Food Myths: The Truth Behind Diet Soda

Let’s begin with this quote. “I don’t believe in ‘diet’ sodas. Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke are still sodas. If you’re on a diet, why are you drinking soda?” I am going to go out on a limb and say that most Americans are not nutrition experts. So, when we hear of a new fad, trend, or see a label proclaiming ‘DIET’ on the front, we tend to automatically assume that product is the better choice. It is no surprise that when someone decides to tackle a diet, they switch from normal soda to diet soda, thinking it will be the healthier option. However, like the above quote states, soda is soda. Not only is diet soda not the “healthier” option of the two, but the effects can also be worse.

The main reason people switch over to diet soda is because of the calorie count. The less calories the better, right? Why waste 140 calories on a can of soda when you could still have a soda with 0 calories and put that 140 towards something more nutritious? The problem is, to have zero calories, real sugars are replaced with artificial sweeteners like aspartame.

Studies show that these artificial sweeteners tend to have the same effect on our bodies as real sugar. In a study done by RD Brooke Alpert, she found that “Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain.” There was also a study done by the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. They compared diet soda users to non-users and discovered a 70% increases in waist circumference in those who drank the soda. Even more shocking, there was a 500% increase in those who had 2 or more a day. The average waistline increase was 3 inches in 4 years. While you may not be taking in any calories, you’re not drinking something that benefits your body in a good way either. If you want a non-caloric beverage, try sticking with water.

Not only does diet soda cause weight gain, but it is also extremely acidic. It is even more acidic than just a regular soda. We know that too much acid in our system can disrupt the balance of our intestines and destroy important gut flora. This leads to some not so fun side effects such as acid reflux.

Finally, is metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association did a study over diet soda consumption and the results should leave everyone hesitant when making the final decision on whether to drink one. Results of the study showed daily consumption of diet soda was associated with a 36% greater relative risk of incident metabolic syndrome and a 67% greater relative risk of incident type 2 diabetes compared with non-consumption (HR 1.36 [95% CI 1.11–1.66] for metabolic syndrome and 1.67 [1.27–2.20] for type 2 diabetes). This shows that caution needs to be taken when consuming these beverages. Metabolic syndrome can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. It can also lead to increased belly fat, which we already know is an effect of diet soda, and high cholesterol.

If you are trying to make the decision between diet or non-diet, you can now clearly see that just a regular soda is the way to go. Diet soda causes weight gain, high acid levels, and increases your risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.  However, if you are serious about trying to have a healthier lifestyle or lose weight, no soda is a good option too. Remember, there is nothing “diet” about diet soda.

Delicious Dishes- Christmas

It’s that time of year again. Tis’ the season to go home to family members asking what your major is, how long you have until graduation, and the ultimate favorite… are you dating anyone yet? The good news is, these family recipes I’ve gathered will taste so great that your family will be asking for your cooking secrets instead.

Sparkling Holiday Punch – Rebekah Drennon 

  • 32-ounce bottle cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
  • 1 quart orange juice, chilled
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, chilled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 bottle dry white wine, chilled (optional)
  • 2 bottles champagne, chilled (optional)
  • Orange slices

Combine juices and sugar until dissolved.

Add wine and pour over ice.

Stir in champagne before serving.

Add orange slices for garnish.

Festive Cranberry Salad – Linda Gordon

  • 2 packages lemon-flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries, ground
  • 1 orange
  • 2 large apples
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Mayo or salad dressing

Dissolve gelatin and sugar in boiling water.

Add next 4 ingredients – stir well.

Pour into bundt pan – chill until set.

Un-mold on lettuce leaves.

Fill center with mayo or dressing.

Garnish with orange slices.

Christmas Roast – Bill Gordon

  • 1 shoulder roast
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 sliced onions
  • 5 small red potatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup baby carrots

Brown roast on all sides.

Combine next 6 ingredients.

Add onions and carrots – simmer 2 hours.

Add potatoes – cook 45 min.

Homemade Sugar Cookies – Misty Jones

  • 2 & 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 & 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, stir together flour and baking soda, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in dry ingredients.

Roll rounded spoonfulls into balls.

Place on un-greased cookie sheet. Cook 8-10 minutes.

Chocolate Mousse – Rachel Drennon

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Combine morsels and 1 tbsp. sugar in top of double boiler until chocolate melts. Let cool.

