My Boston Favorites

I always talk about Boston – I literally never shut up about it.

My soul is full of pride to know that I grew up in this incredible city. And after watching the Marathon from the finish line this weekend, my heart has just burst from happiness, love, and pride. Although it is normal to love the place you grew up, I know that my love and pride surpasses that normal capacity.

And as I am turning 2o this summer, I have put together a list of my all-time favorites within the city of Boston. For the most part, I am a HUGE foodie which is the reason why a lot of my favorites are restaurants. Along with food, I love shopping and large hang-out places which makes my list a combination of hidden places and well-known parts of the city. The way I went about making my list is by creating a quirky, lil’ map through Google to actually pinpoint the places I am talking about AND to make it easier for you all to figure out where they all are if you decide to try them out for yourselves!

 

To go through this map properly, I color-coded all of the places! And to do it in an extremely organized fashion, I will go through each place by the order of colors in the rainbow.

#1. YELLOW – Bova’s Bakery

I have always been a sucker for a good cookie. I grew up with one of the strongest sweet-tooth within my family aside from my dad. Although I have never visited Bova’s until I got to Emerson, I absolutely fell in love with the bakery. The best part about Bova’s is that it is open 24 hours and is family-owned which makes customers feel especially welcomed. My favorite thing from Bova’s would be their chocolate chip cannoli’s. That piece of deliciousness makes me melt and cry every single time!

#2. BROWN – Faneuil Hall Meeting House

It’s a huge tradition at my high school to hold graduation at the Faneuil Hall Meeting House. From the moment I was fourteen years old, some of the most important moments of my teenage life have happened in that historic place. And one of my favorites has to be graduating – I remember walking down the aisle, crossing the stage, and dancing down the stairs with my diploma in hand. Plus, it is a gorgeous location with the painted ceiling, the huge chandelier, and the stage. The meeting house almost represents a second home to me and I love it!

#3. ORANGE – Eataly

Located in the Prudential mall, Eataly is an Italian dining and shopping emporium. Eataly has everything under the sun: pasta, meat, snacks, fruit, cheese, desserts, restaurants, pizza, seafood, literally EVERYTHING. My obsession with Eataly holds no bounds – I love olive oil, I love pasta, I love cheese, I love fruit, I love gelato, I love bread, and I can get the best of ALL of my worlds in that one special Italian marketplace. I wholeheartedly believe that Eataly is an unique dining and shopping opportunity for anyone who wants to try and learn more about Italian cuisine. My favorite thing to get is a Chicken Panini, a.k.a their Rotisserie Chicken sandwich, which is smothered with olive oil in a beautiful piece of bread.

#4. PINK – MUJI

I am obsessed with stationery: pens, notebooks, folders, highlighters, binders, notecards, sticky notes, planners. After learning that MUJI was opening a store in Boston, I almost lost my cool. I remember going there with my sister in NYC and absolutely falling in love with their merchandise. Aside from stationery, they also have simple living essentials ranging from luggage to skincare to furniture. I really love their stationery products and they are incredible! I am never disappointed whenever I go to MUJI.

#5. MAGENTA – Children’s Wharf 

I spent a lot of time at the Children’s Museum when I was younger. And to this day, my favorite part of the museum is definitely the wharf park. I remember spending long summer days running around the boardwalk, begging my mom for ice cream from the Hood booth, and looking over the water at the seagulls. Much like the past, I still feel like a kid whenever I visit the museum and the boardwalk – the feeling will never escape me. If you have the chance to visit the museum and the wharf, I wholeheartedly recommend it! And now, they have 21+ Friday nights!

#6. BLUE – Charles River

Although the Charles is a bit disgusting, I still love it. When you live in a city, you will take a body of water and embrace it. For me, I grew up with the constant sight of the Charles. Whenever my family came into the city, we would drive down Storrow Drive and I would look out the window to see the glistening water of the river. I just think it makes Boston complete – without the Charles, I feel like we would be less of a city or that there would be something missing. Plus, the river runs throughout the state even in the parts of the city I live in!

