there are many types of oils that you can choose from.  Some are: vegetable oil, corn oil, and olive oil. People ask all the time: Which is the healthiest oil to cook with?  While that question is up to debate, I have an alternative: Coconut Oil.

"Coconut oil is one of the best oils to cook with because it won't turn into harmful trans-fats when heated at high temperatures."

Coconut oil is made from the meat of mature coconuts and contains "Medium chain fatty acids", which behaves differently from other types of fat.  These medium chain fatty acids can be absorbed directly by the cell, which means they are less likely to be stored as excess fat, which leads to weight gain.

Coconut oil also contains high levels of lauric acid, which helps strengthen the immune system.  Researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medicine Research have found that a diet rich in coconut oil will help keep fat off and protect you from insulin resistance.  Even though I haven't cooked with coconut oil myself, I will be on the lookout for a bottle in the future.

Source: Heal Yourself Essentials: 101 Tried & Tested Tips & Secrets

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

5 High Fiber Foods

Note to all readers: Due to the fact that school has started, I will be updating this blog a lot less.  I will try to update this periodically, but it will be a lot less often due to my heavy courseload this semester.  Thank you for your understanding.

Fiber is an important nutrient that has many benefits.  Fiber helps moves things through your digestive system and lowers your chance of developing diverticulitis, a disease in which small pouches form in the colon.  Also, fiber helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease because it lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Below are 5 foods that are high in fiber:

1. Almonds (3.5g per oz)

2. Sweet potato (5g for 1 medium)

3. Apple (4.5g for 1 medium)

4. Oats (4g per 1 cup cooked)

5. Pinto/black beans (7.5g per 1/2 cup cooked)

Source: All You magazine, Issue 8

Thursday, August 30, 2012

US Open Food Prices

The US Open is arguably the most popular tennis tournament in the world.  This year, from August 27-September 9, hundreds of thousands of spectators will travel to the courts in Flushing to watch some high quality tennis.  Millions of other people will watch the action on TV and online at

I had the chance to attend the US Open myself on Tuesday.  It was a remarkable experience, and totally worth the $59 I spent on my Gounds Pass ticket. 

For those of you who plan to attend the US Open this labor day weekend, you will probably end up getting something to eat or drink.  The following are the prices of some of the food items that are available at the US Open: (~ means approximate price)

Evian Water (Small): $3.75
Evian Water (Large): $5.00
Gatorade: $5.00
Strawberry Slushie: $5.50
Snapple: $5.50
Mixed Berry Smoothie: ~$6.00
Frozen Lemonade (Small): $5.00
Frozen Lemonade (Large): $7.00
Heineken: ~$6.00
Yogurt Parfait: $6.50

Pretzel: ~$5.00
Four Cheese Pizza: $8.50
Hamburger: ~$6.75
Grilled Chicken Sandwich: $9.75
Hotdog: ~$6.50
Turkey Sandwich: $8.75
Tuna Salad Sandwich: $8.75
Steak Sandwich: $13.00
Lobster Sandwich: ~$17.50
Curly Fries: $4.75

(I had a Four Cheeze Pizza, and I enjoyed it.  It was a relatively small size, but it had flavor and a lot of crust, which is my favorite part.  I would recommend it.)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lobster Mania!

This summer has been like heaven for lobster lovers.  There has been an abundance of lobster, which has caused the price to go down.  Where I live, lobster can be bought for under $5.00 a pound!  In the Portland area, retailers have been selling lobsters for as little as $3.79 a pound.

The reason for the low prices is because in the springtime, the lobster fishermen had an unusually strong catch.  This resulted in a "backlog", an overflow of lobsters.  Because lobsters can't be shipped (they are too fragile to survive the long journey), they have a limited geographical location where they can be sold.  This causes an overabundance, and therefore, low prices.

For more information, check out the article below.  In the meantime, I will be enjoying more lobster.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hate vegetables? I have a solution!

Hate vegetables?  Won't even go near them, let alone eat them?  I may have a solution for you.  It comes in the name of Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta, and it has a FULL SERVING of vegetables for every 4 oz portion!

Ronzoni Garden Delight Pasta provides the nutrition of pasta and vegetables while retaining the flavor of pasta.  I recently tried the Radiatore version.  When I was eating the pasta, I couldn't taste the vegetables at all!  The pasta has dried carrot, dried tomato, and dried spinach hidden inside.

