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Category: Tara Sanders–Nutrition

Tasting tables bring nutritious samples to students  February 29th, 2012

For the last two years, Oregon State University Housing and Dining Services has partnered with the Student Stustainabilty Initiative and the Corvallis Environmental Center’s Harvest of the Month program to highlight local produce served in University Housing and Dining Services Dining Centers.

Each term, UHDS’ dining centers host a “Harvest of the Month” tasting table event where free samples of recipes using locally grown produce are given to guests along with information about the local farm where it was produced and the nutritional benefits of the featured produce.  Also, the recipes are available in the dining center (if the guest would like more than a taste!)  Nutrition student volunteers and interns provide nutrition information and the tasting samples.

Amanda Rhodes, a sophomore nutrition student has been involved with the program since the start. “What I like about the these tasting tables is working with the public to persuade them to taste the samples by focusing on the taste and the sustainability aspects.  This is an easier “sell” over focusing solely on the good nutritional aspects of eating fruits and vegetables.  Once they have their first bite … then we let them know how nutritious it is” Rhodes said.

The goal of this program is two-fold  1) to showcase UHDS’ commitment to locally grown produce and 2) to get customers to eat more fruits or vegetables by preparing them in an innovative way by OSU’s talented culinary team.  Jeff LaMagra, Assistant Director of Culinary Development, who is in  charge of the culinary team, said “It has been great to work our local farmers like Red Hat Melons in Albany,  Kenagy Farms, Riverwood Orchards and Truit Brothers (to name a few) to support a Farm to Fork program here on campus.  We’ve also worked with our campus Organic Grower’s Club and Oak Creek Farm to sell fresh campus grown  produce in our market and dining centers”.

Bruce Hoerauf, Chef de Cuisine at Arnold Dining Center, was the first chef to participate in the program. “ I like to feature recipes that aren’t prepared in the traditional way—we want to provide a wow experience, something customers will come back for here or make in their own kitchens”.   Some tasty recipes that have been featured include strawberry-chili pickled rhubarb, turnip citrus slaw, apple and rosemary chicken, butternut squash risotto, asparagus-sesame salad, orange-star anise glazed hubbard squash and sweet and sour red cabbage with clove.

Tara Sanders, UHDS Dietician

The importance of breakfast  January 18th, 2012

As college students, life is sometimes a little rushed, often un-predictable, and usually stressful. During times of uncertainty one thing is for sure, we need to eat. We need to nourish, refuel, and replenish our bodies and minds in order to tackle life as college students. When schedules get a little crazy eating is sometimes overlooked or pushed to the side. Remember when your parents would say, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day?” Well if you do, there is substantial research that provides evidence that this saying is accurate when it comes to health, weight maintenance, and cognitive function.
Upon awaking after a night of sleeping there is a physiological need to replenish the body’s energy or blood sugar stores. By consuming breakfast the body is able to replenish its diminished stores, as a result, providing it with energy. But when breakfast is skipped your body cannot replenish itself and may try to get energy elsewhere such as your muscles. As some of you know from experience which I can attest to as well, having a reduction in energy may lead to decreased ability to think and remember clearly and energy to engage in physical activity.
Researchers suggest that when breakfast is skipped there is a tendency to overeat later in the day or consume an unhealthy snack. Studies have gathered a correlation between breakfast skippers and their body mass index (BMI), an indicator of body fat, being higher than those who consume breakfast. In other words, if you are trying to maintain or loss weight skipping breakfast is not a healthy solution. By eating more frequent meals it can assist the body’s ability to utilize energy and lower BMI. No one enjoys that rollercoaster feeling of high and low energy spurts; keep your energy levels coasting by eating 3-5 small meals throughout the day.
There is a slight catch, not all breakfast foods are made equal, and the type of breakfast can have a difference on the overall quality of the diet. Choosing a carbohydrate dense, moderate-high fiber food such as a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal or cooked cereals (like oatmeal, cream of wheat, or grits) paired with fruit is a great way to keep you satiated and full longer. Fiber is a beneficial part of a healthy diet that may prevent the development of certain diseases and keep things moving smoothly. It is recommended that women get 28 grams and men get 35 grams of fiber a day. Look for cereals that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and less than 5 grams of sugar per serving such as cheerios, raisin brain, and shredded wheat-originals. In addition to cold and cooked cereals some great breakfast foods include:

