5 ‘Healthy’ Foods to Avoid

Yes, the right choice can be wrong.   Junk in disguise is everywhere.  Foods you thought to be healthy, can come back to bite you.   Don’t be duped! Check out the most common culprits below:

  1. Enhanced Water

Enhanced drinks claim to be packed full of vitamins, and that may be true. But the sugar content cancels out the benefits.  Our dietitians have called beverages such as Vitamin Water “soda with vitamins”.  Get your vitamins from the foods you eat, not a pricey drink.

Healthy alternative: If you follow us on Instagram (@zagdining), we posted a photo of our ice cold fruit water served in the COG.  Students rave about this drink! The water contains garden-fresh lemons, oranges and even ginger.  Spa menu worthy without any added sugar. Win – Win!

  1. Energy Bars

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Bars are said to be the solution to weight-loss, sleep-deprivation, you name it! But they have a dark side.  They are a packed full of calories.  Many are simply a candy bar with healthy additives such as protein and fiber. Uncover the junk in disguise by looking at the nutrition facts. Is sugar the first or second ingredient? Put it down.

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Healthy alternative: For those trying to build muscle, pick up Greek yogurt or spread almond butter on a banana for a punch of protein. For energy, eat leafy greens to increase your iron.  Iron deficiency, common in many adults, can cause extreme fatigue.

  1. Baked Crackers

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While ‘baked’ chips and crackers may seem healthier, they are filled with refined starches and grains. Refined ingredients have more calories than nutrients.  Even pita chips contain refined flour, oils and salts.  Baked crackers are calorie bombs!

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Healthy alternative:  Look for 100% whole grain chips fried in a healthy oil (canola or olive). Make sure the crackers are made with whole grains instead of potatoes.

  1. Popcorn

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Microwavable popcorn, often praised as a healthy snack, has a scary secret… the chemicals in the lining of the bag.  These dangerous chemicals can seep into your popcorn. They have even been linked to cancer and infertility in humans, according to a UCLA study.

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Healthy alternative: The healthier (and cheaper) option is to pop your own kernels in a skillet or popper. Add any flavoring, and feel confident in knowing exactly what you’re getting.

  1. Smoothies

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Have you ever watched the clerk make a store-bought smoothie? Rarely do they use real fruit.   A powder or pre-packaged syrup is used to create an ‘all-fruit smoothie’.  You’re getting sugary juice instead of real fruit and veggies in your smoothie.

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Healthy alternative: Save calories and money by making your own fruit smoothies. If you’re not a fan of veggies, this is a great way to sneak greens into your diet such as kale or spinach. You’ll only taste the fruit!

These are just a few junk food culprits. It’s easy for foods to disguise themselves under product marketing. So read past the gimmicks and into the nutrition facts. Or just play it safe and make your own snacks.  Customizable and more affordable, you can let your creativity run wild!

Hoopfest: Eat Your Water

Headache? Drink water.

Stomach ache? Drink water.

Dry skin? Drink water.

Tired? Drink water.

Hot weather? Drink water.

Dehydration can cause a wide range of health problems, from minor discomfort to more serious issues.  With this weekend’s weather forecast in the triple digits, and exciting events like Hoopfest and Ironman on the calendar, it’s a good time to make a hydration plan to ensure consistent water intake.

But the recommended 8 glasses of water per day can be a hard number to achieve.  Getting your daily dose of water shouldn’t be a chore. We understand it’s hard to drink water when you’re not thirsty, so why not eat your water?

The phrase ‘eat your water’ initially paints an amusing picture.  But by eating foods with a high water content, you can tackle summer dehydration with ease.

So don’t let dehydration rear its ugly head during your Hoopfest weekend.  Pack some of these snacks below to keep your body happy and healthy!

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By packing snacks filled with water, you can quench your thirst without having to lug around heavy water bottles.

The best part about these foods?  They contain high proportions of water to their weight, and provide essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals to keep you energized, so you can kill two birds with one healthy stone.

