Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Monday, March 2, 2015

Smart Snacking

Monday, March 2, 2015 | 9:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments
Snacking is on the rise and becoming a more significant part of our overall diets. At first glance, this might seem like a bad thing, but it doesn't have to be.

Defining Snacks
You've probably seen headlines that we are snacking more or even heard the term “snackification.” Does this mean we are eating more chips? Not necessarily. Most studies that look at how we eat classify eating occasions into two groups – meals and snacks. Meals include breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks are any other time we eat. So a dessert eaten after dinner or a granola bar while on a hike would both be considered snacks.

Is Snacking Good or Bad?
Snacking itself isn't necessarily good or bad. What and how much we eat is key. If the snacks you choose always come in a bag or a box, you may be getting more sugar and salt than you need. If you snack on fresh fruit, unsalted nuts or yogurt, on the other hand, snacking could be helping you get important nutrients. If you start adding two snacks to your day and still eat your usual meals, you may be getting more calories than you need. If you find that a small late afternoon snack helps to keep you from overdoing it at dinner, then your snacking may be a good thing.

How to Snack Smarter
To get the most out of snacking, be smart about what and how much you snack on. Redefining snacks can be a good first step. Anything small, quick and portable can serve as a snack. Skip the snack aisle and look for more healthful options to fill your snacking time. Good choices include fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, yogurt, unsalted nuts and seeds. You can even turn mini-meals into snacks like small sandwiches or salads. Time your snacks for when you need an energy boost. Mid-morning or mid-afternoon are common times for our energy to dip. A small nourishing snack can give you a little boost and much needed mental break. Don’t forget to balance your snacks with your meals. If you find your meals are still the same size after adding snacks into your day, snacking may not be the best strategy for you.

REFERENCES:
1. Kant, Ashima K. et al. 40-Year Trends in Meal and Snack Eating Behaviors of American Adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , Volume 115 , Issue 1 , 50 - 63. Written by Jennifer M. Ignacio, MS, RD. March 2015

Friday, February 27, 2015

7 Simple Dining Hall Hacks to Revolutionize Your Dining Experience

Friday, February 27, 2015 | 10:29 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , No comments
Our all-you-care-to-eat residential dining locations – International Village, Levine Marketplace, and Stetson West Eatery – are a great place to find just about any type of cuisine you are looking for. While our rotating menus allow for different flavors at each meal, if there is a specific taste you are looking for sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Below are seven simple dining hall hacks that will change the way you eat in the dining halls.

1) Breakfast Parfait
Let's start with the first, and most important, meal of the day. Yogurt is a great way to start your day but you can easily upgrade it by layering in some sliced fresh fruit, granola, or cereal. Using a clear beverage glass will also allow you to marvel at the beautiful layers you create in your breakfast masterpiece.

2) Thai-Style Peanut Sauce
You waited for your grilled chicken from the grill so why not make the most of it? Combine peanut butter and soy sauce with a splash of sriracha for a spicy Thai-style peanut sauce that you can dip your chicken strips into. And, honestly, you'll probably want to dip everything you eat into this sauce once you find your perfect ratio of ingredients.

3) Chicken & Waffles
Are Levine Marketplace and International Village serving chicken tenders? You don't have to wait until Sunday to have this brunch staple when all you have to do is make your own Belgian waffle, split it in half, and top with the chicken tenders. From this point, you could go with the classic maple syrup, spice it up with a little honey mustard or sriracha, or go crazy with strawberries and chocolate sauce from the waffle and ice cream bars.

4) Ice Cream Sandwich
Speaking of the ice cream bar, that soft serve machine may be the dining hall hack MVP (at least according to Kevin Durant). Just grab two of your favorite cookies from the bakery, toss them in the microwave for 15 seconds, and then drop a dollop of soft serve in the middle. The warm cookies will slowly melt the ice cream into a mess of cookie goodness.

5) Caramel Apples
Looking for a quick mid-day snack in Stetson West? When the caramel sauce is available at the ice cream bar, microwave a bowl of the sauce and drizzle it over apple slices. You can thank us later.

6) Pasta – with Everything
Step up your pasta game by using your imagination. Pasta is a blank canvas for creativity so grab a plate at dinner and let your mind run wild. Whether you add spinach from the salad bar with sautéed mushrooms from the grill – or maple syrup and chocolate chips Buddy the Elf-style – your possibilities are endless.

7) Soft Serve + Soda Fountain = Ice Cream Floats
This classic ice cream parlor favorite is a simple combination that provides a ton of flavor for how little work you have to do. Root beer floats, Coke floats, and even Fanta floats (creamsicle!) are a great way to reward yourself after a long day of classes.