  • Low fat yogurt with fruit or granola (check the label and look for low fat, low sugar varieties)
  • String cheese and crackers
  • Pancake or waffle with peanut butter
  • Whole wheat bagel with fruit spread or nut/seed butters
  • Veggie omelet (the more veggies the better)
  • English muffin with a poached egg
  • Made to order breakfast burritos at Arnold and McNary (choose ham + lots of veggies)

All these foods can be found at any of the campus dining centers. With the start of the new year make it a priority to eat breakfast. You are not only energizing yourself but you are creating a positive health behavior for life. Refresh, refuel, and BeWell.

By Natasha Luff, Dietetic Intern, OSU

Works Cited

1. Breaking the Fast; The Timing and The Contents of Breakfast Make it Perhaps the Most Important Meal of the Day. (2011). Harvard Health Letter. Retrieved from
2. Cho, S., Dietrich, M., Brown, C., Clark, C., et al (2003). The Effect of Breakfast Type on Total Daily Energy Intake and Body Mass Index: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey(NHANES III). J Am Coll Nutr (22.4) 296-302.
3. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010
4. Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options to grab at home. (2011). Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic Online

New and featured dishes!  November 22nd, 2011

Casa Della Pasta in McNary Dining Center has a new entrée: The Bene Vita Bowl.

It’s fresh, healthy and sustainable. The Bene Vita Bowl features plant-based ingredients such as beans, grains and vegetables. This hearty entrée is satisfying to most palates.

ALL the Bene Vita bowls are vegetarian and there are also gluten free and vegan options.

Stop by and try a sample at a tasting table event from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, in McNary Dining Hall.

Also, Casa Della Pasta will be featuring a Northwest Hazelnut Pesto Pasta from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 for lunch (11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) and dinner (5 to 7:30 p.m.).

Northwest Hazelnut Pesto Pasta is made with toasted Oregon hazelnuts, fresh parsley and blue cheese. This dish is the perfect blend of savory flavors that will leave you delightfully satisfied.

Stop by the tasting table and try it for yourself from 11 to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29. 

Natasha Luff, Dietetic Intern, University Housing & Dining Services

Celebrating sustainable food systems  October 24th, 2011

Hopefully, you were able to participate in Food Day events on Monday, Oct. 24!  Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life to advocate for healthy, affordable food that is produced in a sustainable, humane way.  For more information, check out

UHDS, along with other campus partners including the MU Food Service, Student Sustainability Initiative, Human Services Resource Center/OSU Food Pantry and the Student Dietetic Association hosted information tables  in the Memorial Union Quad in celebration of Food Day. Each group shared information on services and resources that support healthy food.

In UHDS dining centers our goal is to keep healthy food accessible, affordable and from local sources, whenever possible. (See examples of healthy affordable food available in the dining centers in my previous blog).

UHDS is a member of the Food Alliance, an organization that promotes environmental and social responsibility for the food system, and demonstrates this commitment through partnerships with many local vendors.  UHDS is a proud partner with OSU’s Organic Growers Club/Oak Creek Farm.  Although harvest time is coming to an end, Cascadia Market in the new International Living and Learning Center still offers some selections such as tomatoes, hot peppers and bell peppers.  UHDS also supports many other local vendors. Here are just a few examples:

  • Bob’s Red Mill
  • Carlton Farms
  • Country Natural Beef
  • Dave’s Killer Bread
  • The Higher Taste
  • Franz Bakery
  • Kenagy Family Farm
  • Nearly Normal’s Gonzo Cuisine
  • Pacific Coast Fruit Company
  • Spring Valley Dairy
  • Rain Sheep
  • Red Hat Melons
  • Riverwood Orchard & Farm
  • Stahlbush Island Farms
  • Stella Gelato
  • Truitt Brothers
  • Willamette Valley Cheese Company

Waste not, want not.  In UHDS dining centers, leftovers do not go to waste.  UHDS supports community-based emergency food programs by providing leftover, usable food to Linn-Benton Food Share .  Additionally, plate waste is composted at Allied Waste. At Arnold Dining Center, customers sort all compostable and recyclable products and at McNary Dining and Marketplace West, sorting is completed behind the scenes in our dish rooms.

