Downtown Dining Decisions

It’s finally April, and New Year’s resolutions of healthier eating have fallen off and been replaced with a greater desire to go out for a delicious meal delivered right to your table. Those vows of “bringing your lunch to school” no longer seem realistic, especially when stopping somewhere near ASU’s Downtown campus is so quick.

Bowl of Greens is a great option!

Bowl of Greens is a great option!

Going out to eat near campus doesn’t have to put an end to your resolution of eating healthier. Most restaurants Downtown include just-as-good, healthy options in addition to some of the less nutritious items on the menu.

Here are some students’ favorite spots downtown and their healthier options:

Corner Bakery Cafe – Arizona Center
Many students on the Downtown campus rave about Corner Bakery, and with good reason! Their fresh, comforting food and relaxed environment make it ideal for studying or hanging out with friends. A few food swaps also make it a healthy choice.

  • Egg whites: There are lots of breakfast scramblers and sandwiches that can be high in calories. Asking for only egg whites instead of the whole egg can drop the calorie count by almost 200 on some dishes! It hardly tastes different and still offers plenty of protein and flavor.
  • Combos: Staying healthy is all about portion control. Corner Bakery makes that easy by offering sandwich and salad combos. You can still have half of a sandwich or soup, but you can also pair it with a low-calorie salad. My favorite is the California Grille Panini paired with a garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette, which is a filling 410 calories.
  • Pastries: If you can’t walk by their pastries without giving in, indulge in the oatmeal raisin cookie — the healthiest option — and enjoy it!

Jimmy John’s – CityScape
Sub sandwiches delivered right to your door might be the greatest invention of all time, especially with Jimmy John’s’ unbelievable French bread (which has fewer calories than their seven-grain wheat bread option — even though the wheat sounds healthier). It’s my go-to for when I’m looking for something super quick and just have that craving that can only be satisfied by Jimmy John’s.

  • Turkey Tom: I’ve tried a few other sandwiches, but I always go back to the classic Turkey Tom. Order it with extra veggies and light mayo, and you have yourself a well-rounded, healthy meal!
  • Unwich: If you’re really trying to cut carbs or gluten, try the unwich –sandwich fillings in a lettuce wrap. I recommend ordering extra meat so you’re not sacrificing too much flavor or filling protein.

Matt’s Big Breakfast – 825 N. First St.
Matt’s Big Breakfast is classic breakfast served in a classic diner and perfect for a weekend brunch!

  • Classic Breakfast: It can be hard to sacrifice a plate of waffles for a bowl of fruit, so I encourage you to get both. Just fill up a little on the fruit first, then dig into the less-healthy dish. Still enjoy it … just take some home for tomorrow’s breakfast.
  • Oats: Oatmeal is one of those healthy carbs that is necessary for optimal health and should be integrated into your diet. Ask for the toppings, such as milk, raisins and brown sugar, on the side and sweeten it as you go, so you don’t overdo it and save some calories. Still feel like you’re missing out? Get a side of bacon, hash browns or eggs so you still get a taste of the good stuff.

Starbucks Coffee – Taylor Place
Starbucks always has picturesque pastries on display that can easily lure a hungry college student in. If you look just below the sugary treats, you’ll see many delicious options that have significantly more nutritional value.

  • Protein Bistro Box: It’s the perfect combination of protein, healthy carbs and healthy fats in a portable box. There is plenty of flavor and it will keep you full for hours.
  • Evolution Products: Evolution, the relatively new brand that Starbucks is carrying, has some great granola bars, drinks and bags of nuts that fit perfectly in a “clean” eating plan.
  • Fruit: If there isn’t fresh fruit, there are dried fruit and bottled smoothies that offer a wide range of fruits to sip on. It’s still sweet, but not 500 calories per treat like the iced lemon pound cake is.

Bowl Of Greens – Walter Cronkite Building
Almost any choice you make at Bowl Of Greens will be healthier than other restaurants. There are a few choices that provide the most nutrition and plenty of flavor.

