Comforting Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are arguably the best mistake that has ever been made; they were invented by accident by Ruth Graves Wakefield around 1938. She cooked all the food for the Toll House Inn, which she and her husband owned, and she was known for her delicious desserts. One day she used a semisweet chocolate bar instead of baker’s chocolate to make cookies, and the chocolate bar did not completely melt to mix into the batter, which left them as softened chocolate chunks in the cookie. The chocolate bar she used was a gift from Andrew Nestle, who worked for the food company Nestlé, so as her Toll House chocolate chip cookies became more and more popular, Nestlé started selling more of their semi-sweet chocolate bars. Ruth eventually sold the recipe to Nestlé, and in return, she got a lifetime supply of Nestlé chocolate.

My go-to sweet comfort food is chocolate chip cookies because they remind me of my family. Ever since I can remember, my grandma has made the perfect chocolate chip cookies. These cookies are outstanding because they contain so much butter, so much sugar, and so many chocolate chips. This makes them extremely unhealthy, so I save them for special occasions or for when I am completely overwhelmed with school.

However, there are ways to make chocolate chip cookies healthier, and this recipe is a great example of how to make them healthier. The first change this recipe makes is using powdered oats instead of flour. This provides significant benefits because oats and whole grains have been proven to lower the risk of coronary heart disease and provides protection against ischemic stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and premature death, which James Anderson discusses in his article for the American Society for Clinical Nutrition. Next, the recipe uses dark chocolate chips, which has healthier fats than semi-sweet chocolate. The final important swap is using coconut oil instead of butter. While it is still high in saturated fat, research conducted by Ray Schilling discusses coconut oil’s antibiotic properties and shows reduced heart attack rates with regular consumption.

Chocolate chip cookies have never been as great for a healthy diet as now. Keeping little adjustments like these in mind when making or ordering food is a crucial part of eating well to maintain your physical health while also eating deliciously to maintain your emotional health.

Works Cited

“Best Ever Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies.” Chelsea’s Messy Apron. N.p., 30 Aug. 2016. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

“History Of The Chocolate Chip Cookie.” History Of The Chocolate Chip Cookie. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

Anderson, James W. “Whole Grains and Coronary Heart Disease: The Whole Kernel of Truth.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80, no. 6 (December 1, 2004): 1459–60.

Schilling, Ray. “Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil,” September 5, 2015. http://www.askdrray.com/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/.

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Flavorful French Fries

French fries are the staple of a great American meal; they go perfect with a burger, a hot dog, or even just alone. Chick-fil-A fries are my personal favorite because you can ask for them extra crispy, so they are never soggy; they have the perfect amount of salt, and they contain the perfect amount of potato. However, no matter how delicious they may be, they are fried, which automatically deems them unhealthy. Frying the potato removes the nutrients and fiber from the potato, and it increases the amount of unhealthy fats and refined carbohydrates. The process of frying it and the impacts it has can make them addictive, according to a study conducted by Erica Schulte.

You are probably thinking, “There must be at least one way to make them healthier,” and there are actually a couple ways. Eating French fries in moderation, of course, will not do much damage. However, if you are a fry addict like me and could eat them for every meal, like I did one day, there are small adjustments you can make to make them healthier. The first way is to ditch the potato and use a sweet potato instead. Many researchers have shown that sweet potatoes are healthier than regular potatoes: research by Zi-Feng Zhang showed that they are a great source of antioxidant enzymes and have anti-inflammatory properties. Sweet potatoes also have the potential to improve blood sugar regulation according to research conducted by Suda, and research conducted by Yong-Qin Yin proved that the glycosides in sweet potatoes have antibacterial properties.

The second adjustment you can make is to bake the fries instead of frying them. While frying the potato adds unhealthy fats and carbohydrates and removes some of the nutritional benefits, baking them provides a way to make them crispy without removing the nutrients.

While it may be hard to determine how a restaurant prepares their fries, it is pretty easy to order sweet potato fries instead, which are even available at the DUC. By simply making one or both of the changes, you can enjoy your fries as much as you want without the guilt.

Works Cited

Schulte, Erica M., Nicole M. Avena, and Ashley N. Gearhardt. “Which Foods May Be Addictive? The Roles of Processing, Fat Content, and Glycemic Load.” PLOS ONE 10, no. 2 (February 18, 2015): e0117959.

