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You can’t fail with KALE!

March 23rd, 2011

by Felix Munoz-Teng, Vice President of the student-run UC Davis Diabetes Advocacy and Awareness Group (DAAG).

This leafy-green vegetable has been grown for over 2000 years and continues to be grown today. In Europe, it was the most widely-eaten green plant until its bulky brother, cabbage, came along. Surprisingly, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and Brussels sprouts all belong to the same species of plant: Brassica oleracea. Despite their large differences in appearance, selective propagation by humans has led to the wide variety of the species that we see today!

Kale - it's not just a garnish! Image from


If there is any green vegetable you can count on, it’s kale with its unmatched nutrient richness. One cup of this green-leaf vegetable provides a daily value of 1327% vitamin K, 192% vitamin A, 88.8% vitamin C, 25% manganese, 10% dietary fiber, 10% copper and a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Most importantly, this nutrient-abundant vegetable delivers no more than 36 calories per cup.

Healthy Living

There has been a great deal of research conducted on kale and its benefits related to health. It has been shown to reduce the risk of “oxidative stress” and “chronic inflammation”, which is linked to a low intake of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients respectively. As a result of these benefits, research has further been able to show definite advantages in terms of cancer prevention and, in some circumstances, treatment.

In other areas, kale contains remarkable cholesterol-lowering abilities. Researchers have shown that fiber-related contents in kale prevent the fat in cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestine. Instead, the fat passes through the intestine and leaves the body. Secondly, kale plays an important role in the regulation of detox activities within the body, which is an important process for our cells.
Try this recipe for kale chips – you will never believe that kale could taste so good!

Kale chips are a healthy and tasty snack! image from


  • -Preheat oven to about 375*.
  • -Use about 1 salad spinner’s worth of kale (about enough to fill a grocery store veggie bag). Tear the leaves off  the thick stems into bite size pieces. Spread out on cookie sheets.
  • -Drizzle with about 2 tsp of olive oil.
  • -Sprinkle with Parmesan, Asiago or your seasonings of choice, plus a sprinkle of kosher salt.
  • -Bake for about 15 minutes, until edges are brown and kale is crispy when moved in pan.

Does sprinkling tomato plants with seawater increase their nutritional value?

March 15th, 2011
by Zuhayr Mallam, founder of the UC Davis Diabetes Advocacy and Awareness Group (DAAG). For more information about this group, visit their website.

Tomatoes are among the most popular items in American gardens today and are commonly used in many types of salads and sauces. They have an especially rich history at UC Davis (see the “square tomato” and other tomato research on campus) and thrive in the Sacramento Valley, due to the prime tomato-cultivating summer climate.

Image taken from the Gillaspy Lab webpage at Virginia Tech University

Tomatoes are high in antioxidants, which are thought to help fight cancer, prevent heart disease, slow aging, and confer a host of other health benefits. And although it has been long held that salt is harmful to soil, several studies conducted worldwide have shown that spraying tomato plants with diluted – approximately 10% saline – seawater can actually increase their nutritional value and taste! The salt in seawater is thought to produce stress in tomato plants, which respond by producing more antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and chlorogenic acid, as well as other taste-enhancing chemicals – albeit it makes the fruit somewhat smaller. Many are still concerned about salt causing soil degradation and rendering some seawater-treated tomatoes inedible, but scientists cite that plants thrive in balanced soil containing both macro– and micronutrients.

This theory is still much up in the air, but it is good food for thought. A major potential benefit of this method would be providing irrigation for crops in areas with freshwater restrictions and shortages as well as malnourishment.

Hmm… This may be an interesting opportunity for a summer science experiment! Let us know if you decide to give it a try.

As always, consult a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet!


