Teen Nutrition

Pro Athlete Melanie Oudin


Written by Hadley Tamburo via Teen Vogue

Melanie spills on what she does to keep her routine interesting, how she makes time for family and friends, and how she keeps herself in tip-top shape!


The youngest American Grand Slam quarter finalist since Serena Williams, Melanie Oudin—who’s only 20—has been playing tennis since the tender age of seven. She’s constantly on the go, competing in tournaments, perfecting her skill, and working out to maintain her athletic physique. Having participated in a number of different tournaments over the last couple of years, she’s been able to work with, and compete against, the best in the tennis world.Melanie is a champion both on and off the court, and if you’re anything like her—juggling friends, family, and sports—you know how stressful it is to manage it all! The talented tennis star gives you the details on her fitness routine, motivation and how she balances it all.


How did you start playing tennis?

I started when I was seven, with my grandmother and my twin sister. I played in the neighborhood courts. When I was ten, I saw Venus and Serena Williams and I told my mom that I wanted to be like them. Then it just kind of happened! I was disciplined, I sacrificed a lot of things, but kept doing it because I loved the game and I ended up turning pro at sixteen.


What is your routine like now? How often are you practicing?

I’m practicing for four hours on the court a day and lately I’ve been doing two and half hours of fitness—a morning session and an afternoon session.


And what are your favorite go-to beauty/fitness products?

For beauty products, I usually use Neutrogena—their moisturizer and their sunscreen—and then I take USANA supplements, especially the Booster-C. That’s really good for energy and keeping you healthy on the road.


Do you have any big, upcoming tournaments that you’re getting ready for?

I’m going to be playing Miami in two weeks in the Sony Ericsson.


What kind of things do you do to keep yourself focused and motivated—especially for important events?

I do fun activities when I’m not playing tennis, like going to movies or shopping with my friends. That way, the next day, I can be ready to play tennis one hundred percent again.


Is it hard for you to maintain a balance of a social life and work, with all that you have going on? What do you do to try and maintain that balance?

It can be hard, but you have to make sure you find a good balance of work and social life. You definitely don’t want to make it tennis 24/7 or you can get burnt out. If you make a new goal every day for practice or for personal fitness, it keeps things fresh. I still love playing every day.


What do you do to stay in shape?

I do things like running and biking to stay in shape. I started taking kickboxing—which is really fun—and have taken a couple of Zumba classes, too. And then practice on the court, of course.







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Lance, Cross Country Runner

Age and school?

I am 15 and I attend Community Health Academy.


Sport(s) and role (captain, position, etc.)

I run cross-country and I didn’t have a role in the team. I guess I was a runner.


What do you eat to prepare for a game (or race, etc.)?

What I ate before I practiced everyday was a sandwich with plenty of protein in it, a.k.a meats.  I also had pasta before running sometimes.


How does proper nutrition help you perform?

Proper nutrition helps me perform by giving me the energy and calories to burn. What you need the most is something to burn because if there’s nothing to burn, you can get very dizzy and pass out.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from a coach?

The best piece of advice I’ve received is to be as determined as possible. If you’re not determined enough, there’s no use of being on the team.


What advice do you have for other high school athletes about eating and nutrition?

Advice that I have is to always eat healthy while on the team because you wont be able to perform at your peak. Eat like pasta, plenty of protein, rice and beans, etc.



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Rachael, Lacrosse Co-Captain

Age and school?

I am 17 and I attend Curtis High School.


Sport(s) and role (captain, position, etc.)

Girls Lacrosse – Co-Captain, Offense


What do you eat to prepare for a game (or race, etc.)?

As a snack, I eat an orange and big handful of nuts like almonds and sunflower seeds about an hour before the game starts.


How does proper nutrition help you perform?

Getting proper nutrition before I play really helps me perform both in practice and games because it gives me the energy I need to run up and down the field. Eating the right snack before a game also gives me one less thing to worry about because I can focus on the game and not on stomach aches or feeling tired.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from a coach?

