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Tara Sanders–Healthy Dining Options  May 12th, 2010

As UHDS’s dietitian, probably the most common question I receive is, “What foods are healthy in the dining centers?” If you ask ten different people what healthy eating is, I guarantee you will get ten different responses.  For some, healthy eating is a diet based in vegetarian, sustainably produced foods.  For others, healthy eating is a diet low in fat and calories.  Others believe that Mediterranean foods, largely plant based and rich in healthy oils, represent a healthy diet.

The truth is, all of these diets can be healthy. According to the USDA, a healthy diet is based in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, legumes, beans and vegetable protein sources as well as low-fat, calcium rich options.  To some, achieving a healthy diet may seem overwhelming in the dining centers. However, there are a few simple strategies that you can try in the dining centers to improve the “healthiness” of your meal:

  1. Eat more fruit and vegetables!   Make half of your plate fruit and veggie based and eat a variety of colors.
  2. Go whole grain!  Substitute processed grains for whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa and barley
  3. Eat more plant based proteins like beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.

Looking for healthy and delicious fare?  Give these options a try!

Marketplace West:

  • Ring of Fire’s Pho bowls, a Vietnamese Pho soup available with tofu, chicken, shrimp and a variety of fresh vegetables
  • Serrano’s Mexican burrito, filled with your choice beans and vegetables all packed in a whole wheat tortilla;
  • Tomassitos’ whole wheat pasta and pizza crusts
  • Cooper Creek’s tofu jambalaya
  • Calabaloo’s Pacific City Salad made with local pears cranberries and fresh spinach
  • Clubhouse Deli’s roasted portabella vegetarian panini on a whole grain roll.

Arnold Bistro:

  • tofu panini with pesto and sundried tomato
  • entrée salad made from an expansive salad bar that includes fruit, vegetables, lean meats, tofu, beans and seeds
  • whole grain and legume special of the day

At Bing’s Café

  • build a whole wheat sandwich with healthy toppings like balsamic marinated and grilled chicken, fresh spinach and sweet bell peppers.

McNary Central

  • Boardwalk Cafés Indian curried chickpeas and char-grilled sole
  • Deli’s whole grain sandwiches with your choice meat or hummus and vegetables
  • Raintree’s locally made whole wheat bagels
  • Casa Della Pasta’s whole wheat pasta with pesto, artichokes and sautéed vegetables.

UHDS encourages guests to make informed food choices based on individual needs.  Nutrition information, ingredients and allergy information are transparent and available on line at the UHDS website (

If you have any questions or suggestions about the nutritional quality of foods available in UHDS operations, don’t hesitate to contact the UHDS dietitian, Tara Sanders at 541.737.3915 or at

Be Well!

Tara Sanders–Energy Balance  March 10th, 2010

Over the last month at the Wellness RoundTable Series in UHDS dining centers we have been talking about “energy balance” and choosing foods that are “nutrient dense”.

What does all of this mean?

Energy balance means balancing the calories you take in with the calories you burn.  In general, a moderately active male (age 18-25) needs about 2800 calories to maintain balance, and a moderately active female (age 19-25) needs 2200 calories.   Surprisingly, calories can add up quickly and although the lore of the “Freshman Fifteen” is more myth than fact, on average, college freshman gain 4 pounds during the first year due to “energy imbalance”….calories taken in are MORE than calories burned.

For some, this may be the first time you are completely responsible for your own meal planning and you may struggle navigating towards choices that meet your needs.  To help you to make balanced choices, UHDS has online menus available with nutrition information, ingredient and allergy information.  Additionally, calorie information is posted on Calabaloos menu boards and all soup labels in the dining centers.

UHDS dining centers have a myriad of “nutrient dense” options; that is, options that pack a lot of nutrition with fewer calories such as fruits and vegetables available on salad bars, fruit carts and grab and go areas.  There are many lean protein and dairy options such as grilled chicken, lean turkey, beans, and lowfat milk, cheeses and soy based products as well as whole grain options such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread and rolls available in all dining centers.

Additionally, the dining centers have options that are “energy dense”; they pack a lot of calories and they may be “empty calories” such as sugary soda, candy bars and chips.  While these are often perceived as unhealthy options, it is about balance and these options should be considered a “sometimes choice” rather than a daily choice.

Curious about your energy needs and ways to make your diet more “nutrient dense”? Find out more at website.

We will be resuming the Wellness Rountable Series in the Dining Centers on April 13th!  We look forward to seeing you there!  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any comments, questions or concerns regarding nutrition and wellness in our dining centers.

Best of luck on finals and have a wonderful and relaxing Spring Break.

Be Well,

Tara Sanders

Registered Dietitian

Oregon State University

University Housing and Dining

Office: 541-737-3915

Cell: 541-602-9736

Tara Sanders–Healthy Habits…That May Ward Off the Flu!  February 5th, 2010

You may be noticing signs of spring as you walk along campus…the sweet smell of the daphne flower blooming and crocus flowers  bursting out of the ground….although spring is approaching, we are still in what we call “flu season”.  While the flu season varies from year to year, on average, it lasts through March.