SWEET BAY LEAVES–Deceptive Name, Delicious Addition

January 24th, 2011

Image source:

The Bay Leaf, found on Bay Laurel evergreens and shrubs throughout Europe, North America, and India, has become a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and serves as a healthy and delicious supplement to any diet.
Contrary to its deceptive nickname – “Sweet Bay” – the Bay Leaf is actually intensely bitter and may even be harmful if ingested whole due to its razor-sharp edges. However, it has become quite a popular food additive due to its exotic flavoring, olfactory appeal, and long shelf-life (one year!). Most often, it is ground up and used in spicy dishes, such as biryani (see recipe below), or boiled in soups, sauces and stews. Many are also attracted to its distinctive scent, which can brighten any meal!
Bay Leaves are an excellent choice for type 2 diabetics, because they help the body process insulin more efficiently, therefore lowering blood sugar, and reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels (diabetics are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease). Additionally, they have been used throughout history to cure migraines, bacterial and fungal infections, indigestion, and much more!
Try this Recipe for… Biryani
A spicy Persian/South Asian Dish
Image source:
-2 lbs. Chicken with bones (cut into small pieces)
-2 cups Basmati Rice (washed)
-1 packet Shan Special Bombay Biryani Mix
-2 tablespoons crushed garlic
-2 tablespoons cup plain yogurt
-2 tablespoons grated ginger
-1/2 onion (finely sliced)
-1 tomato (cut into small pieces)
-5 tablespoons oil
-3 medium potatoes (peeled & halved)
-Crushed bay leaves
1. Fry the onion in hot oil until golden. Add tomatoes and fry until the oil separates.
2. Add meat, garlic, ginger, potatoes, yogurt, bay leaves, and Shan Bombay Biryani Mix. Fry for 15 minutes.
3. Add 1-2 cups of water and cook on low heat until the meat is tender. Then increase the heat and stir fry until oil separates from the gravy.
4. SEPARATELY, boil the washed rice in 12 glasses of hot water. Boil until the rice is more than half cooked. Remove from heat and thoroughly drain the water.
5. Spread the cooked meat and curry over the rice in TWO layers. Cover the pot and cook on low heat until the rice is fully cooked and tender. (Approximately 30 minutes) Mix before serving.
*This recipe serves 6-8 people
by Zuhayr Mallam, Founder of the UC Davis Diabetes Awareness and Advocacy Group (DAAG).  

Eggplants — The “Mad Apple”

January 10th, 2011

 by Felix Munoz-Teng, Vice President of the student-run, UC Davis Diabetes Awareness and Advocacy Group (DAAG).
When Europeans first encountered the eggplant, they gave this delectable food a rather dark nickname – mala insane or “mad apple/egg” – because it comes from a family of poisonous plants. Although this dreary name stuck, people quickly realized the eggplant’s tremendous health benefits, and it became a staple crop of the Mediterranean.
Nutritional Value 
Although eggplants have an unflattering reputation, they deliver a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including Thiamine, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorous and Potassium. Wow! They are also a good source of fiber, which is found in the skin, and are low in sodium and overall calories.
Health & Disease
Eggplants contain bioflavonoids, which may be helpful in preventing strokes and hemorrhages. They also contain an antioxidant known as phytochemical monoterpene, which may be beneficial in preventing heart disease and cancer. The National Cancer Institute is currently conducting research to determine whether they may help with the inhibition of steroidal hormones that stimulate tumor development.
However, the fruit contains some negative toxins like solanine, which may be harmful to some individuals. Solanine is an alkaloid that can result in heart failure, headaches, diarrhea, and vomiting if ingested. Be sure to check with your doctor to see if you are sensitive to this toxin before consuming large quantities of eggplants.
And remember! Eggplants can be found at the UC Davis Good Life Garden!
Try This Recipe for…Baba Ganouj – A Delicious Dip (brought to you by Eating Well Magazine)
  • 2 medium eggplants, (1 pound each)
  • 4 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (garnish)
  • Ground sumac or chopped pistachios (garnish)
Prick eggplants all over with a fork. Thread garlic cloves onto a skewer. Grill the eggplants, turning occasionally, until charred and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Grill the garlic, turning once, until charred and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the eggplants and garlic to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, peel both. Transfer to a food processor. Add lemon juice, tahini and salt; process until almost smooth. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sumac, if desired. Enjoy!
This blog was brought to you by the Diabetes Advocacy & Awareness Group (DAAG)

Pomegranates – A Healthy Winter Snack

December 14th, 2010

by Zuhayr Mallam, Founder of the UC Davis Diabetes Awareness and Advocacy Group (DAAG).  For more information about this group, visit their website.
Pomegranates make for a delicious snack, and these plump red fruits are also one of the healthiest foods around.

