Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Now that the weather is all hot, tropical fruits have been appearing on supermarkets shelves at good prices.  One of thees fruits is the papaya.  For some reason, not many people like papayas.  If you've never tried them before, I strongly recommend you give them a try.

Papayas are packed with nutritional goodness.  Each cub of cubed papaya contains 2 1/2 grams fiber, 150%  daily value Vitamin C, 28% Vitamin A, 14% folate, and 6% potassium.  Best of all, it's only 60 calories!

To eat a papaya, slice it open, remove the seeds, and cut the fruit away from the skin.  If you want, you can squeeze some lemon or lime juice for an added kick.

Source: Nutrition Action June 2012 Magazine

Sunday, July 29, 2012

5 Foods You Should buy Organic

Deciding whether or not to buy organic food can be a hard decision.  Many people, including me, wonder if the higher prices are worth it.  Due to their high levels of pesticides, the following is a list of 5 foods that you should buy organic (if you want, of course):

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Strawberries

4. Peaches

5. Sweet Bell Peppers

P.S.-(Due to the London Olympics, I will be posting less frequently the next two weeks.  Expect around 3 posts per week instead of the usual).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

5 Foods You Can Freeze

The weather here has been scorching hot recently, with temperatures regularly in the mid 90's.  To help you cool off, here are 5 foods that taste surprisingly good when frozen:

1. Grapes

2. Avocado Slices

3. Applesauce

4. Peppermint Patties

5. Root Beer

Source: Food Network Magazine July/August 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Triglyceride Facts (Q&A)

A few facts about triglycerides, in Q&A format.  Interesting read:

Q. What are triglycerides?

A. Triglycerides are the main fat in foods, and they are also found in the bloodstream.  Even though they are fats, diets high in carbohydrates and sugars that contain fructose can raise triglycerides in the blood.

Q. How many people have high triglycerides?

A. About 1 out of every 3 adults have triglyceride levels of 150 or higher.

Q. So that means if my triglyceride level is under 150, I'm good?

A. Not necessarily.  The American Heart Association states that the optimal triglyceride level is under 100.  This means that your body is efficiently processing fats.

Q. Then why is the cutoff 150?

A. Your risk for heat disease increases if your triglycerides is above 150.  If it's above 300, then things really get serious.

Q. Why are triglycerides linked to heart disease?

A. The answer is very complicated, but in very simple terms, the triglyceride remnants cause plaque build-up in the arteries.  The build-up causes the arteries to harden, and therefore, less blood can flow through.  This can cause many problems, including atherosclerosis.

Q. Are high triglycerides as bad for women as for men?

A. High triglycerides are a better predictor of heart disease in women than men.  

Source: Nutrition Action Magazine July/August 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

$1.99 Jamba Juice Oatmeal!

This morning, for a morning snack, I drove to Jamba Juice at my local mall to get some of their oatmeal.  The description on their menu says "organic steel-cut oats slow-cooked with soymilk".  From Monday-Friday until 12 noon, you can purchase their steel-cut oatmeal for a cheap price of $1.99!  "Flavors" include fresh bananas, apple cinnamon, and blueberry & blackberry.

A picture of some oatmeal flavors:

I tried the apple cinnamon and blueberry-blackberry flavors.  In my opinion, the apple cinnamon one tastes better.  To me, plain oatmeal tastes...plain.  But the toppings add some much needed flavor and sweetness to the oatmeal.  And throw in the optional brown sugar, and you get even more sweetness.  Even though the cup may look small, the portion size is enough to fill you up for a few hours at the very least.

I used to hate oatmeal because of the blandness, but now I am starting to like it a bit (only with toppings and sugar).  Oatmeal is a good source of fiber, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.  Oatmeal is also a good source of carbohydrates, which give you energy.  In addition, it is a cheap (money-wise) but good way to keep you full in the morning so you won't keep reaching for those cookies.  A cup of apple cinnamon oatmeal from Jamba Juice contains 290 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, and 60g carbs.

Even if you are not a fan of oatmeal, I suggest you give it a try.  I didn't think I would ever like oatmeal, but slowly, I am changing my mind.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Wawa Virgin

Up until today, I was a Wawa virgin.  But not anymore.  I mean, in the past I have went to Wawa, but the only thing I have bought there was either a soda or a cookie.  Until today.  Today, I bought one of Wawa's sandwiches.

