Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Friday, May 1, 2015

Coffee: More than caffeine

Friday, May 1, 2015 | 9:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments
Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, so it seems logical to ask – Is coffee good for us? Some studies show benefit and others don’t. So what is the bottom line with coffee?

Coffee Benefits:
Studies have found evidence that coffee can help protect us from a variety of illnesses. Aside from the obvious caffeine boost, which we like for the pick-me-up, coffee contains other beneficial compounds. A recent study found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee per day may lower their risk of melanoma as much as 20%, possibly due to protection from sun damage. Other studies have found that coffee drinkers have lower risk for other cancers, heart disease and even live longer overall.

Coffee Risks:
While the overall research suggests that coffee has benefits, not everyone responds to coffee or the caffeine it contains in the same way. People with high blood pressure and pregnant women should consider limiting their overall caffeine intake and children should not consume highly caffeinated beverages due to safety concerns. If you tend to get heartburn or migraines it is worth looking at whether coffee (or caffeine in general) could be a trigger.

Bottom Line:
Feel free to enjoy that morning (and afternoon) cup of coffee. Unless you have a specific medical reason to limit coffee or caffeine in general, it seems the potential benefits currently outweigh the risks. To get the most from your coffee, limit the add ins like sugars and syrups that can make the extra calories add up quickly. If you’re not a coffee drinker, you probably don’t need to start for health reasons, but if you do, take it slowly. Caffeine can make you feel a little jittery if you aren’t used to it.

1.E Loftfield, ND Freedman,BI Graubard, AR Hollenbeck, FM Shebl, ST Mayne, and R Sinha. Coffee Drinking and Cutaneous Melanoma Risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015; 107 (2).
2.Je Y, Giovannucci E. Coffee consumption and total mortality: a meta-analysis of twenty prospective cohort studies. Br J Nutr. 2014 Apr 14;111(7):1162-73
Written by Jennifer M. Ignacio, MS, RD.
May 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Save The Date! Educate Your Palate 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015 | 5:11 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , No comments
It is almost that time of year again. Educate Your Palate, our end-of-the-year culinary extravaganza, is now less than one week away!

On Thursday, April 23 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, International Village Dining will be transformed into a completely redesigned dining space for a culinary adventure circling the globe! We can't divulge too many details – we wouldn't want to ruin the surprise after all – but we hope that you'll be able to take some time on your reading day to join us for a dinner that you won't soon forget.

If you weren't able to come to last year's Educate Your Palate, dubbed A Spoonful of Spring (or just want to relive the event again), take a look at our photos from the event and check out the menu that was served, including locally harvested oysters, freshly pan-fried kimchi and tofu dumplings, and a carving station with grilled leg of lamb.

We hope to see you there!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Don't Just Sit There!

Friday, April 10, 2015 | 9:17 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , No comments
We all know that getting more exercise is good for us, but that may not be enough. While moving more is good, being sedentary less often is also important. Some health experts are even calling sitting the new smoking. So, if you went to the gym this morning, don't use that as an excuse to sit around the rest of the day.

What's wrong with sitting?
New evidence suggests that too much sitting, such as working at a desk, watching television and  other low energy activities, is a risk factor by itself for poor health. While the research is still in the early phases and the exact reasons why sitting isn't good for us aren't fully known yet, there is almost no downside to moving more. So for now, even if the only benefit you get from sitting less is feeling less stiffness at the end of the day, it is worth giving it a try.

How much do we need to move?
Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Spending even more time being active can offer additional benefits. While 150 minutes may sound like a long time, you don’t have to do it all at once. Breaking it up over five days, you are only looking at 30 minutes per day. If that seems like too much at one time, you can break that down into smaller 10 minute time blocks.

Tricks to sitting less
Standing desks or workstations have become popular and are even available in adjustable versions that allow you to do some of your work seated and then pop the desk up for some standing time. Instead of sitting around a conference table, consider standing or walking meetings. They can get your whole team moving and may even spark some creativity. If you need to be reminded to get up and move, there are apps and activity trackers that will alert you when you have been still for too long. Or, you can keep it simple and set daily alarms to remind you to get up and move a little. Whichever option you choose, remember that a check in with your healthcare provider is always a good first step.

1. Dunstan DW, Howard B, Healy GN, Owen N. Too much sitting--a health hazard. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2012 Sep;97(3):368-76.
2. van der Ploeg HP, Chey T, Korda RJ, Banks E, Bauman A. Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222 497 Australian adults. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Mar 26;172(6):494-500.

3. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 2008. Available at
Written by Jennifer M. Ignacio, MS, RD.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Salt Controversy?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 | 9:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , No comments
If you've heard the recommendation that we should eat less salt, then you've also probably heard the counter-argument that salt is not a problem. With conflicting reports, it may be hard to decide what you should do with the salt shaker.

Salt or Sodium
Salt and sodium are often used interchangeably, but they do in fact mean different things. When it comes to health, sodium is what we are concerned with. What we typically refer to as salt, is actually a mix of sodium and chloride. Sodium is found in a variety of the foods we eat, and even in some drinks both as part of the food’s natural make up or from salt that is added during preparation or processing.

How much is too much?
Despite the appearance of a controversy about sodium intake and health, there is strong evidence, with widespread agreement, that most of us are taking in too much sodium. The average American takes in about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. The recommended limit for healthy adults is 2,300 mg per day. There is evidence to suggest that we may actually need to go lower, to 1,500 mg per day, but this is where it starts to get somewhat controversial. Some feel 1,500 is too low. Even if this is the case, it is important to remember that we have a lot of work to do to get to 2,300 before we should even start to worry if 1,500 is too low.

How to be salt smart:
Lowering sodium can be as simple as making a few small changes. A big chunk of the sodium we get comes from processed foods, so comparing labels and choosing products with lower sodium levels can help. When cooking at home or eating out, choosing foods flavored with herbs and spices instead of salt and other high sodium ingredients can also make a dent. Don’t forget to keep an eye on your drinks too. Sports drinks designed to replace electrolytes during exercise contain more sodium than you need if you aren't heavily sweating. While you are working on your sodium levels, don’t forget about another important mineral – potassium. Unlike sodium, this one we tend not to get enough of. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of potassium and naturally low in sodium – a win-win for your mineral balance!

1. Aaron KJ, Sanders PW. Role of Dietary Salt and Potassium Intake in Cardiovascular Health and Disease: A Review of the Evidence. Mayo Clinic proceedings. Mayo Clinic 2013;88(9).
2. Institute of Medicine. 2013. “Sodium intake in populations: assessment of evidence.” Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013.
Written by Jennifer M. Ignacio, MS, RD. April 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Menu Creation on the Food Truck: Spring 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015 | 12:17 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , No comments

Campus Executive Chef Tom Barton here with a behind the scenes look at the Hungry Hungry Husky's new menu for this spring. The food truck is a great place for us to have a little fun and experiment with emerging food trends and with the international theme of the truck we are especially interested in exciting menu items from around the world. This spring's menu features your favorite H3 items – our Famous Mac & Cheese and the Thai Basil Bowl (now with chicken or new sriracha glazed tofu) – as well as two unique tastes from two different sides of the globe: Mexican tortas and Korean chicken wings.

Latin food, and especially Mexican food, has always been popular but with the explosion of places such as Chipotle, more and more attention is being brought to these types of foods. While not as widely accepted as the burrito or quesadilla, the torta is a staple of Mexican cuisine. The sandwiches are made with freshly prepared ingredients served on sliced telera, the traditional round torta bread.

We are offering two types of tortas on the food truck, each with their own unique layering of flavors: the Cubano and the Vegetariano. The Cubano combines Mexican flavors with elements of a more traditional Cuban sandwich such as the mustard, pickles, and sliced ham. The pork component of a Cuban sandwich is typically roasted pork but we added a Latin flavor by using a slow roasted pork carnitas. A great complement to the Cubano is the Vegetariano torta featuring "smashed" black beans, fresh cilantro, and a smoky chipotle spread. The star of the sandwich, however, are the mushrooms that we sear in a piping hot pan and toss with a lime-infused roasted garlic. At our taste test before launch, we couldn't stop eating them right out of the pan – they are that good!

We are also featuring Korean-style chicken wings dubbed the "2X Wings." Traditional Korean-style wings are twice fried but after testing the recipe a few times we discovered that simmering them in chicken stock, then cooling them, tossing them in seasoned flour, and finishing them in the fryer produced a crispier wing. Once fried on the truck, the wings are then tossed to order in your choice of three unique sauces: Teriyaki BBQ, Sweet Sriracha, or Zesty Lime Garlic.

So far we have received some great feedback on these items and – now that the weather is warming up – we hope you'll stop by and try out these great flavors from around the world! Be sure to follow Northeastern Dining on Twitter where we post the truck's location every morning.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

5 Upcoming Dining Events for the End of Spring Semester

Thursday, March 12, 2015 | 11:09 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments
There are only a few days left of Spring Break which means it is almost time for the final stretch of spring semester. With final papers and group projects looming, it is bound to be a stressful time of the year. But even if you have just an hour, don't forget to take some time to have fun! Here are five upcoming dining services events to relieve some stress from the end of your semester.

