Thursday, 12 November 2009

get your beauty sleep

No, seriously. I mean it.

Research has suggested that getting <7-8 hrs of sleep or >7-8 hrs of sleep per night could be detrimental to your health. 


[This = last year at Christmas. All those papers I fell asleep with? My dietetic internship application]

Skimping on sleep or getting too much sleep may lead to*:

  • higher circulating levels of ghrelin (appetite stimulating hormone)
  • lower circulating levels of leptin (satiation hormone)
  • increased risk of weight gain {because of the above}
  • increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes
  • increased risk of cardiovascular disease

*Alvarez GG, Ayas NT.Prog Cardiovasc Nurs. 2004 Spring;19(2):56-9. Review.

Plus, sleep is important for immune health. I know I haven’t been doing the best job at getting maximum sleep at night. I’ve been spending too much time figuring out what I’m going to do post internship {yet, I’m still not sure..hmm}.


This savory roasted red pepper soup will rock your world [and it’s vegan]. There are some complex flavors going on, and it’s blended, which automatically makes it amazing. As a spice wimp, I left out the cayenne, but it was still pretty hot with the addition of an entire jalapeno.


What goes pretty well with soup? Kale bagels, of course. Many of you said you were inspired by my bagel-making efforts {why thanks, you flatter}. Others were not so sure about the color slash flavor.


I did get a question regarding the nutrients lost when cooking kale.

Most carotenoids and many vitamins are heat stable.  In fact, some are even made more bioavailable through heating, which helps release them from the food matrix. One exception is vitamin C, which is heat sensitive and easily oxidized. The kale was sautéed, boiled, and baked in the bagel-making process, so the losses from these combined processes may be significant (I don’t know that anyone has ever measured this). If you compare raw and cooked kale, you can see a difference, but cooked kale is still packed with good nutrition.

1 c. raw kale

1 cup raw kale

1 c. boiled kale

1 c. cooked kale

So, maybe I shouldn’t have said you lose considerable nutritional benefits by cooking kale, but you do lose some nutrition {thanks Lynn, for the pointing this out}.

Just a quick note: my ASN post on the 24^3 event is up. Any comment love is much appreciated! I think it’s pretty neat that a pro-sustainability post can be featured on such a visible venue, and I hope that many of the nutrition scientists will read it. I know many of you have already read about the 24^3 event, but stop by the ASN page if you can! :-)

asn blog

The weekend is almost here! I see yoga, Soulard, a blogger meet-up, and some running in the works. What are your plans?


Monday, 9 November 2009


I spent this morning teaching the intricacies of the Food Guide Pyramid to middle schoolers in the St. Louis public school system. Definitely challenging to say the least. After 4 summers as a camp counselor, I’ve learned how to interact with all sorts of kids, but it’s still hard to teach a lesson while competing with 25 chatty 8th graders. I think these kinds of experiences just serve to build character, kinda like this apple…


We actually served these to the kids today, and most labeled them as moldy or rotten-looking, but the apples are actually really good…the taste is almost reminiscent of a pear. I think hard situations may seem ugly at surface value, but if you look deeper, you can always find good. I know that we did make an impact on some of the kids who heard our lessons today, and if even one decides to take steps toward better nutrition, I feel like I’ve done something.

On that note, let’s chat about kale. I refused to eat this green for the longest time because it’s pretty bitter in the raw form [unless you make it into a green monster]. Nutritionally, it’s pretty awesome, and with the swine making its way around, I know we could all use some extra vitamin C.


Unfortunately, cooking kale causes it to lose many of its nutritional benefits, but the good news is that it still remains a good source of many vitamins and minerals, even after boiling. I’m not sure how many nutrients are left after the sauté, boil, and bake process I put the poor kale through to make these bagels.


The verdict: I was sad they didn’t taste more like kale, which is weird, I know. I think they needed more garlic + salt [gasp], to avoid masquerading as regular old whole wheat bagels. I like knowing exactly what goes into the food I’m eating, though, so modifying the recipe and trying again is worth it to me.


I have to admit that bagel-making is pretty fun [although a bit labor intensive]. I hadn’t made bagels since my food science class during my sophomore year of college…and who knows how those turned out with all our shenanigans in the foods lab.

As for preventing the swine: In addition to normal hand sanitation guidelines and increasing vitamin C intake, I would also add the importance of adequate sleep, hydration, and practicing overall good nutrition habits to the mix. And maybe throwing back a shot of wheat grass or two.

Stay healthy, everyone!


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

little things in life + a bacteria lesson prt 2

Thanks for all the good luck wishes for my test! My brain is seriously still recovering. I think it went ok, but I guess I’ll find out when I get the test back. I’m a huge nerd, though, and I really enjoyed this past section on obesity, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. They are all pretty related; it’s scary.

Sometimes life is all about the little things. Like…

yoga by candlelight + imogen heap


whole wheat dark chocolate pumpkin muffins


local Thanksgiving plans…my mom [aka head chef at home] is on board for a local food-focused turkey day celebration in Michigan.


As promised, part 2 of probiotics & prebiotics: consumer recommendations. Click here if you missed part 1.*


  • top prebiotics are inulin and oligosaccharides: seen most commonly in energy bars/cereal, yogurt, dairy & soy drinks, and breakfast cereals.
  • benefits seen with intake between 5-7 grams/day


  • should be tested in humans and proven to confer health benefits
  • get your doctor’s approval if you have immune system issues
  • check the expiration date: bacteria are live organisms!
  • store probiotic-containing foods properly to preserve bacteria

*Some product examples…

Dannon Activia


Contains: Bifidum regularis aka Bifidobacterium animalis

Claims: clinically proven to help naturally regulate your digestive system in two weeks; reduce bloating and irregularity

Studies: funded several studies that showed 4-12 oz of Activia yogurt per day reduced transit time an average of 10-30 hours after 2 weeks [I’d like to know if any independent research was conducted]

Kashi Vive Cereal


Contains: lactobacillus acidophilus

Claims: promotes balance and digestive wellness

Studies: none; benefits not proven

Stonyfield Farm Yogurt


Contains: L. acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei, L. reuteri

Claims: fights viruses and bacteria assoc. with diarrhea, GI disease and harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, Staphylococcus, Candida yeast, and other harmful microorganisms

Studies: L. reuteri shown to cut the rate of diarrhea by ~33% and shortened duration by ~ 1 day [Environ. Health 4: 25, 2005]; I’m trying to see if any other studies have been published.

Bottom Line: Probiotics and prebiotics can be beneficial, but it’s important to consider the processing of the foods they are found in [can affect viability of bacteria], the research behind the products [check product websites for proof that they are effective], and dosage [# of bacteria should be same as shown beneficial in clinical studies].

*taken directly from Kras’s slide presentation at FNCE this year

I know this information is still confusing, but hopefully I’ve provided some help in evaluating the products on shelves at your local grocery store. If anyone has heard of other studies on products not mentioned, let me know. What probiotic/prebiotic products do you currently consume?

I’m seriously in need of sleep, so I think I’m calling lights out right now. We learned in metabolism class that <7-8 hrs. of sleep per night is detrimental to health and hormonal regulation…super interesting information for another post.

Thanks for reading, friends!



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