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Talking National Nutrition Month with Chef Mary Johnson

March is National Nutrition Month, which is a nutrition education and information campaign, focusing on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

So, we reached out to some of our talented and experienced chefs and asked them to share their advice for making healthy food choices this month and beyond. Today’s chef is Chef Mary Johnson.

Chef Johnson is an executive chef, overseeing hot production, grade manger and the bakery at the Demske Culinary Support Center, where all centralized production for campus takes place. Gingerbread houses and fruit carvings are her hobby.


Q: Tell me a little about yourself and your background in dining.

I am from Louisiana and have a passion for cooking and renovating. I am a mother of seven and after having the privilege of being a stay at home mom for 32 years, I returned to school and graduated from Cincinnati State with a culinary degree. I’ve been with Miami University for 11 years.

My experience at Miami has been challenging, rewarding, and fulfilling. I began as a senior cook, was quickly promoted to food production leader, and then chef. I am now an executive chef. I have worked in dining halls, restaurants, and hot production at the Demske Culinary Support Center (DCSC).

Gingerbread houses and fruit carvings are my hobby. I have recreated, in gingerbread, many of the buildings on campus including Lewis Place, McGuffey, Old Main, Upham Hall, and more. I have done many fruit carvings for different events at the president’s home, dining halls, and NACUF’s competitions.

Q: Tell me what you do here at Miami, the different tasks you are responsible for and what role you play in our dining services as a whole.

I am the executive chef at DCSC. Currently my responsibilities include oversight of hot production, garde manger and the bakery at DCSC, where all centralized production for campus takes place. My day-to-day duties include monitoring all activity between the three units, handling issues that develop during the day, notifying the units if products will be late, if substitutions will be made, and clarifying any discrepancies in orders. My most important role is to make sure all our customers get quality products, correctly, and on time. If at any time this does not happen, it is my responsibility to make the necessary corrections are made with as little inconvenience to the customer as possible.

I have input into menu choices, setting rotations for hot production’s soups and sauces, garde manger’s Uncle Phil’s Express items, and the desserts and pastries from the bakery. I also consult with different staff on event menus, providing information as to what my departments can provide. The bakery provides all the cakes, cookies, and specialty items for the “Me to You” program, and provides input on holiday promotions as well.

Q: The theme for National Nutrition Month this year is “Put Your Best Fork Forward” to emphasize that each of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices. What does this theme mean to you and in what ways do you believe people can make healthy changes to their diets during National Nutrition Month and beyond?

I think “Put Your Best Fork Forward” means that every bite counts and that taking small steps to changing our eating habits can be positive steps to, hopefully, lifetime changes. I think the key to success is finding a variety of healthy foods you enjoy. It is easy when you love what you eat. The MyPlate guidelines suggest half your plate should be filled with vegetables and fruits (adding slightly more veggies than fruits) and the other half should be filled with grains and proteins. Of course, color is key, so include a colorful mix and you will get plenty of nutrients. Oh, and don’t forget your dairy. A glass or low fat or skim milk is a great choice.

Q: In what ways do you think students at Miami can “Put their best fork forward”?

I think they can opt for healthy options offered by our dining services. Healthy options are a must on Miami’s menu. We work hard to give our students quality food. We give student access to ingredient and nutritional information and want to help them make informed, intelligent decisions. Healthy grab-and-go items are readily available if students are pressed for time. They should make a conscious, concerted effort to find healthy food they like, follow the MyPlate guidelines, make it colorful and it will be easy for them to “put their best fork forward.”


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Talking National Nutrition Month with Chef Scott Rouse

March is National Nutrition Month, which is a nutrition education and information campaign, focusing on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

So, we reached out to some of our talented and experienced chefs and asked them to share their advice for making healthy food choices this month and beyond. Today’s chef is Chef Scott Rouse.

Chef Rouse is an executive chef at Miami University with over 30 years of experience in food service. Chef Rouse is over Garden Commons, Martin Dining Hall and Dividends, in addition to the Middletown and Hamilton campuses, helping plan and execute Miami’s dining services.


Q: Tell me a little about yourself and your background in dining.

I’ve been in food service for 30 years. I’ve done many different types of food service. (i.e. Hotels, Fine dining, Senior living, Contract Food Service, Colleges, office buildings, and Free Standing Restaurants.) I’m a graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in May of 1991 and I love Creole & Cajun food.

Q: Tell me what you do here at Miami, the different tasks you are responsible for and what role you play in our dining services as a whole.