In addition to providing you with a full serving of vegetables, each 4 oz portion provides you with 8g of fiber and 14g of protein!  Vegetables, fiber, and protein: now that's a triple threat!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Evol Food Bowls and Burritos

For those of you who are interested in buying frozen food meals for your dorm room, apartment, or house, I have a new recommmendation for you: Evol Foods.  Evol Foods is a relatively new name that started in 2009.  Their foods include burritos, pizzas, and food bowls.

Personally, I have tried a few of their food items (like the fire grilled steak and teriyaki chicken wrap) and found them to be pleasantly satisfying.  The fire grilled steak (shown below) featured vegetables that were tasty and had flavor (unlike most frozen vegetables), had a good amount of steak, and a nice cilantro lime pesto sauce. The portion size wasn't that big, but the quality was good.  It was a bit pricey (it cost me about $6 at my school), but I would say it's worth it to try it out.

Evol foods are relatively new and therefore hard to find.  I did manage to find some at a local Stop & Shop for a pretty good price (~$4.59 for a food bowl and ~$3.50 for a burrito).  I believe that with time, the popularity of Evol Foods will grow and they will become more readily available to the public.

If you are interested in Evol products, visit their website for more information.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Baja Fresh Wahoo Taco

Wahoo.  When I first saw this offered in a Taco at Baja Fresh, I thought they had made up a name.  Wahoo, a type of seafood?  What kind of seafood has the name of "Wahoo"?

After doing some research, I found out that there is actually a Wahoo Fish.  In fact, it is one of the faster fish in the sea, capable of swimming up to 50 mph!

Wahoo is known to have a variety of nutritional benefits.  Wahoo is an excellent source of selenium, potassium, niacin, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.  In addition, this fish is low in calories, which gives you even more incentive to try it out.

I got a Wahoo taco at Baja Fresh the other day as part of the Catch 2 deal, and I have to say: The fish was pretty tasty.  It was accompanied by a few slices of avocado, some tomatoes, and lettuce.  All of this was wrapped in two soft taco shells.  I also tried the garlic lime shrimp taco, and likewise, found it good.  The shrimp had a "grilled smoky" taste to it, and you could taste the lime.  Overall, the meal cost $7.99, which isn't bad considering they give you a side of rice and beans as well.

*For those of you looking to get an even better deal, there are coupons you can get online.  $2.00 off if you spend $8, or $5.00 off if you spend $15*

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Usain Bolt's Secret to Success

Over the years, especially recently, McDonald's has taken flack for serving "unhealthy" foods, such as hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and french fries.  Their food is probably among the most notorious for being bad.  If you have been staying away from McDonald's, you may want to reconsider your decision.

It turns out that Jamaican sensation Usain Bolt, 6X Gold Medal winner, eats McDonald's before his races.  Before his final in London, Bolt said he had a chicken and vegetable wrap from McDonald's.  When asked about his decision, Bolt replied, "It was healthy.  Don't judge me."

McDonald's helps Bolt break world records and win Olympic Gold medals.  What can McDonald's do for you?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Village Dining Hall

A few days ago, I came across this article about the Olympic Village Dining Hall.  I found it very interesting.  For example, the dining hall is open 24 hours a day and is free to all athletes.  Over the course of the Olympics, there was an estimated 17 million meals served!

There is food for everyone including halal, African, Caribbean, Indian, Asian, Polish, Mediterranean, and McDonalds.  This is a welcome change to Beijing, when there were only three choices in the dining hall: international, Mediterranean, and Asian.  As expected, the food is top quality.  The milk is organic, the coffee is free-trade, and the eggs are free-range.  The chicken carries Britain's "Freedom Food" label.

For more information about the Dining hall, click on the link below.

Olympic Village Dining Hall: Best food court ever?

As for my favorite moment of the games?  There's too many to list, but one that stands out is Manteo Mitchell.  This guy broke his leg in the middle of a 4x400 relay race, but managed to finish his lap and successfully hand off the baton.  Running 200M on a broken leg?  Now that's just incredible.  I remember I once sprained my ankle playing basketball, I couldn't even walk for a few days.  I had to hop on one foot.  But this guy Manteo Mitchell?  This guy is just unbelievable. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Olympic Medalist Yohan Blake's Secret to Success

Olympic Medalist and World Champion Yohan Blake has shared his secrets to his success in becoming the second fastest man in the world.  The secrets: training, music, and bananas.

