Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Monday, October 15, 2018

Championship Chili

Monday, October 15, 2018 | 4:38 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , No comments

with campus executive chef Tom Barton

Welcome to October, such a great time of year! I personally love this time of year when the weather starts to get a bit colder and I can start to prepare some of my favorite braises in the slow cooker and Instapot. I am inspired by the change in weather and the great local produce we are still able to get.

Another great seasonably appropriate dish is chili. What is your favorite kind? With or without beans? Spicy or mild? Meat or plant based? So many possibilities. Well we now have an award winning recipe, rightfully dubbed "Championship Chili", that I would like to share with you!

Our Championship Chili recipe won us first place in the Vegan Chili Beanpot competition at The Let’s Talk About Food festival last week. It was a competition among the “Beanpot” schools” of Harvard, Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern. As you may know these are called the Beanpot schools because the four schools compete in the much coveted annual Beanpot Hockey tournament in February. Northeastern's Men's Hockey team won the Beanpot this year and we had the trophy on full display on our table at the chili competition. The votes were cast by people who tasted each of the entries and I am happy to report that we were the overwhelming favorite! 

Our Championship Chili included four different beans, fresh char grilled corn, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and seasoned with toasted ground cumin, chili powder, garlic and finished with a bit of hot sauce. I do have to say that I think the piece de resistance was a cashew ranch dressing that was placed on top along with pickled jalapenos, more char grilled corn and a miniature pepper for garnish. Folding in the cashew ranch I think is a great way to bring all the flavors together and perhaps slightly mellow the heat along with accenting the umami flavors of the mushrooms.

Please join us Friday October 19th at Curry Dining from 12:00PM - 1:00PM to celebrate the victory and sample some of our Championship Chili!

- Tom 

Championship Chili Recipe
Ingredients — yields 6-8 portions

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter (can sub vegetable oil)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 ears charred corn, removed from cob
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 14 ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 11 ounces cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 11 ounces chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 11 ounces pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 11 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 to 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup cayenne pepper hot sauce (i.e. Frank's Red Hot)
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
Cashew Ranch Sauce

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4 to 8 hours
  • 1 cup unflavored soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives 

  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapenos
  • 1 tiny pepper
  • 1 ear charred corn, removed from cob 
Making Championship Chili
  1. Place the butter into a large pot and set over medium heat. Melt the butter, then add onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic. Saute until the veggies begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, cannellini beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, black beans, charred corn, 1 cup of broth, cumin, chili powder, tamarind paste, and 1/4 cup of hot sauce to the pot. Stir to incorporate the ingredients. Raise heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 60 minutes. Add up to an additional cup of broth during cooking if the chili becomes too thick.
  3. Taste test and add up to an additional 1/4 cup of hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Making the Cashew Ranch Sauce 
  1. Place cashews, milk, lemon juice, garlic, and salt into a blender and blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the pitcher as needed.
  2. Add parsley and chives, then pulse until finely chopped and incorporated into the mixture.
  1. Ladle chili into serving dish. Top with dollop of cashew ranch sauce.
  2. Garnish with pinch of charred corn and pickled jalapenos. Top with tiny pepper.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Trick or Treat?

Monday, October 8, 2018 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

A balanced diet is a healthy diet.  Allowing yourself to enjoy a treat once and awhile really is okay!   

Halloween is once year, but the candy is around for many weeks before and after it has come and gone.  You can choose not to eat the candy, which is fine too.  However, if you do decided to indulge and have a few treats your best bet is to read the food labels for ingredients, calories and fat.  Choosing candy that contains the least amount of calories and fat can be a great choice, however that choice may not be satisfying for you. Choosing one that you would like and enjoy may be the better option in the long run. It is really about the amount of candy that you eat versus the one(s) you choose to eat. The fun size candy bars are really great, if you stick to the recommended serving amount! Most servings of these treats contain 150-200 calories or less. That is not a significant amount of calories when you consider that most individuals should be consuming close to 2,000 calories per day. 

Thinking about the calories and fat can take the fun out of the treats you choose. But, it is better to be aware of what you are choosing and then you can choose wisely! 

Some people over-indulge on Halloween and are done with the candy- while others will ration out their treats for a week or so. Either way is fine! However, if you continue to over-indulge for a week or so that is when you may start to realize that this holiday is adding some unwanted extra calories to your healthy eating plan.  

Halloween Candy can fit into a healthy eating plan if you practice moderation. Although, the fun size candies are great, eating a few at a time will add up to a full size candy bar. The table below can help you decide where you may want to spend or save calories.