The team always makes fun of our coach for telling us to “Trust the System”. He constantly stresses this motto during the season because if we train hard, listen to directions, and execute like he tells us, we can rely on “the system” to pay off.


What advice do you have for other high school athletes about eating and nutrition?

If you “have a lot on your plate” schedule-wise, you need to make sure the food on your actual plate gives you the energy you need to power through it!



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How Flavor Chemists Make Your Food So Addictively Good


By George Dvorsky

If you eat processed foods — which most of us do — there’s a good chance you’ve tasted something that was designed by a flavor chemist. But getting pre-packaged foods to taste exactly the way they do is no easy task. It’s a process that requires everything from supertasting chemists to the sourcing of hundreds of complex ingredients. Here’s how these flavor engineers make you keep coming back for more.


The flavor industry

Flavor engineering is a surprisingly secretive multi-billion dollar industry, whose in-house chemists work to create both natural and artificial flavorings that consumers find delicious and appealing. These chemists design various taste experiences by blending aromatic chemicals, essential oils, botanical extracts, essences, and whatever else it takes to create a specific kind of taste.



Companies like Givaudan and Cargillcreate and manufacturer flavors for a wide variety of foods, beverages, confections, pharmaceuticals (including chewable medications and liquid prescriptions), oral care products (like toothpaste and mouthwash), cosmetics (including lip balm), nutrition products (vitamins and sports gels), and even pet food. And in fact, the general principles they follow are very similar to what’s done in the perfume industry.In addition to creating flavors, they also have to ensure that their products are safe for human consumption (which includes preventing allergic reactions or avoiding toxicity), and that the foods can withstand various compositional changes brought about by cooking, freezing, and other forms of preparation.


Moreover, they have to create flavors that don’t just make the end consumers happy — but their clients as well (they are typically outsourced by food manufacturers). Most of all, they also have to help the food companies make huge profits.


Flavor profiling

Flavor chemists do more than just mix compounds — they have to be supertasters as well. Many of them attend cooking clinics and follow the work of famous chefs. Moreover, they also have to know the in’s and out’s of taste — and that’s a very complex set of sensory experiences.


Indeed, the sense of taste is a multifaceted physiological process. Working in conjunction with our sense of smell, our 100,000 taste buds elicit sensations of sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami (a Japanese word for a pleasant savory taste, but distinct from pure saltiness). The challenge for flavor chemists is to create the perfect mixture of compounds that hit all the right marks.A company like Givaudan, a Swiss firm that employs nearly 9,000 people in 45 countries, has created thousands of flavors that are used in a variety of products. In order to come up with all these tastes, whether it be the mimicry of an existing flavor or something completely new, flavor chemists often work to modify existing aromas and tastes as opposed to creating abstract smells from scratch; they’re basically trying to ‘improve’ upon the original (what is often a requirement in processed or pre-packaged foods). Interestingly, the two most commonly simulated flavors are chicken and strawberry.


After finding something they like — say a delicious, ripe orange — flavorists extract the fruit’s flavor molecules for further analysis (either by sourcing the vast scientific literature on the subject, or through lab techniques like gas chromatography and and mass spectrometry). They then go about the process of finding a way to simulate or improve upon the original taste.


For example, when designing fruit flavors, they try to create a bursting flavor sensation at the beginning, followed by a finish that doesn’t linger. And fascinatingly, flavorists can create an incredibly diverse array of experiences from a single source; Givaudan has developed 750 flavors of orange, tangerine, and mandarins. Subtle variations include jammy, sweet, floral, seedy, and so on.


A little too tasty?

Flavorists also try to create foods that consumers crave. And in fact, in a recent interview with CBS, Givaudan employees did not deny that this is what they’re trying to do — create food addictions. It’s “a good word,” they admitted, and that they’re trying to develop “something that [consumers] want to go back for again and again.”