  • Vinaigrette: With whichever salad you create or order, get a vinaigrette dressing. It will likely be olive oil-based, which provides all of the omega-3 fatty acids that our bodies need. It helps us absorb all the other nutrients being consumed from the salad.
  • Protein: If you’re building your own salad, make sure you include beans in the four included toppings. If you’re willing to pay a little extra for premium toppings, get seeds/nuts, meat or a hard-boiled egg. Protein helps keep you full so you’re not snacking an hour later.

With smart choices and smarter eating, you can cut down on calories and still enjoy a great meal out!

Are Sub Sandwiches Really as Healthy as They’re Made Out to Be?

We all saw and heard the ads for the oh-so-witty “JanuANY” special Subway chains around the country were advocating as soon as the first light on New Year’s Day was visible. So, with all the hype about any regular footlong now being a $5 footlong, I became curious.

Fill your plate tastefully: avoid sub sandwiches that could compromise your intentions of eating healthy.

Fill your plate tastefully: avoid sub sandwiches that could compromise your intentions of eating healthy.

Subway is widely considered the “healthiest” fast food option to many people. But, exactly how healthy is a sub sandwich?

I mean, don’t meatball marinara and Philly cheesesteak subs make you question exactly how healthy a sub can be when it’s drizzled in cheese or loaded with potentially fattening meatballs?

It definitely got me questioning the health behind sub sandwiches. So, naturally, like any other 20-year-old, I consulted the internet.

According to NY Daily News, a $5 footlong at Subway might, in fact, be less healthy than a McDonald’s Big Mac. After citing a fascinating UCLA study, they uncovered some very intriguing realizations.

They found, for instance, that Subway’s Big Philly Cheesesteak sub sandwich weighs in at a whopping 1,000 calories and has nearly 2,560 grams of sodium. This turns out to be double that of the esteemed McDonald’s Big Mac, which clocks in at 550 calories with 970 grams of sodium.

What does this mean for that avid sub sandwich eater? Well, don’t freak out right away.

After consulting the NY Daily News article and other sources, I came to the realization that there is a way to avoid consuming all these excess calories that are masked behind a brand that people automatically equate with health.

It’s the added cheeses, excessively oily meats and calorie-rich sauces that really make the sub sandwich you think is a healthy choice an unhealthy one instead.

So, when you’re at Subway, or any other sub sandwich shop for that matter, be conscious of what sort of sub you are getting! Don’t overload on three different types of cheeses, salami and ranch dressing. Remember, moderation is key.

Your best bet is to customize your sub by adding a single slice of cheese of your choice, any cold-cut meat and a lighter dressing.

Wherever you are, whether it’s at downtown Phoenix’s beloved Carly’s or just the Subway on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, be sure to be cognizant of what type of sub you’re consuming. Don’t fall victim to a great price and a healthy logo!

Stay healthy, my friends!

10 Healthy Holiday Treats

There’s a certain chill in the air, stores are marketing their sales like crazy and Christmas music is playing almost everywhere you go — the holiday season is here!

Traditional holiday treats are so tempting!

Traditional holiday treats are so tempting!

During this festive time, families gather and celebrate the bonds they have. It’s truly a beautiful time. But, often during this time of year, one simple yet vital thing tends to go by the wayside: your health.

The champagne is flowing and buttered ham is roasting on the spit and unhealthy habits are waiting for the opportunity to hijack your fitness progress or push back your future fitness goals.

Don’t let this time of year compromise your health! Make these 10 holiday treats and cut back on your holiday splurging!

