Eat Smart · Feel Great · Nutrition · Student Life

5 Snacks to Power You Through Finals Week

Ah! Finals week. A week filled with endless papers, exams, and the occasional mental breakdown. As you start preparing for the end of the semester, it’s important to keep your energy levels up and your stress levels down (a girl can dream).  To do this, it’s important to fuel your body with brainpower snacks, so you can hit the books instead of hitting the wall. While sleep and exercise aren’t guaranteed things as finals week approaches, you can still be healthy and happy with these yummy brain boosting snacks that will keep your mind sharp and your stomach satisfied!


Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
Satisfy your midnight stress snacking with this delicious peanut butter and banana sandwich. Peanut butter is a great source of protein, which can help your brain perform at its best ability, and bananas are a great source of potassium, which will boost your energy levels once you hit that 2AM slump. If you really want a treat, sprinkle on some dark chocolate chips, which have been known to aide concentration and boost your mood!

Trail Mix
Trail Mix, often labeled a “danger food” of snacking because it is high in calories, can be healthy, and it is great for your brain! Dried nuts and fruits, both high in protein, have been known to aid in memorization and concentration, and make your brain sharper and quicker, which can help when studying. To create a healthier, lower calorie mix, try to incorporate unsalted almonds, dried berries, and if you must, a small amount of dark chocolate.

Mixed Berries
A sweet treat that will pick you up when you want to give up, berries of all kinds, especially blueberries, are considered to be the #1 brain food.  They contain nutrients that have been shown to improve memory and learning, and even help produce new brain cells. Whether fresh or frozen, berries are a yummy, low calorie snack to stress eat when you want something sweet and need a good boost.

Avocado on Toast
A trending treat that is taking the health world by storm, avocado on toast has become a popular snack for many. While avocados may be fatty, they contain “healthy” fats that keep the brain cell membranes flexible, which keeps you energized and ready to hit those books. The fatty acids in avocado help strengthen brain muscle, which makes it easier to memorize information and study for longer periods of time. Spread mashed avocado on whole grain toast, sprinkle with some salt and pepper, add any other ingredients you like, and you have a simple but yummy study snack to help you score that A on the exam!

Coffee
Of course, we cannot forget this dearly beloved, which has gotten college students through finals weeks and exams for hundreds of years. Although this does not necessarily count as a “snack”, it is a classic concoction to help you get through those all-nighters. Coffee is great for improving thought processes and helps repair memory loss so you will remember those anthropology terms you learned in the wee hours of the morning before the exam. Just remember to skip the high-calorie sugar laden drinks with whipped cream and flavor shots, because the only thing those will do is pack on the pounds and make your brain crash when you need it most.

 

By Annie O’Sullivan

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Eat Smart · Feel Great · Student Life

8 Small Ways to Make Your Health a Priority

As finals get closer week by week, our mental and physical health increasingly becomes less of a priority. We get lazy about going to the gym, order Insomnia Cookies far too often, and overall feel a loss in control over of bodies. When you just don’t have time to get in your daily workout, making small lifestyle changes can help you feel more on track and in control. Consider these tips when you make your choices throughout your day.