The good news?  Healthy habits can reduce your risk for getting sick.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention advises these good health habits for flu prevention

  • Practice good hygiene!
  • Eat nutritious foods
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Be physically active
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Get plenty of sleep

There are some key nutrients that will give you an immunity boost.  Try some of the highlighted choices at our UHDS dining centers.  Not only do they taste great, but they may provide you with a little extra protection this flu season.

  • Beta Carotene, an antioxidant and source of Vitamin A, is found in dark leafy green or bright orange produce such as carrots, yams, cantaloupe and spinach.
  • Vitamin C, an antioxidant, is found in fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, citrus fruits, mangoes.
  • Vitamin E, an antioxidant, is found in whole grains, nuts and seeds such as brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, flax seed and walnuts–all great sources.
  • Zinc, a mineral known for its cold fighting abilities, is found in most breakfast cereals, nuts, beans, poultry and red meat.

Be Well!

Tara Sanders

UHDS Dietitian

Tara Sanders–“Social Networking” at the Wellness Round Table  January 26th, 2010

Interested In “Social Networking”? Check Out Dinner in UHDS Dining Centers!

We have begun the Wellness Roundtable Series and it has been a pleasure to meet you and observe the “dinner scene” in UHDS dining centers.  Dinner is a much more relaxed and social and lacks the busy, driven pace that the lunch hour takes on.  Dinner is definitely about slowing down sharing a great meal  (and laughter) with friends.

It is no surprise that we like to eat together and studies show that social eating can be good for us by improving our sense of “social connectedness” which contributes to our overall sense of well being.  Some studies show eating in a social environment can actually improve one’s overall nutritional status; this is particularly the case for those who are socially and physically isolated.

There also can be relationship between social eating and weight gain and we may eat more calories when we are with others than we do when we are eating alone.  We also tend to take in more calories when we eat at restaurants compared to when we prepare food for ourselves.

On a bright note, we can also positively influence on each other….studies show that people with strong social ties (couples, friends, family members) that exercise and engage in healthy eating together have improved success in weight loss and overall health outcomes.

So by choosing a nice crisp apple for a side or a snack you may improve your health and you may be a positive influence on your friends!  Give it a try!

I’m looking forward to meeting more of you at the Wellness Roundtable, a fun “discussion over dinner” group in the UHDS dining centers for any and all that would like to join.  Look for the Wellness Table Talk sign in the dining centers; that is where we will be meeting. Scroll down my January 5th blog to view timeframes and topics of discussion.

See you soon!  Be Well!

Tara Sanders

UHDS Registered Dietitian

Tara Sanders–Wellness Table Talk Blog  January 5th, 2010

Welcome back to OSU!  Hopefully your break from classes was restful and enjoyable!

I’m looking forward to meeting with you all for the Wellness Table Talk Series beginning this term.  This will be an informal and fun “discussion over dinner” group that will meet in the UHDS dining centers for any and all that would like to join.  Look for the Wellness Table Talk sign in the dining centers—this is where we will be meeting.

The meeting schedule will be the same each month for the following dining centers:

McNary: 2nd Tuesday of the month, 5-6 PM

Arnold: 3rd Tuesday of the month, 5-6 PM

West: 4th Tuesday of the month, 5-6 PM

Here is a sneak peak at some of the topics we will be discussingJ Although we will talk a bit about these topics, the conversation will be open to any and all wellness related topics you all would like to discuss!

January: Immune Boosting Behaviors

February: Make Your Calories Count: Energy Balance

March: Fruit and Vegetables: Why Color Is Important

April: A New Look At Sodium: Can It Cause High Pressure?

May: The Power of Whole Grains

See you soon!  Be Well!

Tara Sanders

UHDS Registered Dietitian

Tara Sanders–Wellness Discussion Series  December 9th, 2009

Hello!  My name is Tara Sanders and I am University Housing and Dining Services’ registered dietitian.  Primarily, I:

  • Consult with residents with special dietary considerations
  • Work with the UHDS culinary team to promote healthy options and choices for all on-campus residents, including those with special dietary considerations (vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, etc)
  • Maintain nutrition information software and post nutrition information on the UHDS online menus
  • Provide nutrition programming and training to staff and students

This is an exciting time for UHDS Dining Services.  With nutrition and sustainability concerns on the forefront, our dining operations are constantly evolving to support wellness by providing nutritious and sustainably produced goods and nutrition education to the OSU community.

Starting Winter term, I will be joining you for dinner in each of the dining centers for the new Wellness Discussion Series.  Rather than a lecture style format, I will be hosting an informal roundtable wellness discussion on topics such as the benefits of whole grains, what do calorie counts mean and how can you make them work for you and wellness strategies for boosting brain power .  Along with wellness education, my other goal is to hear from you—your needs and your questions about nutrition and dining services.  Look for more information about the Wellness Discussion Series on the UHDS blog and the UHDS Facebook page.

Best of luck on finals and have a GREAT break from school!

Be Well,

Tara Sanders