And their work is serious business. Companies consider their formulas to be valuable intellectual property, hence their secretive nature — not to mention the fact that most food manufacturers would rather not have it known that most of their processed foods are flavored with a cornucopia of chemicals.


Mmmmm, isoamylacetate

And indeed, flavor chemists use a variety of compounds to create their formulas. A typical lab uses of 2,000 chemicals and 500 natural flavors — and it can take anywhere from 70 to 80 tries to get the flavor just right. Some formulas require upwards of hundreds of different notes.



When trying to simulate the taste of chocolate, for example, flavorists will use substancesthat individually taste and smell like potato chips, cooked meat, peaches, raw beef fat, cooked cabbage, human sweat, dirt and other distinctly un-chocolate-like aromas. And in fact, in some cases it can get quite weird; some strawberry and vanilla flavors are derived from the gland found in a beaver’s backside.Once the compounds have been selected, the chemists use a “flavor profile” to help them architect the taste they’re trying to simulate. This profile is typically constructed with mathematical assistance, allowing the chemists to make the most minutest of adjustments — what’s typically measured in parts per million (ppm). They also need to be sensitive to how all the various chemicals might react to one another, and whether the mixtures will lend themselves to cooking.


And in terms of the chemicals themselves, it’s a veritable rainbow of possibilities.


The various compounds used include metabolites like acids, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, esters, sulfur compounds, furans, phenols, terpenes, epoxides, and lactones — many of which are derived from various biosynthetic pathways.


Another common chemical that’s used is ethyl butyrate. It’s one of 30 compounds that are typically found in orange juice. This chemical, along with acetaldehyde, is what gives OJ its succulent quality. Other chemicals include butyric acid artificial and butyric acid natural. Isoamylacetate is typically used to mimic the taste of a banana, while methoxyfuraneol is used to simulate strawberries.


The list of chemicals that are used to flavor a single food can get quite extensive. It can take upwards of 300 individual compounds to endow a food with the flavor associated with a ripe strawberry and 400 volatiles to give a food the aroma of tomatoes. The concentration of these compounds will vary from food to food and can be measured between 10 to 100 ppm — and even as sparse as one part per billion.


Mmmm, food never tasted so complicated.


Other sources: CBS, bls.gov, Scienceagogo, Discovery.


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Spotlight: Brooklyn International High School, Brooklyn

Brooklyn International is another very special high school that we work with in EATWISE.  Located in a building overlooking the Manhattan Bridge, BIHS houses about 350 students, all of whom are recent immigrants to the USA.  I love walking around their school seeing the mix of faces and hearing the various languages that are spoken there. We’ve worked with students from Haiti, Equador, Mexico, and many more. The school fits in really well with the program, as everyone that attends the school is learning English, and assimilating to American culture.  I’ve heard some amazing discussion at BIHS about the food system in the US compared to countries all over the word, as well as some rough stories about lives in developing countries.  The school is one of EATWISE’s oldest partners dating back to the days before the program was even named! Many thanks to Ms. Rucker and Ms. Borgese for their support and Katherine, Joselyn, Kassandra, Mishka, Adler, Maria, and Tony for all the hard work!
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Organic Food vs. Conventional Food



Why do consumers buy organic foods?


A new study by Stanford researchers has added fuel to a debate about the differences between organic and conventionally grown foods. The Stanford report, an analysis of 237 studies of organic produce, meats and dairy foods, concluded that organic foods are no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts. Advocates of organic foods, meanwhile, say that the study takes a narrow view of organic food choices, and that most people choose organic because they want to avoid pesticides, hormones and other chemicals used in conventional farming.


Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the Stanford study and organic foods.


Q.   Why would the Stanford team focus on whether there are nutritional differences between organic food and conventionally produced food?