Beat the Hoopfest heat with these killer snacks! Happy Hydrating! 🙂

The Surfing Chef

Yesterday I was able to have a chat with our Global Chef from Australia, Jason McDuie.

With his splendid accent, big smile, and tall chef hat he is a hard sight to miss.  And these past few weeks have been a whirlwind for McDuie.  Leaving his family back in Australia for a month, traveling for two days just to get here, all while trying to keep his chef hat on!  Even with the chaos, he has managed to keep a grin on his face while preparing us delicious cuisine.

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However, Chef McDuie is more then what meets the eye.  Cooking is not his only passion. Surfing will always hold a big place in his heart.  And McDuie was no run of the mill surfer!  He held sponsorships with big names such as Quicksilver and Oakley for over 14 years.

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Once he decided to hop off the board and dive into the kitchen, he never forgot what surfing had taught him.  Using local seafood and produce from Australia is what fuels the inspiration for many of his dishes.

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So dive into Chef McDuie’s unique Australian cuisine tonight at the BARC.  Come talk to him about life down under, the wild waves he surfed, or whatever peeks your interest!

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

21 million children receive free and reduced price school meals every year.  However, during the summer months only a tenth have access to feeding programs.  Sodexo is helping you close the gap.

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Sodexo’s Stop Hunger programs are about action.  We’re done talking about the problem. We’re ready to talk about the solutions and show you how to contribute.  This is not about your neighbors, co-workers, or friends. This is about you, and how you can make a difference.

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Here’s how—Volunteering is one of the most rewarding ways to get involved.  Log on to the Sodexo Foundation website and click on Get Involved.  Choose the link that best suits your interests!  There are so many opportunities with programs like Feeding America, No Kid Hungry and Youth Service America.  Enter your zip code. The site will direct you towards your local service locations.

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If your schedule is a bit tight this month, there are other ways to help!  Bring the fight of childhood hunger to your elected officials.  Social media is also a quick, easy way to do your part.  And never forget the power of a donation.  Those fighting hunger rely on your donations.

Help feed our future!

5 (Quiet) Ways to Solve In-Class Hunger Pains

You know the drill. Before class you’re never hungry. During class you’re suddenly starving.  Nothing is more distracting than hunger pains. Snacking while listening can be the key to soaking up knowledge and stopping your awkward stomach grumbles from embarrassing you.  But the apple and chips in your bag need to go.  Crunching and spit-spraying are not classroom or library approved.

The school year just started, and you don’t want to alienate any potential friends/study buddies. And let’s not forget those less-than-desirable smells. Avoid tuna, garlic or any other smelly food that could fill a cramped classroom.  Be careful not to bring items that are common food allergies such as peanut butter. Even the smell can set off a classmate’s allergic reaction.

So now that we know the unspoken classroom food rules, let’s talk about the awesome snacks you CAN eat (& share)!

  1. Dried Fruit

This is a great healthy snack to bring to class. The chewiness doesn’t make much noise, and makes it fun to eat. Grab a bag at the Marketplace before class!

  1. Smoothie

We love this option because it’s completely soundless, yet packs a big punch.  Have a few classes in a row? Put in protein powder, flax seeds and even some spinach for extra power.

  1. Jerky

This snack may not be for everyone, but the protein content is super high. Protein is one of the top ingredients to kill hunger on the spot. Jerky lasts long, doesn’t smell and isn’t messy. Win-Win!

  1. Hummus & Pita Bread

Don’t worry vegetarians, we didn’t forget about you! Hummus is a great substitute for meat proteins. And the soft pita bread provides the carbs to keep your energy up all day long.

  1. Licorice

We all have a sweet tooth. Take the edge off with this low-sugar sweet. These are also great for sharing. So those group projects don’t have to be such a drag!

Grab one of these quiet, smell-free snacks, and get ready to soak up knowledge… no growling stomach involved!

Summer Rut-Busters

Summer is in full swing! As the beautiful weather arrives so do the backyard BBQs, lakeside picnics and fireside feasts. But with the summer festivities comes the same old cuisine as last year. Hot dogs, chips and soda are a bore. Let’s spice things up for Summer 2015!

