Celebrate CISA day!

CISA, which stands for Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, is an organization that “since 1993 CISA has been working to strengthen the connections between farms and the community, by creating and running programs that link farmers, community members, and markets.” You may have seen bumper stickers or signs at grocery stores, restaurants, farms, or even in our very own dining commons that say “Be a Local Hero. Buy Locally Grown.” What you probably didn’t know is that this Local Hero program is the country’s longest running campaign for raising awareness of local agriculture. On these two days, restaurants that participate in the Local Hero program will feature special menu items that showcase fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses from local farms. Check out this website to find out what’s on the menu:


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Lauren’s Picks: Swai

What: Swai, also known as Basa or Pangasius is a mild-flavored freshwater white fish farmed in Asia.

Why: For several weeks recently, frozen Swai fillets have been on sale at Big Y: buy 1 get 2 free. If you’re anything like me, the idea of getting something for free when you didn’t expect it is even better than Christmas, and getting two things for free is about on par with a 21st birthday. So obviously, it’s a deal I couldn’t pass up. To top it off, the fish was frozen, so I could just store it in the fridge until I wanted to cook it! Some fish snobs may turn up their noses that it’s been frozen, but in reality, a lot of the fish at the seafood counter has been previously frozen. Swai is an extremely low-fat source of protein, and thus a great addition to anyone’s diet.

Where: Any grocery store freezer section near you!

When: Swai is frozen and imported, so availability is not affected by season.

How: First, thaw the fish. This does require some planning, but the night before you plan to eat your Swai you should transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator. If you’re really in a rush, you can run the fish under cool (not hot) water while still in the vacuum-sealed packaging. Once your fish is thawed, you can flavor it however you like. The naturally mild flavor of Swai pairs well with all different types of seasonings – I chose a teriyaki marinade from Trader Joe’s. The fish can be baked for 10-15 minutes (about 5 minutes per inch thickness) in an oven preheated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.


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ATTENTION AMERICA: You need to make some changes.

The CDC just released U.S. obesity rates for 2010. The overall U.S. obesity rate is 33.8%. That means that more than 1 of every 3 people in our country is obese. That’s scary. And although our state is a little better at 23%, Here’s the breakdown by state:

2010 State Obesity Rates
State % State % State % State %
Alabama 32.2 Illinois 28.2 Montana 23.0 Rhode Island 25.5
Alaska 24.5 Indiana 29.6 Nebraska 26.9 South Carolina 31.5
Arizona 24.3 Iowa 28.4 Nevada 22.4 South Dakota 27.3
Arkansas 30.1 Kansas 29.4 New Hampshire 25.0 Tennessee 30.8
California 24.0 Kentucky 31.3 New Jersey 23.8 Texas 31.0
Colorado 21.0 Louisiana 31.0 New Mexico 25.1 Utah 22.5
Connecticut 22.5 Maine 26.8 New York 23.9 Vermont 23.2
Delaware 28.0 Maryland 27.1 North Carolina 27.8 Virginia 26.0
District of Columbia 22.2 Massachusetts 23.0 North Dakota 27.2 Washington 25.5
Florida 26.6 Michigan 30.9 Ohio 29.2 West Virginia 32.5
Georgia 29.6 Minnesota 24.8 Oklahoma 30.4 Wisconsin 26.3
Hawaii 22.7 Mississippi 34.0 Oregon 26.8 Wyoming 25.1
Idaho 26.5 Missouri 30.5 Pennsylvania 28.6  

Lookin’ good, Colorado!



What does it mean to be obese?

Obesity is defined by having a BMI greater than 30. BMI is a measure of height to weight, and although it isn’t perfect – bodybuilders have high BMIs, but they are by no means obese – it is an accurate predictor of obesity for almost all of the population. Being obese is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Obesity leads (either directly or indirectly) to health issues like diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, kidney failure, and much more. Obesity-related diseases and conditions account for 2 of the 3 leading causes of death in America, and chronic conditions related to obesity increase healthcare costs exponentially.



I’ll let you think about the implications.  Be well, UMass!

