Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

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!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Substantially Reduce Sugary Beverages, Innovate Replacements

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 | 2:44 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , , , , , No comments

Sugar-sweetened beverages contain lots of extra calories and almost no nutrients.  If you are consuming high-sugar drinks (i.e., soda or juice) regularly, over time it can lead to weight gain, which in turn will increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease as well as other medical issues. Therefore, it is important to limit your intake of beverages that contain lots of added sugar!

As of now, there are no federal guidelines regarding the amount of sugar you should consume.  However, the American Heart Association recommends that we consume less sugar- 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.

Flavored coffee: Be aware that the calories from sugar or flavored syrups added to these beverages will add up quickly.

Flavored waters seem to be one of the latest trends. Always check the labels as these beverages often contain added sugars.

  • Add slices of fruit to your water- lemons, limes, oranges, cucumber, melons… or a combination of these or other fruits and veggies.
  • Add chopped fruit into ice cube trays with a little water- freeze. Throw those into your water to add some flavor.
Green Tea is another great alternative.  It contains lots of antioxidants, which is great! Drink it hot or cold if you want to sweeten your green tea try adding a little honey!

Seltzer water is a great option choose ones that are 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 it you don’t like the bubbles!

Milk is a great nutrient dense option
  • Low-fat milk (skim milk, 1% low-fat milk)
  • Milk provides important nutrients: protein, calcium and vitamin D
  • Choose a low-fat version to supply fewer calories and less fat
  • Keep in mind that flavored milk will provide about 5-6 tsp. of added sugar (per 8 oz. serving)
Note: You do not need to count the naturally occurring sugars found in fruits and milk toward your daily intake of added sugar.

Thirsty? Try One of these 9 Refreshing Alternatives to soda.

  • Public Health Newsletter, Healthy Drinks Accessed November 3, 2017
  • Water: How much should you drink every day? Accessed November 3, 2017
  • Sugar 101:  Accessed November 2, 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

More than Just Sugar

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

Many people go to the doctor and hear that their “sugar is a little high” and wonder if that means diabetes. While many things can cause your blood sugar to be higher than it should, diabetes or being at risk for diabetes (sometimes called pre-diabetes) is a major reason. The good news is that for many people, diabetes* can be prevented by making a few healthy changes – the same changes that can also work to control diabetes if you already have it.

Eat Well
Eating well does not mean simply avoiding sugar. We need a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day, instead of skipping some meals and going overboard on others can also work wonders on balancing your blood sugar. Be cautious of foods labeled “sugar-free.” They may seem like a smart choice, but calories are important and many sugar-free options are not any lower in calories.

Move More
Getting 30 minutes of physical activity, at least five days per week, has been shown to help prevent or delay diabetes*. Those 30 minutes don’t have to be spent doing unpleasant activities to see the benefits. Pick something you like, do it at a moderate intensity and stick with it. If your schedule is tight, you can even break it into three 10 minute blocks throughout the day.

Slide the Scale
If you have some weight to lose, every move you make in the right direction decreases the chances you will get diabetes* or makes the diabetes you already have easier to control.

*Please note that while healthy changes can help to prevent the most common kind of diabetes (type 2), type 1 diabetes is not at this time considered preventable. Eating well and moving more are important for controlling all types of diabetes.

November is National Diabetes Month. To learn more about diabetes, visit the National Diabetes Education Program at

  1. National Diabetes Education Program, a partnership of the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public and private organizations. Accessed 9/6/17 at
  2. 2015 Diabetes Types 1 and 2 Evidence-Based Nutrition Practice Guideline. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Library®. Available at
Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
November 2017