Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dairy: Debunking the Myths

Like many foods, dairy has gotten a bad reputation and I'm not quite sure why. Students have been asking a lot of questions about the health benefits of milk so I thought I'd share some "food for thought".

MYTH #1:
"I can eat dairy? But it'll make me gain weight."

- Some research studies actually indicate the opposite, despite popular belief.
- By choosing low fat or skim dairy products, you'll be eating nutrient-dense foods to help build strong bones and muscles.

MYTH #2:
"I'm lactose intolerant and therefore should avoid all milk and dairy foods."

- Many people with lactose intolerance can actually comfortably digest about one cup of milk per meal without developing side effects.
- Choosing aged cheeses, such as cheddar or Swiss, may help as they are lower in lactose.
- If you introduce dairy back into your diet after a hiatis, do so slowly to best gage tolerance.
- Buy lactose-free products and yogurts with pre and probiotics to help digest lactose.

MYTH #3:
"Organic milk is healthier than regular milk."

- There's no evidence to support that organic milk is better in regards to both food safety and nutrient quality.
- Both the organic and non-organic milks are complete proteins, containing all nine essential amino acids.
- All milk is tested for antibiotics to ensure safety.

The time to build up your bone density is now, not when you're old and grey. Remember to include low fat/non-fat dairy in your diet at least three times per day. For more information, or to setup a free nutrition counseling session, please email the campus dietitian at

Monday, March 17, 2014

Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right

Eating nutritiously is easy... and making it tasty can be pretty simple, too! Check out this video by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics for some healthy eating tips.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Nutrition on campus--share your thoughts!

Hi everyone!

National Nutrition Month begins tomorrow (I know I can't believe it's almost March, too)! As the dietitian, this is my opportunity to see how I can increase our services and visibility on campus. Would you like to provide feedback on our nutritious options? Have any ideas on what you're hoping to see for the future? Please take a moment to fill out this UH Dining Services Nutrition Survey. Your feedback is very valuable so spread the word! :-)

Have a great weekend, Coogs!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Whey Too Cool

As you may have heard, protein is essential for our every day functioning. Not only does protein help build and maintain muscle mass, but it also helps control metabolic processes in the body.

I’ve known many students who take some kind of protein supplement post workouts or in their morning smoothie, and my recommendations are usually the same. If you go for a protein powder, you should pick whey. Whey is a high-quality protein that’s naturally found in dairy. Whey protein is also one of the best sources of the amino acid leucine, which can really help build lean muscle. What makes this protein even better? It doesn’t have a taste! You can literally add it to a ton of different recipes, including whole wheat pancake batter, soups, casseroles, and more!

In review, whey is the protein of choice if you choose to take a protein supplement. Need a recipe idea for your morning smoothie? Try this easy recipe using mostly C-Store ingredients:
  •            1 6 oz cup of Strawberry Chobani Greek Yogurt
  • ½ (6 oz) of the Strawberry Banana Odwalla Juice (or other flavor of your choice)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop whey protein
  •  Crushed ice (optional)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Indulge... the healthy way!

While the weather has been gorgeous, we're still getting those chilly spells here in Houston. Many people turn to comforting foods when it's cold outside, and I don't blame them! One of the many dieting misconceptions is that you can never indulge when trying to be healthy... but that's not necessarily true!

For many of us, casseroles, creamy soups, and stews are especially tempting during the winter time. While your New Year's Resolution may have been to cut these types of foods, try to change your thinking a tad. Indulging in foods you like, while keeping moderation and portions in mind, is one key to dieting. My big saying is "deprivation can only last so long"--- so go ahead! Enjoy some of those comforting foods because you're in luck... Many of the casseroles/comforting dishes that we serve in the dining hall can easily be incorporated into a healthy diet.

Ideas for indulging:
- Ask for a smaller scoop of your favorite comfort food (for example, mac 'n cheese)
- Balance your plate with MyPlate... get the veggie side! We always have a hot veg at the Bistro Station (Fresh Food in Moody Towers) and Comfort Station (Cougar Woods). Not feeling like having cooked veggies? Visit our fully stocked salad bar and opt for oil & vinegar or light dressing.
- Add some fruit. Filling up on fresh produce is always a good idea. Fruits and veggies have fiber to fill us up faster, and keep us satisfied longer.

