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


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.


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


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!


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


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.


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


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.


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!


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!


  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.


  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.


  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!


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!

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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

 Speedometer - Yes I Can

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!


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!



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.


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.



“Helps Maintain a Healthy Heart”

“Helps Support Immunity”

No Trans Fat



Grade A



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

Fuel for Finals: Sleepy Snacks

Welcome back to our Fuel for Finals series! In our last article, we told you about 10 super foods that will keep you energized during those late-night study sessions. But what about when it’s time to finally go to sleep?  Most of us have trouble turning our brains off.  We’ve been wired with caffeine and studying all day, and the last thing our mind wants to do is relax.

Sleep is an essential part of keeping your brain in tip-top shape for finals week.  Sleep deprivation impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and even problem solving—All crucial skills you need to pass those finals!  However, catching those elusive Zzz’s can be harder than it seems.

So when you’ve turned off the lights but can’t seem to turn off your brain, look to these 5 snacks to lull your mind right to sleep…

  1. Fish

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Treat yourself to a fancy fish fillet—you deserve it! Fry up some salmon for dinner over brown rice and veggies. Salmon is filled with vitamin B6 which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep inducing hormone).

  1. Yogurt Topped w/ Granola

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Dairy products can fix a calcium deficiency you didn’t know you even had. This type of deficiency is known to significantly hinder your ability to fall asleep. Add some crunch and flavor to your yogurt with some granola!

  1. Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich

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Yes, your childhood favorite (made w/ whole-grain bread) is more than just a fun snack your mom made you! The magnesium in whole grain breads has been proven to help you stay asleep longer. Deep sleep prepares your brain to problem solve the next day.

  1. Banana Pops

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Warning: These are addicting day or night! Start by coating a sliced banana with yogurt, then sprinkle your favorite (sugar-free) cereal on top and freeze. Bananas are filled with the vitamin B6, and the carbs in cereal help sleep-inducing amino acids reach the brain quicker. Don’t forget the benefit of the yogurt too—This one’s a triple threat!

  1. Fruit & Nut Trail-mix

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The essential ingredients to add to your mix are almonds and walnuts. Walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, while almonds contain magnesium which will provide you quality sleep. Both form a powerful team that will help you fall asleep AND stay asleep. Remember: Use fruits instead of chocolate to add sweetness to your mix!

These snacks may help out your restless brain, but there is no cure-all. You have to develop a lifestyle which supports a good night’s rest. Eating the right foods is just the tip of the ice berg. Creating a routine before bed, putting your cellphone away, and breathing deeply are some great ways to fall asleep in no time.

So you’ve studied with our super foods and fallen asleep with our sleepy snacks.  Now it’s time for what we’ve all been preparing for—FINALS. Stay tuned for our top breakfast picks to help you ace those finals!

Fuel for Finals: Super Foods

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  Everyone is over caffeinated, sleep-deprived, and ready for break.  Unfortunately break is still a week away and finals just around the corner. This is not the time to give up!

As studying replaces sleep and gulps of coffee replace water, you may notice some changes.  Your reading assignment takes longer, you start to get the sniffles, or the vocab you just studied for hours can’t be recalled.  These symptoms are a sure sign of your body shutting down. This is the last thing we want to happen during the most crucial weeks of the semester.

But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Through a three part blog series we will show you how to keep your body healthy, happy and ready for finals week.

First, let’s look at some super snacks that will get you through late night study sessions…

  1. Cucumber Sandwiches


A great way for you to get that cracker crunch without the carbs and crumbs- Put cheese, ham, or any number of protein packed foods in between.

  1. Spicy Popcorn


Wake up your taste buds and brain with some spicy Sriracha sauce on your popcorn.  It’s easy to make and portable!

  1. Toasted Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds

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Pumpkin seeds are loaded with Zinc which helps with memory- lengthy vocab sheets will no longer be a problem!

  1. Hummus and Veggies

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Hummus is filled with protein to give you power while veggies keep your immune system happy- it’s easy to take with you as well!

  1. Yogurt Covered Blueberries

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When you’re craving sweets just coat blueberries with some Greek yogurt and freeze!

  1. Avocado Toast

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This a great starter snack- Mash up some avocados on whole wheat toast with olive oil drizzle for an immediate energy boost!

  1. Fish

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The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish have been proven to increase neural functions in the brain.  Fry up some salmon for dinner before tackling the rest of your studying.

  1. Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries

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So you’re craving a dessert?  Glaze your favorite fruit with the darkest chocolate you can find.  The darker it is the more blood flow it allows to the brain.

  1. Chili


The best thing about chili is the short prep with a 2 hour simmer. Use the 2 hours to study while you wait for your delicious meal.

