Test Kitchen: Kale & Quinoa Salad

By Jay Patruno, Sargent Choice Ambassador & Freshman Dietetics Student

Nothing is better on a hot summer day than a refreshing salad. So on a muggy October evening a salad turned out to be the best snack. Sargent Choice’s kale and quinoa salad with citrus dressing is a simple, fun recipe that is sure to always be a crowd pleaser.

With two components to be created, the salad and dressing, this recipe was perfect for a big group to collaborate on. While some people worked on toasting the quinoa, massaging (yes, massaging!) the kale, and chopping walnuts and dates others squeezed citrus fruits and whisked together a sweet and sour dressing.

The sweet aroma of caramelized onions filled the room while the quinoa received a quick rinse and then a toast alongside garlic before we added more water to begin the cooking process. At the same time as these cooked, the other ingredients were chopped, sliced, squeezed, and stirred. But nothing was more unexpected than having to massage the leafy, green kale leaves.

When kale isn’t cooked it can have a rather bitter taste when raw. To avoid this, an R.A. shared an interesting fact with the group; if you massage the kale leaves it relieves the vegetable of its bitterness and even gives it a darker, more vibrant color. Who would have thought food needs some tension relief too? Sure enough once the kale was massaged and sliced into strips, its flavor was more crisp and fresh than we had experienced in prior kale dishes.

The finished product was nothing but a visual pleasure, with the deep green of the massaged kale leaves and the red quinoa mixed together. All in one bite you get a little bit of a taste of the sweet dates, the tangy dressing, the savory onions, and the complementary textures of the soft quinoa with the crunchy walnuts and crisp kale. It’s impossible to only have one serving!

Sargent Choice Kale & Quinoa Salad with Dates, Walnuts & Citrus Dressing
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients for the Salad:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion dicedKale & Quinoa Salad with Citrus Dressing
1 teaspoon salt, divided
½ cup red quinoa, pre-rinsed
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 bunch lacinato kale (¾-1 lb, with stems)
½ heaping cup whole dates
½ cup toasted walnuts

Ingredients for the Dressing:
1 clementine or mandarin orange
½ lime, juiced
2 teaspoons maple syrup
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and sprinkle lightly with ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has darkened to a toasty brown and smells caramelized – about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.  You should have about ½ cup of cooked onions.
  2. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.  Add it and the garlic to a 2-quart saucepan set over medium-high heat and sauté for about a minute both to dry the grain and toast it lightly. Add one cup water and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.  Cover and turn the heat to low; cook for 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat but leave the lid on for an additional 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, remove the lid and fluff with a fork.
  3. While the onions are caramelizing and the quinoa is cooking, slice off the middy bottoms of the kale stems and massage with fingers until leaves turn darker green color and wilt to relieve them of their bitterness. Then rinse the massaged leaves and slice of into fine ribbons.
  4. Pit the dates and slice them into quarters.  Roughly chop the walnuts (into 3 or 4 pieces each).
  5. Make the dressing: Peel and then juice the clementine or mandarin orange, save the pulp/innards and chop up and add to the dressing. Roll the limes against a hard surface to increase juices, then cut and juice. Whisk the juices together (you should have about ¼ cup total of juice, or a little less). Whisk in the maple syrup and olive oil.  The dressing will be emulsified but still thin.  Stir about 2 tablespoons of the dressing into the quinoa after it finishes cooking.
  6. Assemble the salad; Toss the kale with all of the still-warm quinoa and the caramelized onions.  Toss with half the dressing and taste.  Add the remaining dressing if desired, then toss with the dates and walnuts. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.

The salad keeps well; it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
-Lacinato kale is also called dinosaur, Tuscan or black kale.  Do not use curly kale in this recipe.


Per serving
Calories 300
Fat 18 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Protein 6.5 g
Carbohydrates 35 g
Fiber 5 g



Test Kitchen: Banana Pancakes

By Caroline Patrick, Graduate Nutrition Student

October exams stressing you out? No need! I’ve got the remedy. Put on Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes” and take his advice: pretend it’s the weekend and start flipping pancakes. Sargent Choice has got you covered with worry-free banana pancakes that take a hearty twist on the classic. Instead of cutting slices of banana into the batter, the batter is made up of mashed bananas. Once you combine that with whole-wheat flour—BOOM—it’s cake in a pan.