Time to make your dish the hit of the party. We’re going to show you 5 summer dishes that will liven up any get together. So throw out those hot dogs and hamburgers… it’s time to cook up some quick, healthy dishes sure to impress your friends and family.

1. Banana & Avocado Popsicles

Yes, the combination seems odd. However, these healthy treats will have your guests coming back for more. Simply blend a banana, avocado and Greek yogurt together. Then freeze the mixture in a popsicle mold overnight.  Prepare to be addicted.

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2. Fruit Salsa Dip

This is a great twist on the dull, store-bought salsa. There are tons of recipes online (so feel free to choose your favorite fruit), but our personal favorite is the strawberry kiwi dip!

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  1. Chicken and Lime Soup

A refreshing soup is an easy way to serve many. This basic chicken soup recipe can be kicked up a notch by adding some spice, while the lime gives it that summer freshness.

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  1. Cheese, Garlic Zucchini Bites

Looking for a healthy alternative to chips? These tasty Zucchini bites are healthy and flavorful. Just drizzle them with garlic, cheese and oil, and pop them in the oven. They can burn easily, so keep an eye on them the first go-round.

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  1. Grilled Pork Pineapple Kabobs

Add some unique flavor to your kabobs with some tangy fruit such as pineapple. The proteolytic enzymes (an enzyme that digests proteins) in the pineapple tenderize the meat as well!

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It’s summertime… where the cooking should be easy! These dishes are simple to prepare, so you can go outside and enjoy your summer.

Are you ready to have the best dish at the summer block party? Then break the culinary rut of hamburgers and hot dogs. Let’s spice up Summer 2015 together!

April 1st: Food for Fools

Warning: Today is April Fool’s Day. Take EVERYTHING with a grain of salt. Whether your salt was replaced with sugar or your roommate placed clear tape across your doorway, you are a victim of this holiday who wants revenge.

Practical jokes can cross the line, and we want to make sure you get revenge in the greatest (and safest) way possible. What better way to show your comedic prowess than with food! Here are 5 easy tricky treats that will have your friends applauding your cleverness.

Get your chef hat on and your camera ready, because these foods for fools will give everyone a good chuckle.

  1. Toothpaste Oreos

This one is a classic. All over the Internet there are videos of this hilarious prank. Simply remove the icing and squeeze on the toothpaste. Make sure the toothpaste is decently firm and pure white so it doesn’t raise eyebrows.

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  1. Mayonnaise Filling

Whether you use the mayonnaise to fill a donut or cupcake, this trick is sure to cause some taste bud confusion. This trick can be more tedious to carry out, but provides one of the biggest laughs.

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  1. Hard Boiled Eggs

Do you have a roommate who makes eggs every morning? Grab their cartoon of eggs and hard-boil every single egg. In the morning when they try to crack them, they will be extremely confused.

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  1. Dye It

This one you can get creative with. Take a milk, orange juice or cream carton and squeeze a color dye into it. Make sure the liquid is in a solid container so they only see the color change when they first pour it out.

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  1. Stapler in Jell-O

Are you a fan of The Office? Jim’s stapler trick can easily be recreated. Steal an office supply on their desk they are sure to use the next day. Once it is engulfed in Jell-O, put it back in its place and prepare to be the talk of the office!

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Now that you have these food pranks under your belt, go out there and cook up some culinary confusion!

Happy April Fool’s Day!

March Madness: Female Chefs Spice Up the Month

Yes, March has been full of madness. Upsets and one-point differentials have made this month certainly live up to its name. Not to mention the stellar performances from both our men’s and women’s basketball teams… GO ZAGS!

But did you know March is also Women’s History Month? Zag Dining wants to share delicious dishes from inspirational female chefs around the culinary world. This Thursday the BARC will feature cuisine crafted by some exceptionally talented women.