#7. DARK GREEN – Oakleaf Cakes Bake Shop

For me, this bake shop is a hidden gem. They are located near Mass. Ave and they have an incredible orange juice. Although most of their merchandise is dedicated to their baking and cakes, there is something so special about this bake shop. I think it has to do with the fact that they put so much love and passion into everything they make and sell!

I hope that you found these places interesting! I love everything having to do with the city of Boston and can only imagine what this list will be a couple of years from now!

A Blended Family’s Weekend Trip

Interestingly enough, my parents met in a Japanese hospital. One of their mutual friends got in a car accident and even though my dad had a girlfriend at the time, their connection was instant. Shortly after that moment, they became a couple and after moving around southern Japan and around the east coast of the U.S., the pair settled in my dad’s hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. And that is where I come in – as their last child and probably the one that eats the most food.

Continue reading “A Blended Family’s Weekend Trip”

Healthy Eating Within Reach

Hello again, my fellow dorm dwellers. It’s almost the end of the semester, and I don’t know about you, but I’m getting real tired of dining hall food right about now. For us Piano Row residents, the Max was fun for the first few weeks of freshman year. Now it’s reached the point where I’m actually starting to turn down mozzarella sticks. The PCaf, The Max and the Dining Hall have a lot of tempting, unhealthy options, but believe it or not, there are healthy ones too. It’s safe to say that the main reason for going to Emerson is not the dining hall. But rather than focusing on the bad, we can try to find the good! So, in order to tide you over until the summer when you can once again experience real, actual food, I’m going to give you a little lesson in how to find the healthiest options around campus.

Alright, so let’s go over our choices. We have the dining hall, the Max, the PCaf, and Einstein’s at which to spend our Board Bucks. And when those run out, we have twenty off campus eateries that take EC Cash, including Boloco, Panera Bread, Subway and Sal’s Pizza (the full list can be found here).

Now, I know as well as anyone how hard it is to eat healthy on a college campus, especially ours. We’re all guilty of it–those pizza bagels from Einstein’s will probably be the death of me. But there are always healthy options (thanks Michelle Obama) if you just take the time to look.

The most important meal of the day is breakfast, and I usually go to Einstein’s. Here are some healthy choices you might not have noticed before.

  • Egg-white Asparagus Mushroom Swiss on Thin Wheat Bagel (390 cal)
  • Bacon Tomato Avocado Egg White on Thin Wheat Bagel (410 cal)
  • Thintastic Asparagus and Mushroom, Whole Egg, on Thintasic Whole Wheat (430 cal)
  • Hummus Veg Out on Sesame (410 cal)

Nutrition Info

Menus and nutritional information is not available online for the Max and Pcaf, but I would recommend switching out the usual cheeseburger or grilled cheese for stir fry, taco salad or a grilled chicken sandwich. At the DH, it’s possible to get creative. I like to ask the grill to cut up some chicken to put on my salad to give it some protein. The vegan station is always a healthy choice as well, and the vegan desserts. I cannot get enough of the vegan desserts! Especially that banana bread! So moist and delicious. That’s one area where the DH really outdoes itself. I’ve also recently discovered a way to spice up a plain ol’ grilled cheese–ask for pesto and tomatoes, and put it on wheat bread. Now you can enjoy comfort food without feeling like you might die after!

Now this may not be an option for everyone, but grocery shopping can really make eating on campus a lot less bleak. I was recently informed that our local CVS on Washington St takes EC Cash! How wild! You can stock up on some bananas, yogurt, protein bars, cereal and whatever else your little heart desires. Just do your best to steer clear of the sodas and other sugary snacks. Roche Bros is also a great option for fresh produce and other healthy snacks, though it is more expensive. If you’re like me and miss having strawberries at your disposal like you did at home, Roche Bros is your go-to. With your new bounty, you can head over to the Colonial kitchens (open to everyone, not just residents) and have a dinner party with your friends! It’s not quite the same as home, but summer is just around the corner. It’s so close, I can almost taste it.

