Demo food prep and samples in classes

Campus Dining Services, which now supplies all aspects of all food at all residential dining halls, nine cafes and Frist Campus Center, has rolled out a service, Princeton Culinary Lab, to bring its own chefs into classes. The current project is part of the Food and Agriculture Initiative, a project of Smitha Haneef, who directs food services, and Professor Dan Rubenstein, EEB, along with Prof David Wilcove, EEB & WWS and Shana Weber, Sustainability. The service builds on decades-long  work of her predecessor, Stu Orefice, who introduced forward-thinking sustainability and local procurement efforts, as well as chefs-to-classes, chefs-to-students efforts and community connections. It also borrows aspects of PSF’s  Science, Society & Dinner course with Master Chef Craig Shelton, a James Beard award winner and graduate of Yale in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. The new service was demonstrated in Prof Rubenstein’s ENV 303, Agriculture, Human Diets and the Environment, in Spring 2018; in NES 390: Medieval Cairo, a Survival Guide; and in Col(LAB) 1.0 with Prof Anne Cheng, American Studies, an experimental, three-day, mini-module to prototype exploration of the entangled issues of health, class, culture, innovation, and ecology. Campus Dining Services says there will be 14 such rollouts in the future. Spring and subsequent iterations follow an earlier effort of Haneef with Prof Cheng for her course, Literature, Food, and the American Racial Diet, in spring 2015. In that course, teams of students created dishes that illustrated some aspect of how food interacts with racial identity. Teams were paired with PU chefs who advised them on food ingredients, preparation and presentation. More info here:

Happy birthday to latest addition to PSF family

Congratulations to PSF’s own Professor Dan Rubenstein, and to Smitha Haneef of Dining Services, on the one-year anniversary of their Food and Agriculture Initiative. It builds on and leverages a dozen years of PU work examining the science of the plate, celebrating the community of the table, and studying relevant complex systems. The initiative intends to explore “global food and agriculture as a subject of critical inquiry and applied knowledge.” Others involved include Professor David Wilcove of EEB and Public Affairs, and Shana Weber, Sustainability director. See more here:

Sampling, surveying at Food Expo

Congratulations to The Michelin Stars of Butler College, victors in the 2017 Tiger Chef Challenge. (Photo: Campus Dining)

Melissa Mirota, registered dietitian for PU, illustrated a month’s worth of food choices available at residential dining halls. (Photo: Rozalie Czesana)

The beef patty on a typical hamburger requires 630 gallons of water to produce. (Photo: Cecila Sheng)

Sea to Table’s Acadian Redfish, bottom, and Spiny Dogfish displayed at Campus Dining’s Food Expo at Dillon. (Photo: Rozalie Czesana)


Last Friday, alongside the excitement of the second year of the Tiger Chef Challenge student cooking contest (congratulations to Butler College!), Dillon Gym was also transformed to a bustling food expo, with a steady stream of students stopping to sample foods at booths of Campus Dining vendors and taking time to test their sustainability knowledge in exchange for prizes.

One highlight was tuna ceviche, crafted on the spot by the rep from Mission Foods, which supplies dining halls with a variety of Mexican-themed foods and ingredients.

Alissa Westrvelt of the Brooklyn-based Sea to Table, a seafood distributor that connects small-scale fisheries with clients, displayed Acadian Redfish and Spiny Dogfish, two fish species that Princeton students can taste across the dining halls.

Melissa Mirota, the registered dietitian at PU, presented a National Nutrition Month Scavenger Hunt, in which the Tiger Challenge visitors were invited to explore the nutritional benefits of several foods at the expo: red lentils and quinoa from RC Fine Foods, coffee from Princeton-based Small World and yogurts from Chobani, among others. Participants received a fruit-infuser water bottle. Mirota also supplied a 30 Day Whole Food Challenge poster, which listed a recipe for every day in March. She said she was inspired by Mark Bittman, former food writer at The New York Times who said, ”It’s not the beta-carotene, it’s the carrot. The evidence is very clear that plants promote health.”