We ate our pancakes with defrosted berries (strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries, to be precise). When our Test Kitchen leader Karen Jacobs whipped out unsweetened cinnamon applesauce to go on top, I went to the flipside (a.k.a. pancake heaven).  If you’re feeling really wild, you might throw in a few chocolate chips for a decadent bite. Peanut butter or almond butter would also be fabulous toppers and make for a satisfying treat.

Fire up the skillet at your next pancake breakfast (or whenever) and throw this recipe on.  You’ll see that you don’t actually need that all-purpose flour because brown is the new white! These are just as delicious, and they’ll actually fill you up, help you keep a steady blood sugar, and keep you full until your next meal. Brain food has never been so smart. So get your short stack stat and then you can ace those tests.  Order’s up!

Sargent Choice Banana Pancakes
Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food

Yield: 10 pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1¾ cup 1% milk
2 ripe bananas mashed

Maple syrup for servingphoto(12)


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Make a well (hole) in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the honey, eggs, milk, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Whisk together thoroughly, but do not over mix.
  3. Gently fold the mashed bananas into the batter with a spatula.
  4. Heat a griddle or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Spray with non-stick spray until it is well coated. Using a ½ cup measuring cup, ladle batter on to griddle.
  5. When the pancakes have begun brown on the bottom, flip them over to cook the other side.
  6. Serve warm with maple syrup and a side of fruit. Other serving suggestions: Peanut butter, applesauce, plain non-fat or low-fat yogurt and fruit.photo(13)

Leftover pancakes can be frozen.

1 pancake
Calories 160
Fat 4 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Protein 6 g
Carbohydrates 27 g
Fiber 3 g

Navigating the Fall Farmer’s Market

Goodbye summer produce…hello winter squash!

Depending on your location, you’ve probably seen a shift in the available produce over the last few weeks. The abundance of tomatoes and summer squash have been replaced with all sorts of different vegetables. Some are familiar favorites while others may send you to google wondering what to do with them. We thought this resource from The Kitchn was really great in showcasing the newest fall line of vegetables!

12 Fall Vegetables You Should Know how to Cook

On the BU Campus?
Stop by the Farmer’s Market Cooking Class happening Thursday, Oct 9th @ 5pm in the GSU. Sabrina Pashtan, BU Dining Services Sustainability Coordinator and trained chef/food blogger will be using this weeks CSA box contents to make a Spicy Butternut Squash Soup. Did we mention its also Sargent Choice approved?!

Check out Sabrina’s food blog www.saborina.com for the recipe!


Test Kitchen: Tofu Taco Tuesday

By Caroline Patrick, Graduate Nutrition Student

Tofu taco Tuesdays, anyone? I know it’s the month of ghosts and ghouls, but don’t let the tofu scare you away. These things were deliciously taco-licious. At Wednesday night’s Test Kitchen we had our first rendezvous of the season with tofu, and we were lucky enough to have a short presentation about what it is and how it’s made.

Here’s what I learned:
The process of producing tofu starts by adding heat and water to soybeans. Then the liquid is separated from the solids and voila soymilk! From here, tofu is made much in the same way that cheese is made from milk. The extracted soymilk is coagulated, creating the firm texture. Typically tofu is packaged in water to preserve its form and freshness. It’s important to both drain and press the tofu to extract as much of this liquid as possible, as removing excess water allows the tofu to absorb more flavors, and to brown faster.

As this dish was cooking on the stove, the smells emanating were incredible—garlic, onions, cumin and more. We could not wait to assemble our tacos! But first, a Test Kitchen-goer and Mexico native advised us to take the time to warm the tortillas in a skillet, and boy was she right. The warm tortillas made the perfect base as we piled on the tofu, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and cheese. We also added some tang to this recipe by topping off our tacos with fat-free plain Greek yogurt. If you have some on hand, we definitely recommend you add a dollop of it in there!

