Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Friday, March 24, 2017

3 Things We're Cooking Up for the End of the Semester



with campus executive chef Tom Barton

Hi all! It’s quite busy around here and I wanted to let you know about a few of the things we have going on around campus.

In January, we started doing Foodie Tours of each of our dining locations. These are in depth tours with our nutritionist Christine Clark and me. We select a dining location and go station-by-station talking about the back stories of how are menus are created, where we source many of our products from, and, in some cases, the science behind some of the things we do. We have received great feedback from the tours we have done and anticipate continuing this initiative next semester. They are open to all students, faculty, and staff and are – of course – free!

We have also been busy planning for our upcoming Lobstah Night. We are happy to say that we will be working with Red's Best to obtain the 1,000 lobsters needed for this event. It is certainly one of the highlights of the school year so be sure to get to Stetson West early on Tuesday night!

Our last event of the semester will be our 16th(!) annual Educate Your Palate. I wish I could tell you more about the theme of this year's event but then you wouldn't be surprised! Seeing how International Village has been transformed when you walk in on the night of the event is definitely a "wow" — if you have been to EYP in the past you know what I mean. This is a can't-miss event so please put Thursday, April 20 on your calendar. As chefs, we love this event because – as sort of a culmination of a year's worth of culinary trends – we get to create a menu that is unlike anything you've seen all year. Additionally important to us is that even though the event is held at International Village it is a collaborative effort with our culinary teams from International Village, Stetson, and Curry. Working together as one large team is always very exciting for us.

I hope to see you at these extraordinary upcoming events!
Tom

Thursday, March 23, 2017

National Nutrition Month 2017: Plant Power

If you follow food trends, you’ve surely noticed that plant-based foods, recipes and restaurants have been getting a larger share of the spotlight lately. Does this mean that more of us are becoming vegetarians? Should we be?

Why more plants?
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts and seeds are key features of some of the healthiest diets in the world. Plant based foods are a common theme in the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH Diet and most dietary guidelines. The balance of health promoting nutrients with moderate calories and less of the stuff we should be limiting make plant based foods an easy fit for most people. Looking beyond personal health, to the health of our planet, plant based foods tend to more sustainable and less taxing on the environment.

What is a flexitarian? Or a pescatarian?
With the expansion of plant foods on our plates has come an expansion of how we refer to the way we eat. Vegetarian still refers to people who don’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but there are many other variations as well. Vegans are vegetarians who don’t eat any animal products at all, so they skip dairy, eggs and honey too. Pescatarians are typically vegetarians who include fish and seafood occasionally. Flexitarian has become a term associated with people who skip meat meals in favor of vegetarian ones periodically.

Bottom Line
If plant foods are so good for us, does this mean we should all become vegan? Not necessarily. We could, however, all benefit from incorporating more plant foods into our daily menus. Try to avoid seeing “meat eater” and “vegetarian” as the only two options. Plant foods can and should be a big part of all of our diets, with or without meat. Vegetarian meals have moved far beyond just a plate of steamed vegetables. Grilled cauliflower steaks, chick pea stews, mushroom Bolognese and other plant based dishes appeal to both vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

REFERENCES:
1. Rizzo, Nico S. et al. Nutrient Profiles of Vegetarian and Nonvegetarian Dietary Patterns. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , Volume 113 , Issue 12 , 1610 - 1619

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

National Nutrition Month 2017: Are Half Of Your Grains Whole?

Recent studies focus on the benefits of whole grains in lowering risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other chronic conditions. But what types of carbohydrates should you choose for workouts and for keeping your energy high throughout the day?

Incorporating grains into a healthy lifestyle
Carbohydrates act as the primary fuel for your brain and muscles. Remember those pasta nights before the big game? The reason for the “carb load” was to increase your glycogen, or your stored carbohydrates, to be available as energy while you exercise. Fast-acting energy sources, such as refined grains, can provide quick energy before, during and after a game or workout. But what about energy over the course of the day, while you are at work or taking care of the kids? Throughout the day, active men and women should consume 6-8 ounces or servings of grains.

