Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Serving Less Red Meat, Less Often

Thursday, December 8, 2016 | 10:57 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

Red meat—beef, pork, and lamb—can be enjoyed occasionally, in small portions. The serving recommendation for red meat is two, 3-ounce servings per week. Keep in mind that a 3 oz. portion is the size of a deck of cards.

When replacing red meat in a meal, add poultry or fish (3-6 oz./day) and/or beans and nuts whenever possible. Another great strategy is to think of meat as a side dish verses the main dish or try having meatless meals a few times a week. This can not only offer health benefits, but it can also help save you money!

A plant-based diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes and nuts provides a great source of fiber as well as lots of vitamins and minerals. Individuals who eat only plant-based foods, such as vegetarians tend to eat less calories and fat overall, which in turn will likely result in a lower body weight. Another benefit of a vegetarian diet is a decreased risk of heart disease.

If you enjoy meat you do not need to become a vegetarian to gain health benefits. You can still enjoy meat, but just less often. Those who eat mostly plant-based foods, but still includes meat, poultry and fish occasionally are considered "flexible-vegetarians" or "flexitarians." This type of healthy eating is similar to the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.

When your meals do include meat, choose lean cuts and watch your portions! Remember that a serving of meat should be no more than 3 ounces/meal. Your protein/meat source should take up a ¼ of your plate. Vegetables and fruits should cover ½ of your plate and whole grains should make up the rest.


  1. Meatless Meals Once or Twice a Week. Accessed on December 5, 2016.
  2. The flexitarian Diet. Accessed on December 5, 2016.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Superfood Sides

Whether planning quick mid-week dinners or elaborate weekend parties, side dishes are often an afterthought. With the growing trend towards plant-forward eating, it’s time to take a fresh look at side dishes.

What are Superfoods?
The term Superfood is used often, but not always with the same meaning. The simplest way to think of Superfoods is that they offer benefits above and beyond their basic nutrient content. For example, antioxidants make berries super, while nuts and avocados have good fats. We focus on Superfoods that are naturally super, but there are also foods that are called super or functional because of ingredients that have been added to them.

Why sides?
Years of nutrition research has consistently shown that eating more plant foods is a good thing. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are part of every well-balanced diet – often in the form of side dishes! Putting a little effort into the flavor and presentation of your side dishes can help these health promoting food groups become a bigger part of what you eat every day.

How to get started:
Follow the seasons. Choosing Superfoods while they are in season means fresher, tastier meals at the best prices. Eat like a vegetarian. Have you ever noticed what vegetarians do when there isn’t a vegetarian option? They eat the sides! You can make a really good meal of side dishes if you plan well. Turn your plate inside out. Make the sides your main feature and use meat and other traditional center-of-the-plate items as the smaller, accent items. Need some recipe inspiration? Check out where there is a feature on Superfood Sides with recipes to try at home.

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
December 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Implementing Menus of Change this December

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 | 10:06 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments

with campus executive chef Tom Barton

As you may have already seen or heard, Northeastern is actively participating in something called Menus of Change. This initiative is a collaboration between the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America.

Menus of Change is built on twenty-four principles that revolve around sustainable eating and education about making healthier food and drink choices. Northeastern Dining has been involved with Menus of Change – and its companion educational initiative, the Menus of Change Research Collaborative – for well over a year. We typically focus on two principles a month. This month we are focusing on "Leverage globally inspired, plant-based culinary strategies" as well as "Serve less red meat, less often."

One of the exciting and unique things about all of the principles is that the schools participating in the initiative each interpret them slightly differently. A dish that we have on our menus that I think exemplifies these globally inspired plant-based culinary strategies is a turnip osso bucco. Osso bucco is traditionally a meat dish made with either veal or lamb shanks and slowly braised with wine, tomato, vegetables and stock. We have taken this same technique and applied it to certain vegetables, namely turnips and carrots. We like to use purple top turnips and leave the skin on for flavor and nutritional benefit. The turnips are first seared to give a nice golden brown color and, like the more traditional dish, slowly braised with vegetables, tomatoes, and vegetable stock until tender. We also do this dish with carrots and I have to say the results are stunning. Even those who don't like turnips (me included) have gone back for seconds!