Overall, I am impressed with their sandwiches, especially the way you go about ordering one.  There is an electronic touch-screen menu (shown above) that you can punch in your order.  You choose what sandwich you want, then the bread, cheese, toppings, and dressings you want.  After you order, a receipt prints out and an employee starts making your sandwich right in front of you.  Within 5 minutes, your order is ready to go.  Wawa's up-to-date method and ease of ordering impressed me the most.

What made me want to try their sandwich was the promotion going on.  For a limited time, Wawa is having a Hoagiefest promotion, which means that their 10 inch subs on a Classic hoagie roll are at a discounted price of $4.79!  Today I had a pizza chicken steak (no cheese), and it was delicious.  In fact, I finished it in 5 minutes.

Although it did take me 19 years to try something from Wawa's, one thing is for sure: I sure as hell am gonna go back for more!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Exclusive Interview #2: Interview with a vegetarian!

Today, I am here with my friend, Jen.  This interview was done over the computer.  Enjoy!

Introduction (tell us a little bit about yourself): 

               I'm a 22 year old native Texan who's transplanted herself to NYC to experience life outside of my small home town. 

Ok, now onto the Questions:

1. When did you first become a vegetarian?

         I became a vegetarian the summer going into 7th grade. I think I was about 12  or 13 years old. Looking back, I wonder how I didn't become ill. Although I tried my best, my diet was really unbalanced.

2. Why did you choose to become a vegetarian?

         The story of how I became a vegetarian is really strange. It happened so suddenly my parents thought I wouldn't last a day. 
One day my family and I were eating dinner as usual.My mother had prepared chicken wings for us. Back then I was a big meat eater, but as I took a bite and my teeth sunk in I was hit by the sudden idea of what I was actually doing. I was eating flesh! Scared and frankly grossed out, I swore off eating land animals.

3. We know that meat is a good source of protein. Where do you get your protein from?

       Now that I've been a vegetarian for nearly 10 years I find it really easy to get a healthy amount of protein. You'd be surprised how little protein is actually needed. For example an active female of my weight needs only about 70grams of protein. That means if I eat yogurt, tofu, a handful of nuts and have a glass of milk, I'll be able to satisfy my nutritional needs. Other foods that are really good sources for protein are animal products such as eggs and fish. Of course even vegans can get enough protein from things like beans, nuts, seeds and even vegetables! 
      The thing that people really need to be conscious of especially those who eat no animal products ie. vegans is getting enough B12 Deficiencies in that can cause irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system!

4. Do you like to cook?

      I love cooking!!

5. What is your "signature dish"?

      I don't want to seem haughty but I enjoy my cooking so much that I'd say I don't have a signature dish, but rather everything I make is good. 

6. How does your food habits contribute to your slim figure?

         I think being a vegetarian has really helped me stay slim even when I haven't gone to the gym in months. Though I can't  scientifically back this, I'd say it has much to do with the fact that I can't eat most fast food nor do I eat fatty meats. Also, though I do love sweets, I try to make a conscious effort not to over indulge in things.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

China vs USA: Ice Water

(This is Part 1 of my review of food in China.  This post will be about ordering ice water in restaurants.)

If you go to a restaurant in the U.S. and ask for water, there will be no questions asked and you will get your water after a short while.  Not in China.  The first night, me and my parents went to a restaurant to eat dinner.  The waitress asked us what we wanted to drink.  We replied, "Water, Ice water."

Five minutes later, she came back with a pot of boiling water.  We told her that we wanted ice water, cold water, not hot water.  Another 5 minutes later, she comes back with 3 glasses of ice water.  "That will be 9 RMB each" she told us. (9 RMB is equivalent to around $1.33 USD) "Wait, what?" I thought to myself. "It costs money for ice water?"  That's just ridiculous.  In the U.S, water is free, but in China, it costs money.  It's amazing how a commodity like ice water in the U.S. is a scarcity in a country like China.

Thankfully, it was 9 RMB per person for water, not per glass.  I ended up drinking 4 glasses during our dinner.  9 RMB for water is not expensive, but it's 9 RMB more than it should be.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vitamin D Foods (With Pictures!)