What is Orthorexia Nervosa?

Recently there has been a big healthy eating craze with a shift from traditional fast-food to more “fast-casual” dining with much healthier options, and many pushes toward eating organic, vegetarian or vegan diets. This is a great thing, however, for some people it can also become an obsession called orthorexia nervosa. Similar to other eating disorders, it starts as a simple desire to eat healthier, which then grows into an unhealthy obsession on food quality and purity. At its severest it can consume one with constant thoughts of what, when, and how much to eat; prevent them from eating out with friends because restaurants don’t have things they believe they can eat; and cause them to spiral and self-punish if they eat something not “healthy” enough. This leads an orthorexic’s diet to eventually become so restricted that it deprives them of nutrients they need, and not only impairs their life and relationships, but, ironically, their physical health.

Though orthorexia is similar to other eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, it is not officially recognized by the DSM-5, the fifth Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The term was first used by Steven Bratman, MD in 1996, to help explain to his patients the idea that what they deemed as “healthy” eating may not always be what is best for them. The term has recently gained popularity with an increase in patients with similar symptoms.

Another reason for it’s recent popularity growth is a popular health blogger who found herself with the same condition. In an article with the New York Daily News Jordan Younger, originally known as “The Blonde Vegan” said she began to notice that her attempt to eat healthy was becoming an obsession that was effecting her daily life. It started effecting her health, including her menstruation, and eventually she decided that  something had to change. She told the Daily News, “I just didn’t want food to control me anymore. I saw the people around me who I loved very much just able to enjoy their food in a way that I wasn’t doing anymore.” After that she became devoted to recovery and even changed her blog’s name to The Balanced Blond.

Orthorexia is similar to anorexia and bulimia because it actually becomes much less about the food and much more about control. The NEDA, National Eating Disorder Association, says there are many “underlying motivations, which can include safety from poor health, compulsion for complete control, escape from fears, wanting to be thin, improving self-esteem, searching for spirituality through food, and using food to create an identity,” for why eating healthy may become a compulsion for some people and not others. A lot of these pressures can come from personal problems, or societies constant pressure to look a very certain way, and a newer pressure to eat a certain way.

It is important to remember that just because you strive to have a healthy diet does not mean you are orthorexic. However, if you or someone you know match these guidelines from the NEDA it may be a good idea to talk to a doctor:

“1) It [eating clean] is taking up an inordinate amount of time and attention in your life. 

2) Deviating from that diet is met with guilt and self-loathing.

3) It is used to avoid life issues and leaves you separate and alone.”

Food Renegade also has a quiz to help those who think they might be orthorexic. 

While orthorexia is not a condition that a doctor can diagnose, they can often help with recovery, or refer you to someone who can. Many clinics, such as Futures Palm Beach can help those affected discover the roots of their condition such as low self-esteem, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder with extensive therapy and give them a safe and comforting place to detox. 

“Master of None” & the Millennial’s Relationship with Food

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Aziz Ansari’s recently released Netflix show Master of None is a hit for many reasons: it’s diverse cast, thoughtful plot lines and interesting structure separate it from the wave of other “must watch” TV shows of today. While all of these components are important to the show’s unique style, there is another aspect that sets it apart: protagonist Dev’s relationship with food.

Food is a major thematic component in the series. In Master of None, food excites, connects and entertains all of its characters. Restaurants set the backdrop for where they have enlightening conversations about parents’ histories, revelations of sexism occur over Instagrams of frittatas and a pasta maker becomes the source of a relationship fight. Aziz Ansari has said that his character’s obsession with food is a reflection of his real life self, but his personal passion mirrors a greater cultural trend that is pertinent to Millennials. (By the way, I know the term “Millennials” is annoying to use, but so is “twenty-somethings”, “Generation Y-ers” and “us youngin’s.”)