Another example on the menus of actually both principles we are featuring is some of our "blended" dishes. Our version of blending involves reducing the amount of meat in something and replacing it with ground mushrooms. For instance, our meatloaf is a blend of 60% beef and 40% ground mushrooms. We are currently using this blending technique in many other dishes as well, including chili and meatballs.

More information on Menus of Change can be found on our website at and

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Local Apple Sauce and Transparency in Sourcing

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 | 4:10 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments

with campus executive chef Tom Barton

As you may have seen – or already tasted! – we are now featuring an awesome, delicious, and locally sourced apple sauce. The sauce is made with apples grown in local Massachusetts orchards. And if that wasn't enough, there is only one ingredient: apples. That's right, just apples. No sweeteners or additives, just 100% locally sourced apples. Currently, it is being made with Macintosh apples but changes with the seasonal offerings.

The sauce is made by Karl Dias – commonly referred to in our kitchens as "the apple sauce guy." Karl reports that he has a steady supply of various varieties of apples and will continue to make sauce throughout the winter. Karl sent me a note over the weekend letting me know that he just finished a batch using macoun apples and thought it just might top his current batch of Macintosh sauce!

Because of the outstanding flavor, clean label, and local regionality of the product, we wanted to feature it as quickly as possible. However, not knowing how well it would be received we started with just a few cases and within a day had to order more. I think the first week Karl delivered to us three times just to make sure we had enough!

The apple sauce is currently being featured in a few different places around campus. It is available in both Stetson East and International Village at the yogurt stations for lunch and dinner. Additionally, we are making "apple sauce parfaits" with apple sauce and either raisins or dried cranberries. These grab-and-go items are available at On The Go, Outtakes, and café716.

Karl also stopped by to talk with and educate students about his product at our recent "Culinary Chat" table at International Village last week (photo above).

These are the types of local, seasonal items we at Northeastern Dining continue to search for and serve on a year round basis.

Produce First!

Choosing vegetables and fruits at each meal, will help add color and texture to your plate! If you include all different fruits and vegetables as a part of a healthy eating plan you will end up taking in lots of important nutrients (potassium, fiber, folic acid, and vitamins A, E, and C). Keep in mind the more colorful, the more nutrients!

Pick your vegetables and fruits first
Then add on your protein (beans, chicken, beef, etc.) and grains/starch (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole grain breads, etc.).

Make half of your plate vegetables
Lots of the produce offered in the Northeastern dining halls is from local farmers, which is really great! Be sure to check out the apple sauce in the dining halls made by a local company with just whole apples (no additives or preservatives). Fruits and vegetables are also:
  • A great source of fiber that helps fill you up and keeps your digestive 
system regular.
  • Naturally a low calorie/low fat food.
  • A great on-the-go snack. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables may also help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and digestive problems.
  1. Top 10 Reasons to Eat more Fruits and Vegetables. Accessed on November 20, 2016
  2. The Nutrition Source: Vegetable and Fruits. Accessed on November 20, 2016

Friday, November 4, 2016

6 Healthy Choices to Avoid the "Freshman 15"

Friday, November 4, 2016 | 10:02 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments

Although the "freshman 15" in fact seems to be a myth, it is still important to be a conscious eater for your overall health!

College is a time for adjustments including getting use to roommates, busy class schedules, and making new friends. Many times with all these changes come homesickness, stress, and anxiety, which may result in overeating. Try to evaluate your level of hunger when you reach for a snack; are you choosing a snack because you are hungry? Stressed? Bored? Do yourself a favor by stocking your room with healthy snack options: yogurts, fruits, whole grain cereals and breakfast bars.

