Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Superfood Sides

Whether planning quick mid-week dinners or elaborate weekend parties, side dishes are often an afterthought. With the growing trend towards plant-forward eating, it’s time to take a fresh look at side dishes.


What are Superfoods?
The term Superfood is used often, but not always with the same meaning. The simplest way to think of Superfoods is that they offer benefits above and beyond their basic nutrient content. For example, antioxidants make berries super, while nuts and avocados have good fats. We focus on Superfoods that are naturally super, but there are also foods that are called super or functional because of ingredients that have been added to them.

Why sides?
Years of nutrition research has consistently shown that eating more plant foods is a good thing. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are part of every well-balanced diet – often in the form of side dishes! Putting a little effort into the flavor and presentation of your side dishes can help these health promoting food groups become a bigger part of what you eat every day.

How to get started:
Follow the seasons. Choosing Superfoods while they are in season means fresher, tastier meals at the best prices. Eat like a vegetarian. Have you ever noticed what vegetarians do when there isn’t a vegetarian option? They eat the sides! You can make a really good meal of side dishes if you plan well. Turn your plate inside out. Make the sides your main feature and use meat and other traditional center-of-the-plate items as the smaller, accent items. Need some recipe inspiration? Check out balanceittakesyou.com where there is a feature on Superfood Sides with recipes to try at home.

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
December 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Implementing Menus of Change this December

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 | 10:06 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments


with campus executive chef Tom Barton

As you may have already seen or heard, Northeastern is actively participating in something called Menus of Change. This initiative is a collaboration between the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America.


Menus of Change is built on twenty-four principles that revolve around sustainable eating and education about making healthier food and drink choices. Northeastern Dining has been involved with Menus of Change – and its companion educational initiative, the Menus of Change Research Collaborative – for well over a year. We typically focus on two principles a month. This month we are focusing on "Leverage globally inspired, plant-based culinary strategies" as well as "Serve less red meat, less often."

One of the exciting and unique things about all of the principles is that the schools participating in the initiative each interpret them slightly differently. A dish that we have on our menus that I think exemplifies these globally inspired plant-based culinary strategies is a turnip osso bucco. Osso bucco is traditionally a meat dish made with either veal or lamb shanks and slowly braised with wine, tomato, vegetables and stock. We have taken this same technique and applied it to certain vegetables, namely turnips and carrots. We like to use purple top turnips and leave the skin on for flavor and nutritional benefit. The turnips are first seared to give a nice golden brown color and, like the more traditional dish, slowly braised with vegetables, tomatoes, and vegetable stock until tender. We also do this dish with carrots and I have to say the results are stunning. Even those who don't like turnips (me included) have gone back for seconds!

Another example on the menus of actually both principles we are featuring is some of our "blended" dishes. Our version of blending involves reducing the amount of meat in something and replacing it with ground mushrooms. For instance, our meatloaf is a blend of 60% beef and 40% ground mushrooms. We are currently using this blending technique in many other dishes as well, including chili and meatballs.

More information on Menus of Change can be found on our website at www.nudining.com/menusofchange and www.menusofchange.org.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Local Apple Sauce and Transparency in Sourcing

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 | 4:10 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments


with campus executive chef Tom Barton

As you may have seen – or already tasted! – we are now featuring an awesome, delicious, and locally sourced apple sauce. The sauce is made with apples grown in local Massachusetts orchards. And if that wasn't enough, there is only one ingredient: apples. That's right, just apples. No sweeteners or additives, just 100% locally sourced apples. Currently, it is being made with Macintosh apples but changes with the seasonal offerings.

The sauce is made by Karl Dias – commonly referred to in our kitchens as "the apple sauce guy." Karl reports that he has a steady supply of various varieties of apples and will continue to make sauce throughout the winter. Karl sent me a note over the weekend letting me know that he just finished a batch using macoun apples and thought it just might top his current batch of Macintosh sauce!