At the Greening Dining table hosted by Sarah Bavuso, sustainability manager for Campus Dining, students, faculty, and other visitors picked up a full backpack to feel the weight of the amount of food wasted by an average student during one month: 22.8 pounds. Visitors also learned how much water it takes to produce one burger, in which the vast majority of water consumption comes from the meat patty. Visitors also could take a survey regarding their opinions about food waste and sustainability and hear more about transparency in ingredient procurement. (Greening Dining is a student group that works with Campus Dining to make Princeton dining as sustainable as possible.)

Changing Climate, Changing Appetites: Beets


6 beets, peeled and cut into thick wedges
3 medium onions, cut into wedges
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and then into thirds
6 medium carrots
2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Scatter vegetables across large, shallow and heavy-bottomed roasting pan.
3. Sprinkle with salt, ensuring even distribution
4. Pour olive oil over vegetables. Mix thoroughly with your hands.
5. Roast, stirring and turning every 10 minutes, until vegetables are well caramelized.
Makes 6 servings. Nutrition analysis per serving: Calories, 192; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 26g; High in copper, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Approximate cost per serving: $1.48. Active prep and cooking time: 15 minutes; largely passive cooking time: 45 minutes. Planning: Produce: beets, sweet potatoes. To have on hand: extra virgin olive oil, salt, onions, carrots.

Changing Climate, Changing Appetites: Chickpeas


19 ounce-can chickpeas, drained
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste
1/3 cup tahini
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 medium carrots

1. Place all ingredients except carrots in workbowl of food processor. Process until smooth. Taste; adjust seasonings.
2. Peel carrots; cut into sticks.
Serve hummus as a dip or as a sandwich spread. Use to thicken soups.
Makes 6 servings. Nutrition analysis per serving: Calories, 259; Protein 9g; Carbohydrate 29g; High in copper, phosphorus and Vitamin A. Approximate cost per serving: $1.25. Active prep time: 15 minutes. Planning: Pantry: chickpeas, tahini; produce: lemon, garlic, carrots. To have on hand: extra virgin olive oil, salt. garlic.



Changing Climate, Changing Appetites: Lentils


2 cups large brown lentils, soaked if required and drained
1 onion, finely chopped
Olive oil (about 1/4 cup), divided
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1 cup long-grain brown rice, rinsed
2 onions, sliced into half-moon shapes
6 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted to aromatic
3/4 cup whole-milk plain greek yogurt*


1. In a large pot, boil lentils in a fresh portion of water to cover for 45 minutes (add more water if needed).
2. At the same time, put rice on to cook in 2 cups of boiling, salted water.
3. In the meantime, fry the chopped onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until soft and golden. Add it to the lentils.
4. Fry sliced onions in 2 tablespoons very hot oil until they are dark brown and sweet – almost caramelized.
5. Serve the lentils atop the rice in a large, shallow dish, garnished with fried onion slices, with toasted pine nuts and plain yogurt as accompaniments.
– Adapted from “A Book of Middle Eastern Food,” by Claudia Roden
Makes 6 servings. Nutrition analysis per serving: Calories, 467; Protein 20g; Carbohydrate 63g; High in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin B6 and folate. Approximate cost per serving: $1.24. Planning: Pantry: pine nuts. To have on hand: (buy large quantities): extra virgin olive oil, salt, onions, carrots, lentils, brown rice (store in freezer).
*Yogurt is not calculated in the analyses.

What’s on your breakfast plate?

Ran across an interesting piece on USDA from Tom Vilsack, the department’s head. From that piece, a quote about breakfast:

USDA researchers have made discoveries that prove eating a protein-rich breakfast increases the brain’s level of dopamine, a chemical that helps reduce food cravings and overeating later in the day. USDA scientists recorded brain electrical activity during the performance of mental arithmetic in children and found that those who ate breakfast were more efficient at solving math problems than those who did not.

If you’re looking to push past mid-morning sluggishness and step lightly on the planet, opt for plant-based protein-rich foods: quinoa, edamame, beans & legumes including peanut butter, wild rice, nuts and also processed items including tofu, tempeh and seitan (more info from Prevention magazine here and here). Eggs and dairy (Greek yogurt) pack a protein punch too.