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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Daily Dose: Q&A with Sabine Harrington


    Courtesy of Sabine Harrington

    Sabine Harrington is a first-year physiological sciences masters student and wellness entrepreneur. She is in the process of releasing the second edition of her cookbook, “Plant-Based and Powerful: Unique plant-based recipes that harness the power of science.” 

    DW: What was the inspiration behind the first edition of your cookbook, “Plant-Based and Powerful: Unique plant-based recipes that harness the power of science”?

    The inspiration for my cookbook came in the summer after I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. I was thinking about what I wanted to do in my post-college life, and thought it would be a neat idea to start a small, entrepreneurial project that really represented who I was and what excited me about life, as a present to myself, to work on little by little in the background, gradually growing it. I had always eaten a fairly clean diet with little meat and had been an athlete who was mindful about taking care of my body. But now that I had some academic background in nutrition science and physiology, from courses and independent reading, I had a deeper understanding of the metabolic and biochemical reasons why good food and physical activity improve health.

    DW: What types of recipes can be found in your cookbook?

    My philosophy is to seek out foods that are nutrient dense, which means the food is high in micronutrients versus macronutrients. Micronutrients are bioactive compounds, such as vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, that are required in small amounts for proper metabolic function, but they are not major sources of energy. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and lipids, which equals calories. You obviously need calories, but they aren’t enough to make you a vibrant organism. As a result of this simple way of eating, almost all of my recipes are vegetarian, and many vegan, but not all. Most of my recipes also require only a few main ingredients that are affordable.

    DW: What would you say to the college student that claims he is too busy to cook regularly? In general, what do you think are the most frequent barriers that prevent students from cooking for themselves?

    Sometimes, there really aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done and take care of yourself. Fatigue is another huge factor that makes it difficult for students to allocate energy for the procurement and preparation of quality food. And of course, cost. Here are some of my recommendations.

    [First,} keep some staple items on hand that are both inexpensive and have high nutrient value. I really like black beans, sweet potatoes, almonds, bananas, dried cherries, dark chocolate, tempeh, olive oil, lemons, almond milk, tuna, frozen berries, frozen rice or barley and a high quality plant-based protein powder for a quick shake or smoothie with some almond or coconut milk. These foods can keep for awhile, but of course, go buy fresh produce and eat as you go.

    [Second,] keep spices and herbs. They dramatically enhance flavor, and oftentimes their strong flavor is a direct result of their chemical composition — think anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative. Curry powders, cinnamon and cayenne pepper are just a few. The curcuminoids in turmeric, a major ingredient in yellow curry powder, are one of the most potent antioxidants known.

    [Third,] you need to stress your body, acutely. Stress, just like inflammation, isn’t inherently bad, it just depends on the dose. Acute stress is a good thing for the body. I’ve become a master of the 10-minute yoga study break. Doing little things like this throughout the day help keep my energy levels up and are perfect for small spaces. Eating well is awesome, but it’s important to train the other side of the metabolic coin. Physical activity improves blood flow, activates hormone-sensitive lipase for fat-burning and helps you deal with the chronic stresses of your life.

    [Fourth,] drink tea. Tea is a perfect example of something with high micronutrient content but zero calories. And there are so many varieties to try. I love Earl Grey tea with a few drops of vanilla extract. These have been shown to modulate lipase enzymes, thereby limiting the amount of fat that you absorb.

    DW: What are common health misconceptions people have?

    Many people, and women in particular, think that you need to eat low-fat. Try to avoid pro-inflammatory fats like hydrogenated and trans-fats. Monounsaturated fatty acids, such as olive oil, safflower oil, and omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, chia seeds and walnuts, are generally anti-inflammatory. 

    Another misconception is that you have to do a lot of cardio to burn fat. It’s true that a fast metabolism requires oxygen. But integrating some anaerobic and resistance training into your routine can be very beneficial. It regulates androgens and growth hormone that can increase metabolism, improve your mood, and build a lot more muscle. The body likes different stresses to strengthen different things.

    Mediterranean Tuna – Wilted Radicchio Salad

    • ½ a small head of radicchio or red cabbage
    • ½ can cannellini beans or white beans (rinsed)
    • 1 can tuna (packed in water, unsalted)
    • ¼ a fennel bulb
    • 1 clove garlic (chopped)
    • 1 handful Italian flat leaf parsley (chopped)
    • 2 tbsp Alfonso extra virgin olive oil*
    • squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice
    • dash black pepper
    • dash of salt

    Cut cabbage head in half, then take one half and cut into eighths (also try to separate individual leaves). Add to a pan with olive oil on medium-low heat and cook for 5 minutes at most (you don’t want to actually cook the cabbage, but just wilt it to take the bitter edge off); set aside. Next take fennel bulb and cut into quarters, then take one quarter and dice into small pieces; set aside. Next, drain tuna and break into chunks; set aside. The final step is assembly – get a large bowl and toss together cabbage, fennel, beans, tuna and seasonings., Finish with a squeeze of lime and an extra drizzle of olive oil, and you’re set! Since it’s fish, if you have leftovers, refrigerate and eat within one day.

    — Recipe and photo courtesy of Sabine Harrington

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