Because of the outstanding flavor, clean label, and local regionality of the product, we wanted to feature it as quickly as possible. However, not knowing how well it would be received we started with just a few cases and within a day had to order more. I think the first week Karl delivered to us three times just to make sure we had enough!

The apple sauce is currently being featured in a few different places around campus. It is available in both Stetson East and International Village at the yogurt stations for lunch and dinner. Additionally, we are making "apple sauce parfaits" with apple sauce and either raisins or dried cranberries. These grab-and-go items are available at On The Go, Outtakes, and café716.

Karl also stopped by to talk with and educate students about his product at our recent "Culinary Chat" table at International Village last week (photo above).

These are the types of local, seasonal items we at Northeastern Dining continue to search for and serve on a year round basis.

Produce First!



Choosing vegetables and fruits at each meal, will help add color and texture to your plate! If you include all different fruits and vegetables as a part of a healthy eating plan you will end up taking in lots of important nutrients (potassium, fiber, folic acid, and vitamins A, E, and C). Keep in mind the more colorful, the more nutrients!

Pick your vegetables and fruits first
Then add on your protein (beans, chicken, beef, etc.) and grains/starch (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole grain breads, etc.).

Make half of your plate vegetables
Lots of the produce offered in the Northeastern dining halls is from local farmers, which is really great! Be sure to check out the apple sauce in the dining halls made by a local company with just whole apples (no additives or preservatives). Fruits and vegetables are also:
  • A great source of fiber that helps fill you up and keeps your digestive 
system regular.
  • Naturally a low calorie/low fat food.
  • A great on-the-go snack. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables may also help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and digestive problems.
Resources:
  1. Top 10 Reasons to Eat more Fruits and Vegetables. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/ Accessed on November 20, 2016
  2. The Nutrition Source: Vegetable and Fruits. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/ Accessed on November 20, 2016

Friday, November 4, 2016

6 Healthy Choices to Avoid the "Freshman 15"

Friday, November 4, 2016 | 10:02 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments


Although the "freshman 15" in fact seems to be a myth, it is still important to be a conscious eater for your overall health!

College is a time for adjustments including getting use to roommates, busy class schedules, and making new friends. Many times with all these changes come homesickness, stress, and anxiety, which may result in overeating. Try to evaluate your level of hunger when you reach for a snack; are you choosing a snack because you are hungry? Stressed? Bored? Do yourself a favor by stocking your room with healthy snack options: yogurts, fruits, whole grain cereals and breakfast bars.

Some tips to help you make healthy choices in the dining hall!

Even the most health conscious students can make less than healthy choices while filling their plates in the dining hall. Here are a few simple guidelines to help you make healthy choices most of the time:
  • There are no "good" or "bad" foods. When choosing chicken fingers and French fries and/or a few cookies, do not feel guilty. Instead of thinking of foods as "bad" or "good" think moderation. Avoid getting hung up on counting every calorie. It's more important to concentrate on getting the nutrients you need by eating a wide variety of foods.
  • Choose beverages wisely. Sodas, juice drinks, and some sports drinks contain lots of added sugar, which can add empty calories and possibly contribute to weight gain over time. Try to choose water and low-fat or nonfat milk most often.
  • Choose a variety of foods. Try to avoid eating the same few foods all the time! Work on including foods from all the different food groups. Think about the MyPlate model when planning your meals: Fill ½ your plate with vegetables or fruit; ¼ of your plate with a piece of lean protein, a veggie burger or beans; and ¼ of your plate with a small portion of whole grain pasta or brown rice to balance out your meal.
  • Remain mindful if you stay around to socialize in the dining hall. After you are done eating choose a fruit to snack on or drink some fruit infused water. The dining halls are like endless buffets. You can sit for hours, and the longer you sit the more you will eat. Try to avoid continuing to eat desserts while you are hanging around.
  • When you turn to the Internet for facts, choose carefully. Some websites may promote fad diets and/or provide misleading information. Try to choose reputable websites.
  • Don’t forget to stay active. Fitness is important too! Make an effort to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. Choose moderate to vigorous activities each day (like walking, running, swimming, or working out at the gym). Look for chances to be active with friends to make it fun and social! Exercising along with making healthy food choices will help fuel both your body and your mind!
References:
  1. Freshman 15 May be just a myth. Accessed October 30, 2016. http://teens.webmd.com/news/20111103/freshman-15-may-be-just-a-myth.
  2. Healthy Dining Hall Eating. Information accessed October 30, 2016 http://kidshealth.org/PageManager.jsp?dn=KidsHealth&lic=1&ps=207&cat_id=20132&article_set=34570.
  3. 8 ways to Beat the Freshman 15. Information accessed October 29, 2016 http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/weight-loss/eating-out/8-ways-to-beat-the-freshman-15.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Holiday Food Safety