Blake says that he eats 16 ripe bananas every day as part of his diet.  He says that bananas help restore the potassium he has lost from sweat during his intense training sessions.  It seems to have paid off.  He came second only to Usain Bolt in the 100M and 200M races.

He still has a chance to get a Gold Medal in the 4X100M relay, which is tonight in London.  With Bolt this time on his team, I wouldn't bet against it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Go Naturally Organic Hard Candies

If you are looking for a Hardy Candy to satisfy your sweet tooth, I recomment Go Naturally Organic Hard Candies.  These candies are naturally sweetened and contain natural fruit flavors.  As a bonus, they are gluten free and contain no artificial colors or flavors.  A bag cost me around $2.50.

In the Pomegranate flavor I bought (shown above), the ingredient list reads like this: Organic evaporated cane juice, organic brown rice syrup, citric acid, natural pomegranate flavor.  That's it.  Pretty good, right?

The candy has a sweet-like taste, but not sugary sweet (I assume because of the cane juice and brown rice syrup).  The pomegranate flavor adds a bit of tartness.  I like it.

If pomegranate isn't your thing, don't fret.  Other flavors include apple, cherry, blood orange, and iced mint mango.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Outback Steakhouse Bushman Bread Calories

This past weekend, me and my parents went to Outback Steakhouse for the first time.  While we were waiting for our food to arrive, we got some bread to snack on:

This bread is called Honey Wheat Bushman Bread, and it has a slight sweetness to it.  It is very good, I must say.  Unfortunately, it's also very bad for you.  Each loaf with butter consists of 467 calories!

Trust me, the loaf looks big, but it's not.  I could have easily eaten 2 by myself.  That would be over 900 calories right there.  Fortunately, I "limited" myself to about 3/4 of a loaf.  That's over 300 calories, but a lot less then it could have been.

Source: Eat This Not That Diet

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Denny's Interview with Monica

Recently, I was fortunate to able to talk to my friend Monica, who works at Denny's.  I am not familiar with Denny's myself, so I was able to learn some information about this restaurant chain.  Enjoy the interview.

Introduction: My name is Monica and I am a former pharmacy student at St. John's University. I am transferring to the Richard Stockton College in the fall as a biochemistry major. I will miss all of the St. John's friends that I made, especially Eric Char. Lol. Ever since I moved to Galloway, NJ from Atlantic City, I have fallen in love with America's diner, Denny's. I decided to apply for a summer job and fortunately, I was able to get it!


1. To be honest, I am not that familiar with Denny’s. What is it?

Denny's is an American diner that is open 24/7. It's known as "America's Diner." There are over 4600 Denny's worldwide. 

2. What is your job at Denny’s? 

Currently, I am a server (waitress). But before, I was hired as a hostess as preparation to becoming a server.

3. How long have you been working there?

I started working there at the beginning of June so almost 2 months.

4. What are the most popular foods at Denny’s?

Denny's is probably the most famous for its breakfast. But we serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner any time of the day. 

5. Are there any specials going on right now?

Right now, we have our "Tour of America" special menu in addition to our core menu. We have six meals inspired by American places- Midwest Sandwich, Malibu fish tacos, Brooklyn Spaghetti and Meatballs, Florida Sunshine Salad, Southern Slam, and the Red, White, and Blue pancakes/breakfast. We also have a $2, $4, $6, $8 menu that allows people to chose certain food items based on those respective prices.

6. What do you mean by the $2 $4 $6 $8 menu? For example, can I pay $2 and still get myself some pancakes and milk?

There are different options you can get with the $2 $4 $6 $8 option. For example, off the top of my head, you can get two pancakes or cheese quesadillas or a pancake puppy sundae or a biscuit w/ gravy and an egg or hashbrowns for $2. 

For $4, you can get a skillet cookie dessert, the Everyday Value Slam (pancakes, eggs, and sausage or bacon), or chicken wraps.

For $6, you can get a burger and fries, a chicken sandwich...

For $8, you can get an even bigger option breakfast or chicken parmesan, etc. These options come with a drink.
All you need to do is pay tax, too.

7. Has working at Denny’s taught you anything about food and nutrition? If so, what?

Denny's is my first job. Personally, I believe I have been spoiled ever since a child. I never had to cook for the family because my parents and grandparents always took care of that. Therefore, I don't know a lot about food- prepping it, cooking it, cross-contamination, etc. So yes, I have learned a lot and I'm still learning.