I’m one of the executive chefs here on campus. I’m over Garden Commons, Martin Dining Hall, Dividends, the Middletown campus and the Hamilton campus. I help plan and execute many different aspects of dining, from special dinners to limited time offers, to the regular four-week menu rotations. I oversee daily production of menu items and assist where needed; anything from covering for someone on their break in the production kitchen to stir-frying in the Asian concept Zen.

Q: The theme for National Nutrition Month this year is “Put Your Best Fork Forward” to emphasize that each of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices. What does this theme mean to you and in what ways do you believe people can make healthy changes to their diets during National Nutrition Month and beyond?

I believe people can make healthy food choices at any time, not just during National Nutrition Month. We always have healthy options available from baked fish to roasted vegetables to grilled skinless chicken breast. Not to mention all of the tasty vegan and vegetarian offerings. The hard part is sticking to those choices long-term to actually change your eating habits. I know this is much easier said than done. Believe me, I love a good cheeseburger just as much as the next person.

Q: In what ways do you think students at Miami can “Put their best fork forward”?

Neale Donald Walsch said “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” and I couldn’t agree more. Try something new. Maybe try the three sisters stew or the roasted cauliflower or some other dish you haven’t tried. Vegan, vegetarian or otherwise. Even if it’s just a bite of something new. You may just find your new favorite dish.


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One Miami Special Dinner Primer

On March 30, we will be hosting the One Miami Special Dinner at Western Dining Commons for our first special dinner of 2017! Come join us for an event that will feature an exciting menu with items from across the globe that you’ll only be able to find on campus during this dinner!


One Miami Special Dinner

Date Location Time
March 30, 2017 Western Dining Commons 5-8pm

Look for items like Vietnamese noodle salad (Vietnam), Korean beef (South Korea), potato pancakes (Germany), roasted Japanese eggplant (Japan), chickpea curry (India), and many other delicious options.

The menu will also be featuring some unique North American additions with tater tot poutine (Canada), chorizo and Monterey Jack pizza (Southwest US), Cincinnati chili (Cincinnati, OH), and Chicago hot dogs with toppings (Chicago, IL), among others.

If you’re looking for some special sweets, a Red Brick Bliss (Dayton, OH) Sundae Bar will be available with sundae toppings or you may opt for a tasty helping of crepe cake!

We’ll see you at Western Dining Commons!


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Talking National Nutrition Month with Chef Casey Johnson

March is National Nutrition Month, which is a nutrition education and information campaign, focusing on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

So, we reached out to some of our talented and experienced chefs and asked them to share their advice for making healthy food choices this month and beyond. Today’s chef is Chef Casey Johnson.

Chef Johnson is an executive chef at Miami University, overseeing Armstrong Student Center, Bell Tower Place and King Cafe. Chef Johnson, originally from Ohio, went to culinary school in New York, interned in West Virginia and found his way back to Ohio before taking his current position with Miami University’s dining services.


Q: Tell me a little about yourself and your background in dining.

My name is Casey Johnson. I’m originally from Toledo, OH and have lived in both New York and West Virginia for some time. I attended college at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and, while in school, I did my internship with the Greenbrier Hotel & Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

After graduation I participated in the M.I.T program where I was a teaching assistant/sous chef at The Caterina de’ Medici restaurant on campus for Chef Alberto Vanoli for a year. Once I completed the M.I.T program, my wife and I decided to move back to Ohio for her to attend school, while living in Toledo. I worked in a couple different Italian restaurants and finally became sous chef for a local restaurant, Mancy’s Italian Grill.

From there I moved into a food & beverage director position for Hilton Garden Inn where I was one of the opening managers for their Findlay, OH property. During that time, my wife was accepted into the graduate program here at Miami University, so we moved south and I ended up getting one of the executive chef positions here at the university.

Q: Tell me what you do here at Miami, the different tasks you are responsible for and what role you play in our dining services as a whole.

I’m responsible for overseeing the management of Armstrong Student Center, Bell Tower Place, and King Cafe. That includes the day-to-day needs of each property, recipe management, proper food safety, and concept development. The chefs on campus are here to back up and assist the front line staff members. We obviously do a lot of the planning and technical recipe work, but the front line staff plays the biggest role in our dining service department on campus.

Q: The theme for National Nutrition Month this year is “Put Your Best Fork Forward” to emphasize that each of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices. What does this theme mean to you and in what ways do you believe people can make healthy changes to their diets during National Nutrition Month and beyond?

“Put Your Best for Forward,” to me, kind of summarizes what I had already planned for my year. Between the birth of my daughter at the end of 2015 and me turning 30 this year, I’ve decided to make healthier choices in my own life. I’d like to make the next decade of my life the healthiest one I’ve had thus far.

