A warm welcome back!

Dear Sprout Readers,

It may be cold outside, but this month’s issue of the Friedman Sprout has a story or two that just may help keep you warm on the inside.

Treat yourself or your Valentine to some new heart-healthy recipes. Follow our morning expedition to Kneeland and Washington streets to sample bowls of fast-food oatmeal. Looking for something to do this month with your Friedman friends? Check out what Friedman Fringe has in store for you or visit a local winter farmers market.

Do Overweight People Really Live Longer? offers a closer look at a meta-analysis that prompted headlines in the popular media declaring that fat can be your friend. Did friends and relatives pepper you with nutrition questions over break? Compare notes with Kari Kemph who writes Ask a Nutrition Student: The Top Questions Friedmaners Field. Meet the woman (and Friedman alum) behind a cool new nutrition app.

As always, we love to hear from our readers. Tell us about the fascinating project you’re working on, or your favorite new restaurant. Share your insights on a controversial food policy choice, or share your take on a new study with other Sprout readers. Send your story ideas to friedmansprout@gmail.com

Meantime, happy reading!

Your editors,

Natalie Obermeyer & M.E. Malone

The Friedman Sprout

Got the Winter Blues? Pick-Me-Up Some Produce at a Local Winter Farmers Market! by Lainey Younkin, RD: Bundle up and head to a winter farmers market near you. The off-season bounty will surprise you!

Do overweight people really live longer? by Natalie Obermeyer: A new meta-analysis finds an association between being overweight and longer life spans; should we use this as an excuse to keep our extra fat?

Take Heart, Eat Smart: Foods and Recipes for Valentine’s Day by Amy Elvidge: Who knew flax seed could be so sexy?  Impress your loved ones with delicious, nutritious heart-healthy recipes this Valentine’s Day and find out the mystique behind fabled aphrodisiac foods.

Alumni Spotlight: Bon’App Your Way to Healthy Eating with Taylor Salinardi, PhD N’12 by Ashley Carter: Ever turned to an app on your phone for nutrition advice?  Try Bon’App! Friedman alumna Taylor Salinardi explains how the simple app works and talks about her roles within the recently launched nutrition app company.

The Soda Battle Bubbles Over by Lisa D’Agrosa, RD: The soda industry continues to promote their sugary drinks and “happy” calories with celebrity endorsements and innovative ad campaigns.  Read up about the latest in the public health battle with big soda and legislation that may affect your drinking habits.

Oatmeal-to-Go Can Be Fast….and Satisfying by M.E. Malone: One morning, four bowls of oatmeal. See our side-by-side comparison of this traditional hot cereal when served by Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Panera and Starbucks.

Student Spotlight: The Friedman Fringe: Friedman’s newest student group has a few surprises in store this month.

Ask a Nutrition Student: Top Questions Friedmaners Field by Kari Kempf: What’s a Friedman to do? Answer questions from friends and loved ones about their eating habits (and yours!).

Technology and Nutrition Meet at This Year’s Consumer Electronics Show by Brandon Ransom: Could a vibrating fork be the key to slowing down a too-fast eater?

Got the winter blues? Pick-me-up some produce at a local winter farmers market! By Lainey Younkin, RD

Just because the cold creeps in doesn’t mean that farming stops in New England. In fact, it just might speed up. Within the past few years, winter farmers markets have been popping up all across the Boston area, indicating that New England farmers are keeping busy, even during the coldest months of the year.  Fortunately, they now have more local places to sell their goods – the neighborhoods of Boston. Both community leaders and city officials have helped establish numerous winter farmers markets across the city. Organizers are working closely with vendors to ensure farmers are paid fairly and the food is both accessible and affordable.

I headed out on a not-so-wintry January weekend to explore some of these fairly new markets. My three picks were the Cambridge Winter Farmers Market, the Egleston Farmers Market in Jamaica Plain (JP), and the Dorchester Community Food Coop Winter Farmers Market. Even though it wasn’t that cold, I was thrilled to find that they were all located indoors.

Cambridge Winter Farmers Market (CWFM)

The Coffee Trike

The Coffee Trike


Saturdays 10:00am – 2:00pm

January 5 – April 27, 2013


Cambridge Community Center (inside the gym)

5 Callender Street, Cambridge, MA 02139


5-10 minute walk from Central Square (red line)

Street parking


Cash and SNAP/EBT. Some vendors accept MasterCard and Visa.



