Turmeric Dreams

IMG_5506As a college student it is easy to forget about sleep. We work hard in classes all day, participate in extra-curricular activities and clubs in the afternoon, and then toil away at schoolwork all night. When are we expected to sleep?! As a child I struggled with periods of insomnia and sleep discomfort, and recently these instances have become common again. Lack of sleep affects everyone in different ways, but I find that is not only stresses my physical body and mind, but it wears down my memory and flattens my mood. I complained about this to my mom, and she immediately sent me a jar of turmeric powder and instructions about how to make a simple drink to consume before bed that would soothe my mind into sleep.

So what is turmeric? This bright yellow powder is an ancient spice, used especially in Ayurvedic medicine, with a variety of health benefits. Turmeric has been known to fight off a number of cancers, promote peaceful sleep, soothe tendons and muscles, and has overall powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has even been known to increase general mood by stimulating serotonin and dopamine levels. Overall, it seems that we should take advantage of this brilliant little spice.

The Recipe:

IMG_5498Kindly ask a parent (or relative, friend, etc.) to send you a container of pure turmeric powder. My mom sent it in a small mason jar for ease of transportation. You can also go to your local health foods store, for most of them have a spice selection that will include turmeric. Make sure that the spice is of high quality and from a source that you trust.

About 30 minutes before sleep, take about 1 cup of non-dairy milk (I use plain soy milk because that is what I have available) and mix in 1/2-1 tsp. of turmeric powder. Stir well and microwave until warm.

Warning: Turmeric stains!

 

 

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Food Pyramids: Myths and Lies

We’ve all heard of the food pyramid right? Since I was little I’ve heard this name tossed around as it gets argued over and increasingly updated in order to reflect recent developments in nutrition research. Or so we think. In my Personal Health and Fitness class, my professor attempted to give us the truth about these little pyramids, revealing the complexity of their creation. Overall, I thought my professor did a pretty excellent job.

pyramidThe first picture he showed us was the food pyramid infographic from the early 1990s. My professor made sure we saw the “6-11 servings” instruction under the Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta Group. “That seems like a lot of servings, don’t you think?” he asked us. Wow, this pyramid certainly had issues in my mind, and also, as my professor pointed out, it isn’t very clear about portions (what is a serving here, and for who? A child? An adult?). I was shocked to see how small a space vegetables took up as well. My professor also wanted us to note the Fats, Oils and Sweets section, reminding us that fat is actually essential in our diet (more on that in another post). Anyway, 2005 brought an update to the pyramid. As you can see, the pyramid structure is still intact, but the layout is different. No longer are the food groups arranged in horizontal sections, but rather they are put in slices, and there is less space for the grain group2000px-mypyramidfood-svg. My professor was not pleased, explaining, “Still we see nothing about portion size. How do we determine what these slices represent? And why is this guy running up the side of it?” Clearly the figure running is supposed to show how physical exercise should be incorporated into our daily lives, but why put that in the same category as daily nutrition? This was also the first time we talked about the government’s role in all of this. Growing up with parents who are educated about food nutrition and also food politics, I have known that the government and industry play a huge role in what USDA_MyPlate_green.svgeducation about food is released to the public, but this was new information for many of my classmates. The next update in the food pyramid trend brought a whole new design: the plate. This design with the confusion about portions, because it’s easier to picture food on a plate. However, this picture is still full of flaws, and my professor agreed. The biggest issue I had was the cup of dairy on the side, and my professor said, “its weird that they put this here because not everyone needs dairy in their diets. Dairy isn’t even good for my diet. They shouldn’t have put it there.” He also spoke of how the dairy industry would probably have sued the government if it had been left off the plate. Finally, my professor showed us his favorite food guide, which was hepjan2015Harvard’s representation of a food “pyramid.”I certainly found this one to be the best and most accurate of them all. “Notice how they use much more space on the plate for vegetables and the glass is full of water instead of milk,” he cooed. Also, he pointed out the “Limit milk/dairy” notice under the water picture, a sentence that dairy industries would get the  government in trouble for incorporating into their food guides for sure, but Harvard does not have to worry about that because, well, it’s Harvard.

Anyway, I wanted to share this history, which in my mind reinforces the point that you shouldn’t take all food advice seriously, even if the advice is coming from your government. Because, unfortunately, money is often the driving force behind the information, not research or health.

Apple Valentines

IMG_5321As a single girl, Valentine’s Day is often a holiday I choose to forget. However, this Valentine’s Day why not make a sweet, simple, and nutritious snack for yourself! I took one large, red apple and cut it in sheets (start on one end and make sheets about 1/4 inch thick, like you’re cutting an onion). Then, carefully, with a small, sharp knife, carve hearts into the smaller sheets. I cut mine into various sizes and layered them onto one another for more flourish. Arrange the hearts onto the flat, larger sheets and enjoy! Optional: eat with crushed walnuts, almond butter, or dark chocolate chips.

I sent pictures of these tasty apple hearts to all my girlfriends, wishing them a Happy Galentine’s Day (from the show Parks and Recreation). Because really, who needs boys (or girls) when you have apples and good friends? ❤

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