Some tips to help you make healthy choices in the dining hall!

Even the most health conscious students can make less than healthy choices while filling their plates in the dining hall. Here are a few simple guidelines to help you make healthy choices most of the time:
  • There are no "good" or "bad" foods. When choosing chicken fingers and French fries and/or a few cookies, do not feel guilty. Instead of thinking of foods as "bad" or "good" think moderation. Avoid getting hung up on counting every calorie. It's more important to concentrate on getting the nutrients you need by eating a wide variety of foods.
  • Choose beverages wisely. Sodas, juice drinks, and some sports drinks contain lots of added sugar, which can add empty calories and possibly contribute to weight gain over time. Try to choose water and low-fat or nonfat milk most often.
  • Choose a variety of foods. Try to avoid eating the same few foods all the time! Work on including foods from all the different food groups. Think about the MyPlate model when planning your meals: Fill ½ your plate with vegetables or fruit; ¼ of your plate with a piece of lean protein, a veggie burger or beans; and ¼ of your plate with a small portion of whole grain pasta or brown rice to balance out your meal.
  • Remain mindful if you stay around to socialize in the dining hall. After you are done eating choose a fruit to snack on or drink some fruit infused water. The dining halls are like endless buffets. You can sit for hours, and the longer you sit the more you will eat. Try to avoid continuing to eat desserts while you are hanging around.
  • When you turn to the Internet for facts, choose carefully. Some websites may promote fad diets and/or provide misleading information. Try to choose reputable websites.
  • Don’t forget to stay active. Fitness is important too! Make an effort to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. Choose moderate to vigorous activities each day (like walking, running, swimming, or working out at the gym). Look for chances to be active with friends to make it fun and social! Exercising along with making healthy food choices will help fuel both your body and your mind!
  1. Freshman 15 May be just a myth. Accessed October 30, 2016.
  2. Healthy Dining Hall Eating. Information accessed October 30, 2016
  3. 8 ways to Beat the Freshman 15. Information accessed October 29, 2016

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Holiday Food Safety

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

Thanksgiving kicks off holiday party season where we gather with friends and family for delicious meals. Following a few key rules can help to keep you and your guests feeling good.

Turkey is the main attraction at many Thanksgiving meals. Whether you buy your turkey fresh or frozen, keeping it at the right temperature in the days leading up to cooking is important for preventing foodborne illness. If you plan to thaw in the refrigerator remember that it can take up to six days for a large turkey to thaw. Thawing in cold water is a faster option, but you need to change the water every 30 minutes to make sure it stays cold enough. Turkey and other meats should never be thawed or left on the counter at room temperature.

Roasting to the right temperature can mean the difference between a delicious turkey and one that is either undercooked or dried out. While many turkeys come with a pop up thermometer, it is a good idea to invest in a separate meat thermometer. You want the internal temperature of your turkey and stuffing to get to 165°F. How long that takes will depend on the size of the turkey.

While it can be tempting to leave party food out to snack on, storing it quickly means that you can enjoy it safely for a few more days. Anything left out at room temperature for longer than two hours should be tossed. Break down large items into smaller containers before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer so that they cool faster. Refrigerated leftovers should be used within 3-4 days. If you need more time, freeze instead. When it is time to reheat, bring the food back to 165°F. For more information on food safety, check out

REFERENCES: 1. Home Food Safety. Available at
Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
November 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Eat Well, Be Happy

Saturday, October 1, 2016 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , No comments

Does the idea of improving your health 5-10 years from now seem too far away to motivate you to eat well? What if eating well could have more immediate results? A recent study suggests that just may be the case.

Eat Well, Be Happy?
Eating more fruits and vegetables is widely seen as a way to improve physical health, but now, there may be another reason hit the salad bar. Eating more fruits and vegetables might make us happier and more satisfied with life. A recent study found that people who increasingly ate more fruits and vegetables were happier and had improved overall well-being. The changes were quick – less than 2 years. The size of the result was pretty impressive too. According to the researchers, the increase in well-being is the equivalent to the decrease someone would see if they lost their job.