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High-Intensity Interval Training


Here in the wellness center, we’ve been all about interval workouts this summer. We have several group fitness classes centered around interval training (Erika’s Cardio Strength, the Buns Guns and Guts class that I teach with Maria), and Kari has been putting together some incredible workouts for a wellness blog she’s starting. These workouts are a series of a few exercises – usually between 3 and 7 – that are all challenging and work different parts of the body. After going through the series of exercises, you repeat the full series three or four times. For example, maybe one exercise works your traps, the next is cardio-intense, the next works your quads and glutes, and the next focuses on abs. The muscles that you work in one exercise get a rest in the next, so instead of taking long breaks between sets, you keep your heart rate up and work a different muscle group, maximizing the efficiency of your workout. This is perfect for all sorts of settings: interval training in the weight area decreases rest time between reps and increases efficiency of your workout; adding bouts of sprinting into your daily jog supercharges your calorie burn and helps you gain speed. In short, interval workouts are plain old awesome.

GET THIS: Timex Ironman 50 Lap Midsize watch, Target, $40

This watch is awesome. It has two different interval timers that you can set to repeat, so you don’t have to keep an eye on the clock when you’re working out and instead can give your all to the workout. Additionally, it is waterproof, has a stopwatch that lets you save your splits (great for runners tracking mile times, or swimmers timing their laps), three alarms, and it comes in all different colors. I literally stood in Target for 20 minutes waiting for replies to my picture message because I was so torn between periwinkle and teal, but I was comforted by the fact that at $40, I would have to use it to teach my Couch to 5k class (coming in September!!) less than 5 times in order to buy myself another if I really needed to.

Timex Ironman 50 lap midsize watch






Cardio Strength with Erika 3:30 – 4:30, Monday and Friday

Buns Guns & Guts with Maria and Lauren 9:30 – 10:30 Thursday


Stop into the Wellness Center to pick up a Wicked Tight interval workout

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Stay safe with your food this summer!


With BBQ and picnic season in full swing, the CDC, FDA, USDA, and Ad Council are debuting a new campaign to help prevent food poisoning. Food poisoning happens when foodborne pathogens (bacteria that happen to be on your food) aren’t killed by the cooking process, or if pathogens are able to multiply before food is properly stored. They can either produce toxins in the food that make you sick, or colonize your intestine. It’s no fun, so listen up!


Common Foodborne Pathogens

Salmonella: Salmonella is naturally found in eggs and chicken products, but can also contaminate other food products, like peanut butter (remember that big recall a while back?).

E. coli: E. coli is naturally found in the intestinal tracts of humans, but when strains other than your own get into your system, food poisoning symptoms can occur. This pathogen is also naturally present in the GI tract of cows, so

Clostridium botulinum: Botulism results when this bacterium colonizes in improperly canned foods, and produces a toxin that causes paralysis. If you’re eating home-canned foods, look for cans that are bulging or have unsealed seams and don’t eat it!

Clostridium perfringens: This bacteria can be present in improperly cooked meats or meats cooked too long before consumption. Symptoms are uncomfortable but often not severe.

Campylobacter jejuni: Campylobacter is most commonly contracted from improperly cooked chicken. Symptoms including abdominal cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea usually subside after 10 days.


Check Your Steps

  1. Clean kitchen surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water while preparing food: using antibacterial soap and warm water, you’ll kill off the bugs that could get you sick. This is especially important when cooking with meat, eggs, and other foods prone to foodborne pathogens.

Dawn Hand Renewal Dishwashing Liquid: with moisturizers in the soap, you won’t have to worry about drying out your hands; and at under $3 per 19-oz bottle you won’t have to worry about drying up your funds either! So grab a bottle and start scrubbing.


  1. Separate raw meats from other foods by using different cutting boards: meat is juicy, and if that juice gets onto other food or utensils that won’t be heated to 165 degrees, it could make you sick. Designating one cutting board to be the meat board significantly reduces the risk of cross contamination.

    Room Essentials 2-Pack Cutting Boards: these colorful cutting boards come two to a pack, so one can easily be designated as the meat board. As a bonus, they’re made of plastic, which doesn’t have pores that bad bacteria can hide out in like wood cutting boards do. You can find them for $6.99 at Target.


  1. Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer: 165 degrees Fahrenheit = the safe zone for meats. Get there!

