Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Friday, May 8, 2020

Continue To Fuel

Friday, May 8, 2020 | 11:06 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

Whether you are an athlete, or you work out on your own or following group fitness classes online. It is vital to continue to fuel your body each day.

Due to the current situation with the stay at home guidelines, you are not able to participate as a team or with a group for workouts. If you are continuing to work out and exercise on your own, it is essential to continue to fuel your body properly. When I say fuel properly, this means to continue to eat meals and snacks throughout the day, and it also means not skipping meals, restricting, or limiting food choices because you feel like you might be working out less often. If you are working out less often than you were before staying at home, then you do not need to eliminate meals or snacks. You should work on choosing foods that provide a feeling of fullness as well as satisfaction- meaning choose foods with taste and that you feel good about eating. Feeling good about your food choice(s) does not mean that you made the “right” choice or the food you “should” choose. It means that you picked the foods that have flavor and adequately provide a feeling of fullness. When we choose foods, we enjoy and eat them until we are satisfied/comfortably full, then we are more likely to give ourselves adequate energy needed throughout the day.

Fueling will likely help you continue on with your day being productive in school, work, and exercise. In order to provide yourself with consistent energy, you should think about the food balance. It is essential to incorporate foods from various food groups- protein (plant or animal), whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and fats. When you make balanced choices, then you are more likely to feel satisfied with your meals and snacks. Consider eating meals (with at least 3-4 food groups) and snacks (with at least 2-3 food groups) throughout the day from the groups listed in this table.

Whole grain bread
Pita bread or a wrap
Peanut butter or another nut butter
Chicken, turkey, ham, cheese, tuna, hummus
crackers, pretzels, graham crackers, whole grain cereal
Berries (strawberries, blueberries or raspberries
Salad (lettuce, carrots, tomatoes)

Sample snacks
  • Apple with cheese or peanut butter
  • Cucumber, carrots and/or pretzels and hummus
  • Cereal with milk
  • Graham crackers and peanut butter or almond butter
Sample meal
  • Peanut butter, banana on 2 pieces of bread with a cup of milk
  • Turkey, cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato on a wrap with an apple 

Friday, May 1, 2020

Time To Garden

Friday, May 1, 2020 | 11:12 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , No comments

Whether you have a green thumb or not, this could be the perfect time to start a garden.

Research suggests that gardening may offer benefits to both our physical and mental well-being. With the current recommendations for both kids and adults to avoid going out to help slow the spread of COVID-19, we all need more home based activities. Gardening is something for all ages and skill levels that doesn’t rely on screen time.

If you are new to gardening, here are some tips to get you started:
  • Evaluate your space. Gardening can be small, large and anywhere in between. If you live in an apartment, check out which windows offer the most sun throughout the day. If you are in a house, check for both indoor and outdoor spaces with good sun and room for plants.
  • Figure out which zone you live in. You can enter your zip code into this interactive map from the USDA to determine your zone. Knowing your zone will help you know which plants will do best in your area.
  • Grow things you like! If your garden does well, you won’t want the bounty to go to waste.
  • Check out Don’t let the name fool you. They have great resources for kids, but the site is helpful for adults who are new to gardening too.
  • If you do have kids, involve them. The team at KidsGardeninghas put together a list of easy parent and kid gardening activities. They also have lesson plans that help you bring science, math and nutrition concepts to life through gardening.
  • It’s okay to cheat a little. Waiting for seeds to germinate can be a long process. While a lesson in patience is probably good for all of us, starting with seedlings is a great way to jump start your garden with something green that you can see right away.
  • Have reasonable expectations. If you are new to gardening, you might want to start small with a few plants in containers. As your knowledge and skills increase you can expand to a raised bed garden or something larger.
  1. Soga, Masashi et al. “Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis.” Preventive medicine reports vol. 5 92-99. 14 Nov. 2016, doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.007
Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RDN
MAY 2020

Friday, April 24, 2020

Social Media Diet

Food pictures are all over social media. Look around when you are out to eat and you’ll likely notice people taking more pictures of their food than their friends. Do all of these food pictures influence how we eat? A new study says it might.

To get an idea of what people think of how their social media friends eat, researchers asked themto report on their perceptions of how much and how often their friends ate certain foods as well as whether they think their friends like certain foods. They also asked how often they thought their friends should eat certain foods. They then compared this to how the people in the study actually eat.

