Dorm Room Diet Done Right

21 Aug

Dorm Room Diet Done Right

Colleges and universities are back in session, and that means students are busy stocking their dorm room refrigerators.

As students are gearing up for a new school year – many have questions about how to eat healthy on campus without gaining the dreaded “Freshman 15”. Here are some tips for staying lean and mean this semester:

Eat Small Frequent Meals

Going long stretches without eating is a major downfall for people trying to eat right. Small frequent meals help you stay alert, keep blood sugar levels stable, and help you avoid overeating late in the day. Choose easy-to-prepare on-the-go meals, like this new Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese made with organic wheat pasta, real cheese and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Find Time for Fruit

Fruit is not just a fantastic between meal snack, it’s also a great way to incorporate nutrition into your meals. Try this Cranberry Chicken Salad on Flatbread recipe as an example of a super easy way to incorporate cranberries into your back-to-school meal planning.

Cranberries not only taste great, they are also really good for you. You probably know they help prevent urinary tract infections, which is true – but all cranberry products (like cranberry juice cocktail, dried cranberries, cranberry sauce and fresh and frozen cranberries) contain flavonoids. A specific type of flavonoid that is unique to cranberries actually prevent bacteria from sticking to cell walls, which prevents UTIs.

A new study in the journal Advances in Nutrition found that the bioactive compounds in cranberries not only help reduce the incidence of certain infections and maintain a healthy urinary tract, but they also improve heart health by improving blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure and reducing inflammation.

Snack Smarter

Did you know that 91% of American snack every day? And kids in particular need snacks, as their small stomach size can’t always meet daily nutrition needs in 3 meals alone.

But what you snack on matters – and here is a smart snack for you: sprouted grains chips. Way Better Snacks’ line of chips has sprouted grains, beans, and seeds. Sprouting helps to reduce certain anti-nutrient compounds that inhibit absorption – meaning that these chips have more bioavailable nutrients, and are more easily digested than other grains.

Grab Good To-Go Options

Now you might not think of a convenience store when you picture health food, but there are some pretty good options available out there today, and in particular at 7-11. The Fresh Food line at 7-11 offers fresh salads, sandwiches, seasonal fruit and snacks that would make any dietitian proud! Look for options with whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and those that contain protein and fiber, which help keep you full.

For more tips on how to eat right on campus, check out my segment on KUSI Ch 9 Good Morning San Diego this week.

Fiber: This One’s for the Birds

14 Aug

Fiber: This One’s for the Birds

It’s probably not something you think about every day – but our feathered friends need their fiber too.

In a recent article in HGTV Magazine, Stephen Kress – vice president for bird conservation at the National Audubon Society – said you have to fill your feeder properly.

Birds are energetic animals and need high calories options, so foods like bread and wheat in a bird feeder don’t cut it.

Instead, aim to fill your bird feeder with more nutritious options, such as:

  • Millet
  • Cracked corn
  • Black-oil sunflower seeds

For more information on how to stock your bird feeder, check out the National Audubon Society’s Bird Feeding Basics page.

California Avocado Recipe Contest Winner: Avocado Berry Gelee

6 Aug

California Avocado Recipe Contest Winner: Avocado Berry Gelee

Congratulations to Roxanne Chan of Albany, CA for winning the Fiber is the Future & California Avocado Commission’s Recipe Contest!

Roxanne’s recipe submission is for an Avocado Berry Gelee, an innovative use of avocados in an easy-to-prepare and beautifully displayed summertime dessert.

Avocado Berry Gelee

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 large ripe but slightly firm California avocado, peeled, pitted, coarsely grated
  • 2 Tbsp blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp raspberries
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp minced candied ginger
  • Lime zest and berries for garnish


  • Combine the grated avocado, berries and lime juice in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle the gelatin over the orange juice in a separate, small microwavable dish; let soften 1-2 minutes then microwave 10 seconds on high or until the gelatin dissolves.
  • Stir in the avocado and berry mixture along with the ginger.
  • Pour into a 4 cup mold and refrigerate till the gelee sets up, approximately 1-2 hours.
  • To serve: unmold onto a serving dish, garnish and serve.