I’m a huge believer and advocate for the Farm-to-Table movement. I feel this movement can really help increase the healthier options on our plates. Eating whole, unprocessed food, and as locally as possible, is always going to be the best choice when trying to make a healthier choice. I believe this quote from Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food sums up my belief on healthy food, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Q: In what ways do you think students at Miami can “Put their best fork forward”?

I believe that if the younger generation helps to continue this Farm-to-Table movement by supporting local farmers markets and making seasonally, local choices, the demand for these product will increase, as will supply (hopefully). This will help make these whole, unprocessed foods more readily available, allowing more Americans to eat healthy at a lower cost.

The students here at Miami and at every university really do have the power to change something as long as they pay attention to the choices they make in their food. “Putting Their Best Fork Forward” is not only good for their health but the health of this planet.


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Healthy Meal Substitutions Worth Trying

A common misconception with food is that in order to make smarter, healthier choices, you have to give up all your favorite meals. That isn’t necessarily true. If you get creative, and a little adventurous, you will find there are plenty of ways to still enjoy your go-to meals by substituting ingredients with other, healthier alternatives.

We found a couple meals that fit the bill with simple substitutions that can be made to add a fresh, healthy twist. These meal substitutions are definitely worth trying in your home kitchen.

Breakfast

Everybody loves to start the day with pancakes from First Stop or Pulley Diner. While you’re home for spring break, try a new twist on this breakfast staple. You can replace regular pancake batter with two bananas and two eggs for a gluten-free meal! Try this basic recipe with suggestions for common add-ins! Added bonus: bananas are high in fiber and antioxidants.

Lunch

If you’re a fan of Boneless Wing Wednesdays, you can switch it up a bit by replacing the chicken with cauliflower! It’s super easy to make this vegetarian dish and definitely worth a try. Just bake some cauliflower, cover it in as much sauce as you want and bake again. Here’s a recipe straight from the source. Replacing chicken with cauliflower makes this dish more vitamin rich, lower in calories, and gluten-free.

Snack

A great snack for the warmer months ahead is one that will bring with it a twinge of nostalgia. Throwback to childhood summers of pouring juice into popsicle trays, but now imagine an updated, more health-conscious version. Try replacing sugar-rich juice, found in the popsicles of your youth, with greek yogurt. All it takes is your favorite sliced fresh fruit, plain greek yogurt, and a natural sweetener like agave nectar or honey. The creamy and delicious treat will melt in your mouth … literally.

Dinner

Even fans of The Q can get in on this whole substitution thing. Barbeque pulled pork gets a healthy twist by replacing the meat with … fruit! Jackfruit can be prepared so that it has the texture of the average pulled meat. Adding barbeque for flavor and then using it on a bun, taco shell, or plate of nachos turns the fruit into a great meat substitute. This cuts down on cholesterol and calories and adds in more nutrients. It is definitely worth giving a try in your home kitchen!


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Talking National Nutrition Month with Chef Kiril Gallovitch

March is National Nutrition Month, which is a nutrition education and information campaign, focusing on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

So, we reached out to some of our talented and experienced chefs and asked them to share their advice for making healthy food choices this month and beyond. Today’s chef is Chef Kiril Gallovitch.

Chef Gallovitch is Miami University’s corporate executive chef, overseeing the culinary side of dining operations, including the planning of menus, production and more. Chef Gallovitch, a native of Bulgaria with classical European culinary training, has many years of experience working in different kitchens with different chefs throughout his professional career.


Q: Tell me a little about yourself and your background in dining.

I have been a chef for the last 20 years. I have extensive experience working with different chefs from all over the world. I started my career working for Sheraton Hotels in Europe. I also worked in a major strip resort in Las Vegas for 12 years. I’ve also been an executive chef of an upscale steakhouse, district chef for a large university for 10 years, and a regional chef for a company responsible for running events around the country and Canada.

Q: Tell me what you do here at Miami, the different tasks you are responsible for and what role you play in our dining services as a whole.

I am the corporate executive chef of Miami University. I am responsible for all of the dining facilities, chefs, Catering, and Concessions. My job is to oversee the operations, and provide guidance, planning menus, production, and special events.

Q: The theme for National Nutrition Month this year is “Put Your Best Fork Forward” to emphasize that each of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices. What does this theme mean to you and in what ways do you believe people can make healthy changes to their diets during National Nutrition Month and beyond?