  1. Whole-wheat sugar cookies: With less than 300 calories per serving, whole wheat flour can take you a long way with sugar cookies! So when you bake Santa’s cookies, you’ll be doing him a huge favor by making this healthier alternative.
  2. Chocolate-covered strawberries: 57 calories? Who knew? Get that fruit serving in while on break and indulge a little. After all, 57 calories is nothing — but be careful to not have to many of these delectable delights!
  3. Avocado chocolate mousse: This might sound repulsive, but I promise, it’s not. Using avocado as the main ingredient in mousse is one of the most ingenious ideas out there. You can’t taste the avocado replacing the chocolate mousse filling, and it’s so much healthier than regular chocolate mousse.
  4. Oatmeal toffee cookies: Adding oatmeal to almost anything makes it a lot more nutritionally friendly to your body, and especially when it comes to toffee cookies. Throw a handful of oats into your cookie dough, savor the amazing taste and relish in the fact that you’re actually being healthier this holiday season.
  5. Sugared cranberries: Avoid those other confections that are loaded with everything unhealthy. Try a sugared cranberry instead! Yes, it’s sugared, so it’s not the healthiest possible option, but it’s certainly better than the piece of candy you might be tempted to eat.
  6. Cardamom-coconut creme caramel: Creme caramel is a holiday classic for my family, and the way that it’s prepared is anything but healthy! Try adding cardamom and substituting coconut milk for the cream, and you have a concoction that is extremely unique and way healthier than the traditional recipe.
  7. Dark-chocolate orange cake: A derivative of chocolate cake will probably be at every Christmas party you attend. If you host a party or just feel inclined to eat chocolate cake one day, try making a dark-chocolate orange cake. Dark chocolate is much healthier than milk chocolate, and fresh oranges to top the cake add great flavor and nutritional value.
  8. Gingerbread pumpkin bars: Gingerbread is a traditional holiday food for many families. While it’s not the worst thing in the world for you, there are ways to make it a healthier indulgence. Try mixing gluten-free gingerbread with bits of pumpkin! It’s an interesting taste that will have you coming back for more — and at little cost to your waistline.
  9. Gingered cranberry-pear cobbler: Cobblers are a must; everyone knows this. Try marinating cranberries and pears in ginger puree and making cobbler out of it. It’s divine. Also, it’s a lot better for you than a traditional cobbler, because ginger extract is actually full of many nutrients the body uses.
  10. Light eggnog: You can make your own eggnog with reduced-fat milk to cut back on a slew of calories traditional mixes contain. Just mix low-fat milk, eggs, nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon, then boil. Serve over ice. Adding alcohol to the mixture just increases the calorie count without adding any nutritional benefit, so avoid it.

As you can see, these 10 items are fairly easy to make, and each of them has a unique flair. Be that person who has the “cool” food. Be unique and be conscious of what you’re eating.

Well, friends, I wish you an absolutely delightful holiday season, no matter what you celebrate. Have a joyous time this last month of 2013, and make good choices!

Stay healthy!

The Perils of Abusing Energy Drinks

When a sizable amount of the student body is wearing yoga pants, UGGs, and that signature messy ponytail, you know finals are approaching.

Don't be deceived by the hype! Avoid these at all costs.

Don’t be deceived by the hype! Avoid these at all costs.

Finals are just around the corner for college students, and holiday season preparation is beginning to peak! Many people may look to less-than-kosher stimulants to ensure their assignments are completed — energy drinks being one big potential culprit.

People often forget just how bad abusing energy drinks is at any time, but especially at this crucial time in the year.

Energy drinks might give you the buzz you’re looking for in a short-term sense, but continued consumption of energy drinks can negatively impact your health in a way that’s just not worth the one night you’re trying to bust an all-nighter.

Drinks like Monster, Full Throttle, Amp, Rockstar and Red Bull may give you a temporary boost in energy, but they can result in symptoms like nervousness, irritability, insomnia, rapid heartbeat and increased blood pressure.

So what exactly is an energy drink and what makes it bad for you? Energy drinks are stimulants, meaning that they provide both mental and physical stimulation. They contain stimulants such as taurine, ginseng, and carnitine.

However, while these drinks may stimulate your senses in the short term, they can cause harmful neurologic and cardiovascular damage in the long run. Also, they can be very dehydrating if adequate water isn’t consumed.

Additionally, energy drinks are usually very high in sugar! Stay away from them as much as possible. They can cause weight gain, and nobody wants that right before the holiday season!

So maybe you already know just how bad energy drinks are for you — but do you know how to stay energized without them?