What kind of grains should I look for?
According to the Dietary Guidelines, at least half of your grains should be whole grains. Whole grains contain the entire kernel and provide dietary fiber, iron, B vitamins and phytochemicals. When shopping, look for whole grains as the first ingredient on the package. When eating out, look for menu items with whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, whole wheat wraps, tortillas and other whole grains.

Bottom Line:
The health benefits of whole grains are more pronounced within the context of a healthy lifestyle. If you lead an active lifestyle, consider limiting refined grains to periods before, during or after a workout. The rest of your servings of carbohydrates should be focused on complex, whole grains.

REFERENCES:
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. www.choosemyplate.gov
2. Cho SS, Fahey GC, Klurfeld DM. Consumption of cereal fiber, mixtures of whole grains and bran, and whole grains and risk reduction in type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Aug;98(2):594-619.
3. Zhang G, Hamaker BR. The Nutritional Property of Endosperm Starch and Its Contribution to the Health Benefits of Whole Grains. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Feb 6.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

National Nutrition Month 2017: Save the Food

Up to 40% of the food in the US is wasted and never eaten. Considering how many people don’t have enough to eat, the idea of so much food ending up in landfills is startling. Here are some tips on how you can do your part to reduce food waste:


Plan Ahead
There are two rules of shopping that can help you reduce food waste, save money and improve how well you eat – don’t shop when hungry and bring a list. A good shopping list is based on what you plan to eat for the next week or so. Remember though, that meal planning doesn’t mean you have to cook from scratch every night. Map out days for quick meals, new recipes and no-cook nights of leftovers or eating out. If your shopping includes the local famers’ market, go there first and then make any adjustments to your meal plan and shopping list to include any great finds you weren’t expecting.

Choose Wisely
Buy what you need. While bulk discounts can seem like too good a deal to pass up, if you end up buying more than you need, the deal may not actually be that good. Bulk bins, on the other hand, can be a way to purchase smaller amounts than what is typically found on the shelves to better match what you need. Embrace imperfection. When shopping for produce, look for fruits and vegetables that aren’t bruised, damaged or overripe. Do, however, give ugly produce a chance. Fruits and vegetables don’t always grow in the exact shape or size that we expect.

Use It:
Too often, we end up tossing food that could have been saved. Don’t be fooled by dates. Dates on foods are not always expiration dates. Sometimes they aren’t even dates, but codes used by the manufacturer. Unless the date specifically says “expiration” or “use by” it is most likely safe to use the food past that date if it has been stored properly. If you won’t use something before it goes bad, consider freezing it. Many foods can be frozen safely for use later. For more information on reducing food waste and food safety, check out savethefood.com and homefoodsafety.org

REFERENCES:1. Gunders, Dana. Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill. NRDC Issue Paper. August 2012. Available at: https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf.2. Home Food Safety. Available at homefoodsafety.org.3. Save the Food. Available at savethefood.org.

Monday, March 20, 2017

National Nutrition Month 2017: Mindful Eating

Monday, March 20, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , No comments

In our busy lives, we often rush through our meals sometimes not even pausing to sit while we eat. This hurried way of eating certainly deprives us of the pleasure of the meal, but could it also be impacting our health? Could all of the distractions be causing us to eat more than we need? Or causing us to make less healthful choices?


The philosophy of Mindful Eating seeks to reverse this habit and transform our relationship with food. Eating is one of the few activities that allow us to engage all of our senses. Mindful eating encourages you to take time to explore your food through sight, touch, smell and sound in addition to taste. Your responses to each aspect of your food, whether positive or negative, should be acknowledged, but not judged according to the principles of Mindful Eating. Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to decide when to start and stop eating is also a key aspect of Mindful Eating.

How do you know if you are eating mindfully? For starters, if you are eating while reading this, you are probably not eating mindfully. Eating mindfully means believing that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food; eating experiences are unique; and that awareness should be directed to all aspects of food and eating on a moment-by-moment basis. Mindful eating also includes an awareness of the interconnection of earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact food choices have on those systems.

