Healthy Recipes ~ By Maya Zhou

Healthy Eggnog 

Eggnog is one of my favorite drinks to enjoy around Christmas time, but I’ve always felt that the store-bought version is a bit too heavy and calorie-dense, so I set out to create a lighter version that is also kid-friendly. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Serves 4): 
  • 6 large eggs (yolk only)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 cups non-fat milk or plant-based milk of your choice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions: 
1. Whisk egg yolks, maple syrup, and milk. Pour into a small pot and whisk over medium heat until the mixture coats the back of a metal spoon.
2. Allow to cool to room temperature, then mix in spices and vanilla.
3. Allow to chill in fridge for at least 4 hours.
4. Prior to serving, whisk well again and garnish with more cinnamon.

 

Favorite Fall Beverages

With the weather cooling down and flu-season upon us, I wanted to share two of my favorite warming fall beverages. Enjoy!

 

1. Herbal Chamomile Healing Tonic 
Packed full of immunity-boosting ingredients like ginger, lemon, honey and rosemary, this take on chamomile tea may help alleviate some of your symptoms when you’re sick.  Drink this on a regular basis to boost your immune system!

 

Ingredients (Serves 4): 

  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 6 bags chamomile tea
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 4 slices lemon
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp rosemary (or 2 sprigs)
Instructions: 
Stir all ingredients together for 20 minutes.  Strain, and serve while hot! (Can store in the fridge for up to 3 days).

2. My take on the PSL 

While everyone loves a classic pumpkin spice latte, I figured I could create my own version that is lower in artificial sweeteners and flavors.  Each serving is only ~100 calories. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Serves 1): 

  • 1 cup unsweetened nut or soy milk
  • 3 tbs pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 shot espresso or concentrated instant coffee
Instructions: 
Heat the milk in a pot over medium heat, slowly whisking in the other ingredients. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Pour in the shot of coffee and stir. Pour into a cup, garnish with additional nutmeg and serve while hot!

Apple-Themed Recipes to Try This Fall

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year because apples come into season, as well as everything apple-themed. Here are some of my favorite apple recipes definitely worth trying out!

– Baked Apples with Cinnamon:

This is great as a dessert or breakfast- it’s tangy-but-sweet and very filling.  Try this with fuji apples which have higher sugar content, so you won’t even have to add sugar.

Yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 4 apples
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 dash nutmeg

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Peel and cut the apples each into 8 slices and gently mix all ingredients together.  Place in a casserole dish, cover with tin foil, and bake for 45 minutes, flipping halfway.

– Steamed Apples with Natural Crystallized Sugar:

This works nearly every time in curing colds, and is simple and easy to make.

Yields 2 servings:

Ingredients:

  • 2 apples
  • 2 tablespoons of natural crystallized sugar
    (this can be found at specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods)
  • Optional dash of cinnamon

Instructions:

If you don’t have a vegetable steamer, simply fill a medium pot an inch deep with water, place a mug upside down in the center of the pot and place a plate on top of that.  Place on the stove and wait for the water to reach a boil.  Meanwhile, prepare the apples by coring them and cutting off the top so that they look like small cups.  Place 1 tablespoon of the sugar inside each apple and place the tops back on.  Place each in a small bowl and place on top of the plate in the pot.  Set the timer for 20 minutes, and turn the heat down to medium.  Enjoy while warm.

– Apple Sauce Muffins:

I love making a big batch of these and freezing them, so when I’m hungry after work or school I can just take one out and microwave it for a quick and healthy snack.

Yields 2 dozen muffins.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp dried clove
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325F.  Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another.  Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Fold in the nuts.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown.

Three Foods to Eat for an Energy Boost

Sometimes when I’m feeling the mid-afternoon slump I need a quick pick-me-up to boost my energy levels and keep me going until dinner.
Here are some of my favorite energy boosting snacks that fight fatigue. Enjoy!

1. Oats: these are packed full of fiber that will slow down your digestion and provide sustaining energy for several hours. Try adding a couple pieces of dark chocolate to your oatmeal or a banana with some peanut butter.

2. Greek yogurt: extremely high in lean protein, this is a great substitute for sour cream in dips and tacos, or you could simply add some honey and some fruit for a quick and easy snack.

3.  Nuts or nut butter: these are packed full of healthy fats that provide lasting energy. Add some nuts to your salad or yogurt, or grab a handful of whole wheat crackers and dip them in some peanut or almond butter.