To eat healthy starts with the choice of ingredients for the recipes. Focusing on things likes high quality ingredients, freshness, and local sourcing can greatly improve the nutrition content of the foods we consume. Balanced diet greatly depends on the choices each individual makes and making small changes to your diet can add up over time. Choosing the right nutrient-rich food can greatly improve our health and energy levels during our daily activities.

Q: In what ways do you think students at Miami can “Put their best fork forward”?

My suggestions for a healthy diet would be eating more of the following foods: vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy, whole grain foods, lean meats, legumes, and using high quality oils while preparing your food.


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Talking National Nutrition Month with Chef Ginny Thiell

March is National Nutrition Month, which is a nutrition education and information campaign, focusing on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

So, we reached out to some of our talented and experienced chefs and asked them to share their advice for making healthy food choices this month and beyond. Today’s chef is Chef Ginny Thiell.

Chef Ginny Thiell currently works as an Executive Chef for Miami University Catering. Chef Thiell is a Miami grad with a wide range of experience at different restaurants in the Cincinnati area, including experience as a chef at a vegan restaurant.


Q: Tell me a little about yourself and your background in dining.

I’m a Miami grad who has had a passion for cooking ever since I can remember. After leaving Oxford, many years ago, I worked my way up through several restaurants in Cincinnati, eventually taking the challenging position of Chef at a vegan restaurant in Clifton. Giving up so many cornerstones of traditional cookery – butter, cream, animal proteins – encouraged a lot of out-of-the box thinking in creating nutritious and tasty fare.

Q: Tell me what you do here at Miami, the different tasks you are responsible for and what role you play in our dining services as a whole.

I returned to Miami and, after several interesting and rewarding job positions, I am currently Executive Chef for Miami Catering. Our kitchen is involved in events that vary from picnics to working lunches to weddings.

Q: The theme for National Nutrition Month this year is “Put Your Best Fork Forward” to emphasize that each of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices. What does this theme mean to you and in what ways do you believe people/students can make healthy changes to their diets during National Nutrition Month?

“Put Your Best Fork Forward” means, to me, moderation and an awareness of what we eat. I’ve been a vegetarian for 30 years so I’m a big fan of a plant-based diet. This doesn’t mean a vegan/vegetarian diet is for everyone, but less animal products and more veggies, fruits and grains are a great foundation for any diet. Good nutrition is often perceived as boring and rather puritanical, but it’s really just choosing the best fuel for your body so you can be on top of your game.


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Student Employee Spotlight: Gill Burkhardt

Gill Burkhardt is a sophomore from Buffalo, New York. She is studying environmental earth science. For fun, she participates in Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity, Green Oxford and Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority. Gill also works at Western Dining Commons as a part of Miami University’s dining services. We sat down with her to get to know the girl behind the Miami Dining hat.


Q: If you could be any kitchen utensil, which kitchen utensil would you be?

A: A fork, I love pasta so much so I would want to be a fork so I could eat it all day.

Q: If your personality was a texture, which texture would it be?

A: Smoothly polished wood.

Q: What is the coolest place you’ve been?

A: I recently went to Sedona, AZ. It has some AMAZING geology (which I love) and it’s a really interesting place that is much different from any other U.S. city I’ve visited.

Q: What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

A: For Secret Santa, I once received an X-Files mug from my friend. It was actually really great and I’ve used it almost every day since then.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I would love to be a park ranger.

Q: What is your favorite place to eat on campus?

A: Western Dining Commons is my favorite place to eat because they change up the options every day!

Q: What would you want to be famous for?

A: I want to be famous for doing nothing … like just have all the money and popularity but not actually have to do work.

Q: If your life was a book, what would be the title?

A: “What to Heck”

Q: Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?

A: 1990’s Sarah Michelle Geller.

Q: What is your go-to fun fact?

A: Pluto has an ocean under its surface.

Q: What is your go-to joke?

A: Any pepe meme.

Q: To where do you most want to travel?

A: All over Europe.

Q: What one meal would you eat for the rest of your life?

A: Pizza.

Q: When are you happiest?

A: When I’m at home in the summer.

Q: What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

A: Any compliment about my personality.

Q: If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life what song would it be?

A: “Salad Days” by Mac Demarco.

Q: What is your spirit animal?

A: An otter.

Q: What are you currently binge-watching?

A: Twin Peaks (again).

Q: If you could be anyone dead or alive for one day who would you be?

A: I would want to be Snoop Dogg.

Q: What would your band be named?

A: The Flaming Hot Cheetos.

Interested in joining our team? Apply for a job in dining services today at miamioh.hiretouch.com! We have a number of exciting opportunities available across campus!