Cracked Wheat and Wheat Bran from Boundbrook Farm

Cracked Wheat and Wheat Bran from Boundbrook Farm

I got a little giddy as I headed into the gym of the Cambridge Community Center. There were families with young children (not a common sighting for most graduate students), live folk music, and lots and lots of food. I started my rounds. First stop: The Coffee Trike. You might see this guy out on the Rose Kennedy Greenway near the waterfront come spring, but until then he’ll be hanging at the CWFM making mochas and lattes. Coffee in hand, I continued around the circle of vendors stopping to snatch a white cheddar and scallion scone from The Art of Pie ($2.00 and delicious), sample some Chardonnay from Truro Vineyards, and pick up some multi-grain bread from The Biscuit – only $3.50 for a decent-sized loaf! Then it was time for some veggies. You should hit this market early if you’re craving kale because both produce vendors were sold out by noon.

Red Fire Farm

Red Fire Farm

However, they had quite an array of decently priced potatoes, squash, collard greens, and other winter vegetables. I topped off my morning with a sample of Honey Blossom tea from Soluna Garden Farm, a bag of cracked wheat hot cereal from Boundbrook Farm (this was a splurge at $7.00 a bag), and a generous amount of red popcorn, which was just $3.00 (can’t wait to try it!). I also spent some time speaking to Erik Andrus of Boundbrook Farm about his current initiative to sail foods down the Hudson River from Vermont to New York City, which was very intriguing. Although disappointed by the lack of kale, all in all I’d highly recommend the CWFM. There are numerous vendors and a variety of foods. It’s a perfect pick-me-up for those with the winter blues!


Egleston Farmers Market FM_Egleston


Saturdays 11:00am – 2:00pm

November 10, 2012 – February 23, 2013


Our Lady Of Lourdes Parish
45 Brookside Ave, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130



5-10 minute walk from Stony Brook (orange line)

Free parking available

Seta’s Mediterranean Foods

Seta’s Mediterranean Foods


Cash, SNAP/EBT, and Boston Bounty Bucks. To use a credit/debit card, buy “market dollars” at the info table, and then use them with each vendor.



Valicenti Organico Pasta Varieties

Valicenti Organico Pasta Varieties

My next stop was the Egleston Farmers Market located in Jamaica Plain. Had I known it was located around the corner from the Sam Adams Brewery, I would have planned my day better. Mei-Mei Street Kitchen is also parked nearby. The market had a cozier feel than Cambridge with fewer vendors but a plethora of people from the Boston Cyclists Union. The market had a staffed information table at the entrance where community leaders Myrna Greenfield and Shaquille Jones were providing information and answering questions about the market. I circled the gym, stopping to see the uniquely shaped pastas at Valicenti Organico and tasting some flavorful baba ganoush from Seta’s Mediterranean Foods. My favorite stop, however, was Hickory Nut Farm, where Peter gave me a sampling of five different goat cheeses and even some goat fudge! The fudge was delicious, but in the end I opted for two wedges of goat cheese – one aged in sea salt and the other made with peppercorns. It was well worth the $10.00. On my way out, I was surprised to see a table full of farm tools, so I stopped to learn more and was introduced to Agricultural Hall, a one-stop shop for all your urban agricultural needs located in Jamaica Plain. Like the CWFM, Egleston had a variety of vendors selling everything from cheese to pasta to produce to fish to cupcakes. You might not meet all of your grocery needs here, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Jamaica Plain's Agricultural Hall

Jamaica Plain’s Agricultural Hall

Goat cheese sampling courtesy of Hickory Nut Farm

Goat cheese sampling courtesy of Hickory Nut Farm

Dorchester Community Food Coop Winter Farmers Market


Sundays 12:00pm – 4:00pm

January 6 – March 24, 2013

In Codman Square

In Codman Square


Great Hall in Codman Square

6 Norfolk Street

Dorchester, MA 02124


5-10 minute walk from Shawmut (red line)

Parking available on the street and at the Codman Square Health Center


Cash and credit cards (MasterCard and Visa) but not debit cards. SNAP/EBT and Boston Bounty Bucks also accepted. Some vendors accept WIC vouchers.



