WIAW + Neat Facts from Week 1 of the Semester

Hello fine folks and happy What I Ate Wednesday! If you want to see a whole bunch of other fun WIAWs, the link-up is here this week.

I’m only a few days into the Winter semester but a few times already I’ve found myself jotting down little tidbits of interesting info to relay to my mom and Josh. So today I thought I’d share a few for the sake of my fellow nutrition nerds!

I feel like I’m really starting to get to the “meat” of my dietetics degree this semester and I hope it’s alright that I plan (and am really excited) to take you guys along for the ride.

Without further ado, a few little bites of info!


scrambled egg // banana oatmeal muffin with Sunbutter // skim milk

1. Why They Say to Make “Half Our Grains Whole” 

Have you ever heard the tagline “Make Half Your Grains Whole”? I’ve heard it more times than I can count – often from government-based guidelines – and figured that it was probably just worded that way (as opposed to aiming for ALL grains to be whole) to ensure the public didn’t get discouraged by a goal too lofty. But there’s a bit more to the story.

Refined grains are fortified with a whole host of nutrients that they get stripped of during processing. And while MOST of these added nutrients are naturally found in whole grains, folate isn’t one of them. So while refined grains (like white flour) provide us with folic acid, whole grains do NOT. I was so fascinated by this fact!


Morning Snack


Hodgepodge Lunch
mary’s gone crackers // mashed avocado // quinoa tabbouleh // steamed broccoli 

2. Artificial Sweeteners and Gut Flora 

I certainly knew that artificial sweeteners didn’t have a GOOD rep but I couldn’t have really told you why they were frowned upon by so many. But last week our prof informed us that they’re suspected to have a role in altering gut microbiota. Here’s one study claiming so. If you haven’t heard much about gut microbiota, just know that it’s a really hot area of research and seems to becoming tied to more and more diseases.

So while I don’t want to simplify the complexity of artificial sweeteners (I’m sure there are many people devoting their lives to getting the full story about them), this info certainly doesn’t ease my pre-existing skepticism.


Post-lunch dark choc 

3. Shifting Mentality of DRIs (Dietary Reference Intakes)

If you’re not familiar with the term, a Dietary Reference Intake is the value of a given nutrient that health organizations suggest you consume based on your age and sex. They have changed quite a bit over the years as research methods become more and more accurate. But up until now, they’ve been made with the mindset of simply making sure people aren’t DEFICIENT in the nutrient in question. For example, getting enough Vitamin D to prevent symptoms of rickets.

But today, in addition to preventing deficiencies, the framework is shifting so that DRIs also aim to prevent chronic illnesses (like cardiovascular disease). We live in an exciting time, my friends.


Afternoon Snack
kefir with maple syrup

Epicure Mac & Cheese

A “Fancy KD” pack that my mom gave to me.  It’s tasty and I like the (relatively) short ingredient list!

On a completely different note, I would love it if you weighed in on a longstanding debate between Josh and me. I should preface it by saying that he is NOT picky and likes virtually everything (including mac and cheese and tuna). But he finds the fact that I put tuna IN my mac and cheese DISGUSTING. As in, he almost gags just from hearing that I ate it! ha

I would love to know your opinion: is this combo normal or repulsive to you?!


mac & cheese with tuna, peas, wilted spinach and pepper


tea and pumpkin seed chocolate bark 

And for the first night since I can remember, I wasn’t hungry for a night-time snack so my little dessert capped off the day’s eats.

I hope you’re having a great week so far!!

Was any of this info new to you? Thoughts about it? 

How do you feel about the mac & cheese and tuna combo?

45 thoughts on “WIAW + Neat Facts from Week 1 of the Semester

  1. I knew I’d love this post when I read the title! I was familiar with most of them except for #1! I never really thought there was a nutritional reason by saying only half of the whole grains needed to be whole either. My professor mentioned the other day the reason that most RDs don’t recommend a multi-vitamin anymore is because so much of our food is fortified.
    And on the tuna mac debate, I bring you this delicious recipe: http://www.chelseasmessyapron.com/one-skillet-cheesy-tuna-pasta/ <- that could change Josh's mind!


  2. I’m on your side with this – I actually love tuna in pasta. If anything, just hide the “fishy” taste with a bit more cheesey sauce and veggies, and your mac n cheese become “protein-ified”. I LOVE you sharing your nutrition facts and I reallllly hope they continue :) I’ve never had kefir and maple syrup…how would you describe it?!


  3. I have been eating tuna with my mac and cheese ever since I came out of the womb! My dad swore on it as I was growing up – so he’d be quite sad to see Joshs’ grimacing face. It’s delicious!! Great info. More reason to be okay with white flour!!


