Eat this, not that

Greasy pizza. Fat-laden burgers. Potatoes swimming in butter. With fare like this in most campus dining centers, it’s no wonder students pack on the “freshman 15” and keep gaining weight throughout their college career.

Culinary LessonThirty foodservice professionals from colleges and universities in Iowa, Ohio, Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin learned how to help students win the battle of the bulge during “Healthy Creations: A Culinary Workshop” in UNI’s Rialto Dining Center. 

UNI offers a variety of healthy options in its dining centers, said Lisa Krausman, administrative dietician/purchasing manager, yet foodservice staff members were looking for even more ways to offer healthy choices to their guests.

“There’s a fair share of students who still opt for pizza, burgers and fries,” said Krausman, “but more and more are willing to try other things and give healthier options a chance.”

Attendees, including seven UNI foodservice staff members, learned about these healthy options from three chefs, each with more than 20 years of foodservice experience: Elena Clement and Jud Flynn, who own On-Site Culinary, a Maryland-based company that sends chefs across the country to train foodservice employees and executive chefs in their own facilities, and Don Hensley, the corporate chef at Martin Brothers Distributing in Cedar Falls, a foodservice distributor that serves Iowa and seven surrounding states.

During her presentation, “Fresh Herbs in Baking,” Clement shared how to add herbs, extracts, preserves and essences (orange blossom, rose water, etc.) to baked goods to create some tasty, surprising flavors.

Flynn encouraged participants to break away from the same old same old during his presentations “Healthy Cooking Made Flavorful” and “Flavors of the World.” With a pinch of paprika, a touch of turmeric and a smidge of saffron, a ho-hum chicken breast can be turned into a mouthwatering Moroccan masterpiece.

“Some people might be bored with a plain chicken breast every day, so we wanted to come up with ways to help them stay interested in and excited about the healthy cooking items so they’ll choose these options more often,” said Krausman.

During his presentation, “Beyond Sodium,” Hensley encouraged participants to “minimize the salt, increase the flavor elements and you can build something really nice out of it.” He then whipped up a zippy marinade with ginger, lemon zest, walnut oil, basil and apple cider vinegar. “The texture, color and aroma – it all goes together to make a great presentation,” he said. Attendees agreed as they sampled his creation. 

Krausman said it may take some students a while to jump on the healthy-food-can-be-tasty-food bandwagon, yet she’s pleased that the options are available whenever students choose to get on board. She’s also encouraged when parents who eat on campus with their son or daughter acknowledge the variety and quality of food available.

“Parents tell me, ‘If students can’t find something to eat here, they’re not looking very hard,’” Krausman said.

After a day of learning, tasting and sharing recipes, UNI’s foodservice staff is confident that students won’t have to look hard at all.