Seasonal Foods

Modern technology and transportation systems have enabled us to obtain various types of foods year-round. However, the quality of fruits and vegetables fluctuate with the seasons. Seasonality refers to a food’s peak harvest time. In turn, what is considered to be “seasonal” will vary widely depending on the crop’s geographical location.  We are lucky to live in California, since the almost perfect weather and rich soil contribute to a wide array of fresh fruits and vegetables and extended seasons for some produce.

Reasons to Eat Seasonally:

If a food item is not in-season locally, it is likely to have been grown in another part of the world and shipped to your market. This transportation process contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and results in a high carbon footprint. Fruits and vegetables that are in season have a more full-bodied flavor than those that are not. Transporting crops requires them to be harvested prematurely. Fruits don’t ripen as effectively after being picked from their native plants and refrigerated. When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive. Eating seasonal food supports the local farming economy.


To learn more about seasonal fruits and vegetables, visit the Southland Farmers’ Market Association at:

Farmers Market @ UCLA Calendar:

For information on purchasing and a seasonal, locally grown produce in pre-arranged community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes with pick up locations at UCLA, go to:

Using Your iPhone to Improve Your Eating Habits and Live Healthier

Life at UCLA can be demanding- between classes, friends, homework, sports, and clubs- we often forget how important it is to take care of our bodies and to think positively about them. We’re very excited to announce an innovative and convenient way to help you develop healthy eating and exercise habits coming to UCLA in January! The Healthy Body Image program is an online program that can be accessed right from your iPhone or computer. It begins with a survey that helps identify which tips and skills would be most helpful for you. We understand each person is different, so the program is designed to fit your unique needs. You’ll complete engaging activities, learn healthy tips to treating your body right, and anonymously connect with other college students who are also using the program to help them live healthier lives.

The Healthy Body Image program has been used by thousands of college students just like you. Our technology partner, ThriveOn, has developed an iPhone app and online platform to help you access Healthy Body Image anytime, anywhere. UCLA will start enrolling interested students in January 2014. Check the CAPS website when you return from winter break to get the link to the survey!

Be sure to look out for our flyers next quarter for information about how to sign up! Feel free to email CAPS Psychologist Gia Marson, Ed.D. at Dr. Marson, Director of the CAPS Eating Disorders Program, is UCLA’s campus coordinator for this online Healthy Body Image Program.

Graduate and Professional School Students: How Do You Eat Well?

It’s the beginning of September, and our office, the Graduate Student Resource Center, along with the Graduate Students Association (GSA), is planning for Graduate Student Orientation and Equity, Inclusion, & Diversity Graduate Welcome Day. These campuswide events introduce our new graduate and professional school students to the programs, services, offices, and involvement opportunities UCLA provides.

We want you to have enough information and support to make the most of your time here at UCLA, and to achieve your academic, professional, and personal goals.To that end, we want to hear from you! What’s keeping you from eating well on campus? Or, if you are eating well already, tell us how you do it!

For new graduate and professional school students: watch for the Healthy Campus Initiative table at the Graduate Student Orientation Resource Fair to learn more about wellness and healthy eating on campus. There are also tours of the John Wooden Center during the afternoon, Recreation mini-workshops, and a wellness panel. for more information.

For new and continuing graduate and professional school students: Have questions about resources and getting involved on campus? Ask our office at, see us in B-11 Student Activities Center, or find us at and @uclagsrc on twitter.

And welcome to UCLA!

Graduate and professional school students, let us know:

  • How do you eat well at UCLA? What tips do returning students have for new ones?
  • What challenges keep you from eating well on campus?
  • What would you like to learn about eating well?

~Valerie Shepard, Ph.D.
Program Manager, UCLA Graduate Student Resource Center

The Journey to Healthy Eating at UCLA Health

As the Director of Nutrition for the UCLA Health System, I am proud to say that in recent years we won the 2007 California “Fit Business” Bronze Award from the California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness and the 2013 Food-Climate-Health Connection Award from Practice Greenhealth for our work on healthy food and sustainability.

This has been a journey, however.