You will be amazed at how flavorful and satisfying this dish is. I even had it for dinner the next night—they’re genuinely that good. Try this recipe out on your next taco night and discover the power of tofu.


Sargent Choice Tofu Tacos
Makes 10 servings


1 (16 ounce) package of tofu, crumbled
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons chili powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
½ lime, juiced
½ cup crushed tomatoes
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
10 6-inch whole wheat tortillas
2 cups shredded lettuce
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
¼ cup salsa


  1. Over medium heat stir fry tofu, oil, garlic, in a large skillet for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chili powder, paprika, cayenne, cumin, salt, lime juice, and crushed tomatoes to the skillet and stir. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in cilantro. Cook for another 30 seconds. Spoon mixture into serving bowl
  4. Spoon the tofu mixture into taco shells.
  5. Top the mixture with lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and salsa.



Calories 180
Fat 8 g
Saturated Fat 1.5 g
Protein 11 g
Carbohydrate 18 g
Fiber 3 g
Sodium 280 mg



Sargent Choice Test Kitchen in the News!

(photo credit: Daily Free Press)

Last week BU’s own Daily Free Press wrote a wonderful article about the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen. We are truly honored that Sargent OT Professor, Karen Jacobs invites us and BU students into her apartment weekly to cook up new (and a few old favorite) Sargent Choice recipes.

Registered Dietitian Jennifer Culbert, researches and plans the schedule for the Test Kitchen each semester. In order to be inclusive to most students the menu is always a mix of vegetarian main or side dishes with a few dessert recipes thrown in (pssst…the Fudgy Black Bean Brownies on Nov. 12th cannot be missed).

Karen Jacobs has been holding the SC Test Kitchen since the fall of 2009 which means this is its 6th year running, if you do that math that’s approx. 132 meetings completed by the end of the semester – amazing!

Thank you to the Daily Free Press for highlighting such a great program. To read the complete article click here.

Want to check out the Test Kitchen for yourself, upcoming meeting dates can be found here.

Looking for SCTK recipes?? – click here.



Sargent Choice Night Success!

Last night we celebrated another successful Sargent Choice Night here at BU.  Here are some of the highlights.


Our student ambassadors Kylie and Jesse with dietitian Lauren Ferraro enjoying  their night



Jim the Baker at West Campus showing off his Whole Grain Vanilla Cupcakes



Speaking of those cupcakes – delicious!



Mixed Berry Parfaits


And as promised here are two of the favorite recipes last night, both desserts….are we surprised? Not really!

Sargent Choice Chocolate Zucchini Square

Sargent Choice Apple Crisp


A special thanks to BU Dining Services and Exec Chef Patrick Miller for helping us to put on a fabulous event!


Test Kitchen: Morning Glory Muffins

By Caroline Patrick, Graduate Nutrition Student

Carrots, coconut, and raisins—OH MY! Glorify your breakfast routine with these easy Morning Glory Muffins. They’ll ignite your day and fuel you through lunchtime.  I was beyond excited to give this carrot cake-esque recipe a go and boy was it worth the hype.

A gentle disclaimer: don’t expect this recipe to be as decadent and over-the-top sweet as the classic Morning Glory Muffin recipe that includes nearly two cups of sugar and quadruple the oil. This recipe was adapted from EatingWell Magazine and includes several alterations that made it healthier, and, in my humble opinion quite a delightful breakfast.

Packed with whole-wheat flour and oats, these muffins are rich in whole grains and energy. But carrots jump to the lead in sheer volume with a whopping two cups—take that Bugs Bunny! All these carrots lend sweetness, because 1/3 cup of honey just can’t do it all by itself. Raisins and coconut pieces chime in as well (so thoughtful!) while the allspice and cinnamon supply notes of sweetness without adding calories. With all these elements I didn’t miss the sugar. I pinky swear.

Applesauce worked in this recipe to replace most of the oil. However, it may have done it’s job too well because the baked muffins were slightly mushy and actually stuck to the muffin liners. That’s why I would recommend either adding more flour or using less applesauce to lower the proportion of wet ingredients. Having more dry ingredients should provide greater structure and make the texture more pleasant.

