Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Limit Potatoes

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , No comments

with campus executive chef Tom Barton

Who doesn’t love a potato right? Especially here in New England where Maine is ranked 10th in potato production nationwide.

There are many varieties and colors to choose from, all having their own various health and nutritional benefits. So potatoes can definitely be good for you but sometimes we tend to eat too many which can leave us feeling a bit lethargic and overly full. I’m not suggesting we give up these tantalizing spuds but change how we think about our intake.

Perhaps putting a smaller portion of potatoes on our plates along with some fresh vegetables is something to consider with the warmer weather coming quickly. Or another idea might be to think of some alternatives to potatoes like chick pea fries!

Here’s a delicious recipe from one of my favorite websites Food52 These are so easy to make and so tasty! The optional cumin in this recipe really gives it a special flavor.

Still have a hankering for mashed potato but want to try something different? How about mashed cauliflower or mashed celery root? Celery root is delicious and a totally under-utilized vegetable. These both lend themselves nicely to adding any herbs and spices you may have.

So give any of these alternatives a try…I think you’ll be glad you did and if you just can’t give up a spud think about having a little less of it.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Go “good fat”

When you are thinking about fat consider healthy fats versus non-fat food items.  When it comes to healthy eating the type of fat is just as important if not more important than the amount of fat. 

With that in mind, you should consider eating less high fat foods containing saturated and trans fatty acids (which can be easily spotted on the food label under partially hydrogenated oils) that are know to raise LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol in the body.  LDL is considered the "bad cholesterol" while HDL (high-density lipoprotein) appears to actually clear the "bad" types of cholesterol from the blood. You can help raise your HDL by incorporating exercise into your daily routine and consuming healthy fats.

To decrease your saturated fat intake you should consider eating less animal products, especially fatty parts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken and incorporate more plant protein options (soy, hummus, nuts, and seeds).  You can also decrease (not take away completely) your intake of cheese and whole fat milk products, along with other fats like butter and cream. You can replace these whole fat milk products with low fat milk and yogurts.

Healthy fats include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have both been found to lower LDL cholesterol.  Include the following food items that contain healthy fats as part of your healthy lifestyle.
  • Canola and olive oil (use to make salad dressing or for making a stir fry)
  • Olives (add to salads, hummus, or just as a snack)
  • Avocados (add to a sandwich, salad, or as guacamole)
  • Tuna and salmon (for a meal along side vegetables and whole grains)
  • Tofu (in a stir fry or on a salad)
  • Eggs (for breakfast or added to a salad)
  • Sunflower seeds (as a snack or added to a salad)
  • Almonds, walnuts, etc. (as an on-the-go snack or with your cereal and/or oatmeal) 
  • Nut butters (dip an apple, banana, or pretzels)
  • Flax seeds and flax meal (added to oatmeal, yogurt, cereal or baked into muffins)
Always keep in mind that fats will add calories, but if you are conscious of your portions then this should not be a problem.  Healthy fats in moderation are the way to go!

Thursday, February 1, 2018


On February 2nd, the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health celebrate National Wear Red Day® to bring attention to the number one killer of women, heart disease. Despite the fact that heart disease kills more women than the next four causes of death combined, most women still think of it as a man’s disease. This misperception prevents many of us from taking the steps we need to keep ourselves healthy.

Celebrate Your Health:
When it comes to heart health, there are some changes that pack a big punch. Celebrate your
health and the health of the women in your life by making these strategies a priority.
  • Move more. The more active you are, the better you will feel and the lower your risk for heart disease will be. All activity counts, so don’t skip it if you are short on time. Ten minutes, three times a day is enough to make a difference.
  • Eat more of the good stuff. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are delicious foods that can help to lower your heart disease risk.
  • Eat less of the not so good stuff. Foods that are high in sodium (salt), trans or saturated fat and added sugar such as bacon or packaged snacks and desserts, increase your heart disease risk and should be limited or reduced. And of course, don’t smoke. If you do, February 2nd makes a great quit date!
Know Where You Stand:
Not all risk factors are obvious and most women developing heart disease have no symptoms at all. Check in with your doctor regularly to see what your personal heart disease risk is. Don’t assume that they will be the ones to start the discussion. Be proactive and have questions ready. Both the Go Red for Women and The Heart Truth websites have great tools to get you started.

2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Women and Heart Disease facts;

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
February 2018

Friday, January 26, 2018

Reduce Added Sugar

Currently, there are no federal guidelines regarding the amount of sugar you should consume.  However, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that we consume less sugar overall as part of a healthy lifestyle- no more than 6 teaspoons (tsp.) or 100 calories a day of sugar for most women and no more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories a day for most men.

Added sugar in foods such as desserts, candy, cookies, soda, and many cereals are providing empty calories.  Empty calories are calories that contain no nutritional value. Taking in these added/extra calories overtime can lead to unwanted weight gain and can also impact blood sugar levels for those diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Reducing your sugar intake may be easier than you think.  Here are some tips to get you started!
  • Cut down on adding sugar (table sugar, syrup, honey) to foods (cereal, cookies, pancakes) and beverages like coffee or tea. Try decreasing the amount you typically add and cut it in half and then continue to decrease from there.  
    • Instead of adding sugar to cereal or oatmeal, try fresh fruit (bananas, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries) or dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or apricots).
  • Remove soda. Choose a seltzer that's naturally flavored or you can add a splash of 100% fruit juice (such as Pomegranate, orange, grape…) to flavor a plain seltzer or just choose plain water if you don’t like the bubbles. 
  • Avoid fruit canned in syrup, especially heavy syrup. Choose fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruits that are in water or natural juice. 
  • When baking your favorite cookies, brownies or cakes, decrease the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. You can cut it by ½ the amount or slightly less and you will likely not even notice. 
Note: You do not need to count the naturally occurring sugars found in fruits and milk toward your daily intake of added sugar.

