Friday, October 26, 2012


Science and Application of Human Nutrition was the only summer class that went the full 12 week summer term until a stats class in my doctoral program. My undergrad summer term was strange with a bunch of four week classes, a one week class, and then this one that seemed to drag on, even though it was still a month shorter than a normal Fall or Spring course.

There are few classes that make my required list for all majors. Econ is one, Family Finance (even though I never actually had to take it), English (even though none of the English classes I've seen teach writing at the level I think needs to be met), Statistics (get rid of Calculus), and Nutrition. I know the Philosophy department has some type of Logic course that I'd be tempted to add if I knew more about it. There's probably a PoliSci or History course about how our political system works that would be good to include as well.

To be a functioning member of society, you need to be able to make intelligent decisions with inherent trade-offs, know how to call BS on all the numbers you see in any news story ever, write logically and intelligibly, manage your money and plan for retirement, and take care of yourself physically. In Boy Scouts, I think the Cooking merit badge should be a required one. It wouldn't take much to push me over the edge and say that Cooking should be a required course in college as well, but Nutrition comes close enough.

I only wish I remembered more about what I learned. I do recall talking about lactic acid, which is what causes pain after you've worked out hard. Part of the process of converting glucose to energy results in excess lactate, which changes the acidity of the blood, and you hurt until the acid levels return to normal. Continuing to work out the same area will get it to a point where it is used to exerting itself and will be able to keep the acid levels balanced.

The most eye-opening part of the course is where you use a provided software program to track what you eat for something like a week, and it runs the numbers to tell you where your diet is deficient. Of course, the course goes deeper than that by showing you how the various nutrients and other things we eat interact. You consume a ton of Vitamin C, great, but too much can start blocking the absorption of copper and throw off your iron balance. Knowing the number of calories in fat, alcohol, sugar, and other foods can help you moderate.

If I'd been thinking about how it would be affecting my body, I might not have eaten a whole Brownie In A Mug last night. I don't know how diabetics feel when their insulin levels are off, but it may be similar to the I-feel-really-good-yet-really-bad-at-the-same-time feeling I had after eating it. On the plus side, making a mug-sized brownie will keep you from making and eating a whole pan. If you're going to make it, throw in a few chocolate chips and a teaspoon or so of peanut butter. And split it with someone.

Brownie In A Mug

4 Tablespoons Flour
4 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Water
Dash of salt

Mix dry ingredients in a mug. Add oil and water, and mix well.

You could drop in a pinch of baking powder if you really want, but it's very much optional and probably doesn't make any difference. Peanut butter, chocolate chips, Rolos, Cadbury cream eggs, etc. also optional. I actually added a few drops of vanilla as well, maybe 1/8 of a teaspoon. You could also swap out butter for the oil. Maybe you're getting the picture that this is a small enough and fast enough recipe that you can play with it a bit.

Microwave about a minute and 30 seconds. Maybe start with a minute and work your way up until you know how your microwave and mug interact. It will be a little gooey, which is good. A scoop of vanilla ice cream would be a great addition.

I didn't have ice cream, but I poured in a little milk at the end, otherwise I don't think I could have gotten through it. My 7 y/o was asking for more after finishing his. Oh to be young and unaware of what damage all that sugar and fat does. I'm looking forward to the phone call after he takes Nutrition in college.

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