Vegan Gluten-Free Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Oh joy! We have Vegan Gluten-Free Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies, which are carby and nourishing and naturally sweet and banana-y to nosh on for breakfast or as an anytime snack! Aka one of my favorite categories of snack foods. Let’s dive right in.

Vegan Banana Bread Oatmeal Cookies dough with walnuts

Today I really wanted something banana bread-esque, but I didn’t feel like birthing an entire loaf of banana bread. Because sometimes, you just want something that’s easy to grab and snack on. Enter these Vegan Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies, which are naturally gluten-free!.

Vegan and Gluten-free Banana Bread Oatmeal Cookies

I’m a big fan of breakfast-y cookies or baked goods, hence my plethora of recipes for this category of foods, including but not limited to these Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies and Vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Oatmeal Crumb Bars and these Vegan Blueberry Flax Breakfast Muffins (my most popular recipe on my blog!) Yum.

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7 Win-Win Plant-Powered Solutions To Global Hunger That Benefit Human Health and The Planet

Hello friends! Popping in after a hectic week to share a more formal piece about fighting global hunger with sustainable solutions. This is a mash up of my two academic passions: environmental health science and nutrition.  have an extended version I may share later with much greater detail. For now, hope you enjoy the following!

7 Win-Win Plant-Powered Solutions To Global Hunger That Benefit Human Health and The Planet

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Despite producing more than enough calories per capita needed to feed each person on earth, a stunning 830 million people have insufficient access to food, and many suffer from malnutrition-related conditions, including stunting, wasting, and micronutrient deficiencies. Meanwhile, obesity and chronic diet-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease present an additional concern, creating the ‘dual burden of malnutrition.’

While finding hunger solutions, we must also consider the urgent threat of global climate change. The problem is complex, as the food system is both a leading cause of anthropometric climate change, and an industry deeply impacted by its effects.

Ameliorating these problems simultaneously is an onerous task. Luckily, there are many ways to build a healthy and sustainable diet, and many innovations at our fingertips that can help get us there. The following “win-win” plant-powered solutions benefit both human health and the environment, and have use across a variety of contexts. If applied on a global scale, these innovations could help lead a path towards a healthful, sustainable,  food systems future.

1.Win-Win: Swapping protein

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It is well-known that meat, particularly livestock meats have some of the largest carbon and water footprints of all foods, representing 14.5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Red and processed meats have also been associated with increased risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease. But there are other ways to consume protein. Plant-based proteins including legumes, nuts and whole grains are far less carbon and water-intensive than animal proteins, and offer numerous health benefits, including lower rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. A paradigm shift from meat to lesser-processed plant proteins will remain important moving forward.

2. Win-Win: Focusing on whole plant foods

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Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are all micronutrient-dense foods, filled with powerful plant compounds, including cancer-quenching flavonoids and heart-friendly plant sterols. Their high levels of dietary fiber provide satiety while lowering risks of developing various chronic diseases, such as stroke, hypertension, and diabetes. Fruits and vegetables vary in their water and carbon use, but are generally far less detrimental to the environment than animal-based foods, especially when carefully planned according to optimal growing seasons, and delivered to consumers at a local level, whenever possible.

3.Win-Win: Algae as food

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Although algae has been consumed as part of the human diet for thousands of years, large scale adoption of algae as food has not yet fully taken off. However, it should. Algae offers a potential sustainable source protein and vitamin B-12, an essential micronutrient primarily found in animal-based foods, offering a valuable source of nutrition for those shifting towards a sustainable plant-based diet. Algae could also be considered as an alternative to seafood as a source of DHA and EPA, while helping decrease the current harm caused to the oceans by overfishing. The humble plant also boasts a substantial amount of iodine, a mineral that ranks among the leading micronutrient deficiencies in the world. Scaling up nori (dried green and purple laver) and red algae production is worth considering for planetary and human health.

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Nutrition FAQ: Should I do a juice cleanse ?

Hey everyone! I’m going to start addressing nutrition FAQs more often here on the blog space. I sometimes ask for your FAQs on Instagram and I promise I screenshot every response and will slowly work through them. Today I want to address juice cleanses. I get asked “should I do a juice cleanse?” pretty regularly and feel it’s worth touching upon. And also, for all you celery-curious people, please note I am working on an entire separate post devoted to celery juice coming soon.

And in case you didn’t know, as of next year I will be shifting my academic focus back to nutrition, and I’m excited! I have loved my environmental health science and public health degree and will always strive to integrate and apply them to my nutrition studies, but at the same time, I’m pumped to get back to the nitty gritty of nutrition science!

For now, please enjoy a brief overview of why I don’t recommend juice cleansing.

Disclaimer: As always, this is general information intended for healthy, non-pregnant or breastfeeding adults. Your needs may vary based on medical status or life-stage. Please never replace generalized health information you’ve read online with individualized clinical care.

1. There is very little scientific evidence to support the alleged health claims.

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Companies frequently take advantage of well-intending vulnerable people who are simply looking to improve their health by using sexy health words such as ‘detox,’ ‘cleanse,’ and ‘pure,’ and by promising things like weight-loss. Yet, there is very little science to support the claims they make.

