Running Down a Dream: Running a Restaurant for a Day

This is one of my last projects as an undergrad at Oregon State University.

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First, let’s give a big shout out to managers, food production staff, etc. that help restaurant operations run smoothly, because holy shit do you all have a tough job.

As part of my requirements for my degree, nutrition students have to run an on-campus restaurant for one day.  This includes everything, from setting up a theme, to the marketing, and even designing the menu.  Fortunately, I wasn’t alone.  I had a group of very talented people to work with.

Our theme was Thai food (with more of a focus on the Americanized versions, since that is what we were familiar with).  We focused on foods that were simple, quick to make, and we were sure were going to sell.  Some of our highlights include pork meatballs, spicy chicken wings, and pad Thai.  No, our focus wasn’t on making healthy food.

I was in charge of the design elements of the event, seeing as how I had the most technical know-how out of my group.  I we came up with the name “Tongue Thai’d” for our theme name.  As such, I pulled a classic move and modified the Rolling Stones logo for two reasons:  I didn’t want our group to use the raw logo like what was proposed and I liked influencing the event with my rock/metal roots anyway.  I modified the logo by putting a twist on it, as in I made the tongue look like it was knotted or twisted.

Sooner than any of us wanted, we were freaking the fuck out ready for the event.  I was on running duty, meaning I was basically a combination of a bus boy and waiter.  We hit a few snags initially, such as our tea being salty (someone mistook salt for sugar), so we had to prepare new batches and replace and serve them.  We also wound up selling out of a couple of our items, which is a good and bad thing.  Good, because that meant we had a lot of sales, but bad because we potentially lost sales, too.

This is one of those experiences I won’t forget.  The months of planning, tasting recipes and making adjustments, the mistakes and successes made along the way.  All of it is valuable in dietetics practice.  Food service is a very important part, since people like to eat.  People eat in places other than home (such as an on-campus restaurant).  Having a dietician on hand helps with food decisions, such as:  balancing meals, ingredient substitutions, or possibly legislation.

Shout out to the talented people I got to work with on this project.  You all helped to make this project as smooth as possible.  Congratulations on graduating, and may you all do great things in your field!

More Food Poetry

I wanted to write some more food poetry to get more diverse styles on here.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a bunch of poems based on food, so I thought why not?  It’s been a while since I have flexed my more creative side on this site.

 

Quinoa
Is it keen-wah, kwin-o-wah?
Who the Hell know-wah?
An ancient grain, whole grain.
Tiny circle pellets, don’t drain.

Lemon
Yellow sour citrus fruit
Makes salmon better to boot
We all know that vitamin C
Is really good for me

On Learning Metabolic Pathways
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
AHHHHHHHHHHH
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
AHHHHHHHHHHH

Bananas
Coming in a yellow bunch
Go ahead and pack in a lunch
High in potassium
Makes you say “yum.”

 

Blueberries
Small, blue and round.
Spring through summer can be found.
Eat them raw, in a salad or pie.
Vitamin C to help you not die.

 

Salad
Can be filled with a bunch of green
Can be filled with a bunch of fruit
Try and make sure the calories are lean
Tasty dish, and nutrient dense to boot

 

Lunch
Middle meal of the day
Can be large or small
or even not at all
I like to eat it anyway

 

The Internet Itself
A lot of garbage floating in the void
Who can you trust for info?
I am incredibly annoyed
My side, your side, their side, we don’t know

Success

Some college senior talks about things that helped him be successful.

Matching for the Dietetic Internships (DI) is wrapped up.  For many juniors in the program, this is a scary time.  There might be a lot of time now, but it will go by fast.  For sophomores and freshmen (maybe even the juniors or seniors too) in nutrition programs, you have a bit more time.  I have some words of encouragement for you.

  1. Find something that scares the shit out of you and do it.  You can talk about this during the DI application, how you started off scared of something (e.g. public speaking), and how you improved.
  2. Be bold.  You really want to stand out in some way.  There are a lot of ways you can do this.  Oftentimes, hobbies or lifestyle choices can benefit you if you spin it in a certain way.  For example, playing on a sports team shows dedication and the ability to be part of a team.  Being involved in student organizations shows potential leadership experience.  Hell, if you really want to, starting a blog is pretty easy.  I mean, lookit this guy.
  3. Be good at what you do.  One piece of advice I got from a professor was to pick a couple things you are good at, and flaunt them to whoever will want to see them.  For me, I tried to stay active on Twitter, WordPress, Facebook and others.  Eventually due to burnout, I stopped being so active on Twitter, and keep my Facebook for friends and family only.   I found it difficult to keep up with everything, and this was only a small smattering of social media.  However, I have also started to take up fiction writing.  It can be intimidating trying to get everything done that dietetics classes recommend, so I will be the contrarian.  Find some hobbies you like, and do them well.
  4. Be yourself.  One would think that being a potty-mouthed metal-head shows me as less professional than many of the other students in the program.  However, when I have tried to “fit-in” with the crowd, I felt very artificial.  I despised giving more professional presentations too.  However, I have found ways to maintain my sense of self, while being appropriate for work, and maintaining a professional demeanor.  I still go into class with band-tee shirts, but when the time comes I try and put on professional face, while still maintaining the quirkiness I try and provide.
  5. Have fun.  I wish this was as easy as it sounds.  Studying can be a big pain, even if it’s something you’re interested in.  Sometimes you need a break to figure out what you need.  Sometimes having fun is doing something else, like watching a movie, playing video games, or even spending time with friends and family.  I am wrapping up my fifth year of college.  If it wasn’t for my hobbies, or friends and family I would have lost my sanity a long time ago.  Or at least, the last remaining bits of my sanity.