A.   Hundreds of scientific studies have looked at just that question for various fruits and vegetables, based on the idea that fewer pesticides and organic growing methods allow for more nutrients in soil, and therefore could raise the nutritional content of organically grown foods.


And in some cases, researchers have measured significant differences. A 2010 study by Washington State University scientists found organic strawberries have more vitamin C and antioxidants than conventional strawberries. Organic tomatoes also have more of a type of antioxidant called polyphenols than commercially grown tomatoes, according to a study published in July by scientists at the University of Barcelona.


However, other variables, like ripeness, may influence nutritional content even more. A peach or berry that reaches peak ripeness with the use of pesticides could contain considerably more vitamins than a less-ripe organically grown fruit.


The Stanford study reviewed decades of research to determine whether choosing organic produce, meats and milk would lead to better nutrition generally. They concluded the answer was no. That is, just following “organic” for everything does not bring obvious, immediate health benefits.


Q.   I’ve heard organic milk is a better option than commercial milk products. Is that true?


A.   Organic milk has risen in popularity in large part because of concerns over bovine growth hormone, used to stimulate milk production on conventional dairy farms. The hormone occurs naturally in cows, and the Food and Drug Administration has argued that use of the hormone does not change the milk.


But producers of organic milk are required to allow their cows to spend a certain amount of time grazing, and that does produce a noticeable effect on the fatty acids in the milk. Compared with conventional milk, organic milk has lower levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which are believed to be unhealthy for the heart in high concentrations, and higher levels of healthful omega-3 fatty acids. The Stanford researchers noted that organic milk does have modestly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, based on a few small studies included in the analysis.


Organic Valley, a cooperative of organic farmers, says its organic milk shows omega-3 levels that are 79 percent higher than those in conventional milk, as well as much lower levels of omega-6.


Q.   What about pesticides? Is there a health benefit to eating foods grown without them?


A.   Organic produce has lower levels of pesticide residue than conventional fruits and vegetables. That said, almost all produce, whether it’s organic or conventional, already contains less pesticide residue than the maximum allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency. It then becomes of a question of whether you are comfortable with the E.P.A. standards. Charles Benbrook, who worked as the chief scientist for the Organic Center before moving to Washington State University last month, said the benefits of organic food, in terms of pesticide exposure, would be greatest for pregnant women, for young children and for older people with chronic health problems. He cites research that looked at blood pesticide levels of pregnant women and then followed their children for several years. The studies found that women with the highest pesticide levels during pregnancy gave birth to children who later tested 4 to 7 percent lower on I.Q. tests compared with their elementary school peers.


Q.   Aren’t there benefits to organic eating beyond individual gains? What about the health of farm workers and the health of the planet?


A.   The answer to this question is not as clear-cut as one would like it to be.


For farm workers, some pesticides appear to cause some cancers.


Over the past few decades the E.P.A. has banned many of the most toxic pesticides, so presumably the risk to workers is lower now than it was. Many people who buy organic foods say they do so because they are concerned about the health of farm workers.


In terms of the environmental effects of organic farming versus conventional farming, it depends on how you view it. One meta-analysis found that organic farming had fewer environmental impacts per acre. However, because of lower yields from organic crops, the environmental effect of organic produce was actually greater per product shipped.


In addition, there are growing concerns about the role of agricultural antibiotics leading to new antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.


What are your reasons for buying organic or conventional food? Do you have more you want to know about the Stanford study or organic eating in general? Join the conversation below, and I’ll be jumping in to answer questions as needed.



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Spotlight: New Dorp High School, Staten Island

This is New Dorp High School.  New Dorp High School is huge.
New Dorp High School has been an All-Star for going on three years in the EATWISE program.  Assisted by their incredible health and physiology teacher, Ms. Kutza, students from New Dorp have reached well over 200 of their peers through a variety of workshops and activities.  We’re now on to our third generation of peer educators, all of whom have been outstanding!  New Dorp’s 2709 students are broken out into 8 smaller learning communities:  Communication and Media Arts, Fine and Dramatic Arts, Business and Technology, Future Teachers, Forensic Science and Criminology, Health Sciences, Law, History and Human Rights, and Math and Science.  EATWISE has always worked with the Health Sciences community, which means we always have a ton of students that are really interested in nutrition and health.  Big ups to Patrycja, Elif, Anton, Rajpreet, Russell, Annum, Razan for all of their hard work!