Oakdale Farm

Oakdale Farm

On Sunday afternoon, I made my way to the Winter Farmers Market in Codman Square, where there was also a staffed information table at the entrance. In addition, there was an opportunity to purchase a $1.00 raffle ticket in hopes of winning two grocery bags full of food (sadly, I didn’t win). Shaquille Jones was also at this market – since he does freelance work with both the JP and Dorchester markets – and he offered to show me around. The venue was a little smaller than JP and had a few of the same vendors, including Hickory Nut Farm, Red’s Best Local Seafood, and the Great Cape Baking Company. The top picks from this market, however, were the Pirate Spread from Engelnook Farm, stuffed grape leaves from Samira’s Homemade, and almond butter cookies from The Ancient Bakers. The founder of The Ancient Bakers, Tonya Johnson, began experimenting with ancient ingredients when her son was 15 months old. He was diagnosed with acute malnutrition due to several food allergies, and his skin began to break out in rashes. Many elimination diets later, nothing seemed to be working. The state wrongly charged Johnson with neglect. She decided she had to take things into her own hands. That’s when she started experimenting with ingredients like medicinal flowers, rosemary, sage, sprouts, and more. She began baking cookies and biscuits with these ancient ingredients and sans dairy and gluten. Her son is now 13 years old, and it was neat to see him by her side supporting her at the market. “I eat a lot now,” he said, “a lot!”

Stir it Up Pepper Jellies

Stir it Up Pepper Jellies

Unfortunately, I could not make it to all of the Boston winter farmers markets. There are many more to be explored so be sure to check here for a market near you!

Photos by author

Lainey Younkin is a second-year Nutrition Communication student. She loved exploring these Boston winter farmers markets and will gladly go back to any of them with anyone who’s interested!

Do overweight people really live longer? By Natalie Obermeyer

Early this year the Journal of the American Medical Association published a meta-analysis with a rather controversial finding: overweight people live longer than normal weight individuals. But before we use this study as an excuse to pack on a few extra pounds (or just keep the pounds on), we need to dig into the science a bit more.

Source: CarryFitness.com

Source: CarryFitness.com

For the meta-analysis, Dr. Flegal and Dr. Kit, along with other researchers, searched the PubMed database for studies examining the relationship between body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of the relation of body weight and height, and lifespan. The researchers then combined 97 eligible studies to examine the relationship between BMI and longevity for over 2.8 million study participants. Researchers felt that such a large study was bound to find an association between weight status and longevity if there really was one.

After controlling for age, sex, and smoking, the researchers concluded that overweight people (defined by having a BMI between 25 and 29.9) had a 6% decreased risk of death from all causes compared to people of a normal weight status (BMI 18.5-24.9). Obese people in general (BMI over 30) had an 18% increased risk of death. However, when examined more closely, the risk for all-cause death among mod

erately obese people (BMI 30-34.9) did not significantly differ from those with normal weight status. In contrast, obese people with a BMI over 35 had a 29% increased risk of death. Thus, from this study, it appears that some, but not too much, extra weight is associated with longer lives.

Should we be surprised by these findings? No. The phenomenon that overweight people live longer has been well documented in other meta-analyses, and it even has its own name: “the obesity paradox.” Some potential explanations for the paradox and the benefits of extra fat include that it supplies energy during wasting-associated illnesses and provides extra cushioning for traumatic injuries.

However, just because being overweight is associated with living longer does not mean being overweight causes one to live longer. According to the CDC, being overweight increases one’s risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, many cancers, stroke, liver disease, sleep apnea, arthritis, impotence, and infertility. But, if being overweight increases the risk of all of these diseases, how is it that studies associate being overweight with longer life spans?  One explanation is that these studies do not exclude data from people with pre-existing diseases that have ca

used them to lose weight. For example, alcoholism, anxiety, depression, autoimmune diseases, drug addiction, digestive disorders, and cancer can result in both unintentional weight loss and shorter life spans. While the researchers in this meta-analysis controlled for age, sex, and smoking, they did not control for any other diseases. Thus, if a significant portion of people in the normal weight category had these diseases, it could help explain why normal weight status is associated with shorter life spans. Indeed, the prevalence of these diseases is rather high in the United States:

  • Alcoholism: 12.5%
  • Anxiety disorders: 18%
  • Depression: 8%
  • Autoimmune disorders: 8%
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: 10%

Additionally, as with any study using the body mass index, it is important to recognize that BMI is not the best measure of body fat since it is merely a measure of the relationship between body weight and height. Tissues other than fat can increase BMI, and muscular individuals (such as trained athletes) may technically have high BMIs and considered to be in the “overweight” category even though they have low

levels of body fat. For example, an active basketball player with 10% body fat can have a higher BMI than someone who leads a sedentary lifest

yle with 30% body fat. Additionally, the distribution of the fat is even more important, as the fat that accumulates around one’s middle is much more dangerous than fat deposited in the thighs.