How does it work?
Most research on fruits and vegetables has looked at preventing chronic diseases like diabetes or cancer, or improving weight. The idea that fruits and vegetables can make us happier is a new, but exciting idea. It is possible that the vitamins and other nutrients in fruits and vegetables deserve the credit. It could also be the fiber. Whatever the cause, it seems that this could be one more reason to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Next Steps
Aim for a fruit or a vegetable at each meal or snack. It can be as small as a handful of raisins or as big as a salad for lunch. The researchers didn’t find that any particular fruit or vegetable worked better than another, so pick some that you enjoy and challenge yourself to try new ones. It all counts and can help increase your health overall and possibly your happiness now.

1. Redzo Mujcic and Andrew J.Oswald. Evolution of Well-Being and Happiness After Increases in Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables. American Journal of Public Health: August 2016, Vol. 106, No. 8, pp. 1504-1510.
October 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Save The Food

Thursday, September 1, 2016 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , No comments

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 and

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: Home Food Safety. Available at Save the Food. Available at
Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
September 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016

Eat To Compete

Monday, August 1, 2016 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , No comments

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.

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
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.

Written by Jana Wolff
August 2016

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Sunshine Vitamin

Friday, July 1, 2016 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

Summer is here and the sun is shining, which is one of the best ways to get your vitamin D. But what if we do not get enough sunlight throughout the year? Is a vitamin D supplement necessary?

What the studies say:
Vitamin D may help to prevent a number of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. It also has a range of potential anti-cancer actions. But much of the information on vitamin D comes from studies that cannot be reproduced for the general public. Currently, a handful of trials are happening, in and outside of the U.S., which will likely tell us if supplementation is protective for our health.

What we already know:
Vitamin D helps to keep our bones and teeth healthy, and is associated with other aspects of health. According to the new Dietary Guidelines, we should get most of our vitamin D from foods. Fortified foods and dietary supplements may be helpful when we fall short of recommendations. Vitamin D is also called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies can make it when we are exposed to sun. Just 10-15 minutes per day is usually enough. Good food sources of vitamin D are fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, as well as milk fortified with vitamin D. You can even find mushrooms that have been exposed to light to increase the amount of vitamin D they contain.

Bottom Line:
Getting enough vitamin D is important to our overall health, but there can also be risks with getting too much. Before you reach for a supplement, look at how much time you spend in the sun and how many foods with vitamin D you choose. If you think you may not be getting enough vitamin D, talk to your health care provider at your next visit.

1. Neale RD, Armstrong C, Baxter B et al. The D-Health Trial: A randomized trial of vitamin D for prevention of mortality and cancer. 10 April 2016. Contemporary Clinical Trials, doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2016.04.005
2. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated February 11, 2016. Visited April 14, 2016.

Written by Jana Wolff
July 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fish For Your Heart?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , , No comments

Cutting back on red meat is a common recommendation for both health and sustainability. What’s less clear is what we should replace the meat with. A recent study looked at this and the results may surprise you.

If not red meat, what?
Red meat appears on many lists of foods to eat less of due mostly to its saturated fat and cholesterol content, and the fact that we tend to eat too much of it. A recent study looked at what we should consider substituting for red meat when we follow the advice to cut back. Of all of the substitutions the study looked at, one stood out as the best choice – fish high in omega-3s. The fatty fish showed more benefits for heart health than poultry, unprocessed meat and even lean fish.

Is fish safe to eat?
Fish, especially the kind that gives us omega-3s, has long been considered a healthy choice. Warnings related to contamination by mercury and other toxins has left many people wondering if fish is safe to eat. For most people, the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks. To keep those risks even lower, it is important to choose a variety of fish. Salmon, anchovies, herring, shad, sardines, Pacific oysters, trout, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel are examples of fish that offer omega-3s and are lower in mercury making them good options for those meat-skipping meals.