  1. Wake up 10 minutes before you are supposed to. Even though this is a struggle for us night owls, having even this little bit of extra time in the morning is great because it gives you some wiggle room to catch the news, brew a cup of coffee, or even arrive to class a tad early. If you’re feeling really ambitious, doing a quick stretch or ab workout is another awesome way to wake your body up. From personal experience, I can say that I have been able to pay much more attention in my 8am classes when I get up at least an hour before and have a solid breakfast. Also, hydrating first thing in the morning with a glass of iced water can help decrease the look of puffiness in your face and replenishes your body from its deep slumber. No more snoozed alarms for the perpetually late.
  1. Cut the sugar from your coffee. Yes, the combination of coffee and sugar wakes us up, but I promise you there is a healthier way to get your coffee fix! Ordering that caramel swirl latte at Dunkin’ in the morning may taste great but it is also full of calories. Even worse, the amount of sugar is bound to cause you to crash in the middle of your boring art history lecture. Try using natural agave syrup instead. If you happen to be on Marshall, Strong Hearts Café serves wonderful coffee for just $1 and you can ask for agave and almond milk to add the sweetness you crave.
  1. Take the stairs. Taking the stairs seems to be the obvious choice for a mini, middle-of-the-day calf workout, but it is something we often overlook. The elevator is conveniently located in the lobby of most buildings, which is an incredibly tempting choice. But just think, if you burn 5-10 calories walking up to your fifth floor dorm every time you go home, you could easily burn an extra 50 calories per day!
  1. Go vegetarian or vegan at least once a week. Get rid of those processed meats! Try replacing the meat in your diet with proteins such as tofu, seitan, black beans, and quinoa. These healthy alternatives will still keep you full and satisfied without all of the fats.
  1. Exercise before you eat. After a large, filling meal, exercising is difficult because we may cramp up or feel too full to complete a long cardio session. If you exercise before your meal, you are more likely to eat healthily because of the progress you completed during your workout. In addition to this, being at the gym and away from your fridge will guarantee that you won’t fill up on a bunch of snacks while bored at home.
  1. Get Distracted. Another way to be successful at the gym, especially during cardio, is to multi-task. If you have a tablet or are using a machine where you can control a TV, flip to one of your favorite shows and watch with subtitles. At the same time, listen to some of your favorite music. Between reading the subtitles and listening to some sick beats, cardio is bound to fly by before you know it.
  1. Shut off your phone an hour before bed whenever possible. Not only can this help you sleep better, but getting away from the social media we encounter daily can really impact your life positively. We rely on our phones more than we would like to admit, and going without this technological umbilical cord is freeing, really. If this is too drastic, try to make a point to put your phone on airplane mode every once and a while for shorter periods of time.
  1. Do everything you can to conquer night eating. For many, staying up in the late hours of the night also means getting the late night munchies. Focus on keeping healthy snack options easily accessible, so that you won’t be tempted to just order a pizza out of convenience. Try apples and peanut butter, or hummus and pretzels. These snacks are satisfying enough to get you through those all-nighters without killing your day’s calorie count.

Most importantly… Do everything you possibly can to make you happy, because that’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it? Bring positivity and happiness into your life and into the lives of the people you love. Whenever you feel stressed, ask yourself why. Is it worth all the stress? How is that stress detracting from your life and what can you do to improve it?

By Sarah Kinzler

Eat Smart

4 Smoothies to Boost Your Brain

As the cold weather nears, it’s important to keep your mind and your body healthy. This means exercising, getting enough sleep, and incorporating well-balanced meals into your diet. One of the biggest mistakes students make is not eating breakfast, a BIG no-no! Whether you aren’t hungry or don’t have time to grab breakfast, research has shown that eating breakfast boosts your metabolism, increases concentration, and even improves your grades in the long run. Here are some simple smoothie recipes to make in the mornings for a quick and easy breakfast.

Brain Booster Trio Smoothie

With the brain booster trio, you get a smoothie that tastes as good as it looks. While sipping the yummy flavors of blueberry, bananas, and almonds, you are simultaneously protecting your brain cells, boosting memory and coordination, and getting a yummy breakfast that will help jumpstart your metabolism and get your day off on the right foot.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 of a medium frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 5 unsalted whole almonds
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey

Directions: 

  • Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth, or about 1 to 2 minutes

Pomegranate and Strawberry Smoothie

The pomegranate and strawberry smoothie is especially good for boosting fiber intake, which affects the glucose levels in your brain. Boosting glucose levels has shown an increase in energy and concentration. With the yummy combination of flavors, this smoothie gives you a sweet treat that is low-calorie and chock full of good antioxidants to boost your brain power.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tsp. raw honey
  • 3/4 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries
  • 2 tbsp. fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. flaxseed oil
  • 4 ice cubes

Directions:

  • Whisk pomegranate juice and honey in a small cup to dissolve the honey completely
  • Combine the strawberries, yogurt, oil, ice cubes, and pomegranate mixture in a blender
  • Process for 1 to 2 minutes, or until thick and smooth. Pour into a glass

