The Silly Nutrition Undergrad

Archive for the ‘Personal Thoughts’ Category

Wow!

My blog is listed as one of the top 40 blogs for staying healthy and fit. I feel so honoured to be part of that list, especially since I am a regular reader of some of the Diet and Nutrition blogs listed, including Carrots n’ Cake, Kath Eats Real Food, and the Nutrition Data Blog.

The extensive list contains a wide array of health and fitness information, be sure to check it out!

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved! Be sure to check out Juicy Fresh Bites for new content!

Hello everyone!

I have big and exciting news!

*Drumroll* After some serious thoughts, I’ve finally decided to get my own domain (after a long, tedious struggle with finding the perfect name…). So, instead of checking The Silly Nutrition Undergrad for new updates, come visit me at Juicy Fresh Bites!

Juicy Fresh Bites is going to the upgraded version of The Silly Nutrition Undergrad, with a better look and much more interesting and useful content.

I’m totally ecstatic about my new blog and I’m going to pour all of that energy into making Juicy Fresh Bites the best that it can be. So, stay tuned!

Cheers,

Stephanie

Juicy Fresh Bites

Photo by Alvin Kwan
[Stars in the photo: Whole wheat rotini, Pasta shells, Stir-fry broccoli & mushrooms, Veggie-loaded tomato sauce, and Boiled cauliflower]

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

On the last few days of 2009, I went on a 4-day ski trip with my friends to Mt. Baker, WA. At first I was terribly worried that I would not be able to eat in a balanced manner but somehow, with determination and creativity, I managed to feed myself (and the Boyfriend) nutritious food most of the time.

My friends and I rented a cabin near Mt. Baker. I was so thankful that the cabin was equipped with a small kitchen. Without that I would probably have had much more difficulty in eating healthily.

On the first day before checking in, we went grocery shopping at a huge Walmart store on the way. The goal was to buy enough food so we could make home-prepared meals at the cabin and save money. In my opinion, Walmart is far from being an ideal place to buy groceries, especially fresh produce, but it was the best option we had, and I guess it sufficed. We split up and shopped separately. Unsurprisingly, the Boyfriend and I lingered at the fresh produce section for the longest time; meanwhile my friends quickly darted for the frozen entrees and junk food aisles deeper into the giant store.

While my friends were madly stocking up their carts with pre-packaged food, I chose to load my cart with as much fresh produce as possible. The produce section was small; it only occupied a small corner of the giant store (literally, the baked goods section adjacent to it was the same size, if not bigger). I was slightly disappointed to see such a small selection of fruits and vegetables, but nonetheless, I was determined to buy as much fruits and vegetables as I could to keep myself happy for the entire trip. I chose mostly vegetables that can be prepared and cooked quickly. My top choices were: tomatoes, mushrooms, lettuce, bell peppers, broccoli and cauliflower. As for fruits, I picked out a huge bag of Fuji apples and a few lemons. Other items that I threw into the cart included a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette dressing, canned beans, canned corn, whole wheat pasta, canned tomato sauce, a carton of chicken stock and a small bottle of ketchup.

From the limited food selection that I picked out from Walmart, I managed to make 10 different food combinations which truly helped to keep me eating well and avoid myself from slowly sinking into the quicksand of filling up on junk food and prepackaged frozen entrees for the entire trip. Curious about what I made? Here’s the list!

1. Jarred tomato sauce + bell peppers + onions + tomatoes + mushrooms

End result: enhanced tomato pasta sauce loaded with veggies.My idea was to add extra veggies to a basic tomato sauce from a jar to add more flavour while boosting the amount of vegetables in a serving. I chose to add in diced onions and bell peppers to add sweetness and a little bit of a crunch to the sauce. In addition, I put in cubed mushrooms and tomatoes for a meaty texture. Lastly, I sprinkled in a dash of steak seasoning and squeezed in fresh lemon juice to add a little kick to the sauce (adding in steak seasoning may seem odd, but since I had no other dried herbs, it was my best option).

