Who says healthy can’t be popular with students and faculty? Protein salads made with wheat berries and cottage cheese are flying off the shelf, watercress and tofu sell out a school-sponsored farmers market and football players are making the vegan station their first stop. At colleges and universities across the country, foodservice operators are meeting the challenge of providing meals that are both nutritious and tasty. Here’s a sampling of what’s being served:
Perfect Protein Salad
Concordia College, Moorehead, Minn.
For this upper Midwest school, the big hit is Perfect Protein Salad. Janet Paul, associate director of dining services, first tasted the salad at a local deli, and after some at-home knockoff experimentation, offered it late last winter in the college’s residential dining hall and three retail outlets. Faculty members show up early to buy the pre-packaged retail salads before they sell out and students complain when the salad isn’t available in the dining hall.
The popularity of this dish, made with soybeans, wheat berries and cottage cheese, loaded with vegetables and dressed with low-fat mayo mixed with apple cider vinegar, caught Paul off guard. “I’m frankly surprised students eat it at all,” she says. “I thought it would appeal to faculty and staff, but not students. Students ask for healthier items, but they don’t want healthier unless it tastes really good.” The salad is sold in retail every third day and is offered once or twice in a four-week cycle in the residential hall. It’s selling itself, says Paul, with little marketing needed.
“If we run out of it, people complain and we have to make more the next time,” she says. Ultimately, she says, it may end up on the menu every day.