Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey Time: Minus 24 hour Countdown!

Happy early Thanksgiving UC San Diego! The holiday season is a time to celebrate and relax with those closest to you. I promise I won’t spend this post lecturing on healthy holiday swaps to make tomorrow, but I will leave you with a little food for thought.

According to Women’s Health, the average Thanksgiving meal racks in at 4,500 calories. ( That’s the equivalent of eating 8 Big Mac’s or 26 Taco Bell Tacos! Rather than gorge on just one meal, make your calories count.  Focus on eating a wide variety of foods that hit all the food groups to leave you feeling pleasantly satisfied, not stuffed. Choose foods that you enjoy, but do so in moderation. Remember the My Plate rules and try to build your plate with this template in mind.
For those of you sticking around campus, I suggest you head on over to CafĂ© Ventanas tomorrow and celebrate the holiday spirit! The festivities begin at 11am with the traditional turkey feast starting at 1pm! If you’re a procrastinator, don’t worry; you can still get tickets at the door.


Have a wonderful healthy and happy Thanksgiving! Catch ya’ on Monday J

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Mind over Matter: How strong is your willpower?

Happy Monday UC San Diego! I realized over the weekend that we have yet to discuss the one thing that goes hand-in-hand with moderation: willpower.

Willpower means having the ability to exercise control over a strong desire. Take for example the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. It’s no surprise that my Turkey Day temptations are caused by the bountiful basket of bread at the end of the buffet line (come on, what Italian doesn’t enjoy a nice warm roll?!). Although I know I am pleasantly satisfied after having one, I always seem to experience an intense desire to go back and grab another. This is where willpower comes in.

First, I certainly know that my mother has purchased enough for the delicious leftovers we will have the next day.  Then, I allow myself to recognize that I can enjoy another serving at a later time; this helps me to reconnect with my feelings of being satisfied.

Not sure if this is something you can do? You will never know unless you try. This suggestion comes from our friend Zach over at Muir College: “If you feel your pants squeezin’, moderate this holiday season!” His holiday motto may just be the trick you need to avoid those second helpings! If suddenly you feel that your sweat pants are calling your name, this is your cue to step away from the table and grab your sister, aunt, or dog and head out for a nice walk.

Remember, it’s okay to indulge, but moderation is the key. When you let go of your willpower and allow moderation to turn into TURKEY DOMINATION, your holiday health is torn off its track. This doesn’t mean you can’t get back on the right path tomorrow; however, research shows kicking off the holiday with a downhill spiral only makes it that much harder to get back on your healthy road.

Start practicing moderation now by popping into the Village Market and preordering your Thanksgiving Meal Kit or Grocery Bag. It’s a great deal for those sticking around San Diego this week to allow you to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with your campus family. The Thanksgiving Meal kit is only $56 for a meal that feeds 4 (or more depending on how you practice that moderation!). That’s $4 less than Whole Foods, and you get a WHOLE lot more for your money! (The Whole Foods Turkey Kit has only a turkey breast, mashed potatoes & gravy, cranberry sauce, and green beans for $59.99.)

Suggested Posts to View

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

News Brief: “Just Eat in Moderation & You’ll Have Nothing to Fear?”

Sounds like a little bit of an oxymoron huh? If you’ve been watching the news or following Twitter, then you’ve probably heard of the recent ban proposed by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) surrounding use of trans-fat (aka partially hydrogenated oil) in foods.  Just in case you haven’t, today’s post will help make you an informed consumer.

Ever wonder why a package of mini-donuts has an expiration date six months in the future? Well, you can thank trans-fats for that! Trans-fats are a man-made ingredient found in packaged foods, bakery items, candy, sweets, and a laundry list of other products that assist in extending a product’s shelf-life. Trans-fats are similar in structure to that of saturated fats (found in animal products) but are made from vegetable oils that have had their carbon-carbon double bonds partially hydrogenated. Enough of the science; let’s move on!

Since 2006, legislation mandates that food companies label all food items that contain trans-fats; however, that doesn’t mean that a product labeled trans-fat free is completely trans-fat free. According to the FDA labeling laws, products with less than 0.5 grams of trans-fat per serving are allowed to be marketed as “trans-fat free.” This false advertising has led many to choose a product they believed was a healthier alternative.  In actuality, people are likely consuming small amounts of trans-fats that can add up significantly throughout their day  (i.e. 100 calorie popcorn…guilty!).

Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that eliminating all trans-fats from the food industry will have a significant effect on the incidence of cardiovascular disease over time. Reports show that 20,000 heart attacks will be eliminated and over 7,000 lives will be saved through banning trans-fats. WOW! Think of the impact this can have on you and your family’s health alone!
Although there is a 60-day period to allow food companies to eliminate trans-fats from their ingredients, you can start TODAY in making smarter choices for your health. Check out the ingredient label on your prepackaged foods; any words beginning with “partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated” indicate the presence of trans-fats.