Banana and Coconut Power Smoothie

If you close your eyes while drinking this smoothie, it’s almost like your tanning on a beach in some tropical island far away from all the stress that is college (almost, though we wish it were true!) This smoothie—packed with the protein from bananas, a coconut, and a scoop of protein powder—will have you determined and ready to take on the hectic day ahead of you. Coconut is low in sugar and high in fiber and vitamins, which will provide long lasting energy and even help with memory retention. To add an extra boost of delicious protein, add a tablespoon (or two) of peanut butter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk (hemp almond, rice, or organic 1% cow’s milk)
  • 1 frozen banana, slightly thawed
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened coconut

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend well

“Happy, Healthy Self” Smoothie

This smoothie is what I dub the “happy, healthy self smoothie” because it affects your emotions, motivation, and pleasure senses in your body. This smoothie is great if you have a long day ahead of you and know you need to focus—something all of us will be experiencing with finals coming up in a couple of weeks. The key ingredient in this recipe is milk, because it provides a healthy amount of protein to boost dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for making you feel happy and motivated. An added benefit? This smoothie keeps your blood sugar level steady and gives you a small amount of caffeine to help “kick start” your morning!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup small banana, peeled and frozen
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup soy milk (vanilla or plain)
  • 1 double shot (approximately 1/2 cup) organic espresso
  • 1 serving whey protein powder (vanilla)

Directions:

  • Combine all the ingredients except the protein powder in a blender, and blend on high speed until smooth
  • Add the protein powder and lightly blend until incorporated

By Annie O’Sullivan

Get Well

How to Beat Procrastination

We all promised ourselves we wouldn’t procrastinate this semester, but at some point we get distracted and lose all motivation. Here are a few tips to beat that procrastination (because we all want that 4.0)!

According to Psychology Today, “Procrastination in large part reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we’ll feel tomorrow, or the next day.”  On the bright side, there are numerous ways to overcome this.

Surround yourself with motivated people. If you’re the type who tells yourself to go to the gym but actually doesn’t, then get a gym buddy or group that will work out with you.  You can even find a fun workout Youtube video and play your favorite music (just not during quiet hours) or run up and down the Carrier Dome stairs with a friend.

Keep moving. I know as procrastinators, we avoid doing things we have to get done.  Sometimes the best thing to do is to have a change in scenery or just take a walk to get your blood pumping.

Give yourself a schedule (time blocks). Create a rough schedule where you can literally cross out each task that you’ve done.  Plan your day ahead so you can work with a set time slot to finish your assignment.  If you know you have an entire day to finish a paper, then you’ll end up saying to yourself that you can do it later.  Fill up your day with a club activity, getting lunch with friends, etc.  Instead of spending that time procrastinating, you could put it towards doing other things.

Treat yo’self. Give yourself a little reward each time you finish something. You can set shorter goals or longer goals. For example, treat yourself to a frozen yogurt down on Marshall once you’ve finished your term paper or watch thirty minutes of your favorite movie after reading a chapter for class. Be sure to mix up the rewards too.

DIY agendas/calendars. Decorating your room with cute sticky notes or festive calendar printouts will make you want to look at your reminders even more.

By: Allison Leung

Student Life

Finding Your Balance from A to Chi: Make the Most Out of Your Semester

College is supposed to be the best four years of your life, so why not love every minute of it? While it may feel like the semester has just began, the scary reality is it’s almost over. Summer is right around the corner, and finals and other deadlines are quickly approaching. It may be difficult… Continue reading Finding Your Balance from A to Chi: Make the Most Out of Your Semester

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Final’s Stress Busters: Snacks to Reduce Your Stress Studying for Finals

It’s that time of year again…FINAL SEASON! We all know what that means…stress eating. But why do we stress eat? Glad you asked. We CRAVE cortisol! What the heck is that? Cortisol is our stress hormone. When we are feeling stressed to the max enormous amounts of cortisol rushes through our body. Because of this… Continue reading Final’s Stress Busters: Snacks to Reduce Your Stress Studying for Finals