Everyone likes food, but the way Millennials like food is something worth talking about. Gone are the days of McDonald’s and TV dinners. We like food that is healthier and greener and overall, trendier. Fast food chains are hurting and fast casual restaurants like Panera and Chipotle are replacing them as the go-to for a quick dinner. This growing business model encapsulates everything Millennials expect from our food now: quality, freshness, customization and even a little bit of an atmosphere. People want to know what is in their food and where their food is from. The discourse on food has gone from whether or not something tastes good, to the deeper topics of the moral implications of dietary habits. Were discussions of veganism and the importance of free-range meat being had between 20-year-olds 10 years ago? Or have they ever happened?

Preparing meals as a past time is even becoming popular. Cooking is a cool hobby now. According to market research company Mintel, 2 out of 3 Millennials classify themselves as “Casual Cooking Enthusiasts.” Whether they’re any good or not is subjective, but the fact that they’re viewing it as a hobby instead of something that’s necessary for their health is worth noting. Buzzfeed (the most trusted media source of our time) has a specialty food section that specializes in sharing recipes; its Twitter has 149,000 followers and over 11 million likes on Facebook. People tag their friends in the comments about desserts they want to make with the same kind of enthusiasm one saves for a night out.

Whether or not Masters of None will be renewed is yet to be seen, but if it is, I’m sure food will continue to be a major influence in the show. If not, the same sort of stressful decision-making choices such as where it is a pair of friends should be getting bubble tea are being had all across America. Foodie culture is no longer just a quirky penchant of a select few; it’s the norm now.

How to Have a Vegetarian Thanksgiving

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, the holiday season can be uncomfortable in terms of food. You sit around the table with your family as they all stare at your plate trying to figure out what you will eat.

This time around, you can have the opportunity of showing your family and friends how delicious plant-based food can be.

These are some of the plates that I plan on cooking for my Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

Roasted Squash with Red Onion, Oregano and Mint

Tgiving issue: roasted squash, brussel sprout slaw

Easy and so delicious, this warm appetizer will be loved by everyone at the table. It’s as easy as baking the squash and spicing it up. Enjoy.

Recipe can be found here.

Zucchini and Caramelized Onion Quiche

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Delicious and filling. Works well as a side dish or even a main dish. This is the kind of dish where you can choose the vegetables you love the most. In my case, zucchini is the chosen one. I suggest squash, tomato or mushrooms. This is a yummy, easy and quick addition to the table.

Recipe can be found here.

Squash and Celeriac Quinoa Stuffing

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Give your classic Thanksgiving stuffing a twist.

Replace the bread with quinoa, and treat yourself to a healthy stuffing. This is a great vegan approach to the stuffing, where you replace classic ingredients like chicken broth and eggs for butternut squash and celery root. This is healthy, full of protein and the quinoa will give great texture to the dish.

Recipe can be found here.

Whipped Coco Cream Tart with Fresh Berries (Vegan)

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Delight yourself and your guests with this quick, easy tart. The berries are your choosing. This tart will look so gorgeous, you will be surprised!

Recipe can be found here.

Chocolate Pecan Pie (Vegan)

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Some delicious vegan chocolate pie to end the meal. This pie won’t take you longer than half an hour to make, and you will thank yourself you did.

Recipe can be found here.

Additional tips can be found on Food&Wine’s website.

All By Myself: The Rebellion of Being Alone

“Do you want to go with me?” you ask nervously. It could be anywhere: the Dining Hall (DH), the Prudential Center (The Pru), even the bathroom.

“No, it’s okay. Have fun though.”

This is the worst case scenario. Now you’re left to make a choice: stay home and leave those you invited wondering why you didn’t go either, or go alone.