Over 40% of adult men and 30% of adult women are overweight in the United States. Even more disturbing, over 36% of Amer

icans are considered obese. Thus, we need researchers like Dr. Flegel to study the consequences of extra

weight; however, we must keep in mind that meta-analyses like the one published merely measure association rather than causation. We must take care to not extrapolate the findings too far. Perhaps

being overweight may not be as harmful as some claim, but I would not use this study as an excuse to overindulge.

Natalie Obermeyer is a first year student in the Nutrition Communication and Masters of Public Health programs. When she is not studying, reading, or writing, she loves to run, hike, ski, play outdoors in the sunshine, and experiment in the kitchen.


Take heart, eat smart: Foods and recipes for Valentine’s Day By Amy Elvidge

Don’t just win over your loved ones’ hearts, protect them too.  Heart-healthy foods are a delicious way to reduce the risk of heart disease.  From salmon and sweet potatoes to red wine and chocolate, the nutrients present in many whole foods both prevent and repair cell damage, lowering the risk of contracting heart disease.  According to experts from the Cleveland Clinic and the American Dietetic Association, the top performing foods (and their associated nutrients) to protect your heart and blood vessels are:

Source: Bon Appetit

Source: Bon Appetit

  1. Salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids
  2. Flaxseed (ground): Omega-3 fatty acids; fiber; phytoestrogens
  3. Oatmeal: Omega-3 fatty acids; magnesium; potassium; folate; niacin; calcium; soluble fiber
  4. Black or Kidney Beans: B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate; magnesium; omega-3 fatty acids; calcium; soluble fiber
  5. Almonds: omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; fiber; heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats; phytosterols
  6. Walnuts: omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; folate; fiber; mono- and polyunsaturated fats; phytosterols
  7. Red wine: catechins and reservatrol (flavonoids)
  8. Tuna: omega-3 fatty acids, folate, niacin
  9. Tofu: niacin; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium

10. Brown rice: B-complex vitamins; fiber; niacin; magnesium; fiber

Soymilk, blueberries, carrots, spinach, broccoli, sweet potato, red bell peppers, asparagus, oranges, tomatoes, acorn squash, cantaloupe, papaya, dark chocolate and tea also make the list.

Source: Eat Seed

Source: Eat Seed

So what is it about these foods and nutrients that give them their hyped ratings? The following definitions will help you to better understand the nutritional properties of these heart health super foods.  Phytoestrogens are found in plants and have a weak estrogen-like action in the body; studies suggest that these nutrients lower the risk of blood clots, stroke, and cardiac arrhythmias, and may help lower total and LDL “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.  Phytosterols found in all nuts and seeds, including wheat germ, are plant sterols that chemically resemble cholesterol and have been found to reduce cholesterol.  Carotenoids are heart-protective antioxidants in fruits and vegetables.  Polyphenols are antioxidants that protect blood vessels, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterols.  Omega-3 fattys acids and alpha-linolenic fatty acids support immune function, reduce blood clots and protect against heart attacks.  They also increase “good” HDL levels, lower triglyceride levels, protect arteries from plaque buildup, reduce inflammation, and lower blood pressure.  B-complex vitamins like folate and B-6 protect against blood clots and atherosclerosis, and niacin helps increase HDL good cholesterol.  Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that protect cells from free-radical damage.  Magnesium, potassium and calcium lower blood pressure, and fiber-rich foods lower cholesterol levels.

So what to cook for your friends, family or significant other on February 14th?  Spiced roasted nuts and raw crudités are a great way to start off your Valentine’s Day meal, followed by a Latin inspired broiled salmon dish served with brown rice, and obviously completed with a bit (a big bit) of quality dark chocolate and a glass of red wine.

Source: Serious Eats

Source: Serious Eats

Easy Spiced Roasted Nuts

Yield 3 cups (about 20 handfuls)

3 cups nuts of your choosing

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.  Toss nuts with olive oil, salt and cayenne and place in a baking sheet.  Roast in the oven until they begin to crackle and smell toasty, 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Toss with thyme.