To give you a little taste, we thought it appropriate to highlight 5 influential female chefs in America. From a White House Executive Chef to TV personalities, the women are making their mark on a profession previously dominated by men. These culinary masters are as diverse and unique as the cuisine they bring to the table.

  1. Cristeta Comerford

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Born in the Phillipines, Cristeta was the first White House Executive Chef to be of Asian descent. She assumed office in 2005 due to her creativity and ability to perform under pressure. Having immigrated at the tender age of 23, she quickly climbed the ranks with her undeniable talent.

  1. Julia Child

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Famous for bringing French cuisine to America, Julia was loved by the American public for her lively personality. A published author and TV personality, she immersed her culinary talent into a variety of medias.

  1. Lidia Bastianich

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A published author, restaurateur and TV personality, Lidia made Italian cooking easy for the average American. Her talent was recognized when she received an Emmy in 2013 for Outstanding Culinary Host.

  1. Barbara Smith

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Sweet southern style cooking is how “B” Smith became a household name. As the owner of three renowned restaurants in the northeastern United States, she prides herself on bringing the south to New York.

  1. Alice Waters

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Known for being the pioneer of California cuisine, Alice uses organic and locally grown ingredients in most of her recipes. She is also an activist for school lunch reform and universal access to organic foods.

These pioneering women have cracked the glass ceiling of the culinary industry. With their distinct cultural passions, the women have mastered the art of cookery. So trust us… you don’t want to miss the delicious food prepared in honor of their talent. See you Thursday!

5 Healthy Super Bowl Snacks

A healthy Super Bowl snack… Yes, it sounds like an oxymoron but hear us out. We promise this contradiction will leave your taste buds satisfied and guilt-free!

On Super Bowl Sunday, mindless eating is the name of the game. Millions of us will be eating a days worth of calories in just a few hours. The U.S. Calorie Control Council estimates that Americans pack away 11 million pounds of chips on Super Bowl Sunday alone!

We are here to make sure you don’t wake up on Monday morning regretting yesterdays’ festivities. So get your jersey on, paint your face and start prepping these tasty snacks before game time!

  1. Spinach Artichoke Dip

Replace the cheesy dip with this smooth, yummy spread. Grab whole-wheat crackers, celery or cucumbers for some crunch.

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  1. Fruit Skewers

Fun, easy and sweet these skewers are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt. Pick fruit that has your team colors to make it even more festive!

  1. Berry Smoothie

Replace soda or beer with a smoothie. It’s a great drink to cool you down during those heated moments in the game!

  1. Apple Sandwich

Put peanut butter on an apple slice and then sprinkle chocolate chips and oats on top. This snack will give you the energy to cheer all game long.

  1. Nacho Kale Chip

Kale chips are one of the tastiest alternative to potato chips. They’ll leave you feeling full and they’re packed with nutrients!

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Easy and healthy, these snacks will leave you and your friends feeling content and guilt-free. Now go enjoy the Super Bowl!!

Exclusive Preview: 360 Mongolian Grill

An endless amount of curiosity surrounds the new COG. The grand opening is months away, but you’re eager to discover what it has to offer.

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Well, you don’t have to wait for the grand opening. Over the next few months, you will have exclusive access to the new COG. Sneak peaks of our unique and flavorful culinary stations will be released monthly.

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Many of you loved our first preview! The featured culinary station was a 360-Degree Mongolian Grill. The Grill allows the chefs to create specialized dishes to satisfy your individual tastes. You may select your own fresh veggies, aromatics, meats, noodles and sauces. Then watch the chefs spin your fresh flavors into a masterpiece.

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As we feature these new stations in the BARC, we encourage you to tell us what you think! Your voice matters to us. By attending these previews, you can help us improve our concepts for the new COG.

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For updates on the dates and times of our future previews, please follow our social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter at ZagDining). We can’t wait to see you at the next preview!

The Do’s and Don’ts of Your New Year’s Resolution

Welcome to the last week of January. We have finally settled into second semester. Our books are shipped in, homework begins to pile upon our desks and the holiday months are soon to be missed.