Remember that Halloween is just the beginning of the holiday season so choose wisely!
Package Serving Size
Tootsie Rolls
6 small pieces
(40 g)
3 g
19 g
These little candies provide less fat and fewer calories than most in this table, However be aware that they are pretty sticky and may increase the risk for tooth decay.
Candy Corn (Brach’s)
21 pieces
(40 g)
0 g
37 g
Fat-free is a plus here. But because these candies are also packed with sugar and will stick to your teeth!
Kit Kat
3 (2 piece snack size bars)
(42 g)
11 g
21 g
The light wafer makes this bar less dense and therefore provides a lower in sugar amount per serving.
Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses
7 pieces
(32 g)
9 g
18 g
Note: Try to choose Special Dark version in order to add flavonoids/antioxidants
Hershey’s minatures
4 pieces
17 g
As mentioned above. Choosing the dark chocolate version is nice alternative.
M&M's Milk Chocolate Candies
fun size, 1 bag (27g)
5 g
17 g
If you choose peanut M & M’s you will get a few more calories and fat.
Milky Way
Fun size,
2 bars (34g)
4 g
20 g
Eat one or two, then freeze a few (a good idea for just about any candy bar).
Fun size,
2 bars ( 21g)
6 g
16 g
Stick to the fun size!
Fun size,
2 bar (34 g)
 8 g
18 g
This is another good one to freeze!
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
(snack size bats)
1 snack size (34g)
4 g
16 g
Just because it contains a little more peanut butter than chocolate doesn’t make it nutrient dense- still a candy bar!

Resources: The nutrition content found in the table above was obtained from food labels of the products

The table in this handout was adapted and updated from one found in the article Halloween Candy Nutrition: Calories, Fat - and Good News! by Carol M. Bareuther, RD. accessed October 1, 2018

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Meat Conundrum

Monday, October 1, 2018 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

We all know we should eat less meat, right? It’s better for our health; it’s better for the planet, it’s better for the animals. We know that eating less meat is good for many reasons, but are we reducing our meat intake? For those that love meat but want to be mindful of their consumption, supermarkets and restaurants can be a tough place to navigate.

The conventional way of raising meat is burdensome to the environment and less than stellar for the animals. According to the CDC, pollutants from factory farms can have a negative impact on humans and animals. The animals that call these factory farms home are treated as commodities and often experience intense confinement and inadequate treatment. This method of raising animals is viewed as the solution to feeding our growing population but is this really the best way forward? If you’re omnivorous and want to embark on a more mindful way of eating, you don’t have to abandon your burger all together.

To improve animal welfare, reduce our carbon footprint and improve our health, we as eaters must vote with our forks. We should all be eating less but higher quality meat. To do so, we need to seek out animal proteins that have a higher standard of welfare. Finding a local supplier that you can develop a relationship with is great but perhaps not possible for everyone. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with food labels. Look for labels with a defined set of publicly available animal care standards that are third-party verified. In the café, look for dishes that blend meat with other ingredients like a mushroom blended burger.

There’s no question better meat can be expensive. If we think of meat as an indulgence and reduce the quantity that we consume, we can feel better about putting our hard earned dollars towards the good stuff. In countries around the world where meat is a luxury, it’s typically a garnish to the main dish of rice or noodles and lots of produce. Incorporating more dishes into your diet where meat plays a supporting role can reduce your meat intake without the feeling of deprivation.

Another way to reduce your meat intake is to take a break from it for a meal or two throughout the week. Customize this to fit your lifestyle. Pick a night of the week to make a meatless meal. Others might prefer to skip meat at breakfast and lunch and have a small amount of animal protein at dinner.

Written by Julia Jordan.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Manage Stress

Thursday, September 6, 2018 | 9:44 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments

Stress and finding balance!
Stress – we all have experienced it – probably more often than we would like to admit!  Managing stress is possible, and when done properly, can be healthy and beneficial to our bodies.  When we experience stress, we automatically initiate our stress response, better known as the “fight or flight” reaction. This process is our body’s natural way of dealing with any stress that we face in our daily lives.

We can experience stress about negative events such as traffic or school deadlines…  as well as experience stress about positive, life changing events such as moving into a new place, completing a major project, starting classes….  Whether negative or positive, all events trigger stress, and the reality is, without it, life would be dull and boring!  How we handle stress is important.

Stress Eating
Many of us are guilty of it – emotional eating.  We love our favorite comfort foods and make sure they are available when we are feeling “stressed out.” During these stressful moments there is an actual hormonal reaction that can triggers emotional eating – cortisol is released, which is an appetite stimulant.  Therefore triggering our desire to overeat in the moment of stress.  Eating can also serve as a distraction, allowing us to put aside our worries for the time being.  Unfortunately, we often feel guilty after an episode of overeating to deal with stress.