Back in 2006, my boss retired, and I had recently been promoted to my current position Director.  The then CEO of the Health System decided that there would be a Wellness Initiative and appointed me as co-chair.  We were busy talking about healthy food and healthy lifestyles.

I was in my office when I received a page from Media Relations.  It said “Patti, call me ASAP.  Your department is going to be featured on Good Morning America tomorrow.”  I was so excited.  But my bubble burst when I called and was told that the reason we were going to be featured on Good Morning America was because a nutrition publication had done an expose on French Fries in hospital cafeterias and ours had the third highest amount of trans fats of hospitals audited.  Not good.

Well, we no longer have French Fries or any fried foods in any of our facilities.  We also no longer cook with any trans fats.  We have vegetarian entrees every day and often vegan entrees.  Every Monday we have a “Meatless Monday” and educational materials on reasons to eat less meat.

Our CEO, Dr. Feinberg has been a great supporter of wellness and sustainability.  He has supported initiatives such as reducing the price of the salad bar by $2.00 a pound to encourage consumption of fruits and vegetables and purchasing compostable disposables since our waste is now separated into compost, recycle, and landfill with very few items going to landfill, in support of the UC Sustainability goal of zero waste to landfill by 2020.

Much of our produce and dairy are from local sources or are organic, so we currently have 25% sustainable food and beverage purchases, surpassing the UC goal of 20% by 2020 seven years early.

Dr. Feinberg signed the “Healthy Food in Healthcare” Pledge, and we have signed on to all three of the Healthy Hospital Initiatives, which include reducing purchases of meat, increasing the purchases and healthy beverages, and increasing the purchase of sustainable foods.

In our Dining Commons and Cafeterias we have our “Green Apple” labeling to promote items that are low in calories, fat, and sodium, and high in fiber.  We have moved whole fruit to the checkout area to encourage healthier point of sale purchases.

We also use the green apple on the patient menu.  Our “Signature Dining” Meal Service for patients offers hotel style room service from a menu of over 40 ethnically diverse entrees served on upscale china.  The healthier entrees are marked with the green apple logo.

We have come a long way since the French Fry Fiasco but we still have room to improve.  While we have the nutritional analysis for every menu item, it is located in binders and customers have to ask for it.  We are working to purchase a digital menu board so patrons can see at a glance how many calories or how much sodium is in an item.  We are planning to start up a farmers market and to have healthy beverage labeling.

I would like to end by giving a little information on beets.  I look forward to seeing you in the Dining Commons!

A Few Fun Facts:

Beets are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.  The darker red the beet, the better for you, and the more healthy anthocyanins it contains, compounds that may help prevent cancer and ward off allergies.  Beets are also a great source of Betain, a digestive enzyme that can help calm a queasy stomach.  Beets are especially good in pregnancy due to their high levels of B6 and other B-vitamins, and are one of nature’s sweet foods.

How to Enjoy – A Few Quick Serving Ideas for Beets:

  • Grate raw beets for a tasty and colorful addition to salads.
  • Steam beets for 15 minutes.  Once soft, peel skin off beets and cut into bite size pieces.
  • Marinate steamed beets in fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs.

Patti Oliver, MS, RD, MBA
Director of Nutrition
UCLA Health System

Students Eat Well with the help of College Library’s Cookbook Collection

In April 2013, the College Library launched a community cookbook collection, an eclectic mix of books relating to food and cooking and curated by students. According to Danielle Salomon, the librarian in charge of the collection,

“It is an opportunity to test a new model of student involvement in library collections, while supporting students’ growing interest in food. Students ‘curate’ the collection by determining what the community needs and selecting the titles.”

She has been working with Joshua Lu and the student-run Bruin Culinary Community  to select and display the books. Students gain experience in collection development and develop an understanding of how university libraries function.