Let us know your own favorite hacks in the comments or show us a photo on Twitter or Instagram!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day

Friday, February 20, 2015 | 2:47 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , No comments


They aren't lying when they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! When you skip breakfast you are missing out on some valuable nutrients to help start off your day. There are many good reasons to make sure you eat breakfast:
  • It can help you include more vitamins and minerals into your daily intake.
  • You will have better focus and concentration during your early morning classes.
  • It has been shown to help with weight control as it can decrease hunger later in the day and help to avoid overeating.
  • It helps to refuel your body and replenish the stores that provide your body with energy during the day.
Even if you are in a rush and feel that you don’t have to time for breakfast you can grab something on the go! Thinking ahead is one way to help you make healthy choices in the morning. Pack a healthy option in your backpack the night before (cereal bar, granola bar, dry cereal or a piece of fruit) or stop at Outtakes in the morning to grab a healthy on-the-go option. A smoothie made with fruit and low-fat yogurt can also be a great quick option.

If you have more time to sit down and eat breakfast here are some healthy options:
  • Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and a piece of fruit. The best is a cereal that has at least 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams or less of sugar.
  • Whole-grain bagel or waffle with peanut butter, a piece of fruit and some milk.
  • Oatmeal (make it with milk to add more nutrients) with fruit or almonds.
  • An omelet with vegetables added.
  • Yogurt with low-fat granola and some fruit.
  • Whole wheat crackers with cheese or peanut butter.
If you are skipping breakfast in the hopes of decreasing your calorie intake to meet a weight loss goal you may want to reconsider this strategy. When you begin to skip breakfast regularly you will be so hungry at lunchtime that you may over-eat and are more likely to make unhealthy choices. Eating three well-balanced meals a day will keep your body healthy as well as help keep you energized to make it through your busy schedule.

Resources:
  1. Breakfast: How does it help weight control? Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN01119
  2. Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options to grab at home. Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/NU00197

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Behind The Scenes of Mardi Gras

Thursday, February 12, 2015 | 5:07 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , No comments


Hard to believe that it's already the middle of February – although it sure feels like the middle of winter with the recent (and upcoming) weather – but that means it is almost time for our first signature event of the spring semester. The event, our 14th annual Mardi Gras Celebration, is this Tuesday, February 17 from 8:00 to 10:00 pm in Levine Marketplace.

We have lots of fun planning and executing this event but just what goes into transforming Stetson East into a miniature Bourbon Street? Well...

Our main goal of the event is authenticity. When choosing menu items for the event, we look for recipes that we can produce in our kitchen both effectively – to honor the traditional Cajun recipes of New Orleans – and efficiently – since more than 600 guests are served in just two hours. We love serving classic New Orleans favorites including jambalaya, shrimp étouffée, and catfish po' boys but we also look for creative opportunities such as last year's pairing of traditional andouille sausage with red velvet pancake.

Another important culinary tradition at Mardi Gras is the king cake. Its beginnings are hotly debated by revelers and historians alike (for a brief overview, try this NPR article) but today it is undoubtedly the most famous food of the celebration. With so much tradition in the king cake recipes passed from generation to generation in New Orleans bakeries, we have all the king cakes for our Mardi Gras celebration baked by the award-winning Randazzo's Camellia City Bakery in New Orleans. And yes, those are plastic babies are baked right into the cakes. But don't throw it out! Guests who find the baby in the king cake are said to have good luck for the coming year.

We're excited for next Tuesday's celebration and hope that you'll join us for all the food and fun. You won't want to miss the festive atmosphere, thanks to the New Orleans jazz of the Hot Tamale Brass Band and more than 2,000 strands of beads, or the always-competitive contests where you could win $100 cash right on the spot. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

6 Ways To Stay Active in College

Thursday, February 5, 2015 | 4:12 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments


College life can be extremely busy between classes, work, co-op, friends, and family. Although you may be very busy, you should still find time to include exercise into your daily routine. While you are in college you tend to spend a great deal of time sitting - during class, studying, and researching and typing papers. Whenever possible, you should get up and move! Take a study break and take a 10-15 minute brisk walk. This is also a better idea than reaching for a high calorie snack.

During the winter months, it can be especially difficult to stay motivated to continue to exercise. If you are looking for ways to stay active on-campus, be sure to check out the Northeastern University Campus Recreation website. This website includes information on group fitness classes, intramural leagues, and club sports. There are many barriers as to why people are not physically active. Below are some suggestions from the Mayo Clinic as to how to avoid continuing to let these barriers get in your way of regular exercise!