Wednesday, March 18
Global Eats with Northeastern Global Officer Caitlin Morelli

As one of President Aoun's first Global Officers, Caitlin Morelli is currently traveling the world for her co-op and building opportunities for the Northeastern community. Besides her love for travel, Caitlin is passionate about trying new foods and varieties of tea. She learned how to cook a variety of traditional dishes after taking a class in Chiang Mai, Thailand and during her one week back on campus she wants to share her culinary experience with you! She is excited to tell her story, share new foods, and talk with students about how to make Northeastern better through the Global Officer program.

Tuesday, March 24
Lobstah Night 2015

It's back! Our second annual Lobstah Night is coming soon with all the excitement of last year's event. Northeastern students are invited to come to Stetson West Eatery from 5:00 to 7:30 pm for a whole lobster with a side of clarified butter as well as a taste of other Boston culinary favorites. We will have lots of additional details next week so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates!

Wednesday, March 25
Life from Scratch with Sasha Martin

It was a culinary journey like no other: over the course of 195 weeks, food writer and blogger Sasha Martin set out to cook – and eat – a meal from every country in the world. Her work has been featured in a number of national publications and this heartfelt, brutally honest memoir reveals the power of cooking to bond, to empower, and to heal – and celebrates the simple truth that happiness is created from within.

Wednesday, April 1
Cake My Day! with Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

Karen Tack and Alan Richardson are the New York Times bestselling authors of Hello, Cupcake! and we are thrilled to have them back in the Xhibition Kitchen for their third time with bigger, bolder, better creations for every occasion. These cupcaking geniuses realized that everything that can be done with a cupcake can be done better – and bigger! – with a cake. You won't want to miss these incredible baking masterpieces!

Thursday, April 23
Educate Your Palate 2015

Anyone who attended or saw photos of last year's Educate Your Palate event knows that this is the event where we don't hold anything back. 2014's "Spoonful of Spring" theme is making way for this year's surprise theme and we can't wait to take you on another culinary journey inside International Village. Be sure to save the date for this not-to-be-missed student event!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Eating Healthy on Spring Break

Friday, March 6, 2015 | 10:48 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments

As you get ready to leave for Spring Break, you should also think about how you can make healthy choices while you are away and on the go. Making healthy choices will help you feel better, boost your immune system, and increase your chances of staying healthy while you are away. Keep in mind that planning ahead is one of the keys to making healthy choices!

It is wise to plan ahead and pack snacks and beverages to take on a trip. This will help you make healthy choices and stay hydrated while you are away. There are many healthier options available at convenience stores that you may encounter on the road, such as:
  • Trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, and seeds
  • Almonds
  • Fresh fruit and veggies
  • A bagel or crackers with peanut butter or another nut butter 
  • Dry cereal
  • Cereal and/or granola bars
  • String cheese and yogurt (if you are taking along a cooler)
  • Hydrating beverages such as water, sports drinks, or 100% fruit juice
It is important to choose foods that contain a balance of carbohydrates (a variety of fruits and vegetables along with whole grain breads and cereals, pasta, rice and potatoes), proteins (peanut butter, eggs, chicken, beef, fish, yogurt, milk, and nuts), and healthy fats (olive oil and nuts). When possible, tailor your meals such as by specifying a baked, broiled, grilled, or roasted preparation versus fried. You can also ask for sauces and salad dressings “on the side” to allow you the opportunity to control the amount that is added to your foods.

Here are some techniques to eating healthy when at popular restaurants on the road:
  • Mexican: Choose a burrito or soft tacos with grilled veggies along with beans, chicken, fish, or steak.
  • Fast food: Pick a grilled chicken sandwich, hamburger or veggie burger with lettuce and tomato.
  • Sub/sandwich shop: Turkey or ham with cheese sandwich, soup and salad or vegetable stir-fry sandwich with grilled chicken. If you like mayonnaise on your sandwich, ask for less mayo (or low-fat) to decrease the amount of fat it will add to your meal.
  • Pizza: Choose cheese pizza or add some veggies along with a side salad. Avoid adding pepperoni or lots of other meats.
  • Italian restaurant: Avoid heavy cream sauces and choose a red sauce. Add a side salad with a low-fat or vinaigrette dressing.