Bottom Line
If you are looking to improve your health and that of our environment, replacing red meat with fatty fish occasionally seems like a step in the right direction. Choosing the fish carefully to avoid high levels of mercury, especially for pregnant women and young children is recommended. The Seafood Watch Guide (seafoodwatch.morg) can help make sure those fish choices are ocean-friendly too.

1. Würtz AM1, Hansen MD1, Tjønneland A2, Rimm EB3, Schmidt EB4, Overvad K1, Jakobsen MU1. Substitutions of red meat, poultry and fish and risk of myocardial infarction. Br J Nutr. 2016 Mar 7:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]
2. 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

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD
June 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Are you a Healthy Shopper?

Sunday, May 1, 2016 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

Does where you buy your food determine how healthy you are? A recent study suggests that there may be a link between the type of store where you do most of your food shopping and your weight and the health of your diet overall.

Which stores were better?
Some of the results were what you might expect. People who shopped often at convenience stores ate fewer fruits and vegetables. Convenience stores don’t tend to have large produce departments, so this makes sense. Fruits and vegetables were a bigger part of the diets of people who frequented supermarkets and specialty stores. Overall diet quality was highest in those who shopped at food co-ops. From a weight perspective, people who shopped at specialty stores and farmers markets tended to weigh less and people who shopped at food co-ops had smaller waists.

Which comes first?
Now the question is, do healthy people tend to shop at certain stores or do certain shopping habits make you healthier? This recent study isn’t able to say for sure, but it seems that it could be both. Someone who eats more fruits and vegetables is likely to seek out stores with more variety of high quality produce. On the other hand, in store marketing and promotions can influence the types of foods shoppers buy regardless of the reason they ended up at the store in the first place.

Bottom Line
Shifting your shopping habits may offer a way to improve your health. If you find yourself coming up short on fruits and vegetables, consider spending more of your shopping time and money at stores with better produce sections or at farmers’ markets. If stops at the local convenience store are a regular part of your routine, try giving a little more time to planning your big shopping trips to stock up on a variety of healthful foods. Having the right foods on hand is a great way to make better food choices the easy choices.

1. Leia M Minaker, Dana L Olstad, Mary E Thompson, Kim D Raine, Pat Fisher and Lawrence D Frank. Associations between frequency of food shopping at different store types and diet and weight outcomes: findings from the NEWPATH study. Public Health Nutrition, available on CJO2016. doi:10.1017/S1368980016000355.

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD
May 2016

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Moving Legumes to the Center of the Plate

Thursday, April 7, 2016 | 10:13 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

With assistance from Northeastern graduate student Jennifer Chisam

What Are Legumes?
Legumes, specifically black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, black beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, and lentils, are nutrient dense foods with many health benefits. These legumes are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, as well as many vitamins and minerals. According to the USDA MyPlate dietary guidelines, legumes are even part of two food groups, the meat group and the vegetable group. While current legume consumption is low, garbanzo beans – in the form of hummus – are on the rise.

Are Legumes Healthy?
Research has indicated many health benefits associated with consuming legumes including a reduced risk in cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure. Since legumes are high in complex carbohydrates, they have a low glycemic index making them a great choice for people with diabetes. Being high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, legumes provide a feeling of fullness known as satiety, which also aids in weight management. Black eyed peas are higher in soluble fiber which binds to cholesterol and aids in blood sugar regulation. Garbanzo beans are higher in insoluble fiber which helps with digestion, prevents constipation, and increases satiety. It is important to remember if using canned beans to reach for the low sodium options. Draining and rinsing is also recommended which removes about 41% of the sodium as well as reduces flatulence. Kidney beans are high in protein, low in carbohydrates, low in fat and calories, and are nutrient dense. Cannellini beans, or white kidney beans, are high in protein, high in soluble fiber, and nutrient dense. Legumes also contain beneficial vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.