  4. I agree with Kate – I knew instantly that I would have such a fascinating read! I enjoyed your post with a big bowl of oatmeal :)
    So in love with every meal you had here, especially that lunch with a little of everything. Your tips are fantastic and my favourite one was the folic acid one – I had no idea! Whoa. Very cool. Just goes to show that everything is best in moderation. Your pasta looks amazing and I ADORE tuna in my mac and cheese. My favourite way to make it is actually with quinoa instead of pasta, with more grated cheddar and breadcrumbs on top, then broiled :) Maybe one day you should give Josh tuna patties with mac and cheese on the side to convert him slowly? Haha :D
    Have a delicious rest of the week Jack!

    PS Kate I LOVE THAT RECIPE OMG (especially the one-bowl part!)


  5. Oh my gosh I love all this nutrition info! If there’s one thing about me, it’s that I’m a total nerd when it comes to nutrition and fitness. I just love constantly learning about it :)


  6. This post is so interesting! I’ve never heard of tuna on pasta. My husband’s family eats whole canned tomatoes in macaroni and cheese which I find gross – and I love tomatoes! A lot of people do that here. Maybe tomatoes in pasta is a Newfoundland thing?


  7. Happy to come along for the educational ride! I always like to have at least one “what I learned today” moment, so thanks for those :). Oh and TOTALLY normal to put tuna in mac & cheese!! When we’re feeling lazy, dinner for my guy and I will sometimes be a gussied up KD including tuna and/or salmon, and a whole whack of veggies (I try to increase the veggies so I can pretend it’s half healthy lol).


  8. Love the info! I would have never thought about the whole grains recommendation that way before! Any insight on the saturated fat debate going on now? I’ve personally become so confused with the latest research and headlines, and am not sure whether that means to toss out the earth balance spread and switch to butter/coconut oil?


    • Hey Shawn! It really is hard to keep track of the ever-changing advice eh?! I know some people are totally on board with saturated fats and while they certainly freak me out less than trans fats do, I can’t say that I’ve seen research that I find conclusive enough to start gobbling it up. So I personally still try to limit it and focus on unsaturated fats. Although I know there are suggestions that medium-chain fatty acids (like the ones in coconut oil) are metabolized VERY differently than their long-chain counterparts (like the ones in animal fats). So I bear that in mind and sort of perceive coconut oil as a middle-of-the-road option between unsaturated fats and animal fats.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Great to hear your thoughts! I definitely feel more confident choosing unsaturated fats most often and enjoying saturated fat in moderation. Do you personally choose butter or a spread like earth balance? This is the big debate in my house right now! Haha


      • haha I totally understand! I personally go for butter! I use oils almost exclusively for my cooking so I don’t end up eating a whole lot of it (mostly just for spreading on bread sometimes). And a lot of spreads just have more ingredients than I’m comfortable with (though I’m sure some exist that are minimally processed – I haven’t looked into it tons!) The fact that I really like the taste of butter is certainly a factor too :) I hope you guys come to a decision that you’re all comfortable and happy with. It makes for a tough call when there are so many things to consider!


  9. I make combination dishes frequently adding what I think sounds good to me. I asked Carolyn what she thought about mac & cheese with tuna and she too thought it sounded good as well as I did,

    To me, these are personal preference choices and there is no right or wrong answer. Josh is on firm ground with his preference on this and you are as well.

    Happy Wednesday Jacklyn!


    • I totally agree that it’s important to bear in mind when having a disagreement with someone that oftentimes there is no right answer. It’s easier said than done but I think we should all try to see the beauty in different people having different opinions and it sounds like you think the same!

      Hope you had two and the pets had a GREAT day :)


  10. That’s really interesting about the gut link to artificial sweeteners. We don’t have a lot of them, thankfully. I’m trying to get Vegas off the diet soda though.

    I don’t know about tuna in mac… I’d try it. But I don’t know. Lol!


  11. I think Mac and Cheese + tuna is a relatively normal thing. My Mum made it every week growing up but I’m with Josh on this one and think it is a revolting combo. To be fair though I don’t like pasta, cheese or tuna though so putting them together was never going to make a winnning combination in my books.


  12. I am gonna have to say here that I would probably never add tuna in my mac and cheese haha, but yours turned out so nicely with the peas and spinach, I wouldn’t be opposed to trying it but would rather not see tuna in my macaroni bowl ;). I had not listened to the lecture yet when you said some of the facts and I was really wondering whether I ever listen in class or not, but alas, I had just not listened to the lecture yet, phew! He really did have a lot of interesting facts to say in that first lecture!


  13. Love your day’s eats, especially that morning muffin… yum! I’m also very very happy to see more research coming out against artificial sweeteners. To hear that they may alter gut flora in a negative way is just one more reason to guide people away from them. Ok, tuna in mac & cheese… totally normal!! :) And nostalgic for me- my Ma used to make “Tuna Noodle Casserole” for me & my brother as comfort food for us on hers & my dad’s date nights. Nice memory… I should make it for my kids sometime! :) Have a great day, Jacklyn!


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