It’s Pumpkin Time!

This past week I have been completing various projects with multiple people at WVU Dining Services.  I assisted with a safety and sanitation audit in the dining facility and helped with a catering event at the WVU President’s house and so much more.  The project I decided to share with you all this week is a brief topic I covered for a series called “Nutrition Nuggets” that dining serves puts out for WVU students and staff a few times a month.


Nutrition Nuggets - It's Pumpkin TimeAlso, in favor of fall traditions I have been searching for a HEALTHY pumpkin flavored drink to make and I think I finally found one! Now, I have yet to have a chance to get to the store to purchase pumpkin puree (or milk…) so I have yet to try it. Once I do, I will be sure to share my thoughts but if you beat me to it please share your comments (good or bad!). Original recipe can be found here.

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 banana

2 scoops vanilla chai protein powder

(or try 1 scoop chai tea mix and 1 scoop vanilla protein powder instead!)

1 cup of milk


Directions: Blend all ingredients together until desired consistency is reached!


Pastry Chef – Recipe Analysis

A few days ago I had the opportunity to spend half a day with the pastry chef for WVU Dining Services.  He took the time to show me all the storage and the different products they have!  He brought up an interesting point when he noted that the reduced calorie, low-fat, and “healthy” desserts that they purchase have ingredient list that are super long and many of the ingredients do not even sound like real food.  He said that people might be better off just eating the real dessert in a smaller portion than eating this chemically created version and I agree with him!  In efforts to analyze this new and “all-natural” brand they are considering purchasing I compared it with the products that they currently serve.  I found it very interesting to see that all-in-all there was not a  whole lot of difference between most of the recipes.  Check out my analysis below.  It was ran using the Food Processor Software.  In addition to conducting nutrition analysis I also helped prepare the sour cream muffins with added fruit for the day.

Bakery Comparisons

WVU Dining Services

This past two weeks I have been with West Virginia University’s Dining Services completing my institutional food service, production and management rotation.  I have had the opportunity to work with many people and every day is something new!  One of fun things I got to assist with is the WVU Farmer’s Market last Thursday.  I worked with the director to work the booth to promote fresh, local, and healthy foods.  This week we were serving up Tabbouleh, a Lebanese salad.  Prior to this experience I had never heard to Tabbouleh so it was an awesome chance to experience a new healthy food.  This was made with all local ingredients grown in West Virginia, with the exception of the bulgar wheat which we couldn’t find locally!  Over the course of two and half hours we handed out almost 300 servings!  You could tell immediately who was from Middle East and familiar with Tabbouleh by their comments on our samples…”Where’s the parsley?”  The traditional recipe calls for much more parsley and less grains but in order to appeal to the majority of students we “Americanized” to tone down the flavor!  Everyone really loved it!  It was a great experience to be able to enjoy the campus farmer’s market while promoting healthy, local options!


Tabbouleh Recipe Card

Tabbouleh Recipe Card


Tabbouleh Nutrition Facts and Directions

Tabbouleh Nutrition Facts and Directions


Tabbouleh Stand at the WVU Farmer's Market

Tabbouleh Stand at the WVU Farmer’s Market


iCook Session #1

After months of planning, recruiting, and conducting assessments it finally came time to teach session one! We ended up filling about five of our six classes with at least four parent/child groups (also referred to as dyads). Currently, there are three interns who will be teaching the first four sessions and then the other two interns will teach the last two. Remi, Erin, and I alternated teaching the lessons by serving as either Chef, Sous Chef, or an extra helper. We were also lucky enough to have the assistance of three undergraduate students who assisted with note taking, technology, set-up, and cleaning all the dishes.

This first session was entitled “Tools of the Trade.” We covered knife safety skills, physical activity, camera/website use, and an introduction to iCook. The classes had anywhere from four to eight dyads present. This was a great learning experience for the children, parents, and even us! The kids knife skills improved greatly just from the beginning of the class to the end and the parents’ confidence in their kids abilities also greatly improved. While allowing kids (age 8-11) to use a sharp chef knife may seem like an unsafe thing to do, with the right support and monitoring from the parents the kids can accomplish cutting bananas, strawberries, apples, and even kiwi safely! We made it through the entire weekend without any cuts! You can tell which kids had prior experience and which had never even held a knife before. It was fun to work with these kids and I can’t wait to watch their skills improve over the next few months as we move through the sessions!