These muffins have a stamp of approval from Sargent Choice and Terriers alike.  So give them a go! If raisins or coconuts aren’t your bag of kale chips, try using another dried fruit of your liking. Make your morning muffin work for you, not against you.

Sargent Choice
Morning Glory Muffins
Recipe adapted from Eating Well

Yields 12 muffins


1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup rolled oats, + 2 tablespoons
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup melted coconut oil
2 cups grated carrots
½ cup unsweetened coconut, + 2 tablespoons
½ cup raisins


1.  Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

2.  Spray 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or line with muffin liners.

3.  Stir together whole wheat flour, rolled oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and allspice in medium bowl.

4.  Whisk the eggs, unsweetened applesauce, honey and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk in melted coconut oil.

5.  Gently stir in flour mixture until just moistened.

6.  Next fold in the grated carrots, unsweetened coconut and raisins.

7.  Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups equally.

8.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons each of oats and coconut.

9.  Bake the muffins at 350˚F until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only moist crumbs attached, about 30 to 35 minutes.

 Nutrition Facts:morningglorymuffins

1 muffin
Calories 200
Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 7 g
Protein 4 g
Carbohydrates 29 g
Fiber 3 g


Behind the Scenes: Planning for Sargent Choice Night



Each August our Sargent Choice Registered Dietitians sit down with the culinary dream team at BU Dining Services to start planning for Sargent Choice Night. If you don’t know about Sargent Choice Night, mark your calendar for this Thursday –  September 25th, it’s the one night each semester where everything served in the dining hall is Sargent Choice!

This year, Sargent Choice is celebrating its 10year anniversary so we’ve decided to feature some of our favorite recipes.

Here’s the menu – Sargent Choice Night – September 25th

Test Kitchen: Vegetable Fried Rice

By Caroline Patrick, Graduate Nutrition Student

HALT—don’t toss that old rice!
Did you know that fried rice actually originated as a solution to leftover rice and other odds and ends found in the refrigerator? Thus, there are countless versions of this tried and true dish that include both meats and/or vegetables. Fried foods get a bad rep—and often they deserve it. But, there’s always a way to turn these bad guys into nutritious and just as delicious alternatives.  Making the healthy choice doesn’t have to mean locking up your fried favorites. This fried rice recipe will only make you  feel like you’re breaking the law.

Vegetarians know the look of concern when questioned on their protein consumption—”How do you ever get enough?!” The key to vegetarian success is optimizing your protein intake. This recipe optimizes protein content with 12g per serving making it a perfect meal for herbivores of the world.  So there’s no need to question, “where’s the beef?”

Adapted from The Kitchn’s  “Cooking Lessons,” this recipe was modified to become Sargent Choice-eligible by substituting brown rice for white. Another sneaky health culprit is sodium. For most individuals sodium intake should be limited to ½-1 teaspoons per day, which is a lot less than the average American who consumes almost double this amount. Consequently, it’s important to cut back on this unwelcome pest wherever possible. We swapped in low-sodium soy sauce and use ginger, garlic, scallions and red pepper flakes to pack some serious gusto sans added sodium!

Instead of using cold cooked rice as the recipe called for, we used freshly made rice that was still warm.  This altered the texture, making it stickier and more moist than typical fried rice. Next time I would try it with day old rice to taste the difference. Regardless, this recipe really stuck with the students providing us with an awesome alternative to the classic.

Final Verdict: Take your leftovers to another level, and try this protein-packed dish. You will be surprised about how good you feel eating fried food.

Sargent Choice Vegetarian Fried Rice
Recipe adapted from Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

Yield: 8 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, defrosted
½ cup fresh or frozen peas, defrosted
½ cup chopped scallions
1 cup shelled edamame, defrostedVegetarian Fried Rice
4 cups cooked brown rice, cooled
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup toasted nuts or sesame seeds (optional)

14-inch flat-bottom wok or saute pan
Fish spatula or other thin, flexible spatula for stir frying


1.  Cut up the Ingredients: The most important key to making a good stir-fry is cutting each ingredient to a uniform size as specified above. You will need 4 small bowls. Mince the garlic and ginger and set aside in a bowl with red pepper flakes (aromatics). Dice the carrots and set them aside in 2nd bowl. Place corn, frozen peas and edamame in 3rd bowl. Place rice and scallions in 4th bowl.