Need more ideas? Come to the "What's Cooking, Coogs" Cooking Tour tomorrow at 7 pm in the Moody Tower lobby. Executive Chef Michael Bargas and I will be cooking up some fettucine alfredo and I'll be sharing tips on making this staple dish healthier. This interactive cooking class is free to students (and there will be prizes!).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Look What's Cookin' on Campus

Good morning, everyone! I hope you all are enjoying your snow day. It's hard to even believe we have this weather in Houston. Many of us are going to try ways to relax and stay warm today (and probably this weekend, too). My tip? Try cooking something delicious and healthy. Need some ideas or motivation? Or perhaps you're not confident in your cooking abilities? Never fear! The "What's Cooking, Coogs?" Cooking Tour episodes are here! Get warm and cozy on the couch and watch these episodes before testing the recipes for yourself.

First Episode--- Blackened Fish
Second Episode--- Chopped: The Microwave Edition
Third Episode--- Meatloaf

As you can see, we've had three episodes in our cooking tour installment. Our next event will be on February 4th at 7 pm in the Moody Towers Lobby. Be one of the first 30 people to arrive and you'll get a free prize. The show is interactive and fun, showing you tips on how you can prepare healthy meals right here on campus! What makes it even better? Well our next episode will feature Chicken Alfredo... a staple college comfort dish, but we're offering up ways to "healthify" the recipe.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at: Stay warm out there, Coogs!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Eating Well This Spring & Always

Welcome back to a new semester here at the University of Houston! Are you working on your New Year's Resolutions? Now is the time that many people find themselves turning to fad diets to accomplish their health goals... DON'T DO IT! Instead, look into resources that offer factual, evidence-based information. Here's a video about how you can burn stubborn belly fat that uses sound advice.

I never shy away from an oppurtunity to share my resources with my clients. Anyone who knows me, knows one of my favorite websites is Eating Well. Eating Well has it all--- great, "never fail" recipes that prove to be both tastey and healthy, as well as health and wellness information. Best of all, the nutrition information comes from other dietitian's which I can't help but love. This website is not about the fad diets, but instead urges healthy lifestyle changes which can help with longterm success.

Eating Well has many other informative videos that I urge you to take a look at. And of course, let me help you achieve your health and wellness resolutions. Don't forget that I offer free nutrition counseling to students, faculty and staff at the University of Houston.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year, New You

Happy 2014! As you ring in the New Year, commit to a healthy lifestyle with these food, nutrition and exercise tips.

1. Eat Breakfast. I've said it before, I'll gladly say it again... breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Refuel your body with a balanced breakfast. Think whole grains, low fat dairy, a lean protein and some fresh fruit to get you started. My favorite breakfast on campus is the Perfect Oatmeal form Starbucks. It has fiber and protein to keep me satisfied throughout the morning. Click here for more info.

2. Love Your Fruit & Veggies. Make half your plate fruits and veggies at each meal. I find that it's super easy to eat lots of fruits and veggies on campus. Visit the Fresh Food Company for lunch--- we have an awesome salad bar stocked with delicious seasonal fruits and veggies. Eating the recommened 5 servings per day is simple at Fresh Food!

3. Fix a Snack. When 3 pm rolls around, you may find yourself hungry and tired. Re-energize with a snack from one of our C-Stores. I love the Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Cup w/ Pretzels. By eating carbs, protein, and heart-healthy fats, this snack is the perfect mid-day pick-me-up.

4. Get Cookin'. Now is the time to learn life skills. You do it already by participating in the academic setting, but what about other important lessons? Stop by our "What's Cooking, Coogs" Cooking Tour. We offer a different cooking class each month and even better... we have prizes! Our next event is Tuesday, February 4th at 7 pm at the Moody Towers Lobby. We're making healthified chicken alfredo... now what college student doesn't love that?

5. Dine Out Defensively. Whether your on campus or off, take time to check out the menu before you leave. If you're eating on campus then you're in luck. Take a look at these Dietitian's Healthy Picks.