How much and how often people believed their social media friends ate fruits and vegetables predicted how often they ate fruits and vegetables themselves. People with friends who ate a lot of fruits and vegetables ate more, while people with friends who are not big posters of fruits and vegetable pics tended to eat fewer. For less healthy items like high calorie snacks or sugar sweetened drinks, people were influenced by how much they thought their friends should have, not how much they actually had. The more they thought their friends should have, the more they had themselves.

While this study is just the beginning of looking at how social media can influence our eating styles, it does offer some ideas on how we can test some new strategies for eating better. If you have some food related goals you are trying to achieve, enlist some friends to help and make it social. Post pictures of your favorite healthy foods, drinks and meals and encourage your friends to do the same. Even if it doesn’t influence your behavior, it could give you some ideas for new foods to try.

1.Lily K. Hawkins, Claire Farrow, Jason M. Thomas. Do perceived norms of social media users eating habits and preferences predict our own food consumption and BMI?, Appetite, Volume 149, 2020.

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RDN
APRIL 2020

Friday, April 17, 2020


With the current COVID-19 outbreak making headlines globally, nationally and locally we are all looking for ways to keep ourselves and our families healthy. Most information tells us that people with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk, which naturally leads to the question of how do we strengthen our immune system?

Does what we eat impact our immune system?
Absolutely, but maybe not in the way you would expect. The clearest connection is that being deficient in certain nutrients, or being malnourished in general can decrease your immune system’s ability to function normally. Fortunately, this is not an issue for the majority of Americans. With your immune system, more is not necessarily better. You certainly want your immune system to work the way it is supposed to, but you can’t boost your immune system beyond its normal capacity by eating or drinking certain products. Beyond nutrition, getting enough sleep, managing stress and being active are important too.

Which foods are involved?
Research on the nutrition – immune connection is still very new and not conclusive, but certain
ingredients show promise. Sometimes referred to as functional ingredients, examples include Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Probiotics and Green Tea. Each of these play a role in supporting a healthy immune system. Being deficient in these ingredients could negatively impact immune function. On the flip side, taking in too much of certain of these ingredients can also hurt immune function. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to stick to food sources instead of supplements. If you think you might need a supplement, discuss this with your healthcare provider first.

Try out some of our favorite recipes featuring foods and drinks with these functional ingredients at
  • Foods: Whole grains, seafood, yogurt (with live cultures), beans, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, eggs
  • Drinks: Green tea, kefir, kombucha, yogurt based smoothies
Remember that even with a healthy immune system, you still could be at risk for COVID-19 or other
illnesses. There are no foods, drinks or supplements that can prevent, cure or treat COVID-19. Washing your hands often, keeping your hands away from your face and avoiding close contact with people who are sick is still your best defense.

  1. Wu, Dayong et al. “Nutritional Modulation of Immune Function: Analysis of Evidence, Mechanisms, and Clinical Relevance.” Frontiers in immunology vol. 9 3160. 15 Jan. 2019, doi:10.3389/fimmu.2018.03160
Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RDN

Friday, April 10, 2020

Quick Snack Ideas

Friday, April 10, 2020 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments

It’s important to incorporate snacks during the day while you are taking classes and/or working from home. In-between meal snacks are important. Snacks most often will help you feel better, increase your chances of staying focused and boost your immune system!

Take a break for your snack. Limit a working snack (i.e., eating while you are working on the computer) as this may lead to distracted eating and result in eating more than planned. It’s also nice to build in a break and have a snack to help you recharge.

Maybe you can schedule a snack break with a friend, and you can FaceTime while you snack and take a break!

The following are quick snack ideas. The portions sizes are here as a guide. If you are hungry have a larger portion! Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues. Another guide is to eat something about every three hours (or sooner – if you are hungry) throughout the day.
  • ¼ Trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, and seeds (1/4 cup)
  • ¼ cup of nuts 
  • ¼ cup of pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • Whole wheat pretzels (20 mini) along with peanut butter (2 TBSP) or hummus (2 TBSP) to dip in.
  • Fresh fruit and veggies plain or with peanut butter (2 TBSP) or hummus (2 TBSP) to dip in.
  • A ½ large or 1 whole small bagel or crackers (5) with peanut butter (2 TBSP) or another nut butter 
  • Dry cereal (1 cup) or add ½ - 1 cup milk
  • Granola or cereal bars
  • String cheese, low-fat yogurt (8 oz.) with ¼ cup of low-fat granola
  • Low-fat cottage cheese with some fruit
  • Tortilla chips with salsa and or guacamole
  • Hydrating beverages such as water or 100% fruit juice
Quick portion guide
2 TBSP (or 1 oz.) = size of a golf ball
1 TBSP = size of a poker chip or your thumb
1 cup = size of a baseball or your fist

Wednesday, April 1, 2020


When emergencies like weather events or the recent COVID-19 outbreak hit, shelves at local stores are cleared as people stock up. If you are wondering what you should keep on hand, check out this list that our Chefs and RDs put together that incorporates basic staple items. In instances where multiple types of items are listed, feel free to choose your favorites.