Suda, I. (National Agricultural Research Center for Kyushu Okinawa Region, T. Oki, M. Masuda, M. Kobayashi, Y. Nishiba, and S. Furuta. “Physiological Functionality of Purple-Fleshed Sweet Potatoes Containing Anthocyanins and Their Utilization in Foods.” JARQ (Japan), 2003. http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=JP2004006324.

Yin, Yong-Qin, Xue-Feng Huang, Ling-Yi Kong, and Masatake Niwa. “Three New Pentasaccharide Resin Glycosides from the Roots of Sweet Potato (Ipomoea Batatas).” Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 56, no. 12 (2008): 1670–74.

Zhang, Zi-Feng, Shao-Hua Fan, Yuan-Lin Zheng, Jun Lu, Dong-Mei Wu, Qun Shan, and Bin Hu. “Purple Sweet Potato Color Attenuates Oxidative Stress and Inflammatory Response Induced by D-Galactose in Mouse Liver.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 47, no. 2 (February 2009): 496–501.

Marvelous Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is a classic American dish that practically everyone knows and loves. Whether you make it from scratch or make it from Kraft, it is a staple in the United States. Kraft has been making pre-packaged macaroni and cheese since 1937, but the combination of macaroni and cheese was thought of long before this. The earliest pasta and cheese casseroles date back to an Italian cookbook made in the 14th century and a medieval English cookbook from the 14th century. The Italian version was a dish made from pasta and parmesan while the English cookbook made it by sandwiching pasta between melted butter and cheese. The first modern recipe is from a cookbook from 1770 written by Elizabeth Raffald; her recipe calls for a Béchamel sauce with cheddar cheese mixed with macaroni and parmesan. The dish’s first trace in the United States was when Thomas Jefferson ate it in Paris and northern Italy, loved it, and had it made for a state dinner.

Current day recipes include adding ingredients such as bacon, chopped-up hot dogs, or breadcrumbs. As you can see in this recipe, which calls for macaroni, butter, cheddar cheese, evaporated milk, condensed cheddar cheese soup, milk, eggs, and a pinch of paprika, it is very high in carbohydrates and fat, so while mac and cheese may taste delicious, it is not the healthiest food. However, many people find it to be a comfort food, which means it can help with feelings of stress or loneliness.

Mac and cheese has always been one of my go-to comfort foods during stressful times, or any time, actually. When I wasn’t on a broke college student on a strict budget and had easy access to Trader Joe’s, I would stock up weekly on their reduced guilt mac and cheese. It was the perfect serving size and had the perfect amount of cheese. So, if you do find yourself needing to have some mac and cheese, I would recommend the Trader Joe’s mac and cheese I just mentioned, which uses low-fat milk and has 65% less fat than their traditional version.

If you are looking for an even healthier version, I would recommend trying this recipe, which includes macaroni, shredded cheese, Greek yogurt, spinach, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. By using Greek yogurt instead of evaporated milk and condensed cheddar cheese soup, you cut out a lot of the calories, get the benefits from Greek yogurt, such as the protein, probiotics, and many vitamins, and still get a thick, creamy, and cheesy sauce. You can also use whole wheat pasta to make it even healthier. This recipe also calls for spinach, or you could use another vegetable like broccoli, so you can get some vegetables in the comfort food too. These small changes in the recipe can make a big difference in the dish’s nutrition while still providing the comfort and great taste to get you through the late nights of college.

Works Cited

“8 Ways Greek Yogurt Benefits Your Health.” Healthline. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

“Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese.” Cooking Ala Mel. N.p., 04 Oct. 2015. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

“Macaroni and Cheese.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

“Reduced Guilt Mac & Cheese.” Trader Joe’s. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

“Slow Cooker Mac ‘n’ Cheese.” Taste of Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

The Importance of Healthy Habits in College

Obesity has become an increasing problem in the United States: more than one-third of adults are obese and seventeen percent of children are as well. For adults, the CDC considers one to be obese if his or her body mass index (BMI) is 30.0 or higher. Obesity is linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Being overweight or having a large weight gain is associated with developing type 2 diabetes, as well. This increase of obesity in the United States is largely impacted by the growing amount of fast food restaurants all over the country. S Stender, a researcher that focuses on obesity and diabetes, found that people who eat at fast food restaurants more than two times a week gained four and a half more kilograms in weight and had a 104% greater increase in insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, increases the blood triglyceride levels, and increases hunger. Therefore, overeating unhealthy foods, especially fast food, quickly becomes a hard habit to break.