As the New Year barrels forward we leave those gluttonous months far behind us. All we have left is our New Years’ Resolutions and the never-ending search for this thing called ‘motivation’.

You are not alone in this search. Over 80% of adults who made New Years’ resolutions related to health were unable to make any significant steps towards eating healthy, exercising or relieving stress by March, according to a 2010 poll by the American Psychological Association.

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Zag dining wants to ensure you are the 20% that make it. Let’s get motivated to prove these statistics wrong. To help you do this, we delved into the psychology behind the do’s and don’ts of the New Year’s Resolution.

Do Fine-tune

So you came up with this brilliant resolution to never eat sugar again. While it may be possible, it’s not realistic. The first step to achieving your goal is to understand altering the resolution is okay. We all have grandiose plans at the beginning of the year. Tweaking the content allows the goal to seamlessly fit into your environment. Let the resolution become second nature.

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Do Incentivize

Rewarding yourself is an easy way to keep the ball rolling. However, choosing those rewards is the tough part. Incentivize your weekly goals with things that are for you… and only you! Treat yourself to a trip to the spa or an hour of goofing off online. Then jump back into the next week refreshed and ready!

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Do Tell

By making your resolutions public, you will be motivated to complete them. Tell your friends, family and co-workers. They will be more apt to encourage and inspire you throughout your journey as well. Who knows, you may get a workout partner out of it as well!

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Don’t Compare

The worst thing you can do is compare yourself to others. Seems like a basic concept, yet we do it all the time. While having a workout partner can be motivating, it can often lead to unnecessary comparison.  Your health goals are unique to you. No one is the same. Mutual support and comradery is all that should be taken away from a resolution partner.

 

Don’t Stress About Mess-Ups

We saved the best for last. DO NOT GET HUNG UP ON YOUR MISTAKES. This rewinds and destroys resolutions. Tell yourself up front that you will make mistakes. It is not about the fall, but how you pick yourself back up. Lean on your friends and family for help. And always remember to give yourself a day off. Slow and steady wins the race!

Know Your Labels

The New Year brings new health goals. Trying to shop healthy is a challenge in itself.  As you start your health food search you are bombarded with labels. Whether it’s on the box of crackers or the deli meat, labeling can be misleading.

Deception seems too often embedded in these foods instead of nutrients. It is crucial to understand which labels are regulated and which are just marketing gimmicks to ensure you reach your New Year’s Resolution.

So… is the food you’re buying truly healthy or just smoke and mirrors? Let’s find out!

Regulated

Natural

This is the least controlled label on the shelves. To become natural a product has to contain no artificial ingredients according to the USDA. This means antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals may still be present.

All Natural

This label has the exact same meaning as natural. There are no regulatory differences between calling something ‘all natural’ and just ‘natural’.

Made with Organic Ingredients

This label cannot contain the official organic seal. The foods contain at least 70% organic ingredients that are not produced with sewage-sludge based products.

Organic

These products contain 95% organic ingredients with strict USDA regulations on the remaining 5%. The products contain no antibiotics, pesticides, petroleum or sewage-sludge based fertilizers, hormones, or ionizing radiation. If the food aligns with these rules then the USDA’s official organic seal may be placed on the product.

100% Organic

The food contains all organic ingredients and production materials.

Whole Grain

FDA recommends foods labeled whole grain should have flour ingredients from purely whole wheat flour. No enforcement or penalties occur if product is falsely marketed.

Unregulated

Artisan

“Helps Maintain a Healthy Heart”

“Helps Support Immunity”

No Trans Fat

Fresh

Superfood

Grade A

Premium

Healthy

Doctor Recommended

Made with Natural Goodness

This is just the beginning of the unregulated labels. It’s important to know the rules behind the regulations in order to recognize what you’re truly buying. Next time you’re at the supermarket don’t be tricked by fancy wording. Get down to the nitty-gritty by knowing the FDA regulations.

This video is a great start to understanding FDA labeling requirements!

For the specifics go directly to http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm2006828.htm