Four Foods to Eat for a Good Night’s Sleep

1. Whole Grains: For your bedtime snack, swap out cake or other baked
goods for popcorn, oatmeal, or whole wheat crackers with hummus or nut butter.

2. Almonds and Walnuts: These are not only a good source of healthy fats,
they are a plentiful source of melatonin,which helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
I like to add a handful of these to my salad or yogurt.

3. Cottage cheese: This contains high levels of tryptophan, which has been shown to 
increase the body’s serotonin levels. Try this for desert with some raspberries or strawberries.

4. Fruit: Some other effective bedtime snacks include kiwis, cherries, plums, and berries. Make a fruit salad or simply add some to your bedtime tea for a fruity flavor.

Some of my New Favorite Healthy Snacks

Having grown bored of my usual almonds, apples, and bananas that I normally eat for a snack, I decided to test out some new snacks that have recently caught my eye at the grocery store.  I’ve found some new favorites and I wanted to share them with you, in hopes that they would help give you a couple more snacking ideas! Enjoy!

Beet Chips: To be honest, I was suspicious of how these would taste at first, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they taste slightly sweet, kind of like apple chips, with no weird aftertaste at all.  A good option if you want to incorporate some more fiber into your diet! (I like the Bare brand, which is found at most grocery stores including Target and Walmart.)

Kale Chips: These are extremely crispy, low in calorie, packed full of vitamins K, C, and A, Calcium, Potassium, and have anti-inflammatory benefits.  A must-try for sure! (Most grocery stores carry multiple flavors of these chips- my favorite is sea salt.)

Roasted seaweed snacks: This might not be for everyone, but definitely worth trying in my opinion. It is light, crispy, and doesn’t have any fishy aftertaste. (Found at most grocery stores!)


Dried Apricots: I’m honestly not sure how I overlooked these for all of my life- these are now hands down my favorite dried fruit.  They’re chewy, refreshing, and will definitely satisfy any sweet tooth. Opt for brands with no added sugars to reduce calorie and carbohydrate intake.  (Trader joe’s carries amazing dried Turkish apricots.)

Dried Mangos: These are also amazingly chewy and sweet.  I prefer the brands without added sugars because mangoes have enough natural sweetness on their own.  (Trader joe’s also carries amazing “Just Mango Slices” with no additives.)

Spring Garden Vegetable Soup

Every time Spring comes around, I love to make vegetable soups using fresh local ingredients.  Here is one of my favorite recipes.  Enjoy!

Yields 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced or sliced thinly
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp sage leaves, chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
  • 32 oz chicken, vegetable, or bone broth (I like the Bonafide brand bone broth, found in the frozen section at most grocery stores)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper.  Cook ~5 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  2. Add the broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.  Add the chickpeas and spinach leaves and cook just until the spinach is wilted (~3 minutes).
  3. Serve and enjoy.

Valentine’s Day Gift Idea: Guilt-Free Dark Chocolate Orange Truffles

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I wanted to share one of my favorite truffle recipes, which would make a perfect gift for your loved one, or simply as a dessert to enjoy all to yourself (which is arguably even better!).  These truffles are rich, decadent, and made of only 4 ingredients.  Enjoy!  🙂

Recipe (adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking): 
Ingredients (Makes 16 truffles):

1 cup raw cocao powder

1/2 cup raw cocao powder (set aside for dusting)

1.5 tsp orange zest

1/4 cup orange juice

3 tbsp maple syrup

Optional: 1 handful cocao nibs or dark chocolate chips

Steps:

  1. Stir together the cocao powder and orange zest in a medium bowl.
  2. Make a well in the center, pour in the orange juice and maple syrup, and stir well until smooth.
  3. Stir in the optional cocao nibs or dark chocolate chips.
  4. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator and roll into 16 small balls.
  6. Use a sifter to sift a light dusting of cocao powder over each truffle to ensure they do not stick.
  7. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week. Alternatively, for gifting, place each truffle in a mini cupcake liner and store in a gift box.

4 Simple and Achievable New Years Resolutions:

With the New Year upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to share some New Years resolutions that I am making for myself, with the goal of improving my overall health and well-being.  I hope that they will be useful to you all.  Enjoy!

1. Go for a morning walk or jog immediately after waking up.
I’ve begun adopting this habit this winter, and it has been making a noticeable impact on my mood and energy levels for the rest of the day.  Even if this is not possible for you to accomplish every day, try doing this on the weekends.  I guarantee you will also feel the effects!