2. Broccoli + mushrooms

End result: delicious Asian style broccoli & mushroom stir-fry. This was a simple dish to prepare and cook. Simply blanch broccoli and mushrooms. Then to add a delicious Asian flavour, simply stir-fry them in a large pan with garlic, ginger and a generous splash of soy sauce.

3. Cauliflower +veggie-loaded tomato sauce + shredded cheese

End result: cheese and tomato sauce covered cauliflower. Cauliflower by itself is not interesting at all to me. But, I bought it anyways because it requires little preparation work (just rinse, cut and boil in water). With my greatest effort to make boiled cauliflower taste the best it possibly can to give, I served it over the tomato sauce. To upgrade it even further, I sprinkled on some shredded cheese. Not the most creative way to eat cauliflower, but definitely a simple method to spice it up (and use up the huge batch of tomato sauce that I made too).

4. Tomatoes + leftover rotini + canned corn + chicken stock

End result: comforting tomato pasta soup. While my friends toasted garlic bread and frozen eggo waffles for breakfast, I chose to make a simple tomato and pasta soup by making a soup base from mixing together chicken stock and water (1:1 ratio). I then added corn, the entire can of whole kernel corn (I love corn!) and stirred in cooked whole wheat rotini (leftover from last night’s pasta dinner). As a finishing touch, I stirred in a heaping spoonful of ketchup for a subtle sweet and sour taste.

5. Broccoli + cilantro

End result: simply vegetable additions to make a not-so-healthy meal a little more diet-friendly. After a long morning of snowboarding, I was exhausted and ravenous when I got back to the cabin. Hence, lunch was simple: instant noodles with a side of boiled broccoli and cilantro. I know, instant noodles isn’t the best option, but since I chose to supplement it with a large side dish of fresh vegetables, the meal is less detrimental and in fact, more satisfying (since I know I’m not giving in to eating solely junk food, I’m still mindfully choosing what to put into my mouth and giving it every ounce of effort to include fresh produce in my diet! Kudos to me!)

6. Canned white beans + canned corn + bell peppers + balsamic vinegrette dressing

End result: amazing tasty and satisfying bean salad. When I bought bell peppers, I planned to simply slice them up and munch on them like I would with carrots sticks. Instead I got adventurous and created a bean salad by combining diced bell peppers, canned kernel corn and canned white beans. This was a super simple salad to put together; the most time consuming part was just rinsing and chopping the peppers. Then I just simply tossed the ingredients together and dressed the bean salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegarette dressing and a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This salad was delicious! I immediately devoured about half of it, and saving half of it for later.

7. Lettuce + balsamic vinaigrette dressing

End result: simple, delicious, refreshing salad. This was served on the dinner table along the fatty steaks that my friends prepared for dinner. I was really glad that I made the salad because it was the perfect light and palette-cleansing side dish to offset the richness and heaviness of the steak main course. I ended up loading a ton of the salad on my plate, pushing aside the poor less-appealing steak (half of which ended up in the BF’s belly, hehe).

8. Leftover bean salad + cremini mushrooms + leftover rotini + ketchup

End result: a hot, hearty and healthy breakfast option. For my next meal, I took out about half of the bean salad leftover and transformed it into a hot, hearty pasta dish. I also added in cremini mushrooms to try to fool the BF that this was a new dish ;).  This dish is easy to put together, takes no more than three steps; step 1: rinse and slice the mushrooms; step 2: saute them until soft in a large pan; step 3: add bean salad and cooked rotini (from day one dinner) into the pan, let it reheat and season with ketchup, salt and pepper to taste. Viola!