Can you say green machine? Green machine is usually a blend of dark green vegetables and some fruit. It’s high in fiber, protein, vitamins and energy! It’s literally all you need to get through those tough days of studying and holiday prep.

Green tea is also a great alternative to sugary energy drinks. It contains a smaller, healthier amount of caffeine and is also known to improve mental clarity.

Protein shakes are also a good substitute for energy drinks. They will boost your energy levels in no time and have the carbs you need to sustain long-term satisfaction.

Last, but certainly not least, get a decent amount of sleep and stay hydrated. Don’t write off sleep and water! They are the ultimate energy boosters and should be an integral part of your routine.

Be sure to avoid abusing energy drinks this year and in years to come! Like many other stimulants, they might help you now, but you’ll regret the effects they’ll have on your health in the future.

Have a safe, successful and simply wonderful holiday break!

A Farmers Market: The Ultimate Organic Pharmacy

When I think about farmers markets, I envision the bustling, happy experience I had when I was in small-town Washington.

Flowers from farmer's markets are among the best...just look at these peonies!

Flowers from farmers markets are among the best… just look at these peonies!

Orange leaves were scattered across the semipaved dirt ground as families went from table to table buying anything from arugula to artwork. Boy, was it a surreal experience.

I relive this pleasant experience every time I’m at farmers markets around the downtown Phoenix area.

I see the same vision, only with slight modifications. I see the vibrant downtown community composed of ASU students, young professionals and families engrossed in the urban lifestyle, all intermingling in the name of consumerism — but there’s something different about this consumerism.

Investing in items from farmers markets is very different from investing in items from your average grocery store. Not only do you buy veggies and other organic products that are naturally grown without the perils of preservatives, you also nurture your community and your neighbors by supporting them financially.

In the downtown Phoenix area, the Phoenix Public Market provides the most accessible farmers market for students and has quite a few key items that could enhance your health greatly.

Here’s a list of healthy items you can find at the Phoenix Public Market farmers market:

  1.  Free-Range Eggs: Eggs produced from chickens that are allowed to roam have less fat and cholesterol than the average egg and also provide extra vitamin A, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. Local Honey: Honey produced from bees in your local area contains pollen specific to your area of residence, providing increased defense against seasonal allergens that could hijack your winter experience. Downtown Devil’s HERBan Explorer even did a feature on local honey you can find at the Public Market farmers market.
  3. Organic Produce: Studies have shown that organic fruits and vegetables contain more vitamin C, trace minerals and antioxidants than the average spread of produce. Also, less pesticides are used on these vegetables.
  4. Organic Dairy: Organic dairy is known to contain higher levels of vitamin E, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and beneficial fats.

While investing in items from the farmers market can be slightly more expensive at times, it’s definitely worth it when it comes to the health benefits they provide. The most profound benefit you can reap from products produced and grown locally is the significant lack of extra chemicals and preservatives masking the produce in the grocery stores.

So get out there! Go to the local farmers markets around the Phoenix area. The Phoenix Public Market is a great place to start due to vicinity. But, definitely branch out! There’s much to be experienced at farmers markets, and they truly are an organic alternative to some of your pharmaceutical needs.

Going Raw

While being on the search for the next healthier option I came across something I’ve heard of before but wasn’t really ready to try: going raw, meaning changing my diet to consist of at least 80 percent raw foods — meaning fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouts, roots and anything that is cooked at temperatures below 115 degrees.

This concept is definitely nothing new but it has been on a steady incline, being more and more “mainstream.” There is a plethora of resources, blogs and websites designed to provide recipes, resources and information about a raw diet.

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Raw vs. Cooked 

Medical literature on a raw-food diet is scarce. However, the few studies that have been done have shown that a raw diet helps reduce the risk of multiple types of cancer. Research has also made people aware that cooking foods lowers their nutritional value, stripping them of many of the vitamins and minerals they possess. Heating food above 118 degrees causes the chemical changes that create acidic toxins, including the carcinogens, mutagens and free radicals associated with diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

It has been found that raw diets are full of nutrients, rich in fiber and low in fats and sugars. But medical professionals warn that raw foodists need to make sure they’re getting enough vitamin B12, calcium, iron and omega-3 fatty acids, most of which are found naturally in animal products. Studies done on people who followed a raw diet showed they had a vitamin B12 deficiency, which can be harmful.

