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Are you feeling stressed?

April 25, 2010
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With finals coming up, many of us may get a little stressed out. Eating healthy is the key to make you feel tip top – you probably have heard of it many times, but it is true. We are what we eat, and the foods that we eat also affect the way we feel. In fact, some foods may affect your mood more than others. I would like to share some of the tips  that I learned from magazines to make you feel better/ less depressed/ less stressed during the finals. The secret is to choose foods that are rich in omega 3 fats, carbohydrates, folic acids, selenium and vitamin B12. Here are some of the many examples:

1) Rice, Pasta, Bread – eating carbohydrates can help increase our serotonin levels, which has a calming effect. Eating healthier carbohydrates, such as wheat bread, brown rice  allow slower digestion and make you feel fuller and possibly happier for a longer period of time!

2) Chocolate! – chocolate contains anadamine, which is a brain chemical that helps boost our mood.

3) Milk (skim milk works best) – milk is rich in tryptophan that is needed to make serotonin –> makes us happy and calm. A lot of anti-depressants work in a very similar way too.

4) Pumpkin seeds and oysters – they have a high zinc content. Zinc deficiency is a common cause for exhaustion and depression.

5) Oily fishes (salmon, sardines, mackerel…) – they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, the good fat, and they can fight against depression as well. Omega-3 fats also helps improve brain flow in our brain (*important important* for students) !!

6) Nuts – they are nutritional powerfoods! They also contain high amount of omega-3 fats  and also vitamin E antioxidant to fight stress. Eating an ounce everyday surely helps studying.

And of course your comfort foods may also make you feel better. They can stimulate the production of endorphins, making us happy.

Just keep in mind to take these foods in moderation. It is amazing that food plays an important role in our lives – it makes us feel more beautiful and gives us more energy when our brain or body is not coping with the stress we are dealing with.

So check them out if you are having a bad day or feeling cranky. I hope it helps a bit! For now, just relax a bit, take it easy and good luck on finals!!

~Tammie

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High fructose corn syrup

April 21, 2010

So watching Food Inc and how corn is the most commonly used staple product to make many kinds of by-products that are used in the food market right now, I came across high fructose corn syrup. Basically high fructose corn syrup is a very common sweetener and preservative that is a popular ingredient in many processed foods including sodas and fruit-flavored drinks.

I took Biochemistry 307 with Dr. Hanson, and I some how remembered his talk on the problem of excess high fructose corn syrup in our diet and how it can possibly have a negative effect through our fructose metabolism in the pentose pathway. Basically with all the science aside, high fructose corn syrup can cause Type 2 diabetes if an individual takes excessive amounts over their life time.

I think that high fructose corn syrup is a really nice alternative to regular sugar because it is relatively cheap, coming from corn, and that it can have a sweeter taste than the same amount of sugar. However, the negative effect of it possibly causing Type 2 diabetes is an interesting consequence. I think that this is another example of how high-tech technology can benefit us in a sense but can also unravel other harmful consequences such as the GMO problem with crops and produces.

The primary article can be found on http://edrv.endojournals.org/cgi/content/short/30/1/96 for anyone interested in reading about High fructose corn syrup’s possible cause of Type 2 diabetes.

High sodium food…

April 21, 2010

So, last time I went to Leutner for dinner I thought the food they had was really salty… Even though they say that they make the most healthy food for us, college students, the food was way too salty for me to even eat. I don’t know if this was because I am use to mostly bland food, Japanese food are usually bland with not that much salt, but even my other friends could not finish the food because it was way too salty.

Then the next day, I came across an article on Fox news.com how the US plans to drive salt limits to food. It is known that eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressures with possible consequences of heart attacks and strokes. And I do think that eating that kind of food I had at Leutner is certainly not good for your health. If Americans have no problem eating that kind of food, then I see why there is such a high rate of heart attacks and high blood pressure problems in the United States. I think that this will help the health of the Americans a little bit more in retospect.

Before I end, towards the last of the article it says how Pepsi intends to cut its sodium content by 25% in the market in 2015. To me this 4 year time period to reduce 25% of the sodium content seems unreasonably long. Is it because they are going to lower the sodium content slowly so that consumers don’t drink Coke instead?

Article is at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,591285,00.html

In mood for some wonton noodles?

April 16, 2010
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Despite the crazy schoolwork we all have in these two weeks, I had a quite enjoyable afternoon yesterday. For my nutrition class, my partner, Grace Brantingham,  and I did a cultural project on Hong Kong. After the oral presentation last week, we have foods lab for the remaining classes where each culture is responsible to prepare one core food representing its diet/meal pattern. It was our showtime yesterday. We decided to make Wonton Noodles (in soup). Wonton is a type of dumpling commonly found in Chinese cuisine. We made a few adjustments to the original recipe … here’s what we have (it’s really simple and easy to make) —

Ingredients

–  1 pack of Chinese rice noodles

–   Leafy vegetables – Bok Choy

–   22 oz. of chicken broth

–   Spring onion

–   1/2 tsp salt

–   1 pack of wonton wrappers

–    ground pork (for wonton)

–    baby shrimps (for wonton)

–    1 tsp oyster sauce (for wonton)

–    1/2 tsp salt (for wonton)

–    1 tsp sesame oil (for wonton)

–  1 egg (for wonton)

Directions

1)   Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a large pot over medium heat.