BARRIER #1: NO TIME TO EXERCISE
It is not always easy, but it is important to set aside time to exercise most days during the week in order to gain the benefits of exercise. Including exercise into your day just might mean changing your daily routine.
  • Fit in a short brisk walk during the day. Even if you don't have time for a full workout try to fit shorter spurts of exercise. Even ten minutes of walking spaced throughout the day can offer benefits. Many of you walk across campus throughout the day – just pick up the pace to get your heart rate up!
  • Get up a little earlier. While this may sound a bit unreasonable, if your days are packed and the evening hours are just as hectic, try getting up even thirty minutes earlier a few days each week to exercise. Once you've adjusted to early morning workouts, add another day or two to the routine.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Every little bit of movement counts!
BARRIER #2: EXERCISE IS BORING
It is common to become bored with repetitive workouts day after day, especially when you workout alone but exercise doesn’t have to be boring.
  • Choose activities you enjoy. You'll be more likely to stay interested if you like what you are doing. Try joining a club or intramural sport on campus!
  • Change up your routine. Choose several different activities, such as Pilates, yoga, walking, swimming, jogging, and cycling, over the course of a month to keep some variety while using different muscle groups.
  • Exercise with friends. You might enjoy the company while working out as well as the encouragement of others.
Why should you exercise? Being physically active is as important as watching what you eat when it comes to weight loss or weight maintenance. Plus, getting regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Even a small amount of exercise is better than not exercising at all!

Monday, February 2, 2015

CALORIES on the Menu

Monday, February 2, 2015 | 9:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , No comments
Beginning in December 2015, restaurant menus will have a new look. Along with price and description, you’ll now see calories listed on menus at restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters and bakeries, among others.

Why put calories on menus?
Most of us eat about a third of our meals away from home. With that in mind, legislation was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act requiring calorie posting on restaurant menus. The of the legislation was to make it easier for us to make informed choices about what and how much we eat while we are out.

Where you will and won’t see calories:
The final rules about which foods in which restaurants will need to display calorie information were released by the FDA recently. In general, we can expect to see calories on foods and drinks that are served regularly at 20 or more locations under the same brand. This includes just about anywhere that serves food ready to eat, such as movie theaters, sports stadiums, coffee shops, and of course restaurants. Chefs’ specials, seasonal dishes or items offered only for a limited time, however, will not be required to have calories listed. Independent restaurants with one or only a few locations and those that move from place to place (trains, planes, food trucks) will not be required to post calories for any of their menu items.

How to use calories on a menu:
Understanding how many calories we take in compared to how many we burn can be valuable in maintaining a healthy weight and active lifestyle. If your day will be very physically active, for example, you will need more calories to keep your energy levels where you need them. On the other hand, if you are going to be sitting most of the day or are trying to lose weight, you will want to eat fewer calories. Comparing calorie levels for foods and drinks can help you make choices that most closely match your needs.

REFERENCES:
1. FDA Menu and Vending Machines Labeling Requirements. http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm217762.htm
Written by Jennifer M. Ignacio, MS, RD.
February 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How Do We Operate During a Blizzard?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 | 5:33 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , No comments


After 2+ days of unrelenting snow, winter storm Juno has finally subsided and a sense of normalcy should return to campus tomorrow. We were happy to be able to keep all the hungry students fed – more than 6,300 of you on Tuesday alone(!) – but what exactly goes in to keeping dining locations open during a major snowstorm?

First, we are always looking ahead at weather forecasts for any potential major disruptions, be it snowstorms in the winter or hurricanes in the summer. Once the predictions for 24-30 inches of snow began last weekend, we started loading up on certain items in our daily deliveries from our suppliers. This is the first key to staying open as we were able to continue operating during the storm with all the essential food items we needed, even as our typical daily deliveries were unable to reach us due to the traffic ban.

Secondly, our incredible staff members that were able to reach campus during the storm, either by walking from their homes or staying in local hotels, allowed our operations to run smoothly given all the external factors at play. We are incredibly grateful for the dedication they showed to the University this week and we definitely heard – and passed along – all of your kind words to our staff that you sent in on social media.

Finally, the staff of the University is always an integral part of this process. From working with us on Monday to determine the hours of operation deemed appropriate with this kind of storm to the incredible teams at Facilities and NUPD keeping the roads and sidewalks safe, it is a campus-wide effort that allows us to operate, especially during snowstorms, and we couldn't be prouder of the staff members we work alongside every day.

So finish up that homework you've been putting off for two days and we'll see you back in the dining halls for breakfast tomorrow morning!