Combine egg yolks and vanilla. Stir into chocolate mixture.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy; gradually add 1/4 cup sugar beating until stiff peaks form.

Fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture. Stir well.

Cover mousse. Chill for one hour.

Christmas Fruit Squares – Linda Gordon

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self rising flour, divided
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 pound chopped red candied cherries
  • 1/2 pound chopped candied pineapple
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut

Cream butter and gradually add sugar while beating with electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time. Add 3/4 cup flour. Stir well.

Combine remaining ingredients. Dredge into 1/4 cup flour.

Stir fruit mixture into batter. Spoon into greased and floured square pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour 10 min.

Cool on wire rack and chill before cutting.

Fuel For Finals 2017

There is no better way to gear up for the end of the semester than good food and great prizes!

A&M-Texarkana’s annual “Fuel for Finals” is Wednesday, December 6th from 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. in the University Center Cafe. Campus Activities Board, Student Government Association, and the Office of Student Life are hosting the event.

Campus Activities Board Officer Shannon Lovelady said, “Fuel for finals is a fun way to get students away from studying while having breakfast for dinner served by their favorite faculty, and also the chance to win a prize through the raffle.”

Admission is free for all students with a campus I.D., and everyone in attendance will be entered to win cool prizes and gift cards.

Top Disney Foods

If you’ve ever wanted to go to a Disney theme park, one of the main attractions (other than having fun) is deciding what to eat. Even if you have been to Disney many times, there is always something new to try when you go back. I have visited almost every year of my life since I was 4 years old. When I talk to other people who have visited a Disney Park, there is always some food they never tried or knew was there. So, here is a list of foods you must try to get the full Disney experience:

1. Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar – this is the classic and legendary ice cream. (Side note: you must start eating it from the ears or it’s bad luck.)
2. Mickey Waffle – the most Disney way to start your day. (Once again, start eating from the ears.)
3. Turkey Leg – you may have had one at the fair or another theme park but they are not as good as Disney’s.
4. Churros – another food you can get other places, but they can’t be compared to Disney’s. Comedian George Lopez even jokes about getting one in his stand up.
5. Popcorn – I know it is something you get every time you go to the movies, but Disney’s popcorn is something magical. Plus, it comes in a collector bucket to take home.

Overall Disney park food is better than anywhere else in the land. I recommend researching the foods of whichever park you plan to visit before going because there are so many cool options.

Find out more

Get free Schlotzsky’s for a year!

As a college student, it is hard to pay for luxurious meals. Most of the time you are eating Ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now Schlotzsky’s has announced a guest appreciation day when they will be giving away free Schlotzsky’s for a year! There is a catch: you must be one of the first 100 guests to purchase a 6-pack of Cinnabon Classic Rolls. You will then receive a redemption card for a free small Original sandwich per week for 52 consecutive weeks.

This opportunity is only available at Schlotzsky/Cinnabon locations and, fortunately, we have one! The Texarkana store is located at 3652 Richmond Road near the Walmart.

I participated in this promotion when the location first opened and I didn’t regret it. It is definitely worth the price of a 6 pack of Cinnabon Classic Rolls. I saved so much money that I was able to try all of the soups and anything else I wanted. I recommend waking up early so you are ensured that you are one of the first 100 guests that receive one. Also, be sure to bring a lawn chair and some headphones so you can wait comfortably.

To find out more and RSVP, click the picture.


College Student Discounts

Between paying for tuition, books, the dining hall, and a dorm room your budget probably seems a little slim. What if I told you there are tons of discounts you can get just for being in college? From everyday essentials to specialty items, these companies want to treat you to savings created specifically for college students.

Also, don’t forget to pick up a personal discount card designed for Texas A&M University-Texarkana at the front desk of the University Center. It has great deals for businesses in the area.


Anytime Fitness

  • One Week Free Trial

Legends – State Line Texarkana

  • One Week Free Trial

Sportsplex By Health Care Express 

  • $42 Student Rate



  • Free Drink with Student I.D.


  • Free Drink with Student I.D.

Gusano’s – Texarkana

  • Show Student I.D. and Discount Card for 10%.


  • Show Student I.D. For 10% Off

Taste & See

  • Show Student I.D. For 10% Off

Twisted Fork – Texarkana

  • 25% off All Pizzas with school discount card.