9. Leftover bean salad + leftover rotini + extra tomatoes + more balsamic vinaigrette dressing

End result: a variation of the previous bean salad, still equally yummy. Once again exhausted from a full day on the mountain, I was glad that I had saved half of the bean salad for lunch. Simply by tossing in diced tomatoes and drizzling in more dressing and lemon juice, my lunch was ready in no time. It was exactly what I needed, a simple and refreshing lunch.

10. Cremini mushrooms + portabella mushrooms

End result: a vegetable side dish with satisfying, bold earthy flavours in each meaty bite. Again, this dish required little prep work. Simply rinse and drain mushrooms, then saute them over medium heat until soft, and season with steak seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.

Spending time with friends (a.k.a away from family) is almost always an exciting and memorable experience. This ski trip has proven to be one of the most memorable yet because not only did I get to snowboard ’till I drop, I also got the opportunity to prove to myself that I am in control of what I eat and how I eat and as long as I am determined to eat well, I will somehow find a way to do so. And along the way, as a bonus reward, I have somewhat convinced my junk food maniac friends that eating healthy foods can be very delicious and enjoyable, nowhere near boring as they have imagined before!


Do you have any tips on how to eat healthily while on vacation?

Photo by norwichnuts

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

A while ago, Craig from Gettin-Ripped asked me for my thoughts on protein and here’s my response.

~~~~+~~~~

What is the first word that appears in your mind when I say “protein“? Did the word “meat” pop up in your mind instantly?

Indeed, meat is a key protein source for many people, but there are actually many other great protein options out there that have long been overlooked (or forgotten). In this post, I’ll like to introduce you to my top 5 protein food choices:

Tofu

150g tofu is roughly a serving of meat alternative under Canada’s Food Guide for Healthy Eating. Tofu is not only rich in protein, it can also a good source of iron and calcium. A serving of firm tofu contains about 11g protein, 30% of the daily value for calcium and 15% of the daily value for iron. Plus, tofu is plant-based, so you don’t have to worry about consuming too much saturated fats or cholesterol when you golf down that block of tofu (you won’t have to picture your arteries getting plugged up by blobs of floating fat in your blood vessels! Yay!) To find out more about the awesome health powers of tofu, visit WHFoods: Tofu. Miso-marinated tofu (same method as mis0-marinated eggplant) makes a delicious main dish for a simple weekday dinner, and make sure you grill extra so you have some tofu left for next day’s lunch (great on a bed of brown rice or a special spinach salad topping).

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes is another great protein-rich meat alternative. A 3/4 cup portion size counts as one serving, which contains about 8g – 14g protein, nearly 30% of the daily value for iron, and a whole lot of fiber! A serving will give you about10 – 13g of fiber — that’s a huge boost in helping you to get the recommended daily fiber dose of 25g). Fiber has multiple health benefits. The obvious benefit of keeping you regular and helping your body to maintain good digestive health. Fiber can also help to slow down digestion and hence plays a role in regulating blood sugar level. It will keep you full for longer, help to diminish the craving for nibbling and avoid the evil sugar spike that makes you tired and sleepy. Among all beans and legumes, my favourite choice is edamame. Shelled edamame comes in convenient frozen packages. So whenever you need a protein quick-fix, you  simply take it out from the freezer and throw it into whatever you’re cooking without needing to thaw or do any preparation beforehand. How convenient! Try adding edamame to tofu oatmeal for an additional protein punch to jumpstart your morning.

Eggs

Eggs are the ultimate fuss-free, healthy and protein-rich on-the-go snack. They can be prepared within minutes and it can be incorporated into different dishes. The simplest way to enjoy eggs is to cook up a big batch of hard-boiled eggs and keep them in the fridge (they keep well for about a week). Then, when you’re hungry after a hard workout, you can easily open the fridge and get a quick protein boost by peeling some eggs. Reaching for eggs instead of going for a protein bar will satisfied your protein needs (each egg contains about 5.5g protein) and provide additional good-for-you nutrients. In particular, eggs is an excellent source of lutein, which is an important nutrient that helps to maintain eye health and  skin health. Although lutein can be found in other sources, the lutein found in eggs is much more bioavailable (a.k.a. the body can readily access the lutein in eggs, absorb it and use it). For more information on eggs, visit WHFoods: Eggs.