Eating more mindfully can start with something as simple as sitting down at a table for your meals. Eliminate distractions by removing your phone, television, computer or anything else that may compete for your attention. With typical distractions removed, you will be forced to focus on what is in front of you…your food. Enjoy how it looks, smells, feels and tastes. You can even listen to how it sounds when you chew it. You may notice something new about a food you have been eating for years. Then, when you are satisfied, stop eating.

Source: Principles of Mindful Eating. The Center for Mindful Eating.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Mindful Eating: Be in the moment!



Mindfulness is about paying attention. Mindfulness promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance.1 Mindful eating has benefits that will enhance health and well-being. Mindful eating also allows you to be more aware of physical hunger and fullness (satiety) cues to help determine when to begin and when to stop eating. 

Although the trend these days is to eat while working, watching TV, playing video games, or even texting. This type of behavior may result in eating carelessly and more often you may not be aware of feelings fullness, which could result in taking in extra calories that may contribute to future weight gain. Health and proper nutrition may be forgotten while this type of convenience is practiced. 

Some tips to help guide you to more mindful eating:
  1. Prepare meals or at the very least think about meals ahead of time. Take time to think about and/or prepare the following day’s meals. When you are busy this can take extra time, but it is worth it.  
  2. Allow 15-20 minutes or even longer for meal times.  Eat while sitting down and start to concentrate on the flavor, texture, chewing, and finally swallowing of foods. This might sound like a lot to do, but it will help you become more aware and result in enjoying your food- as food should be enjoyed! 
  3. Avoid reading, watching T.V., or driving while eating. These activities while eating will distract you from being mindful at a meal or snack.
  4. Try taking a deep breath before and after meals, this can help you to focus on the meal in front of you.
  5. Choose portions/serving sizes adequate for your individual needs. Wait about 10-20 minutes for food to begin to digest and the feeling of fullness to set in, before going for seconds or reaching for something else.
Mindfulness begins with focusing on one task at a time such as eating a meal. The best way to stay mindful is to focus on the current task (eating a meal).  Mindfulness can have a direct positive effect on your overall health and well-being!

Check out this handout from the Center of Mindfulness to learn other strategies. http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/resources/Documents/FFTHandout2017Winter_Starting.pdf 

Resources:
  1. Principles of Mindful Eating. Retrieved March 7, 2017 from: http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/Principles-Mindful-Eating

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Best Diets: As Ranked by Experts

With no shortage of diets to choose from, picking the best one can be difficult. US News and World Reports recently released their list of top diets as rated by health experts. The results may surprise you.


How did they choose?
US News consulted a panel of experts in the fields of diet, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, diabetes and heart disease and asked them what they thought of the most popular eating plans. The experts ranked each diet on a variety of factors including overall healthfulness, likelihood of helping you lose weight, how easy they are to follow and how beneficial they are for certain diseases like diabetes or heart disease.

Which diets ranked highest?
The DASH diet took the top spot for best overall diet followed by the Mediterranean Diet and the relatively new MIND diet. The MIND diet focuses on brain health and combines aspects of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. Plant-based diets scored well overall with the Flexitarian Diet taking the #4 spot overall and the Vegan Diet landing at #2 for diabetes. US News also ranked diets in specific categories with Weight Watchers ranking as the best weight loss diet while DASH took the top spot for diabetes and tied with the Ornish diet for best for heart-health.

How do you pick the one that is best for you?
Even with these expert rankings, one thing remains true – diet is not something that is one size fits all. To find what works best for you, it is important to consider your overall health, your short and long term goals and your overall lifestyle. A conversation with your doctor or dietitian can help you get started.

REFERENCES:
1. US New s and World Reports Ranking: Best Diets 2017. Available at http://health.usnews.com/best-diet. Accessed January 9, 2017. 

Written by: Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
March 2017