Making Legumes a Staple Choice
With the USDA recommends 2.5 to 3.5 cups of legumes per week, less than 13% of Americans actually meet these guidelines. Adding garbanzo beans or lentils to a salad will help provides some essential nutrients for a delicious and healthful meal. Also try using hummus as a spread instead of mayonnaise for a healthier more nutrient-dense option. Cannellini beans are a great addition to many soups including the traditional Italian minestrone. All can help you feel full while giving your body nutrients it needs to help reduce health risks and maintain a healthy weight.

  1. Azadbakht L, Haghighatdoost F, Esmaillzadeh A. Legumes: A component of a healthy diet. J Res Med Sci. 2011; 16(2):121-122.
  2. Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter. Add These Lesser-Known Legumes to Your Healthy Pantry. 2015; 32(11):6(1)
  3. Mudryj AN, Yu N, Aukema HM. Nutritional and health benefits of pulses. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014; 39:1197-1204. doi:
  4. SELFNutrition Data. Know what you eat.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Embracing "Menus of Change" In Our Kitchens

Monday, April 4, 2016 | 4:50 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , No comments

with campus executive chef Tom Barton

As you may know by now, the Northeastern dining team has been heavily engaged in Menus of Change. Our latest initiatives include finding ways to move vegetables and legumes to the center of the plate as well as including more globally inspired plant based recipes.

Legumes are packed full of flavor, contain plant protein and fiber and, from an environmental perspective, produce an impressive amount of protein per acre. Some examples of current menu offerings include lentil bolognese, a healthier take on the classic dish made with traditional meat sauce, a delicious Cajun lentil stew, and a refreshing lentil couscous that is perfect for spring time. Many grains and legumes can also be found on the salad and vegetarian stations. Try "hacking" your meal by adding any of them to just about any soup to create a heartier version or try infusing them into some of the brown rice dishes!

We have also been applying some techniques and recipes that have traditionally been used with meat and applying them to vegetables such as slow braising turnips "osso bucco" and Vindaloo of sweet potatoes and spinach. Other plant-based strategies include offering a burger that is blended with mushrooms for added flavor and juiciness and our "Plantiful" grain and vegetable-based bowls. Growing plants for food generally have less of a negative impact on the environment.

We continue to embrace the principles of Menus of Change with the health and nutrition of our students, faculty and staff in the front of our minds as we continue our menu development.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Friday, April 1, 2016 | 11:00 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments

A large body of evidence now shows that healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity can help people achieve and maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic disease throughout all stages of the lifespan. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reflects this evidence through its recommendations:

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.
For most individuals, achieving a healthy eating pattern will require changes in food and beverage choices. This edition of the Dietary Guidelines focuses on shifts to emphasize the need to make substitutions—that is, choosing nutrient-dense foods and beverages in place of less healthy choices—rather than increasing intake overall. Most individuals would benefit from shifting food choices both within and across food groups. Some needed shifts are minor and can be accomplished by making simple substitutions, while others will require greater effort to accomplish.

  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
Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
April 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Enjoying Traditional Foods on Special Occasions

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 | 12:30 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments

Many of you may have gotten some chocolates or yummy desserts for Valentine's Day. You might have a birthday coming up or a friend's or family's birthday celebration to attend, what about the cake? How about St. Patrick's Day around the corner with corned beef and hash?

With special occasions, come special treats and, sometimes, less healthy meal options. Consider this: most special occasions are not all that frequent and only come around but once a year. When celebrating friend and family birthdays this comes about more often so what to do!? Think moderation!

Making healthier choices, choosing smaller portions of less healthy food options and choosing desserts that are lower in fat and calories- that is a good idea. When you start to restrict and depriving yourself of foods that you want and enjoy you tend to want them even more. Again, think moderation when it comes to desserts in a healthy diet!

There is nothing wrong with occasionally enjoying a calorie dense piece of cake, pie, or cookie as part of a special occasion. It's a good idea to avoid keeping these types of desserts on hand regularly. Try to save these treats for special occasions or once in awhile.