Nutritional information per 20 grams (about 18 nuts, ¼ cup or 2 handfuls) on average: 119 calories; 10 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 grams cholesterol; 4 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 4 grams protein

Source: Forbes

Source: Forbes

Broiled Salmon with Citrus Salsa Verde

Yields 4 servings

Total time: 23 minutes


2 large oranges

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 scallions, finely sliced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons capers, drained, rinsed and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons orange zest

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste


4 (6 to 8 ounce) center cut salmon fillets, skinned, each about 3 square inches

Salt and pepper

For the salsa: Peel and trim the ends from each orange.  Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment.  Add the segments to a medium bowl with the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, scallions, mint, capers, orange zest, lemon zest and red pepper flakes.  Toss lightly and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

For the salmon: Preheat the broiler.  Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Spray the foil with nonstick spray.  Arrange salmon fillets on the baking sheet and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  Broil for about 7 minutes, until the fillets are just cooked through.  Transfer fillets to plates and serve with citrus salsa verde spooned over the top.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 294; Total Fat: 11 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 45 grams; Total carbohydrates: 3 grams; Sugar: 0 grams; Fiber: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 115 milligrams; Sodium: 463 milligrams

For dessert I suggest serving antioxidant-rich Zinfandel (also great with salmon) and dark chocolate that is at least 60% cocoa.  I like Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel ($9 from Trader Joe’s) and Green & Black’s Organic Dark 70% chocolate (Whole Foods).

Lastly, whether or not you subscribe to the theory of aphrodisiacs, love foods are prized in cultures worldwide and it may be time to give them a try this Valentine’s Day.  According to Dr. Nalini Chilkov L.Ac., O.M.D., “Love foods have circulatory, relaxant and muscle strengthening effects, or visual, tactile or sensory impact that stimulates the psyche.  The brain, after all, is the largest sexual organ in the body.”  If you’re looking to get your blood pumping, the following foods are alleged to be natural aphrodisiacs:

–       Oysters: Oysters improve dopamine levels which boosts libido in men and women; oysters are also high in zinc which is vital for testosterone production and healthy sperm.

–       Watermelon: Claimed to deliver Viagra-like effects on blood vessels throughout the body and may increase libido.  Watermelon contains the amino acid citruline, which is good for the cardiovascular system and helps relax the blood vessels that increase sex drive.

–       Cocoa or chocolate: This legendary nourishment of the Gods has more antioxidants than green tea or red wine and contains the chemical phenylethylamine, said to stimulate a sense of excitement and well-being.

–       Asparagus: Beyond its suggestive shape, asparagus is high in folate that aids in increasing histamine, important for a healthy sex drive.

–       Pumpkin seeds: like oysters, pumpkin seeds are high in zinc and thus increase testosterone.  They are also full of libido vitamins B, E, C, D, K and minerals including calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Get your mojo going by adding in pumpkin seeds to your spiced roasted nuts or broiling asparagus tossed with olive oil and Parmesan alongside your salmon.

Amy Elvidge is a first year AFE student who writes regularly for Friedman Sprout.

Alumni Spotlight: Bon’App your way to healthy eating with Taylor Salinardi, PhD N’12 By Ashley Carter

What is Bon’App and what does the app do? How long has it been around?

 Launched about 6 months ago, Bon’App is a digital platform (on Android, iPhone, and a website) that provides simple nutrition guidance.  Most consumers are confused about the nutritional information on package labels, so Bon’App offers an intuitive application that they can rely on to find out what’s in their food.  We are setting a new standard for nutritional information in a simple language (Calories, sugar, salt, bad fat, fiber, and protein) to empower people, through personalized nutrition guidance, to achieve healthier eating habits.

Source: T. Salinardi

Source: T. Salinardi


How does Bon’App compare to the myriad other food and nutrition apps out there?

 I would consider Bon’App a “disruptive” solution in the marketplace in that it goes beyond simply providing a nutrition facts label, like most health and nutrition apps out there. It breaks down nutrition into a simple language.  One of the many unique features of Bon’App is the voice activated function, which allows users to simply say a food or menu item—for example, “grilled chicken”—and within seconds, it will show a list of branded or generic food items, as well as its calories, sugar, salt, bad fat (saturated and trans fat), fiber, and protein content.  Additionally, most nutrition apps only provide journal entry capability without filtering for personal medical restrictions, allergies, and food preferences. Bon’App creates personalized maps of food items that are fit for individual users.