2)   Add 1 tsp salt, or to taste.

3) Wonton

a)    Finely chop pork and baby shrimps.

b)    Mix pork and shrimps with sesame oil, oyster sauce, salt and egg. Mix the ingredients well.

c)    Lay one won ton skin in front of you (cover the remaining won ton skins with a damp towel to keep them from drying out). Moisten all the edges of the won ton wrapper with water. Place a heaping teaspoon of won ton filling in the center.

d)    Folding direction –

  1. Wet the sides of the wrapper
  2. Fold the wrapper in half to form a triangle. Work out any air between wrapper and filling
  3. Wet the two side corners of the triangle, gently pull them together and press firmly. The center corner should stick out slightly.

e)    Add wonton to the broth and boil until cooked, about 8-10 minutes.

4)   Simmer the noodles in another pot with boiling water until tender, about 5-8 minutes.

5)   Drain noodles and run through with cold running water.

6)   Add noodles to the soup.

7)   Simmer vegetables until they are just tender.

8)   Serve noodles and wontons with the soup in a bowl. Chop some onions and sprinkle them on top.  Enjoy!

I wouldn’t say this is as genuine as the traditional cooking method, but it is very similar to. Normally, the broth is prepared with dried shrimp, pork or chicken bones and ginger. These ingredients are simmered in the broth for an hour and the liquid that is infused with the “essence” of the ingredients is used as the soup base.

Since we had many fillings left, we also made some fried wontons – they were really good too! It didn’t take us very long to make the wonton noodles – approximately 30 minutes. Also, if you don’t like shrimp or pork, you can replace those with other ingredients for the fillings as well! You can use beef if you want..or chopped vegetables .. or anything you like!! So, try it if you feel like having some wontons! I guarantee you a promising result! 🙂

~Tammie

Two brand-new food reality shows

April 15, 2010
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The casting director that brought us shows like Jersey Shore, Design Star,  and Millionaire Matchmaker is looking for people to star in two upcoming reality food shows. The first one requires a duo of food professionals (friends or enemies) who will set off on a road trip in front of the cameras. The second show is looking for a person that is funny, adventurous and passionate about food and willing to try the spiciest of cuisines.

This is a new emerging genre in the food show business that incorporates the reality theme to it. Top Chef does something of the sort when the chefs have to live together while they compete. This reality aspect adds drama to capture audiences.

http://eater.com/archives/2010/04/01/casting-call-jersey-shore-producers-two-food-reality-shows.php

Food Revolution

April 15, 2010
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Recently the pieces of my life seem to be falling into place.  I feel I am confidently heading in the direction I want.  I have decided to focus energy on the world of public policy, especially food policy. My senior project this summer will be to survey all of the schools in the Cleveland Municipal School District and compile a data base of evidence based practices they are using to provide students with healthier food.  There are a lot of good ideas floating around out there about how to improve our schools food system.  However, no one has a good idea of how many ideas are out there, and which ones are working for those small test schools.

This area of interest came from my family’s history of long health problems: diabetes, heart disease, celiac disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It is very important to me that my parents and siblings are eating right. So many of these health problems probably started when they were children. A recent study conducted by the University of North Carolina found high levels of protein-C in three year olds.  This specific protein is a known indicator of heart disease later in life. The idea that even our three year olds are showing propensities towards heart disease should be a wake up to all of us.

The National School Lunch Program is a wonderful piece of legislation that provides breakfast, lunch, and after school snacks to 30.1 million children a day. Many of these children are classified as “food insecure” and benefit from this lunch program without a doubt. The issue is now the quality of the food being served through this program. Many schools no longer “cook” but rather reheat preprocessed foods. Under the Department of Agriculture standards, a french fry counts as a vegetable, and therefore makes it acceptable to serve it with a golden breaded chicken patty and call it a full meal. These standards need to change.

The education in the schools needs to change as well. During an episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution elementary school children we asked to identify certain vegetables and failed. How do we expect children to start to make the right food choices when we won’t give them the information they need to know which decision would be a good one? His website is extremely educational.  I urge anyone who has a second to look at his website and petitions to change school food protocol. I guarantee it is worth the five minutes.  Take this information and spread it through your community, and hopefully we can inform enough people that future family histories won’t look like what mine does now.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution

Michael Pollan interview on NPR

April 15, 2010
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Here’s an interview I heard today on “Around Noon” on NPR with none other than Michael Pollan!

http://www.wcpn.org/WCPN/an/30333