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Archive for October, 2009

It’s that time of year again. In a few days, we will celebrate what in my opinion is one of the more fun American holidays. It fills me with the nostalgia of dressing up as a Disney Princess in elementary school. How many holidays do that?

Halloween is super fun not only because it provides us with an excuse to disguise ourselves, to revel in spooky tales and gather with friends, but because, of course, of the copious amounts of candy and sweets that Halloween brings.

A great way to avoid the junk, ie high fructose corn syrup, gums, and hydrogenated oils, that we find in the majority of Halloween candy is to bake your own Halloween treats.

Eatingwell.com is a great resource for healthy recipes, and it has a whole page dedicated to fun Halloween ones!

I’m particularly excited about the Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Marshmallow Frosting. YUM!

The recipe for the cupcakes calls for whole wheat pastry flour, but you can substitute 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 cake flour if you don’t have any whole wheat pastry flour on  hand.

Enjoy, happy baking and have a great Halloween!

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coffee

If you practically drown yourself in coffee during midterms (or in general) you are not alone.

Personally, I’m not addicted to coffee, but I enjoy a nice cup of joe (Nussbaum’s is my favorite) as much as the next person. Plus, I have tons of friends who have said they should be connected to an I.V. to feed them caffeine at all hours of the day.  We all know how it goes… you start off as a kid taking a sip of coffee and thinking there is no way in hell you will ever enjoy drinking whatever was in that cup. Then going to Starbucks becomes cool, and bringing a cup of coffee to school becomes the thing to do, and before you know it, you’re doomed. Somehow, you’ve gone from drinking a cup of coffee in the morning to needing two before 11AM, and another in the afternoon. Uh oh.

There’s a lot of contradictory information out there in terms of whether or not coffee is  harmful to your health, but it’s pretty obvious across the board that it’s definitely not doing anything good for you. Sure, I’ll admit that it can be really nice to get that jolt of energy on days when getting out of bed is a serious challenge. But is it worth the toll it takes on our bodies?

First off, caffeine causes headaches and digestive problems (diarrhea and constipation are the least of these; we’re talking serious irritation of the stomach and bladder, peptic ulcers, etc.). And let’s not forget fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Ironic, no? We drink coffee to wake us up and get us motivated, but in the long run, addiction to caffeine produces exactly the opposite effect.

Lastly, a quick word on the relationship between consuming caffeine and retaining fat. I know, you don’t want to hear it, but it must be said: coffee pretty much equals fat cells. “Coffee, whether regular or decaf, is highly acidic. Acidic foods cause your body to produce fat cells, in order to keep the acid away from your organs” (Barnouin and Freedman, Skinny Bitch). (This isn’t the case for acidic citrus fruits; your body can handle that kind of acid.)

So, sad as it may be, a caffeine addiction takes a serious toll on your body. Enjoy an occasional cup here and there, sure, but don’t overdo it. The truth is that any kind of addiction is unhealthy, and luckily, this is one that you can beat without extreme measures… so do it! Trust me, your body will thank you for it.

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Hello everyone:

We will not be holding a bootcamp this Thursday morning.

Thanks!

Sincerely,

Barbelle

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Our third installation of product reviews comes from two companies; Clif Bar and Zevia.

The people at Clif Bar kindly sent us a generous array of their products to sample. The items included Luna, Clif, and Mojo bars.

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Now, I generally prefer whole foods over pre-packaged bars, but let’s be realistic here. As a college student, studying almost always takes top priority over cooking. These bars provide a better option then skipping to the vending machine and they will definitely power your mind through an intense study session. Plus, you can discreetly nibble them in the library without people shooting you annoyed glances!

My top two favorite flavors would probably be the peanut butter pretzel Mojo bar and the white chocolate macademia Clif bar. I enjoyed the Mojo one because it contained the perfect balance of salty and sweet while retaining an interesting texture combination.

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I liked the white chocolate macademia one because it possessed a dessert-like taste and a certain level of sophistication.

