Ramen rules Nassau on Wednesday

Take a break on Wednesday evening (May 3) and join us first at Labyrinth Books for a ramen noodle-making demonstration by Chef Frank Caponi (6-7:15ish) and then saunter on over to the Garden Theater for a showing of the food classic, “Tampopo,” at 7:30. In preparation, a review of the film.

Conference story in Princeton Echo

PRINCETON STUDIES LUNCH: The menu, prepared by Chef Jerry Luz of Campus Dining, included braised winter greens, quinoa with vegetables, rice with lentils and slow-caramelized onions, hummus, roasted roots and a meatball sampling. (Click on photo to read conference panelists’ biographies.)

Thanks to Pat Tanner for her piece in the Princeton Echo on our February conference, Changing Climate, Changing Appetites! And thanks to all who worked and came together to create such a successful conference, especially Eliza Wright ’19, Daniel Shepard ’19, Madelynn Prendergast ’19, Rozalie Czesana ’18, Caroline Savage and Gina Talt from Sustainability, Chuck Crosby at WWS, everyone at PEI and of course funders Gordon Douglas MD ’55 and Sheila Mahoney S’55.
From the piece: As you will see, my correspondents differ one from another in what they took away from the full range of panels and panelists. But almost everyone mentioned one of the most unexpected and unique aspects of the conference: lunch! The conference organizers had partnered with chef Jerry Luz of the campus dining department to produce a “lunch-and-learn” menu that reflected and provided information on some of the key agricultural and environmental issues surrounding food production and consumption that were under discussion.

The most innovative aspect was a tasting of four kinds of meatballs. We attendees were asked to fill our plates with those and other options from a buffet outside the auditorium and then return to our seats to consume it. The menu focused on plant-forward dishes like hummus, quinoa, roasted vegetables, and fruit salad, but also included the bite-size meatballs. We then took an instant survey using our smartphones to rank the meatballs. The choices were all-beef, beef with whole grain, all-bean and vegetable (vegan), and salmon. Interestingly, beef with whole grain was the crowd favorite and served to reinforce the point that it doesn’t have to be onerous to make small but impactful changes in diet and eating patterns.

For Karla Cook, co-founder and coordinator of Princeton Studies Food (as well as founder of Princeton School Gardens Co-op), the lunch-and-learn was the most profound part of the conference she helped organize. The concept for the lunch, she writes, “grew out of Professor Dan Rubenstein’s idea to have our lunch match principles of the WRI report co-authored by Tim Searchinger.” Both men are lecturers at Princeton, and both were participants in the first panel of the day, “Framing the Challenge.”

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 Labels: Figuring the true cost of food

Three student members of our council – Madelynn Prendergast ’19, Daniel Shepard ’19 and Eliza Wright ’19, are partnering with Karla Cook, longtime food journalist, nonprofit founder and strategist — and a co-founder of Princeton Studies Food — to conceptualize an entrepreneurial food label and dynamic app that goes beyond nutrition information to include societal and environmental impact.
As a beginning, students researched and reported water use, greenhouse gas emissions and land use of three main ingredients in the Princeton Studies Lunch menu: chickpeas (in Hummus), beets (in Roasted Roots) and lentils (in Megadarra).They presented their posters at the Changing Climate, Changing Appetites conference on Feb 17.
Cook provided nutrition analysis of the three recipes, supermarket cost per serving and a rough look at planning/culture shift/pantry revisions required for making the switch to more plant-based foods. At the conference, Wright conducted a short survey about expanded labeling.
For presentation of data on the three posters that were presented for the conference, the team began by adapting a Swiss pie chart/spider web design but is continuing work with Sheila Pontis, a lecturer at PU who specializes in the presentation of complex information, with other interested faculty, scholars and students and with Smith+Manning, a design and branding firm.

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.

Please join us on Friday! Click on the poster to reach the registration page, to see the agenda and to read about our panelists and moderators.