Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Friday, October 2, 2015

What We're Cooking This Semester

Friday, October 2, 2015 | 4:01 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments

with Northeastern campus executive chef Tom Barton

I would like to welcome everyone back to campus. Hope everyone had a great summer and hope everyone is settling in. We have received a few questions about some of our local products that we serve so I thought I would take this opportunity to talk a little more about the products that we do purchase locally.

Right now is a GREAT time to buying local. What we buy changes from week to week based on our menus and what items the farmers feel is in peak condition to send to us. The past few weeks have been filled with potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, kale, chard, lettuces, squashes of all sorts, tomatoes, corn, and, of course, apples. Keep an eye out at Stetson for Chef Sam's fresh corn station – if you like Mexican street corn you'll love this!

Many of the items listed above fit perfectly into our "root to tip" vegetable program. In short, we use as much of the vegetable as possible – including the peel and the tops. Many of the vegetables we leave the peel on for added flavor and nutrition. Carrot and beet tops could be braised with other vegetables or made into a "pesto" and be incorporated back into the preparation.

We are also using some IDP – Imperfectly Delicious Produce. These are items that would have been left in the field because they don't look 100% perfect but they still taste great! IDP items that we have been using include small cut broccoli, baby kale, romaine lettuce, and cauliflower.

We will be buying and using many local products well into November and December. Our choices are certainly limited at that time but we are still able to get many local hard squashes and potatoes.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Off To A Healthy Start?

Thursday, October 1, 2015 | 9:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments
No matter how many times we’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, many of us still don’t give breakfast much thought. Whether we choose fast over healthy while on the run or skip breakfast all together, much of the time we are not providing our bodies with the proper fuel to start the day.

Is breakfast really that important?
Recent research says yes. People who eat a healthy breakfast tend to get more of the important nutrients we need. Traditional breakfast foods tend to be good sources of key nutrients like fiber, calcium, vitamin D and others that we may not otherwise be getting enough of. Healthy breakfast eaters may also be better at managing their weight.

What’s for breakfast?
While simply eating breakfast is a good thing, it is what we eat that is most important. Try these suggestions for a healthy breakfast:

  • Whole grain cereal with low fat milk and fresh fruit
  • Low fat yogurt with granola and dried fruit
  • Whole wheat pancakes or muffin with fresh berries and a glass of skim milk
  • Peanut butter and banana on a whole grain bagel
  • Vegetable egg white frittata with whole wheat toast
  • Not usually hungry in the morning? Start off small to get in the breakfast habit.
  • Venture off the traditional breakfast menu. If you like salads, try them at breakfast. It might seem funny at first, but the key is to get the energy you need to start your day off right. Whichever food you choose to gain that energy is up to you!

Make it a family affair.
Children with parents who eat breakfast are more likely to eat breakfast themselves. Make breakfast a daily habit for your family. Everyone will reap the benefits and you may help to instill a lifelong healthy habit in your children.

1. O’Neil, Carol E. et al. Nutrient Intake, Diet Quality, and Weight/Adiposity Parameters in Breakfast Patterns Compared with No Breakfast in Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2008 J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014; 114: S27-S43.
2. Pearson N, Biddle SJ, Gorely T. Family correlates of breakfast consumption among children and adolescents. A systematic review. Appetite. 2009 Feb;52(1):1-7. Epub 2008 Aug 22. Review.

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
October 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

An Apple A Day?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 | 9:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments
We’ve all heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but a recent study suggests that apples may keep the scale from tipping too.

Can apples really help with weight management?
A recent study found that children ages 2-18 who ate apples were less likely to be obese and had better diets overall than children who didn’t eat apples. The relationship between having a healthier weight was seen with whole apples and total apple products, but not with apple sauce or apple juice individually. The researchers suggest that this may be because whole apples tend to be more filling than apple juice or sauce. It is important to note that while eating fruit overall has been associated with being healthier, this single study doesn’t necessarily mean that an apple a day is the key to weight loss or management. It may in fact be that children who eat apples tend to have other healthy habits too.

Is it just apples? How about other fruit?
Fruit overall offers a lot of beneficial nutrients for relatively few calories. While this specific study looked just at apples, many previous studies looked at the impact of eating fruit. While the results for weight management are not conclusive, the health benefits of eating fruit are pretty clear. People who eat the recommended amounts of fruit (and vegetables) tend to be healthier than those who don’t. So, if you don’t like apples, don’t worry. Including a variety of other fruit, especially whole fruit, into your day is likely to offer benefits too.

Bottom Line
With almost no downside, adding an apple a day, especially if it replaces something higher in calories, may be a good way to start improving your eating habits and health overall. A lot of advice for being healthy or losing weight focuses on foods we shouldn’t eat when it may actually be more beneficial to focus on the foods that we should eat.

