Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

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.

References
  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) http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/10_13/current-articles/Add-These-Lesser-Known-Legumes-to-Your-Healthy-Pantry_1621-1.html.
  3. Mudryj AN, Yu N, Aukema HM. Nutritional and health benefits of pulses. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014; 39:1197-1204. doi: dx.doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2013-0557.
  4. SELFNutrition Data. Know what you eat. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2324/2.

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.

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