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Fruit Kabobs

Eating fruit before you play sports boosts endurance.  Delicious fruit kabobs for breakfast are a healthy way to get your day started!


    • 2 tablespoons natural applesauce
    • ¼ cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 cup fresh fruit chunks (melon, apples, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, grapes)
    • Skewers or toothpicks

In a small bowl, stir together applesauce, yogurt and cinnamon.
Place fruit chunks on skewers to form fruit kebabs.
Dip kebab in yogurt mixture and enjoy!

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Herbs for the Common Cold

The herbalist founders of a new organic skincare line offer remedies for what ails you.


Earth Tu Face lotions, serums and scrubs are good enough to eat — literally. Created by two Bay area herbalists, Sarah Buscho and Marina Storm, the philosophy behind the all-natural beauty line is ‘never put on your skin what you wouldn’t put in your mouth.’ Buscho and Storm stand firmly behind that statement, developing the products with plants they grew in their garden in San Rafael, California. All of the ingredients are FDA-approved ‘food grade organic,’ so they are completely safe to slather all over your skin (and technically safe to consume, too.) Even the chic packaging is 100% compostable.

After studying holistic health and whipping up their own salves for years, the botanical-obsessed pair knows what really works. “We use herbs to heal in every aspect of our lives, whether it’s skincare, cooking, aromatherapy or straight medicine,” says Busco. And now that they’ve launched Earth Tu Face, we can all benefit as well. At least from the outside in. Should you need to be healed from the inside out, we tapped into Buscho and Storm’s expertise to get their herbal prescriptions for common maladies.


ginger, earth tu face

1) To fend off colds and flus:

“Grate a few spoonfuls of fresh ginger and chop up a whole lemon to make a hot tea. Ginger is super high in antioxidants and helps your body sweat out a fever, increasing your circulation to help your body fight off illness. Lemon is alkalizing and high in vitamin C.”
– Sarah

mint, earth tu face

2) To calm an upset stomach:

“Peppermint works its way through your whole digestive system, soothing your intestines and colon. It’s one of the best herbs for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, too. Use two to three teaspoons of dried peppermint or a handful of fresh to make tea.” –Sarah

cayenne pepper, earth tu face

3) To alleviate sore muscles:

“Cayenne pepper is a warming circulatory stimulant and potent anti-inflammatory. Its main active constituent, capsaicin, has been shown to inhibit pain transmitters. Combine a few dashes with fresh grated ginger, which lubricates your muscle tissues and relaxes cramping. To make tea, bring to a low boil, let everything simmer for 10-15 minutes, then strain.” –Marina

california poppy, earth tu face

4) To minimize stress:

“California poppy is a premiere local remedy — use it as a tincture. It’s very calming to the body’s nerves and will help you de-stress. If you have trouble finding it, make a tea with lavender, chamomile and wild oats. It will nourish and relax you all day long.” –Marina

nettles, earth tu face

5) To rev your energy:

“Nettles are abundant plants that are super nourishing. When you take them on a daily basis, you’re adding a lot of minerals that will make your body stronger. Drinking them in a tea with wild oats will circulate more blood to the brain so it really wakes you up.” – Marina

tumeric, earth tu face

6) To decrease inflammation:

“Turmeric is the best anti-inflammation plant that I have found. It’s gentle on the stomach and the liver and [has] anti-cancer [properties]. Cook with the powder by adding it into your soups and stews, or take the capsules.”



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Food Pop Quiz

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