In fact, some studies suggest they may be dangerous for those with kidney disease due to the high level of oxalates. Does this mean that drinking juice occasionally is terrible for most healthy people? No. It does not. But if you have kidney issues, juicing may do more harm than good.

The only study I have been able to find that supports the use of a juice cleanse was this study, which suggested it may change the microbiome…but this study used a small sample size and results were not sustained 3 weeks later upon resumption of normal diet. Also, I’m just going to point out the obvious here – of course when you take subjects who consume little fruits and vegetables and completely change their diet their microbiome will change! But this doesn’t mean juice is a magic bullet. I would have been curious to see how a diet of whole fruits and vegetables changed the microbiome of subjects as a comparison, but that wasn’t included. The only sustained change was a self-reported ‘wellness score,’ which the authors didn’t care to define.

…And that was the best study I could find! There is no evidence for any other tangible health benefits. I couldn’t find any studies that suggest they benefit they lead to any long-term health benefits. Weight-loss may occur, but usually isn’t sustained upon resumption of eating a normal diet.

2. Juicing doesn’t ‘detox’ your body. Your liver and your kidney do that for you.

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I don’t know how many times I say this, but just in case you haven’t heard me scream it out-loud enough times: you do not need any pills, teas, vitamins, supplements, or cleanses to ‘detox’ your body. Your livers and your kidney do a great job of removing toxins that are possible for you to remove. There is no evidence that any food or dietary supplement detoxifies your body in any way.

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What I’ve Realized About Health Recently

Hey hey! It’s almost 2019! Truth be told I actually had an entire probably-too-lengthy post reflecting on 2018 and what I’ve learned and what I’m thankful for and what I hope to accomplish in 2019, etc etc. But as I sit here waiting for my MacBook pro appointment at the Mayfair genius bar, publishing it didn’t feel right. I may still publish it later, but I felt inspired after my physical therapy appointment to write about something else, especially amidst all the diet/fitness goal posts I’ve seen on social media lately.

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So today, I’m going to share some important realizations I’ve had lately about health. I hope these inspire you to see health as something more than ‘eating clean’ and/or ‘keeping it tight.’ If you need more inspo, check out my post from last year, 11 Food and Health-Related New Year’s Resolutions That Are Way Better Than Losing Weight.

So here are 5 things I’ve sort of been reflecting on in regards to what ‘health’ means lately; I hope they serve you well into the new year. Thanks as always, for your support, and for sticking by me! Love you the most!

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How Much Protein do I Actually Need?

Having gone vegetarian way back in the mid-90s before it was more socially normal to do so, I think I’ve been asked about the adequacy of my protein consumption roughly a bajilion times.

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Now, I know people who have asked usually do so with good intentions, but I’ve always found it a wee bit odd everyone is suddenly a concerned nutrition expert when I tell them I don’t eat meat and like fruit, but people rarely feel the authority to directly express concern to people who live off fast food and soda pop.

Anyways, I digress…you’d think the Protein questions would have slowed as vegetarian and veganism have popularized over the years, but with the new market-focus on protein protein protein, the Qs keep coming.

So, I thought I’d type up a quick post about how much protein you actually need.

Disclaimer: As always, this is general information intended for healthy, non-pregnant or breastfeeding adults. Your needs may vary based on medical status or life-stage. Please never replace generalized health information you’ve read online with individualized clinical care.

So, how much protein do you need?

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According to the Institute of Medicine, protein should make up between 10-35% of your total caloric intake (with carbohydrates accounting for 45-65% calories and fats accounting for 20-35% of calories).

As you can see, there is a wide range of what is considered a ‘healthful’ amount of protein. I always say this, but I’ll mention it again here: there are many different ways you can have a healthy diet. No one way is the best way, and you gotta do what works for you.

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Is it Really Bad to Eat Late at Night?

Wednesdays are a doousy this semester, filled with running between two campuses (I TA at the Columbia main campus and am a student at the CUMC campus), and capped off beautifully with a 3-hour night class that lets out around 8:30pm. Brutal. I don’t often hate my hour commute, but let me tell you – on Wednesday nights I find it very unfun.

Typically, I snack before night class, but for whatever reason, never feel like eating a meal before/during class. Hence, I usually eat dinner once I’ve gotten home/unloaded/gotten Millie out for a walk, typically around 10:00pm. As I often document what I’m up to on Insta stories, I had a follower ask me if it’s really true that it’s bad for you to eat before bed.

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I get asked about if it’s really bad for you to eat before bed quite a bit, and see confusion surrounding the topic circulating the internet quite a bit, so I thought it could make for a fun and informative blog post.

Disclaimer: As with all my nutrition and health-related posts, I’d like to point out that while I have a background in nutrition science, I am not your healthcare provider nor personal nutritionist. I have no information on your health history or current state of physical and mental well-being. These posts are intended as general information for healthy adults. Please do not substitute what you read on the internet for seeking individualized clinical care.