2. Drink a glass of warm water after waking up.
I’ve actually been practicing this habit for a couple years now, and I have to admit it has made a substantial difference in my digestion and the amount of time it takes me to wake up in the morning.  Swallowing helps initiate GI tract contraction, or peristalsis, which improves gut motility and speeds up digestion of any food you consume afterwards.  Warm, as opposed to cold, water helps to increase the efficiency of absorption by your intestinal cells.

3. Replace ordinary grains with lower carbohydrate alternatives.
I’ve recently discovered the brand Banza, which makes amazing pastas out of chickpeas – in my opinion, they have the perfect al dente texture, and I only needed to prepare half as much of this pasta compared to normal pastas to keep me full till the next meal.  I’ve also found that a great substitution for ordinary sandwich bread (which can get dull sometimes) is mini yellow corn tortillas.  I love using these for lettuce, avocado, and tomato wraps.

4. Incorporate kefir, kim-chi, and other probiotic-rich foods into your diet.
For all of my life I have had digestive issues, causing frequent bloating and discomfort. This past semester, I learned in my Nutrition and Disease class that these symptoms can be caused by antibiotics.  Our digestive tracts are home to an array of bacteria, called the gut microbiome, that are essential to proper digestion of our food, and when they become disrupted the result is indigestion.  I decided that I would need to eat more foods that are high in probiotics.  I’ve been enjoying Kefir, which is similar to yogurt but higher in protein and beneficial bacteria, and kim-chi, which is the Korean version of sauerkraut.  Both are easy to incorporate into the diet: I usually have kefir with some granola or in place of my daily glass of milk, and I like to sprinkle some kim-chi on my salads or wraps.

Holiday Cookies

With the holidays just around the corner, I wanted to share one of my favorite hearty, and most importantly, secretly healthy, cookie recipes.
These are definitely worth giving a try for any upcoming holiday parties or simply to share with your family.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies
*adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe

These are definitely high up on my list of the most addicting cookies, haha.
Be prepared to make more than one batch!
Recipe makes a dozen cookies.  

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of oat flour
    (Blend rolled oats using a blender or food processor until fine)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (Much healthier alternative to granulated sugar)
  • 3 tbs vegan cream cheese
    (I like the brand Tofutti, which can be found at Walmart)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs melted coconut oil (Use triple filtered coconut oil for less coconut flavor)

Instructions:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl, and all wet ingredients in another.  
  2. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until it forms into a ball.  
  3. Pour in the chocolate chips and mix thoroughly.  
  4. Divide the mixture into 12 equal parts and roll into balls.  
  5. Place onto a place and freeze for at least 30 minutes.  
  6. Preheat oven to 325F.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the frozen balls on the sheet, and press down slightly.  
  8. Bake for 8 minutes, remove, and let sit until they are completely cooled so that they can firm up.  Enjoy!

Note: For a Paleo version of this recipe, substitute the 1/3 cup oat flour with 1/6 cup of almond flour and 1/6 cup of coconut flour, both which can be found at Walmart or any health food store.  

Happy Holidays! ☺

Cozy Fall Beverages

Fall is upon us! With the weather getting chillier, and Halloween and Thanksgiving just around the corner,
here are some of my favorite hot fall-themed beverages to try this season!

My (Vegan) take on the Pumpkin Spice Latte

If you’re looking for a quick and healthy take on this classic fall drink, I highly recommend giving this a try. It’s packed full of good fats and beneficial ingredients without compromising any satisfaction.

Prep time: 5 minutes, Servings: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond, soy, or cashew milk
  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 2 tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Optional: ½ can coconut milk (refrigerated)

Preparation:
Combine all ingredients in a blender, or alternatively whisk in a large mug.  Top with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
Optional: Use a hand mixer to whip the coconut milk solids into whipped cream.  Whip until soft peaks form.  Use as optional topper!

 

My (Vegan) take on the Chai Latte

Even if traditional chai tea isn’t your favorite, I think this recipe is worth giving a shot. It’s so warming, refreshing, and definitely helps soothe a cold!

Prep time: 5 minutes, Servings: 1

Ingredients (adjust seasonings to taste):

  • 1 cup almond, soy, or cashew milk
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of ground ginger
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup

Preparation:
Combine ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Heat thoroughly,
pour into a mug, and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

 

tacoSummer Recipes 

Shrimp Tacos

Here are three variations of this light and refreshing dinner option!  It’s very low in calories but high in fiber, keeping you full and satisfied for longer.