Yogurt

An 8oz container will give you about 10 – 14 grams of protein, and it will also count as a dairy serving, fulfilling your calcium needs for strong bones and teeth. I prefer yogurt over other dairy foods because it is a fermented dairy product that has added bacterial culture. These bacteria helps to improve the overall health of the digestive system by altering the environment of the small intestine so that it favours the growth of the “good” bacteria and makes it less desirable for the “harmful” bacteria to cultivate. To get optimal health benefits from yogurt, make sure to choose yogurt with probiotics and consume it on a regular basis to keep the digestive system healthy! To get an extra protein boost, try topping low-fat, plain probiotic yogurt with granola or nuts. To learn more about the goodness of yogurt, visit WHFoods: Yogurt.

Nuts / nut butter

I’ve written an extensive article on the goodness of nuts before — nuts are seriously that good for you that they deserve a separate post dedicated to praising them! I really enjoy tossing in a quarter cup of nuts into my salad or my morning cereal because they give an extra crunch plus an additional flavour. Nuts are also easy to carry around – I like to pack a small handful of nuts with me when I’m on the road so when I get hungry, I can munch on nuts instead of blindly rushing into a fast food store around the corner. Adding in a quarter cup of nuts or two tablespoons of nut butter is an easy way to add 4g – 5g protein to your diet. Honestly go nuts with nuts! 🙂

There you go! My top five protein choices.

At this point you may think I dislike meat? No, no, no! I enjoy meat, but I just tend to choose these foods more often because they offer a lot more than just protein.


I find that these foods will not only satisfy my protein needs, but also give a dramatic nutritional boost, making it a lot more easier for me to adopt a healthier lifestyle.Next time you dive into your huge steak thinking it’s the only way to get enough protein, look around and think again! Have a yogurt with nuts, or serve beans as a side dish — try to get protein from different sources.

Expand your diet, get healthier!

I’ve been having a crazy busy week so far…so I will probably not be posting any new recipes for this week (hopefully I’ll find energy to explore a new recipe during the weekends! :)) Stay tuned!

And during the next little while, I’ll probably write a short post on how I’m still trying eat healthily despite the many time-consuming commitments that I have chasing me at the moment!

For Technorati: URJBZ3EQ5NEX

Over The Top Award

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

I’m soooo excited!!!

Thanks so much to Amber of Chocolate Broccoli for awarding me the Over the Top Blog Award. It gives me that much more motivation to write about food and nutrition and share it with my fellow bloggers who are just as passionate as I am for healthy eating! 🙂

According to the rules of the award, I will now try to answer the following 35 questions in one word!

1. Where is your cell phone? Desk
2. Your hair? Black
3. Your mother? Nervous
4. Your father? Strict
5. Your favorite food? Mango
6. Your dream last night? Eating
7. Your favorite drink? Tea
8. Your dream/goal? Dietitian
9. What room are you in? Study
10. Your hobby? blogging
11. Your fear? unloved
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Hong Kong
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren’t? Hysterical
15. Muffins? Banana
16. Wish list item? The Visual Food Lovers Guide

17. Where did you grow up? Hong Kong
18. Last thing you did? Email
19. What are you wearing? Sweater
20. Your TV? Small
21. Your pets? None
22. Friends? Caring
23. Your life? Unpredictable
24. Your mood? Fulfilled
25. Missing someone? Boyfriend
26. Vehicle? none
27. Something you’re not wearing? socks
28. Your favorite store? T & T Supermarket

29. Your favorite color? Purple
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Forgot
32. Your best friend? Boyfriend
33. One place that I go to over and over? T & T Supermarket
34. One person who emails me regularly? Gerry
35. Favorite place to eat? Ajisai Sushi Bar

Thanks again Amber for granting me this fabulous award!

And finally, I’ll like to pass this award onto: Ms. Cashews and Hummus, Ms. Fannetastic Food, Ms. The Veg Fusion, Ms. Frugal Healthy Simple, Ms. Healthy. Happy. Life., and Ms. Quick Easy Cheap Healthy.