First of all, Here’s The Right Time You Should Eat:

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You know when the best time to eat is? When you’re hungry, that’s when! We’re living creatures with circadian rhythms and every day presents different activity levels, stress levels, sleep levels, and environmental factors that may impact when hunger hits and when we eat.

If you ask me, clocks are pretty arbitrary when it comes to hunger. The idea that you should ‘close the kitchen’ or ‘stop eating after 7/8:00pm is totally arbitrary and it bothers me that so many people think this is a rule you should implement into your life.

So the best time to eat dinner (or any meal) is when you’re hungry for dinner (and of course, have access to food and time to eat it), whether this be 4:30pm or 10:30pm.

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5 popular health trends I don’t buy into

1. Collagen-mushroom-potion-infused-bulletproof-caffeinated beverages

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Seems like it’s mega on-trend to whip up $12 lattes filled with grass-fed collagen, 8 different mushroom powders, and 17 other expensive supplement potion/powders these days.

It’s not that I have anything against those drinks; in fact I can appreciate the creativity behind them and recognize that they may be filling if they’re brimming with fats and protein powders. I simply don’t really buy into the grandiose health-promoting claims of these concoctions.

First, let’s talk about collagen. I’ve been digging through clinics research about it and am planning a whole post devoted just to collagen. But to keep it short and sweet in this post, let’s just say that from what I’ve read so far, I’ve concluded that if you’re into collagen and your diet lacks protein, it can be a source of protein for you.

But I’m not yet convinced that after orally digesting collagen and your stomach acid has broken it down, that it can actually maintain its structural integrity as collagen and end up in your skin and hair and nails as such.

There is some mixed clinical research on collagen and joint health, and a couple of studies on collagen and beauty (some of which have been funded by collagen supplement companies), but at this point in my PubMed dive, I feel the research is a bit shaky.

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How Climate Change is Impacting The Nutritional Value of Your Food: Part 1, Carbon Dioxide

I still remember sitting in my Public Health Impacts of Climate Change course at Columbia Mailman School of Health (my elective choice while a Columbia nutrition MS student) learning about how climate change is impacting the nutritional value of food.

To sum it up, I was “shook,” as the cool kids say. It was actually one of the lectures in one of the classes that set my on my current path, and I gotta say, no regrets.

One of the most amazing and wonderful things about studying what I study (which is the intersection of nutrition and environmental health) is that I am honestly so interested in what I am learning about that I eagerly listen and complete my reading and assignments. Especially about things like climate change and how it is disrupting the quality, quantity, and nutritional value of our foods.

I thought this could make for an interesting and enlightening blog post that will perhaps leave you feeling “woke” on the topic, eliciting similar feelings to those I felt in my chair of Mailman room 1101 (shout out to my EHS crew). If this isn’t your thing or your find this super boring, don’t worry, I’m sure more dog and dessert pictures will be coming your way soon.

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How Studying Nutrition Changed The Way I Eat

Back in the day, I got my master’s degree in human nutrition from Columbia University. It was an intense, interesting, and rewarding experience: one that left me hungry (no pun intended) to learn more about the field. A pivotal experience, my MS in human nutrition instilled an insatiable scientific curiosity in me, and is probably why I’m on the path I am on today.

I chose to study nutrition because I was always fascinated in how the foods we use to fuel our body have the power to impact our health. For many, many, years, however, I wanted to be a doctor. However, when I was shadowing physicians, I realized many lacked nutrition education and training.

Which totally is not their fault – most medical schools have minimal time/curriculum devoted to nutrition. But when I learned about this reality, I wanted to ensure I’d have a solid foundation of nutrition (outside the nutrition minor I got while at NYU) in addition to a medical degree. And so, I enrolled at Columbia prior to going to med school.

Obviously, I’ve gone a none-medical route since, but since I’ve studied the topic, I occasionally get asked questions about nutrition, specific ingredients, my diet, and how I think others should eat.

So I thought it may be interested to list out how I’ve changed my diet since studying nutrition. Below are 12 ways studying nutrition morphed how I eat and how I think about food and health in general.

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What I’ve eaten this week (vegan)

Another food roundup for ya! Hope these meals and snacks inspire some deliciousness in your life.

Just Salad:

Grabbed Just Salad the other day with my mom who is in town. Just Salad will forever be my fav salad chain. No shade to the others, just Salad just holds a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s the reusable bowls, maybe it’s all the toppings. Perhaps it’s the yummy grilled roasted tofu or the variety of dressings or the nostalgia of it all since it was a staple for NYUers since they had one right by the library. Whatever it is. It yum.

My go-to is a build-your-own with kale and romaine mixed as the base, with apples, double roasted sweet potatoes, raw beets, apples, roasted broccoli, chickpeas, avocado, and grilled tofu. With agave Dijon dressing. And bread always, duh. YUM.

Onigiri from KoroKoro Riceball cafe

Recently tried a local onigiri cafe in jersey city and am hooked! They have rice balls stuffed with yummy and creative fillings.

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Onigiri is itself a Japanese Street food, but the fillings are Koro koro are inspired by other cultures making it a fun fusion place of sorts.

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