Because of the prevalence of fast food restaurants, large portion sizes, and processed food, the United States has the highest number of overweight and obese citizens in the world: 70.9% of men and 61.9% of women are either overweight or obese in the United States. This could be a reason that Lay See Ong discovered that Jordan Triosi’s research, which I discussed in my previous blog post, could only be replicated in the United States, even though the methods were also repeated in Singapore and the Netherlands. The fact that the results were only able to be replicated with a sample from the United States could be due to the fact that our society has a different relationship with food compared to other societies, even at a young age. Almost thirty percent of both boys and girls in the United States are overweight or obese, which is double the amount worldwide.

Therefore, it is crucial that we teach our youth healthy habits as children so that these numbers do not rise and so that as adults, they can maintain healthy habits. College-age students are at the perfect age to implement these healthy habits because they are finally free to make their own decisions regarding their diet and the habits they make now can remain with them throughout their lives.

Works Cited

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Defining Adult Overweight and Obesity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 June 2016. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

Matthews, Susan E. “Are We as Fat as We Think?” EverydayHealth.com. N.p., 03 June 2014. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

Ong, Lay See, Hans IJzerman, and Angela K.-Y. Leung. “Is Comfort Food Really Good for the Soul? A Replication of Troisi and Gabriel’s (2011) Study 2.” Cognition 6 (2015): 314.

Stender, S., J. Dyerberg, and A. Astrup. “Fast Food: Unfriendly and Unhealthy.” International Journal of Obesity 31, no. 6 (April 24, 2007): 887–90.

Wellman, Nancy S, and Barbara Friedberg. “Causes and Consequences of Adult Obesity: Health, Social and Economic Impacts in the United States.” Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 11 (December 1, 2002): S705–9.

Comfort Food in College

In the United States, people in our society, especially those in the older generations, refer to topics such as stress eating and comfort foods almost as a joke; this is due to the fact that these terms tend to be associated with the millennial generation, a generation thought of as teenagers who look insane trying to get the perfect picture of their food for Instagram. However, there are legitimate causes for stress eating and true benefits that come from eating comfort food in those taxing times that are not just present in the millennial generation; research conducted by Jordan Triosi, Laura Finch, and Michael Emond show the benefits of eating comfort food, especially during stressful times.

Troisi discusses in his article how comfort food has the ability to reduce feelings of loneliness. This is due to the fact that each one of us correlates what we consider comfort foods to pleasant memories of family, friends, and happy times. These cheerful memories help reduce our feelings of loneliness, all through simply eating our favorite foods. Finch discusses in her research how eating comfort food has the ability to buffer perceived stress levels in young-adult women who do not have depressive symptoms. Emond shows in his research how academic stress in particular causes those who consider themselves stress-eaters to overeat. Emond also noted that the stress-eaters tended to eat foods that were high in carbohydrates and sugars.

This may be why college students who tend to stress eat are consistently drawn towards unhealthy foods, such as pizza, burgers, and French fries, and why comfort foods are generally unhealthy. Continually eating these foods can cause the “freshman 15” that every incoming student is warned about. This is due to the plethora of academic stress, with a constant string of essays, projects, and exams, and easy access to these types of foods in the cafeterias on most campuses. Particularly in the DUC, it is almost exclusively pizza, fries, and a sad salad bar, which makes it simple for college students to consistently make unhealthy choices regarding their diet. However, while some of these foods are unhealthy for our physical well-being, they can largely benefit our emotional health if we consider them a comfort food. Therefore, each of us must find a balance between what is good for our physical and mental health so that we can function at our optimal level academically, socially, and extra-curricularly.

Works Cited

Emond, Michael, Kayla Ten Eycke, Stacey Kosmerly, Adele Lafrance Robinson, Amanda Stillar, and Sherry Van Blyderveen. “The Effect of Academic Stress and Attachment Stress on Stress-Eaters and Stress-Undereaters.” Appetite 100 (May 1, 2016): 210–15.

Finch, Laura E., and A. Janet Tomiyama. “Comfort Eating, Psychological Stress, and Depressive Symptoms in Young Adult Women.” Appetite 95 (December 1, 2015): 239–44.

Troisi, Jordan D., and Shira Gabriel. “Chicken Soup Really Is Good for the Soul ‘Comfort Food’ Fulfills the Need to Belong.” Psychological Science 22, no. 6 (June 1, 2011): 747–53.