Preparation time: 15 minutes.  Makes 4 servings.

For each of these variations, first thaw half a bag of frozen small, peeled, deveined shrimp.  (This should be about 1 cup).  Mix together all ingredients, incorporate the shrimp, and place in the fridge for at least 5 minutes to marinate.  Then sauté on high heat until fully cooked. 

  1. Sweet Peanut Shrimp
    • 2 tbs peanut butter
    • 1 tbs soy sauce
    • 2 tbs honey
    • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
  2. Savory Shrimp
    • 2 tbs honey mustard
    • 1 tbs mayonnaise
    • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • A dash of oregano, paprika, pepper, basil, and parsley
  3. Spicy Shrimp
    • 5 tbs olive oil
    • 1 clove of minced garlic
    • ½ tsp cumin
    • ½ tsp chili powder
    • ¼ tsp onion powder
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp pepper
    • Squeeze of lime juice

Base Options:

  1. Baby spinach
  2. Kale: to prepare, massage a large bowl of kale in a tablespoon of olive oil and a tsp of salt. The kale will soften and shrink, becoming much easier to chew and digest.  The flavor actually compliments all three variations of shrimp surprisingly well.

My Favorite Toppings:

  1. 1 cup diced tomatoes
  2. 1 cup diced cucumbers
  3. ½ cup chopped cilantro
  4. Squeeze of lime juice
  5. My version of an enhanced “Sour Cream”: ½ cup plain Greek yogurt + ¼ cup parsley + 1 tablespoon lime juice. It seriously tastes so much better than real sour cream!!

To assemble tacos:  Heat up some yellow corn tortillas on the stove, flipping constantly to avoid burning. First put your choice of base, then shrimp, and toppings.  Enjoy!!

The Best Plant-Based Sources of Protein

Recently, more people have become more aware of the negative health effects of consuming excess red meats with high levels of saturated fats (animal fats), and efforts have been made to search for alternative sources of protein.  Here are my findings on the best sources of meatless protein to aim to incorporate into your diet:Quin

Quinoa: Packed with important vitamins and minerals, quinoa is also a “complete protein”-
something that is rare for plant foods. This means it contains all 9 essential amino acids,
and you do not need to supplement it with other plant proteins. Contains 8g protein/cup.

EdEdamame: In addition to packing tons of protein into each cup, Edamame also contains as much fiber as 4 slices of whole wheat bread. Steam, cook in stir fries, or add to soups.  Contains 16g protein/cup.

Chia

Chia Seeds: These tiny seeds have a huge amount of protein for their size, in addition to containing omega 3 fatty acids and high fiber content. Blend into smoothies, stir into jams and jellies, or simply soak in water or plant-milk overnight to make chia pudding. Contains 9g protein/2tbs.

LentLentils: They are also an excellent source of Vit B, folate, and fiber (1 cup accounts for more than your daily needs!) Substitute this for rice, or incorporate into chili’s or soups. Contains 18g protein/cup.

yog

Greek Yogurt: This, among all yogurts, is the highest in protein, in addition to being low in calories, and extra  creamy. Swap it for high-calorie condiments like mayo, sour cream, and use it as a base for your homemade ranch dressing. Contains 29g protein/cup.

tem

Tempeh: This soybean-based food is even firmer than extra-firm tofu, so it can be easily incorporated into traditional meat dishes like burgers, stir-fries, and sandwiches. Contains 31g protein/cup.PB

Peanut Butter: Versatile, full of protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats (which reduce your cholesterol levels), peanut butter should remain a pantry staple! Contains 32.5g protein/cup.

gar

Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans: These are extremely high in both protein and fiber.  Research has shown that consuming 1 cup of these daily can significantly reduce your cholesterol levels.
Bake until crispy (see my previous articles), incorporate into chili’s or soups, or mash it to create a creamy spread for your sandwiches. Contains 14g protein/cup.egg

Eggs: When eaten in moderation, eggs are totally okay to eat.  They are cheap, rich in protein,
low in calories, and contain high levels of brain-boosting Choline. Contains 7g protein /egg.

The Most Prevalent Types of Diets in 2018

In the recent years, as people have become more health conscious, in all aspects of their lives, including fitness, diet, and mental health, I find that many individuals are especially curious about the different kinds of diets are becoming more prevalent today as compared to even a decade ago.  Here is an overview of the different kinds of diets that are starting to become more recognized by the medical community.