The collection includes books by Alice Waters, the grande dame of the seasonal food movement, including The Art of Simple Food and Chez Panisse Vegetables, and Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food, which provides advice on how to select quality food from your local grocery or farmers’ market. Two other key titles are Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, which has formulas for basic ingredients upon which the creative cook can experiment and embellish, and Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg’s The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity…, which features food and flavor combinations. Also included are books by renowned California chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller, Ad Hoc at Home and Bouchon Bakery, both of which have “doable” recipes as well as his more complex The French Laundry Cookbook. An international focus reflects the diverse student cultures at UCLA and includes titles such as Fischia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking, Shizuo and Yoshiki Tsuji’s Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavor, Rachel Hogrogrian’s The Armenian Cookbook, Patricia Smouha’s Middle Eastern Cooking, and Cherie Twohy’s The I Love Trader Joe’s Around the World Cookbook. Several books on wine and beer are also included.

Amy Rowat, Assistant Professor of Integrative Biology and Physiology who teaches Physiological Science 7, Science and Food: Physical and Molecular Origins of What We Eat, says

“the collection is…important for the curriculum: students perform independent projects, and being able to consult books in a real live library is essential. In my class, we also learn to dissect recipes and explain the scientific role of each ingredient.”

Rowat’s course concluded with an apple pie bake-off . Each student project focused on an area of scientific inquiry and was tested by a panel of judges. Evan Kleinman, host of “Good Food” for radio station KCRW, wrote about the contest in her blog entry, Google vs Librarians: When it Comes to Recipes, Old Fashioned Research Trumps Technology  saying:

“If you want to learn how to make a recipe that has very few ingredients don’t turn to a search engine to find the best recipe to do it, ask a librarian to help you instead.”

And that is exactly what this collection is intended to do.

The cookbook collection is housed in the College Library, in the Powell Library Building’s East Rotunda, which formerly housed unbound journals. Books are listed in the UCLA Library Catalog with the location “College East Rotunda Cookbooks”. For more information, contact Danielle Salomon at

The UCLA Library includes other materials in its collections that support an understanding of cooking and healthy eating. One example is The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition, located in the College Library Reference Collection, is a comprehensive guide to fresh and whole foods, with guidance on selection, storage, and preparation of a wide range of foods, with suggestions for how to serve and combine with other foods. In fact, the UCLA Library has the second largest cookbook collection in California. The UCLA Library’s Department of Special Collections has actively acquired cookbooks produced in California as valuable historical and social documents. The collection includes the first Spanish-language cookbook published in California as well as modern cookbooks relating to the organic and whole foods movement (try searching the Library Catalog for ‘cooking – California’ as subject. Also of interest is the online exhibition, Spices: Exotic Flavors and Medicines, developed by the History and Special Collections Division of the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.

Julie K. Kwan
Associate Director
UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library & UCLA Science and Engineering Library

I Don’t Get Hungry

Every now and then I come across an individual that assures me that they don’t get hungry.  They insist that they just don’t have that ‘issue’, they are beyond it – as if hunger was a weakness.

Well let’s examine this ‘issue’ closer.

Getting hungry is normal and a sign of good health.  It’s an indicator that your body is burning fuel and having regular bowel movements.

In other words, getting hungry is great!  It’s a marker that your body is functioning properly and THE PERFECT time to eat!

So when people claim that they don’t get hungry – or that they ‘forget’ to eat it is usually a clue that they have lost touch with their body’s signals and/or afraid to trust them.  This can become a problem, as people who are out of tune with their bodies are more likely to under eat, overeat, eat emotionally, suffer from poor energy and a lack of well being.

The good news is that tuning in with the body can be relearned!

Here are some tips to help you reconnect with your body:

  • Avoid going over four hours without eating while you are awake.
  • After you eat, calculate the time in 3-4 hours – at that time check in to see if you feel that eating will re-energize you.
  • If the answer is yes – great, eat!  If the answer is no or unsure check back in 20 minutes later.  Note, once you go over 4-5 hours without eating, chances are it’s time to eat (there’s only so long blood sugar levels stay at a healthy level).
  • If you notice that your hunger returns before 3-4 hours that’s ok too.  It may be that your last meal/snack sustained you for a shorter time span.  BTW, good for you for sensing your hunger, welcome back to your body 🙂
  • Take it easy, relearning your body’s signals is like an adventure – let go of expectations and enjoy the journey.

If you need support with this process, I am here to help!!  Contact me for additional support.

Eve Lahijani MS, RD
Nutrition Health Educator
UCLA Bruin Resource Center