The Benefits 

The studies that have been done about a raw diet have shown there are health benefits associated with eating more raw foods such as fruits and vegetables. Some of these were reducing the risk of oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal, esophageal and gastric cancers, s well as improving or reducing the risk of diabetes and obesity-related health issues.

Since the studies on the benefits of a raw diet are still scarce in the medical world, I took it to the blogs. Searching through the web you find a multitude of blogs describing the benefits and changes, the before and after of people going raw. Many bloggers going raw have described benefits such as:

  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Clearer and healthier skin
  • Reduces health risks
  • Weight loss 

Should You Go Raw?

Many people deem the raw diet as extreme or unhealthy. There are concerns about vitamin and nutrient deficiencies and detoxification side effects. However, if one is truly interested in going raw, there are websites that outline a healthy way to ease into this diet. Studies show great health improvements by going raw for just 30 days.

While searching for the next healthy option and improving my overall health, I’ve found that doing things in moderation is what has yielded amazing results. Going completely raw is, I admit, quite difficult. But there is something that just made sense to me about eating higher quantities of raw foods.

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So just by consuming raw foods, meaning fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds in higher quantities than normal, it’s already shown amazing health benefits for me, including clearer skin, more energy and better sleep! Eating a bigger portion of veggies a day sounds a lot better than it used to when I was a kid.

Don’t be scared to push yourself and try new things.

Stay healthy, Devils!

Resources: Educate Yourself About Going Raw

Raw Food Diet
30 Day Trial – Going Raw
Zen Habits – 10 Reasons Why
Rawmazing – Why Raw?
WebMD – Raw Food Diet

The Paleo Diet: a healthier lifestyle

After a plentiful holiday season with family and friends, many of us are feeling the aftermath of those delicious holiday meals. With the new year well under way, some people are looking to make a healthy lifestyle change, while others may just be looking to shed those extra pounds.

Whatever the motivation behind this lifestyle switch, there is an option out there that is not only healthy but that has also been around since the Paleolithic Era: the Paleo Diet, or, as some call it, the Caveman Diet.

This diet mimics the eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors who ate meat, fish, shellfish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs and berries. The premise is that evolution has genetically molded us to eat like our predecessors 10,000 years ago.

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No one likes counting calories or carbs. No one likes being told what they can’t eat. By making an immediate or progressive switch to this diet, not only will you lose those extra worrisome pounds, you’ll also see a number of other benefits.

According to Dr. Loren Cordain, author of “The Paleo Diet,” some benefits of the Paleo Diet are higher levels of energy and higher levels of alkaline (thanks to all those fruits and veggies) that result in better resistance against diseases like osteoporosis, asthma or hypertension. The Caveman Diet also improves your blood sugar and insulin levels, which improve your chances against diabetes and all those “itis” diseases.

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Still interested? Here is what the Paleo Diet entails.

The goal is to consume as much meat, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables as possible while avoiding an excess of starches, grains, dairy, processed foods and salt. Although eliminating potatoes, rice, cheese or milk might be hard for most, some doctors recommend keeping these foods to about 20 percent of your intake. This way you’ll still ease those cheese or potato cravings while still fueling your body efficiently.

Here is a typical Paleo day:

Breakfast: A healthy omelet filled with mushrooms, onions, peppers and broccoli. You can even add some turkey or slices of chicken.

Lunch: A salad with any kind of vegetable you like! Top with either lean meats or seafood. For example, try mixing spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, avocados, carrots and almonds with some turkey or chicken.

Dinner: Switch the regular spaghetti for squash spaghetti. Then top with meatballs and marinara.