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The berry almond Luna Bar also had a strong berry flavor, without being cloyingly sweet. Unlike the other varieties of Luna Bar, this one does not have an “icing” coat on the bottom, which ensures the bar doesn’t become too sweet. I worried that the bar would be dry, but it actually was extremely moist. If a brownie could be berry flavored, this would be it! I also liked the almonds scattered throughout the bar since it provided a nice alteration in texture.

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The blueberry Clif bar was moist, chewy, and contained a definitive blueberry flavor without being overly sweet. The flavor was highly reminiscent of a freshly baked blueberry muffin, without the excess fat and calories.

IMG_4186I usually consume half of a Luna or Clif Bar as my pre-workout fuel and it always keeps me energized. Barnard Barbelle strives to only promote companies who produce their products in a conscientious fashion. Clif Bar certainly meets and transcends this criteria by supporting sustainable agriculture, donating one percent of it’s profits to charitable organizations and by committing 2080 hours to volunteer work.

Thank you, Clif Bar, for sending these awesome products!

Our next review is of Zevia, an all natural diet soda sweetened with stevia. The company was extremely generous and sent a HUGE amount of their fizzy beverages. Zevia prides themselves as being “Natures Answer to Diet Soda”, since they sweeten their product with stevia, rather then chemically engineered sweeteners. I was particularly excited to try Zevia since I tend to rely too frequently on diet coke to power my study sessions and aspartame usually gives me headaches.

Some random facts about stevia include:

-Found in South America

-30 times sweeter then sugar

-Does not effect blood glucose levels and is therefore safe for diabetics

-Was used in Europe long before the FDA approved it in the United States

(Source)

Stevia, like other sweetners, does not come without controversy. My personal opinion (though I am in know way an expert on the subject) is that everything in moderation is fine.

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Since the company was so incredibly generous with their samples, I decided to distribute some cans to my psychology classmates to try. Even my professor ( a self-proclaimed stevia enthusiast) was interested and grabbed an orange flavor one to try. Overall, however, the general consensus was mixed. Some people enjoyed the drinks while others were bothered by the stevia aftertaste.

I sampled each flavor shot-glass style in order to taste the entire spectrum. The flavors Zevia sent included root beer, coca cola, black cherry, lemon/lime, gingerale, and orange.

IMG_4233The root beer was quite enjoyable and would be a great component of a “healthified” root beer float made with frozen yogurt.

IMG_4238IMG_4237The cola flavor constituted the least favorite among my peers since it possessed a bizarre after taste. Cola in general, however, is a difficult flavor to successfully reproduce.
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The gingerale tasted quite authentic and did not possess a strange aftertaste.

Everyone, however, agreed that the black cherry was the best flavor. The taste was remniscent of a Dr. Brown’s black cherry cola and aroused the distinctive pangs of nostalgia.

Thank you, Zevia, for sending such generous samples!
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Fall CSA Vegetables (when you're lucky)

Fall CSA Vegetables (when you're lucky)

For me, cooking and eating vegetables is therapy.  If you happen to be a weirdo like me, than a CSA might be for you.  Morningside Heights has its very own CSA that you can pick up in JJ’s place on campus!

A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a great way for veggie lovers to support local agriculture.  Members of a CSA pay a fee to receive a “share” of a local farm for 8-12 weeks.  Each week, participants pick up seasonal produce at a convenient pick-up location.  Once every couple months, the farm asks for members to volunteer to help pick up, organize, or clean up the CSA collection.

In my opinion, there are two super important things to know about CSAs that you might not read on a website:

1) Most farms offer individual shares or family shares.  In reality, what you receive depends on how the season is going.  Most of the time, farms are very generous and give members a truly immense amount of food (as my suitemates wouldn’t hesitate to tell you).  The 6 of us (admittedly, 1-2 don’t eat vegetables at all) never finish the entire CSA.