Waffle House

  • Show Student I.D. For 10% Off


Amazon Prime for Students

  • 6 Months Free
  • 50% off Prime Membership After Trial
  • ALL Prime Benefits including FREE 2-Day Shipping
  • Added College Deals

FedEx Student Discount Club – With Student ID

  • 20% Off Envelope Shipments
  • 30% Off Package Shipments
  • Available at FedEx Stations

Sam’s Club

  • Offers Student Membership and Benefits
  • See Local Club

UPS – Richmond Texarkana

  • 10% Off Printing Services


Spotify Premium For Students

  • $4.99 a Month
  • Includes FREE access to Hulu.



  • Students can save up to 15% on select coverages with a minimum of a B average.

Nationwide Insurance

  • Drivers up to 24 years in age can get discounts with a minimum of a B average.

State Farm

  • Offers up to 25% off insurance for students in good standing.


Adobe Creative Cloud

  • 60% Off Creative Cloud Application Bundle
    • Includes PhotoShop, Lightroom, AdobeXD, Illustrator, InDesign, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Dreamweaver, Acrobat Pro, 20+ Desktop and Mobile Apps, Free Tutorials, Regular Upgrades

Apple Electronics – 

  • Student Pricing available for current and newly registered college students.

Delicious Dishes – Thanksgiving

Since 1621, Thanksgiving dinner has been a popular tradition amongst Americans. We use this day to spend time with family, kick back and watch football, and most importantly, prepare amazing feasts. Students around campus have been generous enough to share their Thanksgiving family recipe traditions. From appetizers to dessert, these have been combined so you have the opportunity to create a delicious meal, and maybe start some yummy traditions yourself.

Grandma’s Cranberry Sauce – Anonymous Grandma

  • 1 Pound Fresh Cranberries
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • Dash of Cinnamon

Rinse berries and remove stems.

Heat water and sugar to boiling mixture for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Stir in berries and add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Heat until boiling. Continue to stir until berries start popping.

Pour into mason jars and chill for 2-3 hours in fridge.

Enjoy with toast or pastries!

Green Bean Casserole – Misty Jones

  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 tsp. Soy Sauce
  • Dash Pepper
  • 2 Cans (4 cups) Cooked Green Beans
  • 1&1/3 Cups French’s Fried Onions

Mix soup, milk, soy, pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in casserole dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until hot.

Stir and sprinkle with remaining onions.

Put back in oven for 5 more minutes.

Holiday Dressing – Anonymous Mother

  • 4 Sticks Butter
  • 2 Pounds Tyson Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Boxes Chicken Broth
  • 3 Packages Cornkits Prepared
  • 2 White Onions Chopped
  • 6 Stalks Celery Chopped
  • 1.5 Tsp Poultry Seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 Loaf Toasted White Bread
  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup

Crumble toasted bread and set aside.

Slowly boil chicken in 1 box of broth and 5 cups of water.

Meanwhile, sauté 2 white onions, 6 celery stalks, 1.5 tsp. poultry seasoning, and 3 sticks of butter. Can add dash of salt and pepper. Cool a few minutes and mix in chopped chicken. Do NOT add broth.

In separate bowl mix 1 stick of butter, 1 can cream of chicken soup, and broth until warm and soupy. Cool for a few minutes then add sautéed mixture. Add toasted white bread and cornbread.

Beat 6 eggs and add to mixture. Mix. Add broth from pan you boiled chicken in as needed.

Spray pan with Pam, pour, and cook 1-2 hours on 350 degrees.

Jan’s Coconut Pie – Misty Jones’ Grandmother

  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 4 tbsp Cornstarch
  • Dash of Salt
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 4 Eggs, Separated
  • 1 tbsp. Butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup flaked coconut
  • 1 Baked 9-inch Pie Shell

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy medium sauce pan; stir in milk. Cook over low heat, stirring gently, but constantly until mixture thickens and boils for 3 minutes.

Beat egg yolks well in a small bowl, slowly stir in 1/2 cup of the hot mixture. Then stir back into the saucepan. Stir constantly for 1 minute, remove from heat.

Stir in butter, vanilla, and 1/4 cut of coconut. Pour into pastry shell.

Beat egg whites until foamy white in a medium size bowl. Beat in remains 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tbsp. at a time, until meringue stands in firm peaks. Pile onto filling, sealing to the edge and swirling into peaks. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup flaked coconut.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until coconut is toasted and topping is golden tipped. Watch carefully so coconut doesn’t burn.

Cool pie at least 5 hours on a rack before cutting.