    Mainstays Instant Read Meat Thermometer:this meat thermometer is nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. Stick it in, make sure your meat has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and enjoy! This one runs about $7.50 at Wal Mart, but if you’d prefer a digital version it will cost you double that price.


  1. Chill raw and prepared foods promptly: if it can feed you it can feed bacteria. Warm, moist environments are inviting places for pathogens to settle and reproduce. However, if you chill your food right away, the reproductive cycle is halted and your chance of getting sick goes way down.

Rubbermaid 24-piece Food Storage Set: at $10 for the set, this is a great value. You’ll get containers of all different sizes that are microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe. So the next time you make a big meal, quickly pack up any leftovers and throw them in the refrigerator for the next day or the freezer if you don’t plan to eat them within 4 days.


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What the HECK is a Garlic Scape?

What: Garlic scapes are a part of all garlic plants. The part of garlic that we normally eat is the bulb. Like other bulbs, if left unattended, garlic will sprout and flower. Before the flower opens, the stem of the garlic plant grows up from the bulb and curls, looking like a little green pig tail (if you use your imagination). Early in the summer, farmers have to clip this stalk in order to keep the bulb growing. Only recently has the use of this strange ingredient begun to grow in popularity.

Where: These strange serpentine vegetables are sold exclusively at farmer’s markets and farm stands. I have never seen them at the grocery store, and had never even heard of them until last summer!

When: Garlic scapes are available for only a very short period of time: 2-3 weeks in mid to late June and early July, depending on the year. Work fast, they just made an appearance at the Amherst farmer’s market last week and will be gone before you know it!

Why: They’re different! Garlic scapes have that same garlic flavor that the bulb does, but without the bite and with a completely different texture that lends itself particularly well to certain applications.

How: Possibly the best and most common use of garlic scapes is to make a garlic scape pesto, but they can also be chopped up and added to stir fries, sautéed mixed in with mashed potatoes or egg dishes for a subtle garlicky flavor, or roasted and eaten as a side dish.

Garlic Scape Pesto

6-7 garlic scapes, chopped roughly to fit in your food processor
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted or untoasted, your call
4-5 medium basil leaves
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
juice from half a lemon
olive oil, about 3/4 to 1 cup

Place the 6-7 scapes, 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, 4-5 basil leaves, 1/4 cup Parmigiano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and juice from half a lemon in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a few times until the ingredients are roughly mixed and chopped.

Now, with the processor running, slowly pour the olive through the feed tube. Keep pouring and processing until the mixture is a thick and spreadable, yet not completely smooth.

To store, transfer the pesto to a container and pour a thin layer of olive oil on the top to seal. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve pesto on crusty bread or mixed into spaghetti noodles with a bit of the hot pasta water added.

Makes about 1 cup of pesto
Recipe courtesy of http://www.mikecostoyo.com

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Summer 2011

Hey everyone!

It’s been a while since we’ve updated the blog, and for good reason.  A lot has been happening here at the Wellness Center!  Our focus through the end of the semester was on nutrition, and we’re working on expanding our nutrition services as well as focusing on other dimensions of wellness.

On the nutrition side of things, we’ve developed new forms for the New Client Assessment Packet that will be the first step in an entire new protocol for one-on-one nutrition consultation process that will be an excellent resource for anyone looking for help achieving a nutrition goal, whether it’s weight loss, gaining weight, cooking your own meals for the first time, eating well on a budget, or anything else.

Also starting in the fall, we’ll have monthly Wellness Workshops on all different seasonally-relevant topics.  Whether it’s a workshop about Fruit and Vegetables More Matters Month in September where you’ll learn all about farmer’s markets and farmstands in the area, basic nutritional information about fruits and vegetables, and creative recipes and sampling of fruits and vegetables; or a small 10-person fitness basics workshop where you’ll go over how to  do several exercises the right way, these workshops are a great way to learn all sorts of important information.  Keep your eyes open for more information and for a chance to decide what the next month’s workshop will be about

The bulletin board outside of the rec center has been changing constantly, and I’ll post the information that has been up there on the blog.

Keep on having a great summer and take advantage of all the great produce that’s out there right now!


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