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

Thanksgiving kicks off holiday party season where we gather with friends and family for delicious meals. Following a few key rules can help to keep you and your guests feeling good.

Thaw
Turkey is the main attraction at many Thanksgiving meals. Whether you buy your turkey fresh or frozen, keeping it at the right temperature in the days leading up to cooking is important for preventing foodborne illness. If you plan to thaw in the refrigerator remember that it can take up to six days for a large turkey to thaw. Thawing in cold water is a faster option, but you need to change the water every 30 minutes to make sure it stays cold enough. Turkey and other meats should never be thawed or left on the counter at room temperature.

Cook
Roasting to the right temperature can mean the difference between a delicious turkey and one that is either undercooked or dried out. While many turkeys come with a pop up thermometer, it is a good idea to invest in a separate meat thermometer. You want the internal temperature of your turkey and stuffing to get to 165°F. How long that takes will depend on the size of the turkey.

Store
While it can be tempting to leave party food out to snack on, storing it quickly means that you can enjoy it safely for a few more days. Anything left out at room temperature for longer than two hours should be tossed. Break down large items into smaller containers before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer so that they cool faster. Refrigerated leftovers should be used within 3-4 days. If you need more time, freeze instead. When it is time to reheat, bring the food back to 165°F. For more information on food safety, check out homefoodsafety.org.

REFERENCES: 1. Home Food Safety. Available at homefoodsafety.org.
Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
November 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Eat Well, Be Happy

Saturday, October 1, 2016 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , No comments

Does the idea of improving your health 5-10 years from now seem too far away to motivate you to eat well? What if eating well could have more immediate results? A recent study suggests that just may be the case.


Eat Well, Be Happy?
Eating more fruits and vegetables is widely seen as a way to improve physical health, but now, there may be another reason hit the salad bar. Eating more fruits and vegetables might make us happier and more satisfied with life. A recent study found that people who increasingly ate more fruits and vegetables were happier and had improved overall well-being. The changes were quick – less than 2 years. The size of the result was pretty impressive too. According to the researchers, the increase in well-being is the equivalent to the decrease someone would see if they lost their job.

How does it work?
Most research on fruits and vegetables has looked at preventing chronic diseases like diabetes or cancer, or improving weight. The idea that fruits and vegetables can make us happier is a new, but exciting idea. It is possible that the vitamins and other nutrients in fruits and vegetables deserve the credit. It could also be the fiber. Whatever the cause, it seems that this could be one more reason to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Next Steps
Aim for a fruit or a vegetable at each meal or snack. It can be as small as a handful of raisins or as big as a salad for lunch. The researchers didn’t find that any particular fruit or vegetable worked better than another, so pick some that you enjoy and challenge yourself to try new ones. It all counts and can help increase your health overall and possibly your happiness now.

REFERENCES:
1. Redzo Mujcic and Andrew J.Oswald. Evolution of Well-Being and Happiness After Increases in Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables. American Journal of Public Health: August 2016, Vol. 106, No. 8, pp. 1504-1510.
October 2016