I’ve been faced with this dilemma multiple times. Not only do I have social anxiety, but being at college was the first time I’ve ever lived alone, so it’s often hard to get the courage to go places by myself. I’ve frequently asked friends if they want to accompany me just about anywhere just so I don’t have to face it alone. I’ve opted for Cup of Noodles as an alternative for facing DH dinner time by myself and I’ve cancelled plans entirely because everyone bailed.

This year I decided that had to change. I’m nineteen-years-old and I’m not always going to have friends and family to hold my hand. I’m going to have to go to interviews by myself, grocery shop, and (gasp) even make my own doctors’ appointments.

The DH was my first step. If you can brave the DH alone you can brave just about anywhere. I started out slow. I now make pretty frequent trips there for lunch, mainly because I live in Paramount. I find I waste too much time walking back and forth between classes to the icy wasteland that is the fourth residence hall. I started out sitting in the small hidden booths in the corner of the DH, my head buried in a book to mask my shame. But then I realized there wasn’t anything to be ashamed of and decided it was okay to sit where I wanted. After all, at breakfast and lunch time most people are there alone with their headphones in anyways, and at dinner everyone is too wrapped up in their own worlds to even care that you’re spending a meal by yourself.

Being alone in my campus bubble was one thing, but a new crisis arose when I had to venture to the Pru by myself and no one was around to go with me. I almost considered not going at all, but the quest for a new planner was too important to put off because of my impending fear of running errands alone.

As always, it’s never as bad as you build it up to be in your head. No one laughed at me for being alone, nothing awful happened and I got to Barnes and Noble and back with the prophesied planner in tow.

The most notable, perhaps, was when I had to get a drug test for my new job. I had only been on campus for a day after move-in and I was already forced to venture off campus over by Northeastern so I could get this done. There was no way out of this one, so thus began my adventure of taking the horrid green line all the way to the land of actual colleges who offer science majors and math courses. Going anywhere unfamiliar is nerve-wracking but going alone is probably twice as bad. It’s situations like these that boost my confidence. If answering the phone without panicking makes me feel like an adult, then going on an excursion outside of the Emerson bubble with no one to accompany me is my form of leveling up in the adult world.

I, of course, make light of this subject because it’s my own experience, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who have had similar experiences. It’s the reason why my friends have a group chat almost solely for the purpose of figuring out who’s eating meals when and why girls tend to go to bathrooms in packs. We feel safer in numbers and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with going places alone. In fact, I’d actually recommend trying it sometime. There’s something peaceful and empowering about not having to wait for friends to get things done, and sometimes it’s nice to have a day to clear your head and do what you want to do.

Everyone is a rebel in their own way. Some people buy mustard yellow scarves, others don’t wear bras, and some go places alone. I’ve never really considered myself a rebel, at least not in the media’s tattooed, leather-jacket clad sense, however, this is my way to rebel and for me I consider it a pretty successful rebellion indeed.

“I’m Strong to the Finich, Because I Eats Me Spinach”

Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away?
Will eating a can of spinach a day make you instantly strong like Popeye?

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It is no secret that one should eat five servings of fruits and vegetables in order to stay at their healthiest, but how is that even possible? We have three meals everyday: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each of these meals depends on your eating habits. Do you usually eat healthy? Unhealthy? A combination of the two?

According to MyPlate, the USDA nutrition website, the exact servings of fruit and vegetables depends on your age, physical state and gender. A girl who is 14 to 18-years-old is expected to eat 1 1/2 cups of fruit a day and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables. A boy of the same age, on the other hand, needs 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables daily. Therefore, as a 20-year-old woman, I am expected to eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day. While this website gives a general idea of servings, be aware that the servings are based on a regular 2,000 calorie diet and a person who gets 30 minutes or less of exercise a day.

imgresBoth groups, fruits and vegetables, contain subgroups within them that help give variety in one’s diet. For fruits there are berries, melons, fruit juices and citrus. Vegetables include dark-green, starchy, red and orange and beans and peas.