REFERENCES:1. O’Neil CE, Nicklas TA, Fulgoni VL 3rd. Consumption of apples is associated with a better diet quality and reduced risk of obesity in children: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2010. Nutr J. 2015 May 14;14(1):48.

Written by Jennifer M. Ignacio, MS, RD.
September 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Picnic Safety

Saturday, August 1, 2015 | 9:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments
Getting outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather is one of the perks of this time of year. If picnics are part of your plans, take caution with time and temperature to make sure nothing spoils your fun. Eating outdoors can be a great way to get some fresh air during your lunch break. Unfortunately, many of us tend to forget some of the basics of food safety when it comes to eating outdoors. To make sure that foodborne illness doesn’t spoil your outdoor eating, follow these simple rules.

Wash your hands
This effective step isn’t always so easy when you are outside. Consider washing your hands right before you head out or bring some hand wipes with you.

Maintain food temperature
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. The bacteria that can make us sick enjoy the warm weather as much as we do. To keep your food safe from unwanted bacteria, keep food below 40°F or above 140°F. Consider ice packs or hot food containers if you don’t plan to eat your food right away. If you can’t do this, remember that anything left out for more than two hours, or one hour if it is really hot out, should be thrown away.

Handle leftovers carefully
If you bring your lunch outside and have some leftover, put it in the refrigerator as soon as you get back. If you can’t get it into a refrigerator or cooler with ice, toss it. As good as it might have been, the risk is not worth keeping it around.

More food safety tips can be found at

REFERENCES:Written by Jennifer M. Ignacio, MS, RD Compass Group, North America
August 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Who determines what is healthy?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015 | 9:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , No comments
If news that the FDA recently asked KIND to stop referring to their bars as “healthy” has you confused, you are not alone. With ingredients like nuts and fruit that nutrition experts consistently encourage, it may seem odd that they wouldn’t be healthy. So, what is the FDA saying?

Why is the FDA involved?
The FDA, or Food and Drug Administration, is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring that foods (except for meat from livestock, poultry and some egg products which are regulated by the USDA) are safe, wholesome, sanitary and properly labeled. Under its role to ensure that foods are properly labeled, FDA regulates the use of health claims on foods, including the term “healthy.”

What does “healthy” mean to the FDA?
Most nutrition experts will tell you that being healthy is about eating a variety of good foods. Defining one food as healthy or not within the context of an overall diet can be complicated. To make sure that the term is applied to foods consistently, the FDA has a very specific definition of “healthy” that includes limits on total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium as well as a requirement that a certain amount of beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals or fiber be present. If a food does not meet these requirements, it is not legally allowed to be called “healthy.”

Bottom Line
In the case of KIND, the FDA determined that some of their bars did not meet the requirements for use of the term “healthy.” They also found additional misbranding issues as they relate to nutrient content and other health claims. KIND has stated that they will correct their labeling issues and stands behind the quality and safety of their products. Does any of this mean that KIND bars, or other foods that don’t meet the FDA definition of “healthy” cannot be part of a healthful diet? Absolutely not. Consistency in labeling is important, but so is eating a variety of nutrient rich foods, including fruit and nuts.

1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
2. FDA Warning letter to KIND, LLC 3/17/15.
3. KIND Blog: A note to our community.

Written by Jennifer M. Ignacio, MS, RD.
July 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

DGA: 2015 New Nutrition Guidelines

Monday, June 1, 2015 | 9:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , No comments
Every five years, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated to reflect the latest in nutrition research. With the 2015 guidelines expected later this year, will we see any big changes?

What are the Dietary Guidelines?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) include advice about nutrition and physical activity for Americans ages 2 years and over. Recommendations from the DGAs are based on a review of the current science and provide the basis for federal food and nutrition policy and education initiatives. The DGAs are updated every five years by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Will we see anything new?
The expert committee selected to review the latest research and make recommendations for this year’s guidelines recently submitted their report. Many of the committee’s recommendations are ones we have heard before – eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, seafood, legumes and nuts; eat less red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened foods and refined grains. Some new areas addressed included topics in food safety, sustainability and individual nutrients. The committee reported potential benefit from moderate coffee drinking for healthy adults. They also expressed safety concerns with consumption of high caffeine food or drinks by children as well as the risks of combining high-caffeine beverages and alcohol. Eating styles that meet both goals of improved health and environmental sustainability were recommended. For heart health, the committee suggested a focus on limiting saturated fat and sodium and not necessarily on the amount of cholesterol in a food.

What’s next?
After the public comments are considered, HHS and USDA will release the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans sometime late in 2015. The new DGAs will be used to update many federal programs including MyPlate, the Nutrition Facts label, school breakfast and lunch as well as other nutrition assistance and public health programs.

1. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Available at
Written by Jennifer M. Ignacio, MS, RD.
June 2015

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