Not sure which foods to look for? Common culprits include granola bars, packaged baked goods, chips, frozen foods…basically anything that has a long shelf life J
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Healthy Holiday Motto Contest

Can you believe it? We have 27 days left until fall quarter officially comes to an end. That’s just a little less than 4 weeks to buckle down and get your holiday health in focus.

To kick off the countdown, today I will reveal the winner of our healthy holiday motto contest. A BIG thank you to all of you who participated with their great suggestions!  Because I am a firm believer in everything in moderation, I had a hard time deciding on the BEST choice. Rather than choose just one motto, I thought why not choose a theme and have a new motto posted each week?! Thus, the “Mod Squad” team was born.

For each of the remaining weeks, I will post a motto from our “Mod Squad” writers that focus on keeping your health and wellness at the forefront this holiday season.  I will also give suggestions on ways to indulge in holiday treats while beating the stress of finals without wrecking your diet.

So, to get us started please give it up for Ms. Baldeep from Warren.  Her motto is, “At last, the holidays are here!  Don't worry about weight this year; just eat in moderation, and you'll have nothing to fear."

What a great motto to get us rolling! A majority of us wait anxiously to indulge in foods that only come around during the holiday season. Rather than go in with an “all or nothing” approach, take Baldeep’s advice into consideration and remember the value of practicing proper control.

Here are a few examples of proper portion equivalents to keep in mind when you’re taking a look down the holiday table in the weeks to come:

·         Iphone = 3 oz meat

·         Tennis ball = 1 cup of cooked pasta, rice, vegetables or ice cream

·         Light bulb = ½ cup of mashed potatoes, stuffing or grain based side

·         Poker chip = 1 TBSP butter, dressing, or oil

·         Computer mouse = 1 small baked potato

·         Dental floss container = 1 oz chocolate

·         Sunglass Case = 1 slice of pie

Want to try out your portion control abilities? Check out our dining units this Thursday from 11-4PMto enjoy a delicious holiday feast with all the traditional fixins’!

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Baby It’s Cold Outside…

Have you walked outside today? Well, I suggest if you haven’t you head back inside and grab a coat! Although the weather indicates its 62* in La Jolla, that 4 mph wind chill will definitely have you thinking you’re on the East Coast.

When the weather turns so quickly from the 70* temperatures we felt yesterday, it makes me want to head inside and curl up under a blanket.  Anyone else feel this way?  It takes everything inside me to stick to my workout plan and stay active. One thing that truly helps is having an exercise partner. My trainer, aka husband, is an excellent motivator that gets me moving the moment I walk into our house to make sure I don’t get stuck in an anti-exercise rut.

Having lived in Chicago, we are pro on dominating the indoor exercises that can burn a ton of energy in a short period of time.  A few of the go-to activities we incorporate on those chilly San Diego days include:

·         Jillian Michaels Cardio Blast

o   It may sound a little corky but I tell you, she’ll make you use all of your body weight to burn fat and kick start your metabolism!

·         W.O.D. from

o   This is not your mama’s workout! These intense bouts of callisthenic exercises will increase your heart rate and make you wish you had a pile of snow to jump into!

·         Yoga

o   Whether you have a favorite DVD or You-Tube video you like to watch, a nice Yoga session can not only torch a ton of calories but also leave you with a sense of peace heading into the weekend.

Still not motivated? Not to worry, sometimes your body just needs a day off. I suggest heading over to Roots on Muir then to pick up a bowl of the Hot Kettle Chili to warm up and fill you with a great source of fiber and protein! Mindless munching… I think not! 

Remember, Roots is open until 8pm tonight ( and each dining location has a choice of two soups on a daily basis! Check out the soup of the day at the restaurants closest to you using the menu website ( or UCSD dining mobile app!

How do you stay active when the weather wrecks your plans? I would love to hear from you!

Interested in learning more about a particular topic? Feel free to email me at or follow HDH on twitter & check Facebook for upcoming events featuring the Taste Buds!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Guest Post - Who to Trust When It Comes to Nutrition

Happy Tuesday Ladies & Gentlemen!

I wanted to wait another week to announce the winner for the Healthy Holiday motto contest. So, for those of you still thinking, your deadline has been extended! Continue to brainstorm and shoot your suggestions to me via email or a comment on the post below. 

I would like to feature today a blurb written by Shelayne Werfel, a UC San Diego Dietetic Intern. Stay tuned for other healthy holiday tips coming this Friday!