To learn more about what UHDS is doing to support sustainable food systems, see the UHDS sustainability website.

Thanks and Be Well!

Tara Sanders, UHDS Dietician

Mission nutrition: OSU’s dining centers launch ‘stealth health’  October 4th, 2011

Welcome to Oregon State University and University Housing & Dining Services!

At UHDS, we employ “stealth health” strategies, under the radar efforts to make the healthy choice the easy choice for those we serve.

A major stealth health strategy this year has been to offer inexpensive fruit, vegetable, whole grain, lean protein and dairy options. To this end, in all of our dining centers you will find a “mini” salad option available for just $1!  Also, sides of vegetables, grains and beans are 95 cents.  Non-fat and 2 percent milk is slightly less expensive than the chocolate version and apples, bananas and oranges are only 65 cents each!

Over the summer, the new International Living Learning Center building was completed and is home for a new Cascadia Market and Peet’s Coffee.  The Cascadia Market features a wide range of fresh produce, including organic produce grown right here on campus at the Oak Creek Farm. Also, there is a wide range of options for those with special diet considerations including gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan items.

Arnold Bistro’s Global Fare offers boldly flavored whole grains and legumes and you can design your own pasta special with healthy ingredients including whole wheat pasta.  At Nori Grill you will find a variety of hand-rolled sushi as well as other traditional Japanese cuisine options.  Build your own salad, Calzini or sandwich at Bings using an array of fresh veggies and whole grain breads and pizza crust.

Marketplace West and McNary’s Calabaloo’s restaurants feature the Pacific City Salad for just $1.95, made with local apples and dried cranberries and served with a splash of balsamic vinaigrette.  Calabaloo’s is also serving Corvallis’ iconic Nearly Normal’s Sunburger — a vegan veggie burger sure to delight carnivores and herbivores alike.  Marketplace West recently added a variety of freshly made salads at Cooper’s Creek.  Be sure to check out the Blackened Chicken, Grilled Vegetable, Southern Cobb and Beef Brisket salads!

McNary Dining’s Boardwalk Cafe features daily bean and grain specials such as Quinoa with Orange and Cuban Black Beans and Basmati Rice and Curried Garbonzo Beans for under $2.  Della Pasta will soon be offering a build your own “Benevita” Bowl layered with wholesome ingredients like brown rice, basil pesto and cannellini beans.

If you are looking for gluten-free options, vegan and vegetarian, or Halal options (for those who follow strict Islamic law), there are several available options for you in each dining center viewable at the following link.  Also, you can check online menus for nutrition, ingredient and allergy information.  If there are special dietary considerations that you need assistance with, I am here to serve you so don’t hesitate to contact me.

As always, if you have additional food service suggestions and ideas, we want to hear from you!

Be Well! Tara Sanders, UHDS Dietitian


Sushi chef at Arnold Bistro

Sushi chef at Arnold Bistro

Sushi bar at Arnold Dining Center

Nori Grill at Arnold Bistro

Fad Diets  May 19th, 2011

The Cabbage Soup Diet.  All you can eat Banana Diet.  The Three Day Diet. Since the seventies, it seems that our society has been obsessed with these types of “fad diets”.  According to Webster’s dictionary, a fad diet is defined as a reducing diet that enjoys temporary popularity. Typically fad diets promise quick and easy weight loss and offer claims that sound too good to be true (which is usually why they skyrocket in popularity….we want a quick fix!) Read the rest of this entry »