Image taken from

On the Table
Pomegranates are chalk-full of nutrients including Vitamins B and C, fiber, and potassium, while being low in fat, sodium, and calories. Recent medical research suggests potential health benefits such as lowered blood pressure, lowered risk for heart disease (especially in diabetics), and prevention of tooth decay. Although it is high in sugars, these are natural sugars that are attached to special, disease-fighting antioxidants. And remember – the seeds are the edible part of a pomegranate and contain the bulk of the nutrients! The juice is very nutritious as well, but stray away from brands that are packed with refined sugar.
In the Garden
Pomegranates are the perfect winter fruit; they are in season from November to March! Although native to Persia and the Himalayas of Northern India, pomegranates were brought to California in the late 18th century and have been able to thrive in the interior valleys (like Davis!) due to the cool winters and dry summers. This versatile fruit tree grows in a variety of soils (although deep soil is preferred) and is relatively easy to care for. All that it requires is nutritious, well-drained soil, sufficient sunlight, and sparse watering. And even when the fruit dries up, it provides beautiful ornamentation for your garden!
For more information about the varieties of pomegranates grown in the UC Davis Good Life Garden click here!
Try this Recipe for… Pomegranate Salad
Image taken from
Toss yourself a tasty salad including:
·      lettuce
·      pomegranate seeds
·      pomegranate juice
·      lemon juice
="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-indent: -0.25in;">·      apples, pecans, and/or pears
·      ground black pepper
·      vegetable oil
·      dijon mustard
Brought to you by the Diabetes Advocacy & Awareness Group (DAAG)

Introducing Our New Student Group Partners: The Diabetes Advocacy & Awareness Group

November 15th, 2010

The UC Davis Good Life Garden is so pleased to announce its partnership with a new UC Davis student organization called DAAG (The Diabetes Advocacy and Awareness Group). The group’s founder, Zuhayr Mallam, contacted us a while back to talk about possibilities and the multiple reasons that such a partnership makes sense. We hope this partnership will further promote one of the main tenets of the UC Davis Good Life Garden: Good Food = Good Health!

Thank you DAAG! As part of this partnership one of the members of DAAG will be posting a blog entry about once a week about diabetes, nutrition, gardening, food, eating fresh, eating local…basically everything we already do, but perhaps with a special angle as it relates to diabetes awareness. Please find the first such entry courtesy of Zuhayr Mallam below.

Above:  Photo of some of the fresh fruits and vegetables picked from the UC Davis Good Life Garden over the summer.  A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can drop one’s risk factors for diabetes considerably!

The Diabetes Advocacy & Awareness Group (DAAG) is a new UC Davis student organization aimed at educating others about health and spreading knowledge and awareness of diabetes in order to lower disease incidence and foster healthy living among members of our community.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), over 20 million children and adults in the United States are living with Diabetes. And with the current rate of growth, it is estimated that approximately 1/3 of the US population will be afflicted with diabetes within the next 20-30 years.

Yes, the numbers are astounding! But, diabetes itself is also astoundingly preventable!

Research has proven that by adjusting your diet to include essential nutrients from fruits and vegetables, your risk factors for diabetes drop considerably.

Therefore, the Diabetes Advocacy & Awareness Group and the UC Davis Good Life Garden have partnered up with the goal of educating the campus and Davis community about nutrition and healthy eating through the wonderful resources we have available to us like the UC Davis Good Life Garden, its blog and related social media outlets, in addition to outreach events throughout campus, and much more!

So keep an eye out for us!

For more information, visit:

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