The Importance of Skepticism and Scientific Literacy

These days, almost everyone has something to say about nutrition, and most people aren’t qualified to say anything.  Remember that nutrition is a science: not an opinion, not a celebrity fad, not an ancient Chinese tradition, but a field founded on research which is often difficult to interpret without a specialized educational background. 
Just like you wouldn’t want someone without an MD to perform surgery, you don’t want someone with no background in nutrition to tell you what to eat.  The trusted credential in the nutrition world is the RD (registered dietitian credential).  This requires a bachelor’s degree from an approved nutrition curriculum, a minimum of 1200 hrs. supervised practice, RD exam completion, and  continuing education units to ensure that your knowledge reflects the latest scientific advances. 
Some dietitians use the acronym RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist, but be wary of anyone who simply calls themselves a “nutritionist.”  This term does not represent any credential or education and is not regulated, so you can call your cat a nutritionist without fear of legal trouble. 
Be curious if someone tries to talk to you about nutrition or if you are seeking nutrition counseling, ask the person about their credentials.  Look up the credentials of the authors of diet books.  Even the most trusted credential is not a guarantee (every field has its quacks), but the more educated someone is, the less likely they are to be promoting pseudoscience.  To be a smart and safe consumer, always be a skeptic.

Great sources of nutrition information online include:  (Office of Dietary Supplements)  (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)  (diet book reviews by the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics, the professional organization for registered dietitians) (official website for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans)

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Health & Wellness Week at Warren

Hello there! I can’t believe it’s already Friday! Has this week flown by to anyone else? Thank goodness for a three day weekend, right?!

Over the past week I was fortunate enough to be able to spend time with the Warren community and I have to say, you guys definitely have “All the Right Moves”.  As a Taste Bud team member, I am always trying to get the word out about healthy eating and wellness to the college communities. Luckily, a few of my phrases stuck with a group of the RA's I dined with this summer and they have invited me to their events to talk nutrition and distribute healthy food.

On Monday I was able to demonstrate healthy snack ideas that can be prepared in rooms with items I picked up at Earl’s. Some of the options included:

·         Banana Bites
             o   Whole Grain Bagel Thins/English Muffins with Almond Butter & Fresh Banana Slices

·         Greek Yogurt Parfaits
             o   Nonfat Greek Yogurt with ¼ cup granola & banana slices with a sprinkle of cinnamon

·         Sinfully Sweet Trail Mix
             o   Recipe found here on the Taste Bud Website:

Nutrition Note: Purchasing this item from the marketplaces not only is convenient, but will also save you money.  One ounce of the Sinless Sweet Snack Mix ($.76/oz) is less when compared to similar brands at Vons ($.80/oz) and Whole Foods ($1.25/oz).   ADDED BONUS... you can use your dining dollars and avoid the added sugars blends often put in premade varieties J

Students were amazed by the quick, healthy meals they could prepare with just a few ingredients picked up at the market right outside their bedroom window.  All of our markets across campus offer a variety of these simple items to prepare healthy snacks in your room.  Also, this was a great opportunity to chat about the other dining restaurants available on campus. Eyes were opened to the possibility of heading over to Muir to try the completely vegan menu at Roots. I am even meeting a group of them there today to check out the unique and delicious menu choices.  Interested as well, meet me there at noon!

Last night I was able to participate in the “All the Right Moves” program over at Warren plaza. The event was a great mix of promoting fitness and nutrition all in one.  Zumba, a high aerobic style of dance, was offered for an hour from 3-4pm, in which many members of the Warren community joined forces. After a heart pumping hour of cardio, students joined me over at the Taste Bud station to enjoy a cup of Vegetarian Chili and chat about the many offerings available to them to dine healthfully on campus. It truly was a great event.

Roots Vegan Chili Presentation
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Let the Holiday Countdown Begin!

Now that Halloween has come and gone, retail stores and markets are in full force promoting the holiday season. Walk into any Target or Costco and there are aisles filled with chocolate Santas and snowmen cookies calling your name.  Isn’t it amazing how quickly the fall quarter flies by?!?  We are just weeks away from Thanksgiving and the rest of the holidays this time of year. 
Before we get too far into the season and the holiday baking begins in full force, it’s important to set goals for yourself to make sure your health does not take a back seat for the next two months. The other day I heard a colleague say she is pledging a “maintain don’t gain” campaign to promote balance and moderation this holiday season. I thought it would be really cool to kick off the holiday season on the Taste Buds blog with a similar motto.I would LOVE to hear from you on what YOU would like the motto to be this holiday season.Don’t wait til January to take a step in the right direction to a healthier you; send your suggestion now! You can comment here, send me an email at or post to our HDH Facebook page.
I look forward to hearing from you. I plan on posting the holiday motto a week from today, so let the brainstorming begin! The winner of the blog motto chosen will receive a special treat from the RD herself.
UPDATE! Here’s a follow up to the healthified pumpkin cookies. I ended up using two mini Baby Ruth candy bars and Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt pieces to top off a few of the cookies.  Even with those little goodies added, the cookies totaled in at only 70 calories and less than 2 grams of fat per serving. My neighbors were shocked and I went home with an empty plate. Not a bad way to kick off the holiday season!!!

Healthified Pumpkin Cookies
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