Things to think about:
  • Consider the portion of the dessert or piece of cake – try to avoid overindulging.
    • Same goes for those less healthy special occasion dishes
  • If you got dark chocolates for Valentine's Day then you can take in some good antioxidants. Just don't forget all chocolate contains fat in calories. Choose portions wisely!
  • If you are making a dessert for a special occasion, use fruit as a base or add some to a treat to add sweetness instead sugar.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Celebrating Cultural Diversity

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 | 10:31 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

All of us belong to a cultural group and one’s culture most often influences daily food choices. Unfortunately, sometimes our favorite cultural dishes contain a great deal of fat and calories. One way to reduce fat and calories in these dishes is to swap out ingredients for ones that are lower in fat in calories. For example, if a recipe calls for cream or whole milk, choose low fat or skim milk instead. You can always use a little less of ingredients such as shredded cheese to cut back on calories and fat.

Foods from various cultures can be healthy or unhealthy. To balance things out, some cultures choose their large meal early in the day and have a light meal at night. Other cultures may include foods that are high in calories but were brought up practicing portion control and not overindulging on these foods. There are many cultural cuisines that contain lots of healthy foods including fiber-rich grains, protein-rich legumes along with a variety of vegetables.

When you make your favorite recipes at home, here are some ingredients you can choose instead to make them a little healthier:

Instead of this ingredient
Try this ingredient
Shortening or butter to coat pans
Vegetable spray
Butter or Margarine
Low/fat free margarine, canola, safflower, or olive oil
Whole milk
Skim milk or plain non-fat yogurt
Full fat cheese
Part-skim milk cheeses
Sour cream
Low-fat or fat-free sour cream
Baking chocolate
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder plus 2 tsp. of water for each ounce of chocolate
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
Meat with skin on it
Remove skin prior to cooking
Dark poultry meat
White meat
Frying food
Bake or broil them
Fatty ground meat
Lean ground meat (90-95% lean)
Stews and casseroles that are heavy on meat and light on vegetables
Increase vegetables and decrease meats
Regular Mayo and/or salad dressing
Low-fat mayo and/or salad dressing
Full portion of traditional food
Half portions
Canned foods
Fresh or frozen as an alternative
Red meats (bacon, sausage, luncheon meats)
Turkey, chicken, or fish

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Should breakfast be the new dinner?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 | 9:15 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments

Have you heard that eating late at night is bad for you? While the bigger impact usually comes from the type of foods we tend to eat late at night more than when we eat them, there may be some benefits to adjusting when we eat.

Does meal time matter?
Many of us eat in a way that has our meals getting larger as the day goes on – lunch is bigger than breakfast and dinner is bigger than lunch. New research suggests that this may not be the best way to eat to maximize health. Our bodies seem to react better to larger meals eaten earlier in the day than ones eaten later. A few benefits to the earlier meals include better blood sugar control and better weight management. We may even burn more calories after meals eaten earlier in the day.

How does our body know what time it is?
Our internal clocks, influenced by external cues like sunlight or darkness, make up our circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms can influence when we sleep, our body temperature and other important bodily functions. Abnormal circadian rhythms have been connected to sleep problems and a variety of health issues including diabetes, obesity and depression. It also seems that circadian rhythms can help determine how we react to the food we eat.

Bottom Line
A larger breakfast and lunch, with a smaller dinner may be a better pattern for some people. Circadian rhythms have a genetic component, so we all likely react a little bit differently to meal times. If you find that you feel better, and are better able to achieve your health goals with swapping your larger meals to earlier in the day, it may be a good habit to adopt with almost no downside

1. Bo S, et al. Is the timing of caloric intake associated with variation in diet-induced thermogenesis and in the metabolic pattern? A randomized cross-over study. Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 Dec;39(12):1689-95
2. Circadian Rhythms Fact Sheet. National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Available at:

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
March 2016