Success can be seen in many more ways than I listed.  Success is also loosely defined.  You can do all of these things, yet fail at what you do.  Just remember, that is not the end.  Not everyone’s path is the same, and it is up to you to determine if you succeeded or not.

Fake News: How to Navigate Information

There is a lot of trash on the internet. This is some of my advice on finding what is useful to you.

Wow, look at this!  Mr. Blogman is back at it again.  Maybe this term will be kinder to me by actually allowing me to have freetime.

Fake news is one of those terms that people throw around like crazy.  Something for your point is valid, whereas if something goes against it, it becomes the increasingly cliched term “fake news.”  However, within the realm of food and nutrition, there is a lot of fake news.  I jokingly tell many people in my dietetics cohort “anyone online who is writing about nutrition either knows jack-shit, or is a dietitian.”  While this is a hyperbolized statement, it highlights the fact that there are many blogs out there from people who have no idea what they are talking about.  This post (which may or may not be fake news) is going to help you navigate the confusion.

Who wrote the article?:  This can show a lot about how reliable the article is.  Moms are fantastic people.  In fact, one helped to make me the sarcastic asshole  intelligent young man I am today.  However, a good portion of them are not educated in nutrition or medicine.  A mommy blog arguing against vaccines and promoting homeopathy is not reliable, because they are going against the vast amounts of research done showing the contrary.  Same goes for scientists as well.  Science is attacked by everyone, including other scientists.  When I research a topic, I look where there are more voices, rather than the loudest.  If 99 published articles say something (like fruits and vegetables are healthy), and one opposes it (if they say that fruits and vegetables are actually going to give you cancer because of some compound in all plants), then we need to examine the one that’s against.  Sometimes, this is can find something new that we did not know yet, and warrants further education.  Other times, they are full of shit.

What do they have to gain from writing the article?:  Nobody does anything for nothing.  Hell, I write this blog because I want to get my nutritional foot in the door.  Most times, articles are written for money.  Most of the times, money comes from ads, and advertisers want view and engagement.  This means articles get trashy and worthless.  Sometimes these articles will use catchy titles to bait you into clicking on them (for example, THIS one Food in Your Kitchen is DEADLY, and You are EATING It.  The answer is water, because it can be dangerous when super heated, and can cause electrolyte imbalances if too much is drunk).  Emotional trickery, especially anger, can lead you to share the article with people, leading to more views.  Sometimes, health professionals and amateurs can be paid to sponsor a product.  This does not mean it’s a healthy product, but that someone paid someone to say something valuable about it.

How reputable is the source?:  Sometimes the platform can make or break a source.  Several media outlets have shown themselves to not be reputable with their reporting, and this is used against one side or another (be it politics, health, or current events).  I can assure you, whether you are for or against a topic, there are good and bad sources on either side.  On social media, I’ve seen so many image macros (or memes) about bashing one side or the other.  There are valid points to both sides, yet it gets lost with who you are talking to.  I can even praise homeopathy for a component that modern medicine lacks:  empathy.  Some sources have tarnished their credibility to Hell.

Where did The Punk Go?

Did he die?  Nope.  *Quickly turns away and checks pulse.*  Nope, still alive

Did he quit blogging?  Also nope.

Can you help me find my keys?  Did you check in the couch?

Jokes aside, I needed to take a break from blogging to finish up the term.  This past term of working for Food Hero (an extension of Oregon State University that provides health and nutrition information to low-income families), getting educated in nutrition, and doing work on my writing minor left me run down.  I got super burned out, and as a consequence, I began hating nutrition and writing, which is definitely not a good thing.

I plan on getting back into writing on my blog, and maybe even publishing some work.  I also want to try and grow my Twitter account, which can be found here.  I try to post something there every day, but sometimes I don’t if there’s not much to say.  Give it a follow if you’d like.

