skip page navigationOregon State University

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.

The Plant Based Diet: Healthy For You and the Environment  November 18th, 2010


I recently had the opportunity to meet Mark Bittman, author of Food Matters.  Mark suggested (to an audience of college and university food service operators) that if we want to practice environmental sustainability, we ought to encourage our customers to eat more plant based foods .  He explained that he wasn’t here to promote veganism or vegetarianism per se, but rather, “eat-less-meat-ism”.

According to the American Dietetic Association, appropriately planned plant based diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

A plant based diet is associated with lower: risk of death from heart disease, LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, blood pressure, rates of hypertension ,type 2 diabetes ,body mass index overall cancer rates. However, plant based diets can be unhealthy too if they are not based in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and if they are lacking in nutrients typically found in animal products such as protein, calcium/Vitamin D, zinc, iron, B12, and omega 3 fatty acids.

Whether vegan, vegetarian, semi vegetarian or omnivore, the texture and flavor packed in bean and legume dishes can please all palettes…. and the planet.  The indigenous Mexican diet and agriculture history has been comprised of the “Three Sisters” (corn, beans and squash) because of nutrition and environmental sustainability attributes.  Beans put nitrogen back into the soil, reducing the reliance on chemical fertilizers.

Beans and legumes have been a culinary staple for centuries for many cultures in South America, Africa, Mediterranean, Asia, and India.  For many of these regions, beans and legumes in combination with grains are the center of the plate and meat is viewed as a garnish or accent to the dish.

The Benefits of Beans and Legumes

  • High in antioxidants. Consider all of the vibrant colors found in beans: rich black, red, pink, green.   Bright colors found in produce can be are biggest “clue” in high antioxidant content.
  • Rich source of fiber.  The high fiber content helps to stabilize blood sugar and fill you up.
  • Very lean protein. ½ cup of beans contains 115 calories and 10 grams protein.  Combine with a grain such as brown rice or bulgur to make it a “complete protein”, containing all of the essential amino acids.  (Note-the grain just needs to be consumed sometime within the day—not necessarily at the same meal).
  • Great source of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, iron, zinc
  • Inexpensive!  1 ounce of bean protein costs about 6 cents!
  • Great “carrier” of flavor; Texture and flavor attributes make them “craveable” comfort food

Interested in some exciting UHDS vegetarian options?  Here’s a few highlights that feature beans as the main fare(check out links for a complete list): Arnold Bistro’s Global Fare offers daily beans and whole grain specials ranging from Ethiopian Lentils, Persian Kidney Beans and Brown Rice with Dates and Walnuts. Marketplace West’s Serrano’s grill serves up a black bean burrito stuffed with veggies and smothered with mole sauce.  Boardwalk Deli specials include Falafel (seasoned garbonzo bean patties) on fresh pita and Moroccan Vegetable Stew.

Be Well!

The Lore of the Freshman Fifteen  October 19th, 2010

While it’s true that college freshman gain some weight their first year, it is closer to 4 pounds rather than the “Freshman 15”.  And since this is based on an “average” many do not gain weight while some gain significantly more than 4 pounds.

So why do college freshman gain weight?  And what can be done to combat it? Read the rest of this entry »

UHDS: Encouraging Wellness  September 24th, 2010

Welcome to OSU and UHDS!    As UHDS’ Registered Dietitian, I would like to share that we are deeply committed to creating environments that encourage wellness.  In an effort to promote physical wellness, our goal in dining services is to make the healthy choice, the easy choice. Read the rest of this entry »

Tara Sanders–The Shake on Sodium  May 19th, 2010

The Shake on Sodium:

Myth or Fact: “I’m young and I don’t have high blood pressure therefore I don’t need to be concerned about my sodium intake.”

MYTH!  According to the American Heart Association, a high sodium diet can contribute to high blood pressure…at any age.  Particularly vulnerable are those who are “salt sensitive” and have a tendency to retain water after a high sodium meal.  When we retain water we put extra stress on our heart and kidneys and over time, this puts individuals at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Currently, 1 in 3  Americans adults over 20 suffer from hypertension.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. (There is about 2,400 mg in a teaspoon of salt.)

Some studies estimate that up to 75% of American’s sodium intake comes from packaged convenience foods and from dining out.  Looking for ways to keep your sodium intake “in check” while eating in the UHDS dining centers?  Consider these strategies:

1)Check the sodium content of your favorite options on the on line menus:

2)If you typically eat three meals/day try to eat less than 800mg of sodium per meal.

3)Add little or no salt to your plate.

4)Fill half of your plate with whole foods that are naturally low in sodium such as whole fresh fruits and fresh raw or steamed vegetables.

5) Consider your portion size particularly with high sodium foods like pizza or deli lunch meat.  Instead of a whole ham sandwich, consider a half sandwich and pair it with a side salad and fresh fruit.

6) Be aware of additional sources of sodium found in sauces, soy sauce and salad dressings.

7) Snacks like chips, granola bars and crackers can pack a lot of sodium; instead, while you are in the dining center, grab a fresh crisp apple or baby carrots to snack on later.

Be Well,


Tara Sanders

Registered Dietitian

Oregon State University

University Housing and Dining

Office: 541-737-3915

Cell: 541-602-9736