Between all of these groups, it is more than possible to keep your palette colorful and interesting throughout your healthy eating adventures!images

So then what does eating fruits and vegetables do for your body? For one, they help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, but they also help to provide nutrients that assist your body in functioning on a regular basis. For example, Vitamin A is a nutrient that is present in many vegetables. By eating the vegetables that provide this specific nutrient, we are helping to keep our eyes and skin healthy against infections. Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A, and are only one out of the many examples that one can make in order to fulfill those nutrients. Overall, replacing higher calorie snacks with vegetables or fruit can also help to contribute to a lower calorie intake per day, and therefore, benefit your healthy living lifestyle.

Personally, I tend to go back and forth between healthy and unhealthy. One week I’m eating a ton of fruit and vegetables throughout the day and staying thoroughly hydrated, the next I’m downing chocolate milkshakes and mozzarella sticks. In other words, I get it. It is so hard to stay permanently healthy all the time. Through this understanding, however, I have found ways to stay almost permanently healthy by sneaking in vegetables and fruits into my snacks and meals, and then of course exercising (but that part is up to you.)

On most days, I manage to get in about 3-4 servings of vegetables and fruits. On my healthiest days: 4-5 and on my worst days: 1-2. As you can see, on a regular basis I am usually getting almost all of my vegetable and fruit servings. But how? It was pretty hard, but I cancelled out most of my “junky” snacks, leaving them for special occasions or when I really just need something sweet or salty. After about a week, my cravings for the junky foods went away and were happily replaced by the natural sugars of fruit and the flavor of steamed, broiled or baked veggies.

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This is not without saying that I do not have my occasional downfalls. I am not perfect, no one is. For instance, I am currently eating dark chocolate M&M’s. Not too healthy for the body, but at the moment, they just seem perfect. The difference between eating these chocolates now, however, and before, is that I do not feel the need to give myself a second serving. One small handful does the trick and then I’m back on track (usually.)

imagesI have to say, living a healthy lifestyle comes much easier. It’s just the journey that starts out a little rocky. We are so used to living our busy, rushed lives, that our meals are usually effected by it as well. We are much less inclined to make a healthy dinner after a long exhausting day at work or go grocery shopping on a hot and humid day.

There is a saying that my yoga studio uses at the beginning of every practice. First, they congratulate us and then state that “getting onto our mats was the hardest part.” Although this applies to yoga, it can also relate to everyday life activities, especially being healthy. The hardest part about being healthy is starting and then continuing until our bodies are able to confidently do it on their own. So begin your journey and remember that just deciding to commit yourself to being healthy is the hardest part. Take risks and try new things, and then render the old eating habits that you just can’t let go of around the new healthy ones. Create a new lifestyle and help yourself become a better feeling, happier YOU.

What’s Up With the Mother Grain? Your Quinoa Questions Answered

Quinoa is a delicious edible seed that is eaten and cooked as a grain, nicknamed the “Mother Grain.” It is extremely nutritious and high in protein and amino acids, the reason why people consider it a “super food.” I have to admit that I am huge fan. As a vegetarian, its a great source of protein. It is also extremely versatile and can be used in many different types of plates.

Quinoa has been planted since at least 300 B.C. in the Andean region, from Chile to Colombia. Considered a sacred seed by natives, it was used in religious rituals and did not become extremely popular in the West until five to seven years back.

So, what happens when a crop that was exclusively consumed by only Andean farmers becomes a top choice for all western foodies?

The two main countries that produce quinoa are Peru and Bolivia. In Bolivia, the country’s crop expanded almost 40 times in production from 2000 to 2009. In Peru, production grew almost 20 percent more from 2008 to 2009. Peru exported a worth of $30 million in quinoa in that same year.

For ethical eaters, concerns grew in terms of the tripling of the price of the grain, as well as the potential environmental effects of growing the crop at such an accelerated rate. 2013 was named the International Year of Quinoa. A year where quinoa production reached its peak and where most consequences started to become clear.