2) CSA vegetables sometimes aren’t what the typical customer would pick out at the supermarket.  Turnips, collard greens, kale, and beets are often provided along with lettuce, tomatoes, butternut squash, and other more commonly purchased vegetables.  To fully enjoy a CSA, one must be willing to experiment with cooking and eating new things.  In my experience, I’ve found a whole bunch of vegetables that are cheaper and just as delicious as more expensive ingredients!

If you’re interested in purchasing a CSA, click on this link to the farm I receive my CSA from: Norwich Meadows Farm CSA.

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You might have noticed some of the cool notecards and fliers around campus from Well Woman: my personal favorite is the “eat well, be well” series of fliers that feature excerpts of really well-written descriptions of food taken from pieces of literature. So what is Well Woman? Well-Woman is the Healthy Promotion Program of Barnard College. Their mission is “to promote the health and wellness of Barnard students” through several different activities. They’re located in 119 Reid Hall.

Well Woman offers great free programming, such as free yoga classes every Sunday night, a Thursday film series, as well as specialized workshops, which cover such topics as stress management and communication and intimacy. Check out their website and blog, good luck with your midterm exams and papers, and be well 🙂

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One big draw of running is that it's so easy to do--all you need is a pair
of sneakers and an open road or trail. Well, that's what I've always
thought, until this recent deluge of data that keeps telling us that
running shoes are actually bad for you ...

Since getting two stress fractures in the past year, I've been extra
interested in research on running injuries. After my first fracture (hip),
I did what most people do: I bought new shoes, shoes with lots of cushioning
and support and gel and shocks and fit them with orthodics specially
fitted to my feet and, just for good measure, I bought an extra pair so I that can
rotate running shoes every other day.

After my 2nd fracture (foot), I started looking into this barefoot running trend. I
read Chris McDougal's new book Born To Run, which studies a tribe of Indians who
run for hours every day in leather sandals and NEVER get injured as
well as some really inspiring American ultra-runners and which outright states:
"Every year, anywhere from 65  to 80 percent of all runners suffer an injury.
That's nearly every runner, every single year. No matter who you are, no matter
how much you run, your odds of getting hurt are the same" and suggests the underlying
enemy: "Running shoes may be the most destructive force to ever hit the human foot."

Here's how it works: human feet were designed to run long distances and
all these super-cushioned shoes are impairing our natural abilities. The
midfoot and arch are made to absorb impact. But running shoes cushion the
heel and support the arch, a system that makes runners land on their heels
(and the bony stub of our heel was never intended to absorb impact); this
leads to poor form and injuries.

Since the advent of running shoes, injury rates have not decreased.
Studies have found that the more expensive and cushioned shoes are, the
more likely their wearers are to get injured. Yikes!

So I'm using myself as my own guinea pig for this new barefooted running
trend. I bought a pair of these:
My sister calls them lizard feet, but they're  Vibram Fivefingers, $80
shoes that simulate barefoot running for those of us who don't have
leather callused feet. I've worn them once b/c my injured foot is still
pretty weak, and I felt so much lighter and my form was instantly better.
One piece of advice: ease into these puppies, or your calves will kill.

And a more normal-looking pair of these:

Nike Frees 5.0, Nike's response to the barefoot trend; they have hardly
any cushioning and stregnthen the same often-neglected foot muscles as
barefoot running. Not reccommended for runs over 40 min.

But, I have to admit, I still do the majority of my runs in my trusty New-B's

Although I AM much more aware of my form--I lean forward (don't want to
resist gravity!), land on my midfoot and shorten my stride. So far, no
inkling of injury, so as my feet get stronger, I'm keeping my options open
for barefoot running.

With injuries so common, all this shoe stuff can get pretty stressful. I
worry that if I choose the wrong shoe, I'll end up with another bone
problem. So if you want a break from all this angst-inducing technical
stuff, get some inspiration (and running form to emulate!) and watch Jenny
Barringer dominate Pre-Nats this weekend.

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