Tips to Control Stress Eating
  • Learn to distinguish between true hunger and purely emotional hunger
  • Know your triggers and recognize consistent negative eating patterns
  • Try comfort in another form, such as walking, watching a movie or talking to a friend
  • Avoid making unhealthy treats readily available
  • When you decide to snack, indulge in healthy choices such as fruit, vegetables or low fat snacks
  • Exercise regularly and get enough sleep
  • If you do find yourself emotionally eating – start fresh the next day! 
Helping Yourself
Managing stress starts within – only we know our bodies and our own personal limitations. It is important to schedule time for yourself and set reasonable standards for yourself and others.

Tips and Tricks to Manage Stress
  • Exercise
  • Stretch
  • Get a massage
  • Listen to good music
  • Talk to family and friends about your feelings
  • Get help when you need it
  • Be realistic and learn to say NO if you may become overwhelmed
  • Meditate or take a yoga class
  • Indulge in a favorite hobby or activity
If you have tried self-help options but you still can't control emotional eating, consider therapy with a mental health professional. Therapy can help you understand why you eat emotionally and learn coping skills.

  1. Weight loss: Gain control of emotional eating: 
  2. Why stress causes people to overeat:

Saturday, September 1, 2018


Saturday, September 1, 2018 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments
You’ve probably heard the term “good fats” used to describe foods like avocado, nuts, seeds and certain oils. These good fats have been connected to improved heart health and other benefits. With so many different oils available, how do you know which ones are the right ones for you?

Oils play a key role in some of the healthiest diets in the world. The Mediterranean Diet, for example, features olive oil prominently. Olive oil provides beneficial nutrients on its own and also helps make important nutrients in other foods more available. Lightly sautéing your vegetables in olive oil, for example, might actually be better for you than boiling or steaming them – and they will probably taste better.

While oils, like other fats, are high in calories, they also offer some health benefits. To promote good health, focus on oils that offer more unsaturated fats such as olive and canola oil. Reduce your use of oils that are high in saturated fats such as tropical oils. Avoid oils that are partially hydrogenated or foods that are prepared with partially hydrogenated oils. As of June 2018, the
FDA no longer allows the use of partially hydrogenated oils due to health reasons, but some products received an extension so you may still see it around for a few more years. For now,
avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list.

Different oils will work better for different situations when cooking and preparing food. When sautéing, look for oils with higher smoke points like canola or peanut oil. Olive oil, with its lower smoke point is good for finishing a dish or in cold preparations like dressings and sauces because of the flavor and texture it adds. When baking, choose oils with neutral flavors. Regardless of which oil you use, remember to store it properly to prevent loss of quality. Keep oils away from heat and only buy as much as you will use in a couple months to reduce waste.

  1. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Dietary Fatty Acids for Healthy Adults. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014;114:136-153.
  2. Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Removing Trans Fat). Available at:
Written by Julia Jordan and Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Local Produce

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy local produce because of the sheer variety of fruits and vegetables that are available. I’ve waited all winter for ripe berries, juicy tomatoes and sweet stone fruit. We get a few months of this bounty and when the season is over, we wait patiently for summer to come again so we can enjoy our favorites. Connecting and eating with the seasons can be rewarding but also a tough challenge as many of us now rely on grocery stores to provide year-round produce.

Did you know that the average food item has traveled 1,500 miles to get to your plate? Seeking out local food, understanding how it was grown and learning more about the people who grew it can be an empowering experience. Not everyone has the opportunity to shake hands with the person that grew their food but for those that do, it carries more weight than a certification.

Did you also know that how we eat can have as big an impact on climate change as transportation and energy? When produce is shipped, flown or trucked long distances, it must be harvested before it ripens so as to survive the journey. Many producers started developing and growing varieties that held up to transportation and overlooked flavor and nutrition as desirable qualities in their produce. As a result, it is often less nutritious and less tasty, uses a lot of fuel and causes pollution. In addition to being hard on the environment, American farms, owned and operated by family members as a primary income, are disappearing.

There is huge value in supporting our local farmers. It’s important for our food security, our health, and future generations that we support the local agriculture and preserve flavor. Our annual Eat Local promotion kicks off this month and celebrates local produce and the mid-sized American family farm.

Look for ways to support local farmers in your area by visiting farmers markets, participating in Community Support Agriculture (CSAs) or supporting local co-ops. is a great resource to find farmer’s markets and CSAs in your area.


Written by Julia Jordan and Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Calories on the menu

Sunday, July 1, 2018 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments

You may have noticed that restaurant menus 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 goal 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:
In general, we can expect to see calories on food 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 sports stadiums, coffee shops and 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 and 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 an active lifestyle. For example, if your day will be very physically active, 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.


Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
June 2017