In a positive sense, it is providing an income to farmers whose only source of retribution comes from quinoa. On the other hand, the demand for quinoa is so great that it is prompting Bolivian farmers to dispose of traditional farming practices, something that can endanger the ecosystem of the Andes region. The problem is that quinoa is a very delicate crop, which only grows in high lands with cold weather.

It is not a feasible solution to begin planting it in other countries. The crops simply do not flourish as similarly as they do in the Andean region and this will only take away from the farmers who have worked the crop for years.

The real environmental problem with quinoa crops is the potential desertification of the growing region. Changing quinoa from a subsistence crop to a mass commodity leads to farmers working the soil year-round, which degrades the land and damages the soil. This could lead to higher incidence of pests and for the need of farmers to begin using pesticides, making quinoa no longer organic (one of its main appeals for some people.)

Another factor are the llamas. Once they roamed free and grazed the lands where quinoa was planted cyclically but now, they are being moved away to farm even more quinoa on untreated soil. Production of quinoa, and the maintenance of the soil was dependent on the llamas which no longer get the chance to do their work.

So, what is one as a consumer to do?

I would say the first thing is to buy it moderately. You do not need to eat quinoa every day. Make it some what of a treat.

Most importantly, I would say learn where your quinoa comes from. Buying fair trade quinoa (even though its more expensive than the one they sell at Trader Joe’s) will reassure you that the farmers are getting paid for their hard work, while you enjoy the nutritious grain.

Now that you are informed of the wonders, and consequences of eating quinoa, these are some suggestions to how you can enjoy the “Mother Grain.”

  1. Toss it into your salad, or just about anything else! Make sure to cook it before hand. Quinoa tastes so good on its own, that it is a great compliment to almost any meal. Replace rice or pasta, and use quinoa instead for a healthier meal.
  2. Make Quinoa Patties. So easy!
  3. Make Quinoa Chocolate Cake. Yes, it’s real, delicious and gluten free!
  4. Quinoa Black Bean Burgers
  5.  You can also find quinoa bread and quinoa pasta in store as gluten free alternatives.

Enjoy!

How Super Are Superfoods?

avocado-713094_640While scrolling down your Facebook newsfeed, you may have come across an article or two claiming that if you eat a certain food you will magically lose weight. Whether posted by a friend or sponsored by the site, it seems now more than ever, health has become trendy like never before. With summer in full swing, many people are on the lookout for the next big health trend to keep them swim suit ready with ease. One of this year’s trends is to incorporate “superfoods” into one’s diets, some of the most popular being kale, chia seeds and avocado. Although these foods do provide nutrients necessary for a healthy diet, it can be hard not to question whether or not these foods are truly as super as the media is making them out to be.

Super Foods, Super Marketing

Superfood is not an official nutritional term. It was actually created by marketers as a way to brand certain foods that are particularly rich in one or two nutrients. “We are a culture looking for a cure all, a magic bullet that contains all the health benefits we need,” says Kimberly Dong, a registered dietician and Food and Nutrition Professor at Emerson College. “That’s why this marketing works. When there’s wide spread public interest in these foods, the prices go up.”

The problem is that these foods are not the cure all that marketers try to make them out to be.  “If you have poor lifestyle habits such as a lack of exercise or bad hygiene, eating superfoods will not prevent you from being unhealthy,” says Dong. It is okay to incorporate them into your diet, but you shouldn’t rely on them as being the main source for all of your health needs. It is important to eat a variety from all of the different food groups and get the nutrients you need from more than one source.

Emerson student, Caroline Glass, 19, has successfully incorporated superfoods into her diet while still maintaining a healthy balance and variety. The junior communication sciences and disorders major says, “I read a lot of health news about superfoods so I wanted to try them. I assumed that since I was reading and hearing so much about them, the things they were saying must have been true.” She eats kale, chia seeds and avocado, and although she’s not quite sure what they do to her body, she knows they are good for her. “I eat them mostly for their taste, but it doesn’t hurt that they are healthy too.”