Bottom line is that it is important to be aware of your sugar intake and reduce it if you find that you are taking in more added sugar than the AHA recommends.  Use the tips mentioned above and work toward consuming less sugar overall.
  • Tips for Cutting Down on Sugar. Accessed January 24, 2018

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Food, New Me

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

Looking for a New Year’s resolution that can be good for you and fun? Challenge yourself to try new foods! Regardless of how old you are, it is possible to discover new foods or discover a new liking for a food you thought you didn’t enjoy.

Mix it up
Foods often take on very different flavors depending on how they were prepared. This is especially true for vegetables, which most of us should be resolving to eat more of. Raw spinach in a salad has a very different flavor than sautéed spinach. Texture can also change with preparation and can be a big factor in whether or not we like a food. Some people enjoy the crunch of a raw carrot, but do not enjoy the soft feel of a cooked carrot. Flavor combinations will also impact whether or not we like a given food. Give different herbs, spices and sauces a try on any food you are trying.

Try, try and try again
You have probably heard the idea of exposing children to food multiple times before deciding that they do or don’t like it. This same approach may work with adults as well. Don’t give up on a food the first time you try it. Simply becoming more familiar with a food may increase the chances that you will like it. It is also important to remember that factors beyond flavor can impact your reaction to a food. The setting, the way the food is presented and even who you are with when you try it could influence your preferences.

Make it social
Achieving a goal is often more fun and attainable if you do it with friends. Gather a group and start a tasting club. Challenge yourselves to try at least a certain number of new foods each month. Meet for lunch and share a new dish in addition to your regular meal. If it doesn’t become your new favorite, you haven’t wasted a full portion. Find something you like? Share your new discovery on social media with #NewFoodNewMe. Search the same hashtag to see what new foods other people are discovering.

January 2018

Friday, December 1, 2017

Party like a Pro

With end of year holiday parties popping up all around you it may seem like sticking to your health goals will be impossible. We asked some of our Registered Dietitians (RDs) to share their tips for enjoying party season without sacrificing your well-being.

Before the Party
Set yourself up for success with good preparation. Don’t skip meals before the party. It might seem like a good idea to allow room for party food, but skipping meals could leave you hungry and more likely to overeat during the party. Bring something you will feel good about eating. Salads, veggie platters and other plant forward dishes are great options that fill you up without overdoing it.

During the Party
Focus on the fun. Engage in conversations and activities that keep you from mindlessly snacking. Step away from the table. After you have gotten your food, find a spot away from the buffet so that you aren’t tempted to eat things simply because they are in front of you. Watch the liquid calories. Try making every other drink a sparkling water to reduce sugary beverages and stay hydrated.

After the Party
Take a walk. Making time to exercise is well worth it. You can burn off some extra calories and help manage stress. Drop the guilt! Enjoying amazing food at a party should not mean feeling bad about your choices. If you overdid it, let it go and get back on track. Indulging at a party or two will likely have less impact on your health than worrying about it will. Your well-being is determined by what you do most of the time, not the occasional splurge.

Tips provided by Compass Group RDs:
Stephanie Bassett, Susan Cooper, Sarah Defreitas, Suzanne Landry, Lily Leung, Robyn Lorando, Tori Martinet, Sarah Nicklay, Andrea Ogden, Savina Sparker, Tracy Wilczek and Leigh-Anne Wooten.

December 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

Cut The Salt; Rethink Flavor Development From The Ground Up

Monday, November 13, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , No comments

with campus executive chef Tom Barton

As a chef, seasoning and flavoring of food is one of the most important things that we do.

What is the difference between seasoning and flavoring? 
Seasoning is enhancing the natural flavor of a particular product while flavoring is changing the natural flavor of that product.
For example: when roasting a chicken simply adding salt and pepper enhance the natural flavor of the chicken but if you were to enhance with a BBQ rub, that would change the natural flavor.

Knowing when and what to season and flavor foods with is a skill that I am constantly working on. Hopefully at this point everyone knows that excessive use of salt is a health issue that should be taken seriously. As someone who prepares food for others, we have an obligation to serve tasty food that is also good for you.

Here are a few ways to reduce the amount of your salt intake:

Read nutritional labels
You would be amazed at the amount of sodium in some of your favorite foods especially those that are pre-prepared. If you do buy pre-prepared foods compare a few different brands as they typically vary between brands

Prepare foods
Prepare foods yourself as much as possible that we you have direct control over seasoning and flavoring. Experiment with using fresh herbs to enhance flavors

Reconsider portion sizes of your food

Try making herb salt
  1. Take 2-3 cups loosely packed herbs such as parsley, oregano, sage, thyme, cilantro, rosemary or basil and combine with ½ cup coarse salt such as kosher salt. 
  2. Place in food processor and pulse until you have achieved a course grind being careful not to process into a paste. 
  3. You can spread evenly onto a baking sheet and leave at room temperature for several days until the mixture becomes dry or alternatively you can place in a 200 degree oven and for approx  one hour or until dry. 
  4. In either case place into an air tight container and can be stored for up to 6 months.
The most important thing is to experiment and see what tastes good and what flavor profiles you enjoy and have fun!