Why Whole Grains?  April 21st, 2011

In the recent release of the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines , Americans are encouraged to eat more whole grains and eat at least half of your grains from whole grain sources. This encouragement is reinforced in the marketplace where you can find statements and health claims on products containing whole grains such as “contains 16 g whole grains per serving; eat 48 grams or more per day” or “a diet rich in fiber may reduced the risk of heart disease”.  What does all of this mean?  Why the emphasis on whole grains? First, let’s begin with some definitions and facts. Read the rest of this entry »

Wellness Tips for Studying  February 23rd, 2011

Contributed by Megan Ahlquist

Megan is a Junior at OSU majoring in Nutrition

Unbelievably winter term is already half over.  For the majority of college students this means Round 2 of mid-terms.   I know for me personally, this is when I start getting burned out.  After quizzes, homework, and papers, I can barely muster up the energy for round 2.

Looking for ways to keep your energy steady while studying and maximizing your “mental stamina?” Here are some wellness tips for studying. Read the rest of this entry »

Vitamin D: Are You Getting Enough??  January 27th, 2011

The easiest way for our bodies to synthesize Vitamin D is through the sun.  That’s right, the sun.  Therefore, it is not surprising that (in a state where it rains nine months out of the year) many individuals living in Oregon have low Vitamin D levels.

But before you run off to the Bahamas to replenish your depleted Vitamin D stores Read the rest of this entry »

Managing That Sweet Tooth over the Holidays  November 30th, 2010

The Holiday season is upon us and for many, this is a season of giving….and eating. 🙂  For my family, the Holidays are a time of year to enjoy the company of family and friends and share treats like pumpkin pie, frosted cookies, peanut brittle, and (one of my favorite’s) Aunt Julie’s Rocky Road fudge.  Although we celebrate different holiday traditions, for the most part, we share the experience of enjoying special foods and treats.  Food is a vital part of the Holiday experience and helps “amplify” the spirit of the season.

However delicious, many of the Holiday treats are sweet and based in refined carbohydrates and sugar…and over-indulgence of these goodies can send our bodies on a roller coaster ride of sugar highs and lows.

It is interesting that in nature you hardly ever find a carbohydrate that is not protected by a covering of fiber.  Even the sugar in sugar cane is protected by a dense husk that (once upon a time) we had to chew on to break down the fibers to get to the sugar.  Fiber protects the plants grains from nature’s elements, and it also protects our bodies.  Minimally processed carbohydrates such as whole grains break down slowly in our bodies and help us maintain more stable blood sugar levels.

“Are Carbs Bad For Me”?

As UHDS’ dietitian, this is definitely one of the top ten questions that I hear.  The answer?  No (they’re not bad for us), in fact they are essential. Carbohydrates are our bodies’ most efficient fuel source.  On average, carbohydrates account for 50-60% of our daily calories.  Our bodies’ process carbohydrates differently depending on how “refined” they are.  Refined carbohydrates have been processed to remove the bran or fiber, leaving smaller chains of sugar that the body can easily break down into simple sugars (our cell’s #1 energy choice).

So eating more refined carbohydrates (such as candy, sugary treats, soda, white rice, white flour) can cause blood sugars to spike and consequently, cause spikes in insulin to allow the our cells to take in the sugar.  These sugar “highs and lows” can be taxing on our body and sometimes people feel a “sugar crash” (tired, lack of focus) after eating too many refined carbs.

Veering from the Sugar Crash

Here a few simple strategies to keep from the “sugar crash” over the holidays:

  • Savor the flavor.  Most of the time we feel just as satisfied with a small amount of sweet treats than if we were to eat a larger portion.
  • Fill up with veggies, fruit, lean proteins and whole grains before (or while) enjoying your treat.
  • Make fresh fruit your portable, 100% biodegradable  snack of choice –fresh apples, bananas and oranges are only $.65 in UHDS dining centers and stores—grab a few and enjoy in your room, on your way to class, or on a road trip!
  • Quench that thirst…with water! Fill up that reusable water bottle and make that your #1 beverage choice over sugary beverages.  Drinking water will help keep you hydrated during the busy season and provide a feeling of fullness.