2.  Prepare Your Wok Space:  Place the 4 bowls of vegetables, rice, aromatics as well as soy sauce near your stove. Also, have a very small bowl of water next to the stove.

3.  Heat the Wok: Turn on a stove burner, as high as it will go. Set a 14-inch wok over this high heat burner. To determine when the wok is hot enough, start flicking droplets of water from the small bowl into the pan after 30 seconds. As soon as a bead of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact, the wok is heated and ready for stir-frying. Do not overheat the wok.

4.  Pull Wok off the Heat:  Pull the wok off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Pick up the pan and carefully swirl it to coat the bottom and sides. Place wok back on the heat, and add ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Stir fry for 10 seconds or until fragrant.

5. Add the Carrots and Stir-Fry:  Add the carrots and stir fry for 30 seconds, or until the carrots are bright orange.

6. Add the Corn and Peas and Stir-Fry:  Add the corn and peas and stir fry for 1 minute.

7. Add 1 More Tablespoon Oil:  Swirl the remaining tablespoon of oil into the wok.

8. Add the Rice and Scallions and Stir-Fry for 2 Minutes:  Add the rice and scallions stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up the rice with the spatula until it is heated through.

9. Season the Rice:  Season the rice with the salt and pepper.

10. Add the Sauce:  Pour the soy sauce around the edges of the wok and stir-fry.

11. Finish the Rice:  Stir in 1 beaten egg. Stir-fry until the egg is no longer wet. Add the nuts or sesame seeds if using.


  • If you don’t have a wok, you can use a 12-inch stainless skillet; halve the recipe to prevent rice from falling out of the pan.
  • You can substitute up whatever vegetables you have on hand or like best in place of the carrots, frozen corn, and frozen peas.
Nutrition per serving
Calories 240
Fat 8.5 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Protein 12 g
Carbohydrate 33 g
Fiber 3 g

The Importance of Thoughtful Eating

By Kathleen Meehan, Sargent Choice Nutrition Center RD

How often do you practice thoughtful eating?
Although we wouldn’t be able to function without food, it lands on the bottom of our to do lists all too frequently.  Then, we are left to go hungry or choose whatever is available nearby – often settling for something that’s less than nutritious.

So many of the choices we make each day are well thought out.  Which route will result in the least traffic? What shoes will match my outfit?  Do I need an umbrella? Consider all the factors involved in shopping for a pair of jeans. Which store will you go to? You think about style, color, fit and price. How do the jeans make you feel? This is a complex decision making process. You’ve practiced it so much that you hardly notice all the criteria involved. When was the last time you thought about food this way?

Thoughtful eating involves the same types of choices. To enjoy the lifelong habit of eating well, rethink the autopilot mindset.  Pay attention to all the choices that are presented. Ask yourself these questions when choosing something to eat:

Do I really like it? You wouldn’t buy something just because your friend likes them. How often do you eat something you don’t really enjoy, just because it’s offered to you?

Do I really need it? Maybe you a need warm sweater more than new jeans right now. You have nutrition priorities, too. Certain foods are essential for you to feel good and do well in class, at work and at play. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean giving up the foods you love.

Is it in my budget? You can’t always afford all the material items you might want – and you might notice when others have more to spend. You have a unique food budget, too, based on your gender, age, height, weight and physical activity level.

Learning to be a thoughtful eater is important.

  • More people today are overweight, obese or struggling with unhealthy weight control practices than ever before.
  • Today’s food environment makes it easy to miss out on key nutrients that may improve your mood, your mind and your athletic performance.
  • The typical American diet has been linked to major chronic diseases from cardiovascular disease to certain cancers.

Our website and team of Registered Dietitians, will give you the knowledge and tools you need to make smart decisions about what, when and how much to eat.  Learn how to choose meals and snacks that keep you satisfied longer, take the guilt out of special treats you eat purely for pleasure and let thoughtful eating become second nature.

Need help? Register for an appointment with one of the RDs in our center.