Congratulations again to Roxanne and to all of the other contest entrants.

For more great California Avocado recipes, click here.

Lowdown on the Listeria Fruit Recall

23 Jul

Lowdown on the Listeria Fruit Recall

Food safety is forefront in the news this week after a California packing company initiated a voluntary recall of fruit it sold at Trader Joe’s, Costco, Food 4 Less, Foods Co., and Ralphs stores.

The recall is related to specific lots of peaches, nectarines, plums, and pluots in packages assembled from June 1 – July 12 that may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

What is Listeria?

Listeriosis is caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. It is particularly problematic for anyone with a compromised immune system, including:

  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women
  • Newborns, and
  • Other sick individuals

Listeria is found in soil and water, and animals can cross contaminate to foods such as uncooked meats and vegetables, or unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses.

The safest way to protect yourself against listeria is to cook and pasteurize, since this kills Listeria.

Hot dogs and deli meats can be sources of Listeria, which is why pregnant women are advised to avoid eating these foods unless they are reheated to steaming hot.

How Serious is the Threat of Listeria?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • About 1,600 people in the US get sick from Listeria each year
  • Listeria is the 3rd leading cause of death from food poisoning
  • At least 90% of those with Listeria infections are pregnant women or newborns, people aged 65 or older, or those with compromised immune system

How Can You Avoid Listeria?

Besides the obvious avoidance of contaminated product, if you are in one of the at-risk populations, make sure to also steer clear of the riskiest foods for Listeria, including:

  • Raw sprouts
  • Raw milk (unpasteurized milk)
  • Soft cheeses (made from unpasteurized milk)
  • Deli meats and hot dogs that are cold and not heated
  • Smoked seafood

To learn more about Listeria prevention, click here.

Regarding the recent fruit recall, you can find the FDA’s press release with affected lot numbers here.

Fig Facts from the Farmer’s Market

22 Jul

Fig Facts from the Farmer’s Market

Figs are a fruit-lover’s fickle friend. They make a brief appearance in market from June-July, with a second showing again in August-October.

On the whole, fig season is a short one – but it’s worth catching these high fiber fruits while you can.

A one-half cup serving (roughly 3-4 whole figs) contains 120 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and is a good source of potassium (10% daily value).

Fig Fun Facts

If you find yourself needing more fig facts, here are some interesting tidbits from California Figs…and they should know, with California being home to 90% of the US fig farming operation:

  • If you like fashion, thank figs: a fig tree was responsible for the first clothing in the Bible, from which Adam & Eve drew fig leaves from to fashion clothing
  • Because of their high alkalinity, figs are beneficial for people looking to stop smoking
  • Figs aren’t fruits – but rather flowers that have inverted onto themselves; the fig seeds are the real fruits (or drupes)
  • Figs are the only fruits (self-inverted flowers?) to ripen and semi-dry on the tree
  • The word sycophant (essentially – a self-seeking, servile suckup) derives from the Greek word meaning “one who informs against another for exporting figs” – figs were so revered that ancient Greek law forbade the exporting of high quality figs.

Fixing up Figs

So what do you do with figs? Personally I love to eat them whole – with a penchant for black Mission figs.

But figs aren’t just delicious and nutritious – they’re nice to look at too. Figs are gorgeous when sliced.

Add this appealing appetizer to your pre-party repertoire:

  • Spread 1-2 teaspoons goat cheese on a high fiber cracker
  • Top with a slice of fig
  • Finish off with a dollop of real honey

Are you fretting about not finding figs year round? Check out this interesting story from NPR about more frequent fig availability from advances in growing techniques…and a little fig farmer trickery.