I am also unsure of my future as an online personality, with the recent repeal of Net Neutrality.  If running social media accounts becomes too expensive, then I will have to leave.  I cannot afford to run social media while attending school.  Hopefully things don’t change too much, because I do like writing and working on social media.

Hopefully everyone had a happy holiday season, and hopefully 2018 will be a better year for everyone than 2017 was.

Also because this is a nutrition blog, I suppose I should leave some last words on food.  Eat your fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins.  Limit saturated fats and added sugars.

What is a Healthy Food?

Defining words in your own way is difficult. See what a nutrition student thinks about healthy food.

A lot of my friends and family ask my opinions on different foods.  Sometimes, it’s something like “is this good for me?” or “is this healthy?”  My response to either of these questions is a shrug of the shoulders and a “I dunno, what do you want from your diet?”  If I have not made my stance on foods clear, I try and focus on what the person wants from their diet, rather than what many other sources (some with a severe lack of credibility) think.  Today I am going to discuss some aspects of what makes a food “healthy” in my opinion.

What/How many nutrients does it have?

Every food has nutrients, but different foods will have varying quality and quantity of things like vitamins and minerals.  Some foods are more nutritious (like fruits and vegetables) than others (like packaged snack foods).  For optimal health, it’s recommended to eat foods like fruits and vegetables over prepackaged meals.  These prepackaged meals can be high in fat, sugar, and/or salt.  While these are

My rule of thumb is fruits, vegetables, beans, and lean proteins are generally very nutritious.

What is the capacity for the food to do harm?

All food has the capability to kill you.  However, this capability is not equal in all foods.  Some foods are high in nutrients that can be toxic to you.  One example we learned in my biochemistry class is liver in some species of animals can contain enough vitamin A to give you vitamin A toxicity.

Other foods have a link to certain diseases.  Ingredients like refined sugar, alcohol, salt, and other food additives have been scrutinized and examined for many years now to see what sorts of effects they have on the body.  There is a lot of inconclusive research, so for now my non-professional advice is to limit these.

Is there any symbolism to the food?

The irony here is that I said earlier that foods high in fat and sugar is typically unhealthy.  However, ice cream can be healthy.  In a blog about eating disorders, the writer mentions that for her, buying and eating ice cream was a victory.  She had gotten ice cream and ate it, despite some of her struggles she faces with her eating disorder.  I would say that this is a case where ice cream is healthy, despite what previous health advice says.

I would not worry about what you eat too much, unless you need to.  Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein foods are always a good way to go.  However, I still indulge in a lot of foods that are not considered “healthy.”  I’d rather enjoy good food on occasion, rather than worry about every single macro- and micronutrient.

What do you guys think?  Feel free to comment them below.

Shoot to Grill: Food Safety Tips for a Labor Day BBQ

Here are some basic food safety tips that can help keep you healthy, and not sick.

Summer is almost over, which means it’s just about time for me to go back to school and get more educated.  Today is a good day to fire up your grill (or “barbecue,” as some call it, despite the fact that it is NOT a barbecue).

  1. Wash your hands:  This is a basic food safety tip.  Who knows what kinds of germs, debris particles, or other nasty stuff are hiding on your hands?  Well, preparing foods without washing your hands can get this into whatever you are making.
  2. Keep raw meat away from fresh produce:  When preparing a dish that has raw meat and fresh vegetables, it is important to keep them separate to prevent cross contamination.  My recommendation is to use two cutting boards with two knives:  one for the meat, and one for the vegetables.  Wash your hands before switching between the two just to be sure that you aren’t spreading bacteria.
  3. Test the temperature of meats and/or meat substitute before serving:  As we know, germs like to grow on pretty much anything.  As such, it’s important to make sure that everything is cooked to a safe temperature before serving (after all, I doubt that you or anyone you are serving food to want to get a foodborne illness).  To check the temperature, you need to use a calibrated thermometer.  Simply remove the food from the grill, and stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat.  Generally, if the food is above 165 degrees Fahrenheit or 80 degrees Celsius you should be fine.  Here’s an image I found from Healthy Canadians that highlight this:
    Image result for safe food temperatures celsius
  4. Be mindful of the Danger Zone:  No, you are not Kenny Loggins.  You don’t want to go to the Danger Zone.  This is a range of temperatures that allow bacteria to grow, which again, can make you sick.  Because for some reason the USDA does not like adding Celsius temperatures on their infographics, I’ll post two pictures.  One is from the USDA, the other from Australia’s Food Safety Information Counsil:
    Image result for danger zone foodImage result for danger zone food safety uk

I know a lot of what I covered today pertains to American audiences more than international people.  However, these tips still pertain to basic food safety, regardless of the day.

Got any questions or comments?  Feel free to leave one below.