Rejoice

Photo by christyscherrer

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

I’ve always loved food but I never really had a healthy relationship with food. However, getting into the Dietetics Major and meeting other people who are also food lovers has really helped me to explore the world of food through new eyes.  Looking back at what I’ve learned, I can really boil it down to five fundamental ideas:

1. Balance it out.

It’s all about making choices. When you have a little more here, than go light on the next meal. Let’s face it, there are so many delicious foods out there and you’ve only got so much limited space in your stomach…which means if you want to enjoy the things you truly want, you’ve got to make sacrifices here and there. If you know you will have a big meal planned tomorrow, then go light today – balance it out! Keep in mind that when you eat less now, you are leaving room for the foods that you will want to enjoy later on! Don’t be tempted to think that you must eat certain amount at certain times – you are flexible to choose what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat! Just remember, balance it out!


2. You can eat anything, but not everything.

There are so many opportunities in life to enjoy good food, there is always another chance to enjoy good food – you don’t have to have it all now! Always choose one thing or a few things that you want to enjoy at one sitting and really pay attention and enjoy every bite. Don’t get distracted and think about all the other options that you could have had, focus on what you are enjoying right now and feel good about your decision! Cherishing every bite of your food will make food ten times more enjoyable than if you keep thinking about the choices that you’ve missed out on! Feel excited that you are not filling up your stomach right now, which means that you will get to enjoy good food later on, and you won’t have to let that chance pass by! Just remember, choose what you really want.

3. Eat until you reach maximum pleasure, then stop!

The first few bites of food always taste the best! Then, as you continue to consume it, the eating pleasure diminishes, bite by bite. At that point, it’s important that you learn to put down your fork because even if you finish the whole thing, you won’t feel as satisfied as you would have wished. Thus, it is actually smarter to save some food for the next meal or next day because the heavenly pleasure of indulging into delicious food will come back to you when you save something really good for next time. So, when you enjoy a food only up to the point of maximum pleasure, you will not only get the full enjoyment, you will also get delicious food saved to enjoy it at another sitting, and get double the pleasure (what else can be better that yet!) Just remember, enjoy it until you reach maximum pleasure, then save it!

4. Do you really want to eat it? Or do you want it just because it is lying around?

When you really want something, you keep thinking about it right? But then when you see something, or smell something, or gets reminded of something, you seem to want that too! But does that mean you actually want it, or you just want it because someone or something reminded you of that food’s presence? It’s important to know why you crave something because then you will be better able to determine how real your craving is. If you truly want to eat it, then go ahead! But at times when you are not so sure why you want to eat, then perhaps it’s a sign that you should stop yourself from gulfing it down and instead save the eating opportunity for a later time, for when you encounter something you truly want. Just remember, be honest with yourself and answer: “What is it that I really want?”

5. You don’t have to finish everything! You can share it, save it, or leave it.

When you eat anything, there is no obligation to finish all of it. Only have the amounts that satisfies you and really ask yourself, do you actually want it or you want to finish it just because it’s sitting there on your plate? It really makes a difference knowing that you don’t have to finish everything, and knowing that you can save it for later – which most likely will give your more pleasure than if you stuffed yourself right now! Just remember, there is a difference between eating until your plate is empty and eating until you are satisfied!

These five ideas are no rocket science. In fact, they are pretty much common sense, but until I truly pondered on these thoughts, I couldn’t escape the evil wrath of food temptation! But now, I can finally say that I’ve got rid of my love-hate relationship with food and instead, I can truly embrace food and know that I’m in total control of myself!