Vitamin D is not like other vitamins. Whereas most vitamins are acquired through food, our bodies can actually MAKE vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is a necessary part of calcium absorption, which maintains strong bones. More recent research is demonstrating that it may play a part in many other body processes.
Here’s the tricky part: in the darker months – especially at northern latitudes, like Boston – there is not enough sunshine for us to create enough vitamin D on our own. As November arrives and the sun takes its vacation, it’s time to focus on getting this vitamin through food.
Vitamin D is found naturally in a few (but not many) foods: fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, and egg yolks are great examples. Luckily, foods like cereal, orange juice, milk, yogurt, and non-dairy milks are now often fortified with vitamin D.
If you are interested in seeing exactly how much you need, the Institute of Medicine recommends a minimum of 600 IU per day (“IU” stands for International Units, a measurement unit that some vitamins and medicines use). As a reference, a cup of fortified OJ has about 140 IU; a cup of milk has about 120 IU; and one large egg as well as one cup of cereal each have about 40 IU.
November 9, 2014
The semester is whizzing by and the BYL student group has already hosted two cooking classes. Jenny, our Cooking Class Coordinator, teams up with different group member for each class to plan a menu that is nutritious as well as tasty. In September, Jenny and co-leader Michelle put together a Healthy Taco Tuesday. On the menu: home-baked tortilla chips, cauliflower tacos, a side of black beans, and frozen bananas dipped in Mexican chocolate. October’s class was co-led by Kinsey, and was themed Meatless Mediterranean Monday. Attendees made Israeli couscous, Armenian lentil wraps with tahini sauce, and baked cinnamon apples with Greek yogurt.
Both of the classes this semester have featured vegetarian dishes. Though meat can certainly be part of a healthful diet, we wanted to introduce students to an alternative take on protein sources. Meat-free meals – whether you make them an occasional choice or a lifelong habit – have a lower environmental impact and are often less expensive. While these first two classes involved more elaborate recipes, our final class of the semester will focus on a few simple recipes that college students can easily replicate in small kitchens with limited resources. Class will be held on Wednesday, November 12. Check out our Facebook for signups!
November 9, 2014
It’s been 2 months since the semester started and you know by now that college presents challenges to healthy living: late nights, stress, and unlimited soft serve at the Dewick. Try one of these tips – your body will thank you!
1. Walk. Walking is an easy way to get moving. Do a loop around campus with a friend, or throw headphones on and walk for a few songs as a study break.
2. Embrace the snack. Healthy snacks keep you focused, energized, and less likely to overeat at meals. Some good choices are popcorn, nuts, fruit, bars, yogurt, and instant oatmeal.
3. Keep your coffee coffee. As you get your java boost, keep in mind that loading a cup with cream, sugars, and syrups turns a drink into a dessert.
4. Be colorful. Seek out vegetables and fruits of all hues to maximize their nutritional value. Sorry, Skittles don’t count.
5. Eat for the right reasons. Eat when you are hungry and not because you are sleepy, stressed, or homesick. Take a walk, drink tea, or listen to your favorite music instead.
6. Eat your vitamins. Most nutrition experts agree the best way to get the vitamins and minerals is via food! Getting nutrients is crucial since lack of sleep, stress, and close contact with other people can be a recipe for illness.
7. Get savvy with the microwave. Master some quick and easy recipes for cooking in a room. A couple of simple ingredients, mini-fridge and a microwave and you’ve got the potential for quesadillas, mini-omelets, baked potatoes, beans-and-rice, and tuna melts.
8. Don’t think extreme – balance your life! Being healthy doesn’t require green juices and marathon gym sessions. Good health relies on balance – focus on small choices, one day at a time.
November 4, 2014
This cooking class was the final session of this year’s workshop series geared towards students living with kitchens but without meal plans. Therefore the focus this time was on how to make one pot meals and tips for putting together quick bites. I took popular easy to make recipes and altered them here and there to make them healthier. For example, using ground turkey instead of ground beef reduces the amount of saturated fat in the chili, as does using low fat yogurt instead of sour cream for a topping. Small switches like these can help you easily transition to a healthier lifestyle.
In addition to learning about healthy cooking, the participants also got a visit from an Eco-Rep. The Eco-Rep taught us about choosing sustainable foods, how vegetarianism can positively impact the environment, and how to compost on campus. Everyone learned a lot about how to choose foods based on health, ethics, and sustainability.
Check out the recipes at
March 7, 2014
We had an awesome first cooking class of the semester with our campus nutritionist, Julie Lampie, and one of Hodgdon’s head cooks. We started with an appetizer of homemade bruschetta with toast, followed by a delicious roasted tomato soup, and for the main course we enjoyed chicken piccata, a brown/wild rice and veggie pilaf, and roasted fennel. All of the dishes were cooked without butter and instead used olive oil, and we included a wide range of whole grains, lean proteins, and veggies. Everyone loved the demo and feasted on a scrumptious home-cooked meal!
March 5, 2014