By enhancing consumers’ nutrition knowledge, Bon’App helps users adhere to their dietary goals.  In addition to using simple language, the platform offers a powerful visual: a battery that depletes as you eat nutrients such as calories, bad fat, salt and sugar and changes color from green to yellow to red (Warning near 0%)! For protein and fiber, the battery starts at 0% and charges up as you consume your recommended goals for these nutrients throughout the day.

Source: T. Salinardi

Source: T. Salinardi

Is Bon’App geared towards a specific group of people, for example, those who are trying to lose weight? Or is it for people who want to be healthier in general? 

 Bon’App works well for anyone! It is so simple and intuitive that it can be used by all populations. The application is free to users and they can customize their battery goals to fit their various health needs and conditions. For example, if the user needs to reduce their caloric intake for weight loss, he/she can reset his/her ‘calorie’ battery with just a couple of clicks. Similarly, if one’s cardiologist recommends a lower sodium intake the user can customize his/her salt battery to fit his/her specific recommendations as well.

What is your role at Bon’App and what is the best part about your work there?

I am the director of Research & Data Analytics. I am spearheading the pilot studies that we will be carrying out to look at the effects of Bon’App on nutrition knowledge and eating behaviors. One pilot is in middle-school-aged children in Baton Rouge and the other is among associates in a large health insurance company in Boston.

Although my title is the director of Research & Data Analytics, I would say this role is probably only 20% of my time. The most exciting part about working for an early stage start-up company is that you have the opportunity to wear many different hats. I have been directly involved in product development, strategic planning for business development, developing our social media platforms, customer acquisition, and helping to raise a round of seed funding for the company.  I must say, I feel like I’m getting another degree in business as well – I am absolutely loving my experience at Bon’App!

Are there challenges to working within the ever-changing nutrition technology world?

 It can be very challenging. There are always new products coming to market so you have to know the competitive landscape really well so that you can understand the most effective ways to differentiate yourself.

Could you tell me a bit about your Friedman experience?

 I really enjoyed my experience at Friedman and felt that it prepared me with a superior level of expertise in nutrition. In particular, my dissertation work in dietary and behavioral interventions for weight loss and obesity prevention (in the Energy Metabolism Lab at the HNRCA) is directly applicable to what I am doing at Bon’App. It also prepared me for conducting research of the highest quality and gave me the ability to design, manage, and carry out interventions. Moreover, I think the mentorship I received from my advisors was invaluable.

How did Friedman help shape you and your career path?  Anything in particular about Friedman that is memorable or helped you figure out what you wanted to do after?

 The Friedman School provided me with an excellent foundation for nutrition as well as the opportunity to cultivate my skills to carry out sound scientific research.  Although I enjoy research, I knew that I wanted to do something creative and different with my doctoral degree. I have always been interested in entrepreneurship and innovation and wanted to find a way to marry my passion for nutrition with innovation in the business world.  When I met the CEO & Founder of Bon’App, Laurent Adamowicz, I knew that this opportunity was the perfect fit for me.

What advice do you have for Friedman students who are interested in the intersection of nutrition and technology and might be looking into a career in this area? 

I would tell students to really enjoy their experience at Friedman and to take advantage of all of the great resources and experiences the school has to offer.  There are many opportunities out there in nutrition technology. My advice would be to think about what aspect of nutrition and technology you might be interested in and then talk to as many people as possible in those positions – the power of networking could never be underestimated.  Also, don’t be afraid to be creative in how you might use your degree!

Ashley Carter is a second year Masters’ student in Nutrition Communication and is applying for Dietetic Internships to become a Registered Dietitian.  She is interested in simple ways to get people to eat more healthfully, and she hopes that Bon’App will be one part in the fight to get people to understand the health benefits (and detriments)

The soda battle bubbles over By Lisa D’Agrosa, RD

In the past few years, soda and obesity headlines have become something of a norm.  Soda-backers claim the carbonated beverage has become a scapegoat for the obesity epidemic in America.  And- soda is easy to pick on. Almost all nutrition experts agree that soda, with its large amount of liquid sugar with no nutritional value, is unhealthy. Unlike the many gray areas in the world of nutrition, the case of soda’s relationship to obesity seems relatively black and white.   However, there is also a lot of controversy regarding the sugary, or artificially sweetened, drink, which doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