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On the Road: Rooted Grounds Coffee Company

The first thing that jumped out upon arrival at Rooted Grounds Coffee Company, located in West Chester, was a simple sign that read, “Behind every successful person is a substantial amount of coffee.”

For many, particularly in college, those words couldn’t ring more true. Coffee is an important ingredient in the college scene and, as such, requires the utmost care and attention.

So, last week, Miami University dining services, representatives from the Miami University Associated Student Government and a social media person made the 50-minute drive to Rooted Grounds Coffee Co. to talk coffee, learn about the roasting process and begin development on an exclusive Miami coffee blend.

Rooted Grounds has deep roots to the love and honor of Miami University. Founded in 2016 by Miami Mergers David and Patsy Knopf, Rooted Grounds sets out to make locally roasted, fresh, small batch craft coffee available beyond the coffee shop setting.

Their dedication to their craft was put on display during our visit. Working with high-quality ingredients and a wealth of knowledge at their disposal, Rooted Grounds walked us through a sampling. As a group, we ranked a handful of coffees, each of which offering unique flavor profiles.

While Rooted Grounds took the results and set up a second round of sampling, we were taken around the facility where we learned about the roasting process and about the science that goes into each step of production.

We roasted our own coffee beans, left them to cool and went back to sample three blends, made using our results from earlier. As we ranked our new favorites, the Rooted Grounds team explained the nuances of the coffee beans we tasted. We learned more about Brazilian, Sumatran, Guatemalan and Colombian coffee varieties and how factors like soil, climate, geography, harvesting methods, and more impact flavor. Meanwhile, our rankings from the second sampling were tallied.

We discussed the results, having chosen our favorite blend of the three, before returning to the coffee beans we roasted, to get a hands-on look at the result of our demonstration. Shortly after that, we returned to Oxford, plenty caffeinated.

The entire experience was interesting and informative. We made the trip, not to merely satisfy our own curiosity, but to learn more about a local business whose coffee is expected to be served at various campus locations and to ensure that our guests receive the very best coffee!

While we would love to share our winning blend, we think it best to leave the final say to our patrons, so we are planning a sampling where Miami will choose the Rooted Grounds Miami blend! Keep tabs on our social media so you don’t miss out on that or any other information relating to our dining services and Rooted Grounds Coffee Co.!

Like Rooted Grounds Coffee Co. on Facebook and check out photos from our visit here!


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Recipes for Spring Break

Whether you’re hitting the beach, heading to the mountains or just chilling on the couch, you’ve got to eat! Try these yummy recipes so your stomach can be as happy and relaxed as you are this break.

Superfood Coconut Oil Granola with Chia & Flax

Chia seeds are known for their high fiber, protein and Omega-3 fatty acid content. Flax is a great source of fiber and Omega-3’s as well, but it’s also known for its lignans which are high in plant estrogen and antioxidants. This granola is chock full of these highly beneficial ingredients and more. Plus, the recipe is pretty easy to follow!

Granola takes some time to prepare, but once it’s baked it will last a while, making it a great snack to bring to the beach, take on a hike or just bring to the couch for any spring break activities you have planned.

One Pan Lemon Butter Garlic Shrimp and Asparagus

Whether you’re spending your break at the beach or not, juicy, flavorful seafood is sure to get you in vacation mode. Shrimp is super easy to make already and this one-pan recipe makes it even easier. This recipe takes just 15 minutes so you can squeeze a fresh-cooked, healthy meal into your fun-filled days.

You can eat the shrimp and asparagus alone, or add noodles for a roasted shrimp pasta with a side of asparagus. The seasoning for this dish consists of spices, herbs and oils you’ll find in many kitchens, so as long as you have some frozen shrimp and some asparagus on hand, you could make this anytime.

Salmon Bowl with Black Rice

I was first introduced to “power bowls” when I spent this past summer on the beach, so it’s only fitting that a power bowl make it onto this list. Power bowls are a delicious meal you can eat for lunch, or dinner. They are filling, which is why I always fueled up with one before an adventure on my days off.

This specific bowl is packed with salmon, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrots, avocado, purple cabbage, and black rice. The recipe will make you feel like you’re spending the day on a tropical beach, even if you’re just sitting at your kitchen table!

Edible Sea Glass Candy

If you’ve ever stumbled upon sea glass, then you know how pretty this treasure is. Now you can make your own, and eat it too! This sweet treat only uses four ingredients and is perfect for displaying at a casual get together or packing as a treat for the beach. Just don’t get it mixed up with the real thing. Although the recipe takes a little bit of technique, it is a great starter recipe for getting into hard candy making.


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