Pretty simple, right? Whether you decide to make the switch or not, aiming towards a healthier lifestyle is always a great choice. Exercising regularly, never eating anything in excess and keeping a positive attitude is already a healthy lifestyle.

Stay healthy, Devils!

For more information on the Paleo Diet and recipes, visit the Paleo Diet site.

15 ways to avoid the Freshman 15

There’s an ancient myth, told and re-told, passed down from generation to generation: THE FRESHMAN 15. Dun-dun-dunnnn. Is it true? Does the Freshman 15 exist? Are you at risk of falling prey to the mysterious weight gain? Is there anything you can do to save yourself?

Avoid the Freshman 15

The Freshman 15 is easily one of the most frightening things in college, aside from finals week and group projects. And surprisingly, it’s something that can be easily avoided! Here are 15 ways to avoid the dreaded Freshman 15.

  1. Get an adequate amount of sleep. I’m talking about 7-8 hours a night. It’s so easy to fall into the pattern of staying up late cramming for that early morning exam or talking with friends.
  2. Eat some breakfast. Waking up in time for breakfast before classes takes some serious skill. Try your best to master it and you’ll have a more balanced diet throughout the day.
  3. Remember that fruits and veggies are your friends. Now that a microwave is your main source of everything, you’ll soon realize that Hot Pockets will only be appetizing for so long. Try incorporating fruits and veggies into every meal and snack to balance out your diet and get necessary vitamins that aren’t found in Ramen.
  4. Limit the late night fast food run. Heading out with your friends for a late night snack is a college staple. When you’re in the habit of going out every night at midnight, you’ve run into a problem. Put a limit on the times you go out and your waistline and wallet will thank you.
  5. De-stress. College is stressful. You’re going to need to find what works best for you to help you relax. Adjusting to your new schedule and your new classes and your new environment is enough to send your body into a crazy state of stress overload. When you take time to de-stress, your body and mind will thank you.
  6. Drinking in moderation. This is for all you 21-year-old freshman out there. Drinking equates to calories. Excess calories equate to weight gain. No one actually intended to get a beer gut, so it’s a good idea to stick to a limit when you go out.
  7. Know what it is that you’re eating. Now that you’re on your own, everything you eat is up to you. Do your best to make informed choices when you’re in the cafeteria and shy away from the same foods all the time. Your body need variety.
  8. Stick to the rules. The new and improved food pyramid is your new best friend. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you need fruits, grains, dairy, vegetables and protein to have a balanced diet. Focus on meeting all the goals for the day and it’ll soon become a habit.
  9. Get physical. Start hitting the gym, take to the great outdoors, do whatever you can to stay active. Take an hour each day to engage in physical activity.
  10. Join an intramural sport! You’ll make some amazing memories and new friends all while saving yourself from some extra weight gain. You can join a team on any campus, as long as you’re an ASU student you’re good to go!
  11. Make some friends. You are surrounded by new people (most of them friendly I hope) who are all looking for a great college experience. When you have friends, you spend less time alone. When you spend less time alone, you don’t eat alone. When you don’t eat alone, you are less likely to over eat.
  12. Don’t stock your dorm room with unhealthy food. It’s easy to start hoarding snacks in your small space, so when you do, make sure they have some nutritional value and aren’t loaded with empty calories.
  13. If you played sports in high school, be aware of the changes your body is undergoing to adjust to your less active lifestyle. If you ate six meals a day to keep up your weight in wrestling or to compensate for calories lost while swimming, realize the need to adjust and make some changes.
  14. Emotional eating. Do you ever eat something just because you’re bored? Has anyone ever suggested that ice cream can cure a break-up? When you watch TV, do you aimlessly snack out of habit? Eating can comfort us in almost any situation. Don’t fall into the trap of emotional eating. Learn what triggers emotional eating for you and change your behavior.
  15. Water is your new best friend. Drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your body. Energy drinks, coffees and sodas are loaded with extra sugar your body doesn’t need, so eliminate them from your diet as much as possible.
It’s possible to survive freshman year without gaining 15 pounds or more. Follow these simple rules and you’ll never have to worry about the Freshman 15.