Notably, New York City has been a prominent public health crusader in the battle with the soda industry.  In 2011, there was a failed proposal that SNAP benefits not be used for soda purchases. Then just last year, Mayor Bloomberg made headlines again as his city was prepared to ban the sale of large sugar-sweetened beverages. That ban passed and was set to begin in March of this year, but the city announced it would not enforce the law until June.  After the initial 3-month grace period, businesses will face fines of up to $200.  There is also an ongoing lawsuit, sponsored by beverage makers and other businesses, to block the ban from ever becoming effective.  The outcome of the lawsuit has yet to be decided.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Source: Wall Street Journal

A similar soda ban was proposed in Cambridge last year and was recently discussed at a city hall meeting.  The law would be similar to the NYC version, where sugar-sweetened large beverages would not be sold at certain food service outlets and restaurants.  The size of the beverages at which the restriction would take place has yet to be determined. It’s unclear which way the city will go, although Cambridge is known for being a progressive city.

Unsurprisingly, the soda industry is not taking this fight lying down.  Coca-Cola has come up with a new campaign to clear their name in the obesity battle, and declare itself an ally in the public health fight (view the ad here).  The bottom line of the commercial is that “all calories count” and that everyone needs to work together to find a solution to the obesity epidemic.  Coca-Cola highlights its smaller portion sizes, array of low- and no-calorie offerings, and its calorie displays on the front of the package as part of the solution.  And yet, they also continue to sell large amounts of soda.  Can they really be counted on as a public health ally?

Coca-Cola isn’t the only beverage company making waves.  Beyoncé Knowles recently net a $50 million sponsorship deal with Pepsi-Co.  Nutrition advocates were up in arms, especially given that Beyoncé is tightly linked with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign.  In fact, it prompted Mark Bittman to write an entire op-ed piece outlining his disdain for the specific coupling as well as stars in general hawking soda.   As we gear up for the Super Bowl, traditionally laden with ads promoting beer and packaged snacks, promo spots for the Pepsi Halftime Show with Beyoncé will also dominate airwaves.  These kinds of messages are in direct opposition of the “Drink Smart” portion of Let’s Move! that encourages children to drink more water and pass on sugar-sweetened beverages.

Source: Photobucket

Source: Photobucket

And while soda companies are trying to stem the negative press, they may be fighting a losing battle. Soda sales have declined by about 2% in terms of volume in the past year.  For the past 8 years, soda consumption has been declining as consumers are replacing soda with other beverages.

It appears that in the fight against obesity, public health proponents cannot necessarily depend on celebrities or soda companies for help. It seems likely, though, that the fight with soda will continue well into the future. As the battle wages on, hopefully the many smart and hard working people fighting for public health will beat out the multi-millions they (and we all) are up against.

Lisa D’Agrosa, is a second year nutrition communication student who loves her reusable water bottle and is fairly addicted to making (and drinking!) her own seltzer.


Oatmeal-to-go can be fast….and satisfying By M.E. Malone

What could be a more comforting and healthy way to start a cold winter day than a nice, warm bowl of oatmeal? Luckily, you don’t have to dirty your kitchen or travel very far if you need a quick fix. With chain restaurants under increasing pressure to improve the nutritional quality of their meals, it makes sense that this old-fashioned food has found its way onto the glossy overhead menus behind the fast food counter, next to the coffee, bagel and breakfast sandwich offerings.

But is fast food oatmeal any good? Or any good for you? One brisk morning, in need of fortification before facing a day of classes, two Friedman students went on an oatmeal expedition in Boston and offer this report.

The oatmeal at McDonalds features chunks of applesSource: Huffington Post

The oatmeal at McDonalds features chunks of apples
Source: Huffington Post

First stop, McDonalds on Kneeland Street (no, we were not going in there for a Big Mac at 10:30 in the morning – honest!) where a pleasant surprise awaited us. The oatmeal itself was light and creamy, and our simple cardboard bowl of oatiness was studded with small chunks of apple, two kinds of raisins and dried cranberries. The cost: a respectable $1.99. We skipped the optional brown sugar, hoping to start the morning on as healthy a note as possible.