Recently, I have read that as much as 75% of Americans are not getting enough Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is used for calcium absorption and to maintain healthy bones.  Most people know that you can get Vitamin D from sunlight, but when asked what else provides Vitamin D, most of the times they are silent.  Incorporating Vitamin D into your diet may be easier than you think.  Here are 5 Foods that are good sources of Vitamin D:

1. Salmon 

2. Milk

3. Pork

4. Eggs

5. Mushrooms 

Source: http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/sources-of-vitamin-d-in-foods

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ocean Spray Assorted Fruit Gummies

Recently, I have been eating Ocean Spray Assorted Fruit Gummies.  Yes, I know candy is bad for you because it contains a lot of sugar and basically no nutrients.  But I have a sweet tooth and I need to get my candy fix.  Out of all the candy choices out there, I would say that this is one of the better ones.

Each box of Ocean Spray fruit snacks contains 10 pouches.  The pouches contain assorted fruit flavors that include strawberry, grape, orange, and cherry.  There are around 8-10 gummies per pouch, which is a good amount.  Each pouch has 80 calories, 12 grams of sugar.  But, as a bonus, it contains 100% daily value of Vitamin C!  The first ingredient is "Fruit juice blend from concentrate (apple, pear, cranberry)."  Not entirely sure what that is, but at least it isn't something like high fructose corn syrup.

I think the gummies have a good, sweet taste.   The pouches contain enough to satisfy your craving for candy, but small enough that it's only 80 calories.  Warning though: they are not really chewy, and as a result can easily get stuck to your teeth.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

3 Superfoods Most People are Unaware of

Most people know that foods like blueberries, spinach, and salmon are good for you.  The following 3 foods are foods you may have never heard of, but they are very beneficial to your body as well:

1. Black Rice-With a slightly purple hue, these nutty tasting, soft textured grains contain a significant amount of fiber and iron, and also contain antioxidant properties.  Eating black rice can improve cardiovascular health and brain function by keeping your arteries clear, which promotes better flood flow.

2. Chia seeds-No, these seeds do not turn into Chia pets.  But, they are super good for you.  These nearly flavorless seeds are packed with fiber, and expand in your stomach 16-fold by absorbing water.  This means that they help you feel full without making you bloated (I will talk more about chia seeds in a future entry)

3. White tea-Made from buds instead of tea leaves, white tea is even richer in bioflavonoid antioxidants.  White tea also has a slight metabolism-boosting effect due to the phytochemicals present, which helps with weight management.

Source: Family Circle magazine July 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Exclusive Interview #1: Jon Woo

Today, we are here with my friend, Jon Woo.

Me: Hey Jon, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?  Just a few sentences.

Jon: Hey, my name is Jon Woo, 19 years old.  I am the co-founder of GAUSS clan, next to Eric Char.  And oh yea, I'm currently fat...and that's not with a ph.

Me: Haha, ok.  So lets go to the first question.  You look like you've gained weight recently.  Is that true?

Jon: Unfortunately yes, I did during the second year of college.  This is due to mainly 3 reasons: work, party, and unhealthy eating habits.

Me: Oh wow.  How much weight did you gain this semester?

Jon: Umm, probably 10-15 pounds...I don't mean to brag.

Me: What do you think contributed to your massive weight gain?

Jon: Like I said: work, play, unhealthy eating habits.

Me: Unhealthy eating habits, can you elaborate on that?

Jon: Unhealthy eating habits, like late night snacking, Chinese food.  Like sometimes I would order Chinese food at night, eat it, and then fall asleep.  Also stuff like chips pizza, I ate pretty often.

Me: What about exercise?

Jon: When I was at school, I didn't exercise.  But I am changing that habit.

Me: How do you plan on changing this habit?

Jon: I'm trying to work out 5-6 times a week.  I'm also trying to eat out less, eat more fruits and vegetables, have a healthier lifestyle.  Also, I'm doing a 30-Day Challenge.

Me: What is this "30-day challenge"?

Jon: I plan on doing intense workouts every day such as HIIT, full body workouts, kickboxing.  I'm also trying to enforce certain disciplines, such as eating healthier foods and eating less.  Basically every week I will review my progress and see if anything changes.  After 30 days, I will see the after results.