  • Pasta –whole grain or legume based when possible
  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa, Barley, Farro, Bulgur, Cornmeal/ Polenta
  • Rolled oats
  • Dry Cereal
  • Crackers


  • Beans (canned or dried) – garbanzo, black, kidney,
  • Dry Lentils
  • Cans or pouches of tuna, chicken or salmon
  • Nuts/seeds – almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds
  • Nut butter – peanut butter or almond butter

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Marinara Sauce
  • Canned tomato products – whole, diced, crushed, paste
  • Canned fruit – pineapple, mandarin oranges ( in water or juice)
  • Applesauce , unsweetened
  • Dried fruit - raisins, apricots, dates
  • Salsa (jar)
  • Canned or jarred olives – black or green
  • Root vegetables - onions, white potatoes, sweet potatoes
  • Sun-dried tomatoes in oil

Oils, Vinegars, Condiments, Other

  • Olive oil/canola oil
  • Vinegar – balsamic, apple cider, red wine
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard – brown, Dijon
  • Mayonnaise
  • Soy sauce or Hoisin sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Broth/Stock – chicken & vegetable
  • Pesto
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Chocolate chips


  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar – white, brown
  • Flour


  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Shelf stable milk (dairy or plant-based)
  • Sparkling water
  • Water
  • Eggs
  • Root Vegetables: carrots, turnips, parsnips
  • Celery
  • Lactose-free milk or other ultra pasteurized milk (soy, almond, oat)
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Cheeses (Parmesan, feta, cheddar, plus 1 other)
  • Apples, Oranges
  • Hummus


  • Whole wheat sliced bread
  • Corn tortillas
  • Animal protein – chicken, fish, pork, ground turkey/beef
  • Frozen fruit - berries, peaches, mango
  • Frozen veggies - peas, corn, green beans, spinach, broccoli, edamame
Written by Aliza Mason, RDN SPECIAL EDITION 2020

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Immunity Boost

Thursday, March 26, 2020 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments

With the current events that are unfolding in the world at the moment, it is critical to take this time to focus on keeping ourselves and our immune system healthy as possible. In addition to the below tips, it is important to make sure you are getting adequate sleep, taking steps to avoid infections (i.e., washing hands), avoid smoking and/or vaping, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even though our daily lives may have slowed down a bit, there are many things you can do to keep your immune system strong.

Focus on Foods you Choose: More and more research is starting to support the idea that food can act as medicine. Add foods high in protein (chicken, meats, beans, nuts, nut butter, eggs and dairy) that can help with healing and recovery.  Vitamins C (oranges, tomatoes, sweet potato, peppers...) and vitamin E (avocado, sunflower seeds, nuts, peanut butter...) work as antioxidants and supports the immune system by stimulating the formation of antibodies. Vitamin A (carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, pumpkin...) also helps protect against infections by keeping skin and tissues healthy, and zinc (meat, beans, nuts, dairy, eggs...) helps the immune system work properly. Other nutrients to think about include vitamins B6, B12, selenium, and iron.

Minimize Stress:  As too much stress can lead to anxiety and depression, which can cause high levels of inflammation. Too much inflammation in the body can lead to an overworked, overtired immune system. Ways to reduce stress would be through staying active and/or practicing meditation. Another way to reduce stress is through laughter- watch a funny movie when you have a chance!

Get active: Regular, moderate exercise/movement has shown to reduce the risk of infection. Exercise may help slow the release of stress-related hormones. Lower stress hormones may help protect against illnesses.  Although we know the many benefits of exercise to overall health, prolonged bouts of exercise and periods of intense training are associated with an increased risk of infection. Therefore, it's essential to find your balance with staying active, choose something you enjoy- go for a walk, run, bootcamp classes, yoga, Pilates...

Thoughts on Herbs and Supplements: Common herbs and supplements that people often use for immune health include Elderberry, Echinacea, Astragalus, Olive Leaf Extract. Although these may help, it is essential to remember that there is still not much research to support herbs and supplements function in improving immune health. Always make sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbs and supplements as they may interact with certain foods and medications.


Post written by Hanna Stringer, a graduate student of Christine Clark in the MS in Applied Nutrition program through the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University.