  1. Water

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Water is extremely important, but more often replaced. Take a water bottle with you at all times. You’ll notice yourself unconsciously drinking more.

The most important thing to remember these next few weeks is to eat.  Five to seven small meals a day will significantly increase your brain power. We all get busy, but remembering to eat healthy and filling foods could be the difference between an ‘A’ and a ‘C’.  So go on and eat your way to those awesome grades!

*Look out for Part 2: Snacks for Sleep in our Fuel for Finals series!

Cuisine for the Cold

As the wall of artic cold begins its march towards Spokane, we’re struggling to keep warm. And bundling up in a ton of layers only does so much.

Stop trying to keep in the heat.  You have to produce the heat! Your body can handle these frigid temperatures, but only if it’s being fed the right sorts of foods.

Here are 5 foods that will warm up both your body and soul 🙂

  1. Spices

Cumin, nutmeg and cinnamon all go well with fall/winter drinks and dishes. Sprinkle some in your coffee or add some ginger to your turkey.  These spices will warm you up, and boost your immune and digestive systems as well!

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  1. Whole Grains

Complex carbohydrates are one of the most essential ingredients to keeping your body warm. They give your body the fuel to get through the day, while providing long-lasting heat as well. Brown rice, oats and quinoa are great options to pair with any type of meat dish.


  1. Oils

Our personal favorite is coconut oil. It lends itself to a variety of uses both in and outside the kitchen. Use it as a moisturizer or as a replacement for vegetable oil.  The health benefits are greater, and it metabolizes quicker making it easier for your body to use it for warmth.


  1. Fats

Nobody ever connects the word fat to something good.  However, healthy fats will keep you warm while giving you the vital nutrients you need. Nuts and avocados are some of the best healthy fats to choose from.  Nuts are a great on-the-go snack, so bring a bag with you to work or class!

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  1. Soups & Hot Drinks

Yes, these are both pretty obvious.  However, we tend to forget how convenient soups and drinks are. If you’re in a rush to class, a warm drink/soup mug is a great way to cozy up without wasting time.


So next time you think your ears, nose and toes are about to fall off from the cold, grab one of these foods. The key is to warm yourself up from the inside out!

Nutrition Cheat Sheet

Ever wish you had a cheat sheet for healthy eating? Your wish is our command. Sodexo Chefs & Dietitians worked together to create Mindful choices that meet the nutritional information listed below.

Use our Mindful criteria to help plan meals, desserts and snacks for your busy life.

“Satisfying portions with fewer calories and great taste…that’s Mindful.”

Mindful Nutrient Criteria
Kcal Total Fat Sat Fat Trans Fat Cholesterol Sodium Other
Plates ≤ 600 ≤ 35% of calories from fat OR ≤ 15g ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat Free (< 0.5g) ≤ 100mg ≤ 800mg ≥ 3g fiber
Entrees ≤ 550 ≤ 35% of calories from fat OR ≤ 15g ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat Free (< 0.5g) ≤ 100mg ≤ 700mg
Sides ≤ 225 ≤ 35% of calories from fat OR ≤ 8g ≤ 10% of calories from saturated
Free (< 0.5g) ≤ 5mg ≤ 300mg
Soups (8 oz.) ≤ 225 ≤ 35% of calories from fat OR ≤ 8g ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat Free
≤ 25mg ≤ 700
Desserts and Snacks

≤ 200 ≤ 35% of calories from fat OR ≤ 8g ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat Free (< 0.5g) ≤ 20mg ≤ 300mg ≥ 1g fiber

For more information and Mindful recipes check out >> http://www.mindful.sodexo.com

The Pocket Personal Trainer

Everywhere we go, we get bombarded with images of what good health is supposed to look like.  It’s not that skinny model on the runway.  It’s not that curvy opera singer.  It might not even be your personal trainer.

Health is a personal journey and is unique to the individual. The good news is there’s an app for that. New technologies are helping millions stay on track with their health and fitness goals.  And it can help you reach your goals too!


First, we have the Fitbit app.  Fitbit is a company that manufactures activity trackers that record everything from the steps you take to how well you sleep.  All the data from the tracker syncs wirelessly with the app on your phone meaning you don’t have to enter that data yourself.

The Fitbit system costs anywhere from $30 to $130.  Once you have the tracker an annual membership gives you access to your data from the company website.

However, there are free apps out there.  MyFitnessPal is one of them. This app tracks many of the things that can help you reach your fitness goals.  But because you have to enter all the data it’s a bit more time consuming.


Both of these apps are designed to support your personal fitness goals.  People currently using them will tell you that having all the data at their fingertips inspires them to work even harder.  Who knew a little device you carry around with you every day could be your own personal trainer 24/7!

Take control of your wellness goals and go check out MyFitnessPal.com and Fitbit.com for more information on how to get involved.