Me: That sounds very ambitious.  Do you think you will be able to succeed in this goal?

Jon: I won't know until I try.

Me: Sounds good.  We will check back on you in a month, to see how your "30-Day challenge" has come along.  Until then...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Red Lobster $14.99 Special

For a limited time, Red Lobster is offering a 4 course feast for a special price of $14.99!  For those of you who haven't heard about this great deal yet, I highly recommend you try it out (if you like seafood, that is).
Basically, the meal includes soup, salad, entree, and desert.  There are different options to pick from.  For more information, take a look at their menu, which can be found here:

Red Lobster $14.99 Menu

I have a few tips on how to enjoy this great deal without damaging your waistline.

1. Get Manhattan clam chowder over New England clam chowder.  You will save 150 calories and 10g saturated fat.

2. Stay away from alfredo entrees (I'm staring at you, cajun chicken linguini alfredo).  Alfredo sauce adds an unnecessary load of calories and fat to your stomach.  And truthfully, I have seen the pasta entrees, and it's basically 70% pasta, 20% sauce, and 10% seafood.  Not worth it, in my opinion.

3. Watch the biscuits.  Yes, the unlimited (!) cheddar bay biscuits are delicious, but dangerous at the same time.  Each biscuit contains 150 calories and 350 mg sodium.  If you are watching your weight, limit yourself to a MAX of 2 biscuits.

I went this past weekend with my parents, and this is what I ate:

-Manhattan clam chowder (with a pack of saltine crackers)
-Fresh garden salad with italian dressing
-Jumbo coconut and pineapple-grilled shrimp
-1/2 key lime pie
-1 cheddar bay biscuit
-2 1/2 glasses water

(The jumbo coconut shrimp comes with 4 jumbo shrimp breaded, 1 skewer grilled shrimp with spicy pineapple sauce, wild rice pilaf, and steamed broccoli.  Below is a general picture of what it looks like.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Glossary: Basic Food Label Definitions

To start off, this is a list of some words (with their basic definitions) that I will be using in my blog.  Often, you may see me refer to these words in my posts.  Most of you know what these words mean already, but it will be good reference to look back on if you forget what these are, or if you are unsure of their meaning.


Calories: measures how much energy a food provides to the body

Fat: an important source of energy, contains 9 calories per gram (compared to 4 calories per gram in carbs and protein).  Too much fat can lead to health problems such as heart disease and cancer.

Subcategories of fat:

Unsaturated fat: known as the "good fats", do not raise cholesterol levels

Saturated fat: known as the "bad fats", raises LDL (bad cholesterol) levels

Trans fat: the worst type of fat, raises LDL (bad cholesterol) levels AND lowers HDL (good cholesterol) levels.  The body is unable to burn or use trans fats, which causes them to build up and clog our arteries.

Cholesterol: used by body for many functions including production of vitamin D and certain hormones.  High levels of cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Sodium: a component of salt.  Helps keep proper body fluid balance.  Too much sodium can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke.

Carbohydrates: the body's primary source of energy

Fiber: helps move food through the digestive system and helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time

Protein: helps build muscle and protects the immune system

Sugar: "sweet", plays major role in obesity, (added sugars) rarely comes with any valuable nutrients

Source: Read it Before you Eat it

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Dear Reader,

Welcome to my summer blog dedicated to food and nutrition.  Let me tell you: this blog is not supposed to be a recipe book (there are already hundreds of those out there), nor is it supposed to be an official food textbook (after all, I'm not a professional nutritionist).  Instead, the purpose of this blog is to spread my knowledge that I have picked up-to you.

With the use of short and simple posts, I hope to educate and inform you on different things dealing with food and nutrition.  Some of these things you may already know, some you may not.  At the very least, I am sure you will be able to pick up some tidbits of useful information.

My plan is for this blog to run till the end of August.  I plan on posting around 4 times a week.  Posts will consist of different things, such as information on different foods and exclusive interviews.  Remember, if you have any questions, feel free to ask.  Feedback on my blog, whether positive or negative, is welcomed.

Thank you for reading, lets get this started!

-Eric Char