Kale, Chia Seeds and Avocado, Oh My!

Kale has been getting a lot of hype lately with many people trading in their spinach salads to test out this chic green vegetable. In addition to tossing it in with other leafy greens, it has also been popular to incorporate it into different juices and shakes, a trend that Pressed, a juice bar in the Beacon Hill area of Boston, has been able to profit from. Of the nine juices and superfood shakes they have listed on the menu, four contain kale as a main ingredient. “Kale is incredibly high in iron. In fact, [five cups of kale] have as much iron in [them] as a [1/4 pound] hamburger,” says Ashley Gleeson, one of the owners of Pressed. Perhaps, that’s what makes this vegetable so appealing, especially for those who are vegetarians or vegans. While other leafy greens, such as broccoli or spinach contain iron, they do not have the same concentration found in kale.

Iron is not the only nutrient found in kale, however. In an email, Elizabeth Avery, a clinical dietician and sports nutritionist at Emerson College, says, “Kale is high in vitamin K which is important for blood clotting and bone metabolism, beta carotene which is necessary for normal vision, gene expression, reproduction, embryonic development, and immune function, and vitamin C, an antioxidant.” It also contains indole-3-carbinol, which has been found to aid in DNA repair and may even help prevent cancer.

download (11)Chia seeds are another superfood that many people have heard they should be eating, but are still unclear on what exactly it is they do. Emerson’s Glass says, “I don’t know why but I’ve noticed such a difference in my energy levels. When I eat chia seeds, I don’t need to drink coffee.” In addition to being a great source of energy, chia seeds also contain protein, fiber and omega 3s, a heart healthy fatty acid, but that’s not all.

“Chia seeds are encased in a type of jelly that sticks to toxins and removes them from your body,” says Gleeson, owner of Pressed. It’s hard not to be impressed with all of the health benefits of these tiny seeds, but again, it is important to look at the bigger picture, and remember that none of these health benefits really matter, if you are not eating a balanced diet.

Avery, a registered dietician, says, “People benefit most from the synergistic effects of a broad spectrum of nutrients from a wide variety of foods, not a few nutrients from a few specific foods. [These] superfoods only provide a fraction of the nutrients that humans need to maintain their health.” Eating these foods will not cancel out the effects of the unhealthy foods you eat nor will they provide all the nutrient benefits of the healthy foods that may be lacking from your diet.

Emerson student, Rachael Samson, 19, has always enjoyed eating avocados and was happy to learn about all of their health benefits when she took a Food and Nutrition class last fall. The film major says, “I eat avocados because they are really filling and I like the taste of them, but I know they are healthy too. We learned in class that they are the good kind of fat that is heart healthy.”

Aside from that fact that they provide the kind of fat that our body needs, Avery says, “Avocados are good sources of unsaturated fat, vitamin K, folate, a B vitamin that prevents megaloblastic anemia and aids in amino acid metabolism and vitamin C.” Regardless, many people like Samson, eat them simply because they are delicious. They have a creamy, rich texture and are a good way to spice up your diet if you’re looking for a different kind of fruit. However, be aware that due to their fat content, they are high in calories with one avocado having 300-400 calories.

Health is the New Black

In these past few years, there has been a clear shift away from extreme, crash diets towards healthier, superfood fads. But why does it seem like people are more aware of their health than ever before? Pressed’s owner, Gleeson says, “Honestly, I think people have been watching their parents’ health as they’ve aged and it’s made them more conscious. They are starting to realize that they not only want to look better but they want to feel better too.”

Trying to add a superfood or two into your diet isn’t going to hurt and it will probably even do more good than harm. Just don’t forget about the other foods and nutrients your body needs aswell. Emerson’s Glass says, “You shouldn’t need to change your diet a lot to add in these superfoods. That being said, if you do add them in, remember that they don’t cancel out any unhealthy things you may be eating, and you still need to eat a variety of foods to maintain a balanced diet.”

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