But not so fast. Later in the day, an online examination of the nutrition facts provided by McDonalds, told us that our single 9.2 ounce serving contained 260 calories, 115 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of fiber, and 18 grams of sugar. As it turns out, the creaminess we liked was not from the texture of the cooked oatmeal, but from the addition of light cream. And, in an expose last year in the New York Times, Mark Bittman noted that the “cream” actually contains seven ingredients, only two of which are dairy products. And it’s a good thing we skipped the brown sugar version: it would have added 30 calories to our count, as well as 45 mg of sodium, and 14 grams of sugar.

Next came Dunkin Donuts. There was no disguising the source of this oatmeal. The serving bowl had “Quaker Oats” written all over it, and its taste resembled that of packaged instant oatmeal. Our bowl of oats were a bit gummy, the flavor bland. Again, we opted for the simplest choice, a $1.99 container of oatmeal with the dried fruit topping. Dunkin Donuts doesn’t specify the container’s size, but it appeared comparable to the McDonalds serving. At Dunkin, the oatmeal came with 270 calories, 140 mg of sodium, 6 grams of fiber and 22 grams of sugar. If we’d opted for the brown sugar version, our calorie count would have gone up modestly, but the sodium would have soared to 470 mg.

Oatmeal is yummy with pecans and strawberriesSource: Panera

Oatmeal is yummy with pecans and strawberries
Source: Panera

We thought we’d take a step up in the fast food world and visit the Panera at the corner of Kneeland and Tremont Streets. Sure enough, the oats served here are organic, steel cut, and served with strawberries, pecans, and a crunchy cinnamon topping –a combination that would prove hard to beat. The chewier oats had plenty of flavor and even the out-of-season strawberries were respectable. Of course, we paid a good bit more for this lovely morning treat: $3.99 for a serving of about 11 ounces. Alas, the calorie count was the highest so far at 320 calories and, according to Panera’s website, that fancy bowl of oats contained 160 mg of sodium. Sugar checked in at 16 grams, and this offering was highest in fiber at 9 grams.

Starbucks oatmeal with all the trimmingsSource: fitsugar

Starbucks oatmeal with all the trimmings
Source: fitsugar

With just enough time for one more stop before we were due in Jaharis, we entered the Starbucks on Washington Street, across from the entrance to Tufts Medical Center. Here, according to their website, the $2.99 bowl of oatmeal is a mixture of steel cut and traditional oats and is served au natural with optional toppings provided in separate packages to be added according to taste. At 150 calories with no sodium and no sugar, the base oatmeal would seem the most nutritious of the four breakfast outlets. The fiber count was the lowest at four grams. Each of the toppings adds about 100 calories to the meal. We sampled the nut medley, at 100 calories and 1 gram of fiber and sugar. The dried fruit option also adds 100 calories, and 22 grams of sugar. The hearty blueberry topping, (not available on our sampling day but tested at a different location), was excellent for a mere 20 extra calories and three grams of sugar.

How do these fast food versions compare to a bowl of oatmeal you can make at home using Quaker Oats brand cereal? A ½ cup of dried oatmeal, mixed with water, yields a 150-calorie serving, 1 gram of sugar and no sodium. However, grab one of those quick packs of instant oatmeal with flavoring such as brown sugar and maple, or apples and cinnamon, and the sodium and sugar counts rise dramatically.

So, what’s the verdict? If you find yourself in a fast food spot and are hungry, a bowl of oatmeal will take the same bite out of your wallet as the other breakfast offerings, but you will save more than a few calories for your morning meal. At Dunkin Donuts, it’s definitely one of the healthiest items on the breakfast menu with bagels starting at 300 calories and breakfast sandwiches at 350. Some donuts mirror the oatmeal breakfast calorie count of 270, but assume you’ll double your sodium intake and possibly your sugar, too, all for something a lot less satisfying than oatmeal. At McDonalds, only the fruit and yogurt parfait has fewer calories – at a smaller serving size – than the oatmeal among breakfast entrees.Oatmeal chart

For guilt-free oatmeal, we’d suggest you go with Starbucks. But if you like to your bowl of oats a little dressed up, our taste buds pronounced Panera’s a fine way to start the morning. McDonalds earned third place because of the nice mix of apples and dried fruit. And, even though Dunkin Donuts oatmeal was not a stand out, it would still warm the belly on a frigid winter morning.

M.E. Malone is a first-year MS/MPH student who, in her childhood, was charged with cooking oatmeal for breakfast twice a week before school for the entire family — of nine!