With approval from her physician, my mother has been on the paleo diet since 2010 and has observed significant improvements in her skin, energy levels, and physical endurance.  I hope this article can help out anyone who is curious about what diet would best suit you; I would recommend consulting a physician before starting a chosen diet, just to confirm that it is fitting for your personal case and to avoid putting yourself at risk of any nutritional deficiencies.

Oftentimes, you do not necessarily have to follow your chosen diet strictly every single day; there are days when my mother consumes a small amount of grain, especially when we are travelling and there are limited options outside of grains.  However, on average, she follows the Paleo diet 5 out of 7 days of the week.  The most important factor in producing visible results is consistency.

paleoThe Paleo Diet

This is essentially the “Cave Man Diet.” It stays away from all processed foods, non-natural sugars (the only sugar consumed is from fruit), ALL grains, and diary.  The reason for these stipulations is to decrease the amount of glucose in your body, causing it to use fat as its fuel source.  This has been associated with maintenance of healthy body weight in individuals, as well as a healthy amount of weight loss in those who aim to slightly lower their body weight to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.  A simpler way to think of the Paleo diet is: vegan diet + eggs + meats.  Examples of foods that can be eaten: vegetables, fruits, nuts, healthy oils, potatoes, eggs, fish, fowl, and grass-fed meats.  blood

The Blood Type Diet

This has been a current area of research for some doctors who aim to match people with their common dietary needs based on their blood type.  Please consult your physician before starting this diet, if you wish to do so.

As an example, individuals with type O blood are recommended to eat foods high in protein, and those with type A are recommended to avoid meat and emphasize tofu and fruit.

vegan

 

 

The Vegan Diet

This is becoming more and more prevalent as individuals become more knowledgeable about the negative effects of red-meats on human health.  The vegan diet completely eliminates meats and all animal products (including dairy and leather products), while the vegetarian diet allows eggs and dairy.  The main benefit of the vegan diet is that it minimizes the intake of saturated fats and cholesterol, which come only from animal sources, and are the primary cause of high blood pressure and chronic cardiovascular diseases.  Contrary to popular belief, the main area that vegans must be careful about is not protein (there so many plant-based sources of protein like lentils, beans, tofu, edamame, etc.), but actually vitamin B-12, which is found in red meat.  Many vegans take B-12 supplements to compensate for this. SB

The South Beach Diet

This diet aims to develop a healthy way of eating that is sustainable for the rest of your life.  It says that its balance of good carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats makes it a nutrient-dense, fiber-rich diet.  It uses the glycemic index of different foods to tell you which foods to avoid. Overall, it is a healthy way of eating whether you would like to lose weight or not.

med

 

 

 

 

 

The Mediterranean Diet

This is vegetable-heavy but does not eliminate meat altogether.  It has been proven to help with depression, blood sugar levels, and weight management.  It recommends the use of healthy unsaturated oils like olive, sesame, avocado, soybean oil, as much as possible and as replacements for unhealthy saturated oils like butter.  It also favors fish over fowl and red-meat.  The focus is on whole grains, nuts (unsaturated fats), and herbs.

The Raw Food Dietraw

This diet is probably the most stringent, because it eliminates all cooked and processed foods, in addition to those that have been pasteurized or produced with additives.  The diet aims to increase your energy levels and to decrease inflammation and carcinogens.  Foods that can be consumed include fresh fruits, vegetables, raw seeds and nuts, and raw yogurt.

ketoThe Keto Diet

This diet is 80% fat and barely any carbohydrates.  Staples are: fish, meat, eggs, dairy, oils, and green vegetables.  Grains and fruits are eliminated. The reason for this is that Keto aims to put the body in a state of ketosis, where fat is turned into ketones (the body’s back-up energy source), as opposed to using carbohydrates as an immediate source.   Please ask your physician if you would like to start this diet.

Sources:

https://www.thecut.com and https://www.nutritioned.org

Desserts

As a Nutrition student, one of my biggest hobbies is creating and sharing healthy recipes. I especially love creating healthy, but still delicious, alternatives to unhealthy foods. I’ve decided to focus some of my articles on my recipes, as well as to explain the nutritional benefits of each ingredient of my recipes. I hope this is helpful! (Please feel free to contact me at mtz24@cornell.edu with any suggestions or questions about my recipes.)

Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate Pudding with Coconut Whipped Creampudding

You’ll never guess the hidden ingredient in this pudding- silken tofu! Not only used in stir-fries, soups, and egg-less scrambled eggs, tofu is an extremely versatile ingredient that can be easily incorporated into vegan desserts.  This dessert is perfect for those who are looking for a guiltless, sweet dessert to round off your day.  An added benefit is that it has a much higher level of protein compared to ordinary puddings, which will help satisfy you faster.  My dad is a very picky eater when it comes to desserts, and he had absolutely no idea that the base of this pudding was tofu!  As usual, this recipe is dairy-free, vegan, and gluten- free.  Enjoy!

Crunchy Chickpea Snackscp2

These are my go-to replacement for pretzels, crackers, chips, and other calorically-dense snacks that we all find ourselves reaching for when we just want something crunchy and yummy to satisfy our late afternoon cravings.  Chickpeas help to keep us full for much longer and contain much higher levels of nutrients than traditional snacks we can buy from the grocery store.  Here are two recipes which are also vegan and gluten free!

Diet and Cancer: Is There a Link?

Cancer. It is undoubtedly one of the most mysterious diseases that inflict humans. To many, the link between diet and cancer itself is likely just as perplexing.

Once believed to be almost purely influenced by genetics, cancer has recently been discovered to be 70% influenced by controllable factors-one of those being diet.  In other words, only 30% of one’s lifetime risk of cancer is out of one’s control.  The remaining 70% is within our power to change.

This may come as a shock to many.  It hardly seems plausible.  How could we possibly have so much power over our lifetime risk of cancer?  I hope, though, that after reading this article, this fact will come as a consolation rather than a worry.

Even though research has shown a definite correlation between lifestyle (a large part of which is nutrition) and cancer risk, research has not pointed to a cause-and-effect relationship between the two.  In other words, poor dietary choices do not guarantee an increased risk of cancer, and healthy choices do not guarantee a decreased risk.  A prime example is that of my close family friend, who maintained a healthy dietary and exercise routine, but was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer at a young age.  In some cases, the risk of cancer already implanted in our genes is high enough that not much we do will drastically decrease those chances; all we should do is maintain good health for as long as we can.

meatIt has been discovered that certain dietary habits have a weightier influence on cancer risk than others.  The areas I will touch on in this article include:
Red and Processed Meats, Antioxidants, and Weight.

Red and processed meats have become so ingrained in American culture that it can be difficult to give them up.  But even a slight decrease in our daily consumption of these meats will reduce the risk of several types of cancer, notably colorectal cancer.  Examples of types of meat to limit include any meats that have been smoked or include nitrates (e.g. beef, veal, pork, sausage, ham, beef jerky, canned meat).

Antioxidants are central to cancer prevention because of their role in neutralizing free radicals
that damage normal cells.  The most effective method with vegregards to antioxidant intake is to aim for a diet that contains a variety of foods with high levels of antioxidants, rather than taking specific antioxidant supplements.  This is true for vitamins as well.  Consuming vitamin or antioxidant supplements is never as effective as consuming foods containing those vitamins or antioxidants, because foods containing them also offer other benefits, including enhanced cardiovascular and digestive health. Foods to eat more of include: dark green, orange, purple, and red fruits and vegetables.

feetWeight management is one of the most underrated and easiest ways to engage in cancer prevention.  Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), or weight to height ratio, is essential to curbing our growing risk for cancer as we age.  The reason is that increased lipid cells produce hormones that can promote tumor growth.  A great way to monitor your weight is to step on a scale every morning right after you roll out of bed, to ensure consistent conditions.

In conclusion, the simplest, most impactful, and most practical way in which everyone has the greatest chance of reducing his or her risk of cancer is to consume a good, varied diet combined with other healthy lifestyle habits (i.e. regular exercise, sufficient rest, moderate intake of alcohol, and avoidance of smoking).  If maintained over a long period of time, we can be assured that we are doing what is in our power to combat this mysterious disease.

Sources:
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Harvard Health Publishing
The National Cancer Institute
The American Institute for Cancer Research

About Maya Zhou: I am a Nutritional Sciences student with a passion for holistic nutrition, yoga, and cooking.  As someone who has had personal experience with cancer, I am dedicated to spreading my knowledge about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk of cancer.  I am so excited to be a volunteer writer for the CRC Newsletter!  Feel free to email me at mtz24@cornell.edu with any questions or suggestions for future article topics.