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bon appetit2Striped Bass with Peppered Citrus Glaze… White Bean and Fennel Hummus with Fresh Vegetable Crudite…Jerk Tempeh…Tabbouleh Salad with Fresh Herb and Lemon Vinaigrette…Sweet and Sour Tofu with Ginger and Cashew Brown Rice… Coconut Roasted Sweet Potatoes… Greek Salad with Local Heirloom Tomatoes and House-made Vinaigrette…

Is this heaven?

No.  But the delicious new healthy eating options on Furman campus are sure to delight both healthy eaters and “foodies” alike.

This summer, Bon Appetit became the new food service provider for Furman University.  Bon Appetit’s vision is to focus on whole foods that are made from scratch using authentic ingredients.  It is the same vision that we encourage in our Health Science courses,   FUEL Program, and community health initiatives.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with Bon Appetit National Director of Nutrition and Wellness Terri Brownlee.  Terri was gracious to give me a behind-the-scenes glimpse of food production and standards used at Bon Appetit.

What does Bon Appetit do that makes them so unique?  Let’s take a look:

Focus on scratch made foods with authentic ingredients.

Bon Appetit strives to “create food that is alive with flavor and nutrition, prepared from scratch using authentic ingredients.”  Stocks and salad dressings are made from scratch, dried beans are preferred over canned, and very few, if any, processed foods are used.  You won’t find ingredients containing artificial trans fats or MSG in the Bon Appetit kitchens.

Whole foods are used as the foundation of a healthful diet.

Bon Appetit’s primary focus is on “providing meals centered on abundant fresh produce, whole grains, and lean and plant-based proteins, prepared with minimal amounts of healthy, plant-derived fats.”  Colorful vegetables and leafy greens are the abundant choice at all stations. Fresh, seasonal fruits are offered at all meals and as a dessert option. Whole grains or legumes are offered and prepared using healthy cooking techniques at full serve stations as a choice at all meal periods.  Lean proteins, such as fish, skinless poultry, and beans are available at all meal periods.  Olive and canola oils are used for everyday salad dressings while specialty oils, such was walnut or chili oil, are used for other purposes.  The standard fry oil is non-hydrogenated (trans free) canola oil.

Healthy choices and condiments are available in all of the eXpress categories, such as sandwiches, salads, and snacks.  The cereal station includes at least 2 selections that contain less than 5 grams of sugar per serving and 2 selections that contain more than 5 grams of fiber per serving.  Breakfast offerings also feature steel cut oats and made-to-order egg white omelets with fresh vegetables and salsa.  Beverages options include unsweetened and zero calorie flavored drink options that do not contain artificial sweeteners in both carbonated and non-carbonated forms.

Bon Appetit strives to make at least 1/3 of all regular menu items and daily specials healthy options.  This will eventually include all campus dining including vending, concessions, and catering.

Communicate offerings with COR icons.

Because Bon Appetit strives to prepare local and seasonal foods from scratch, it is not always possible to follow a precise recipe formula.  This makes it difficult to offer nutrition information for the daily specials.

In order to communicate the offerings to patrons, Bon Appetit uses a system called “COR icons.”  Foods will be marked with the icons below if they are local, organic, humanely raised, sustainably caught, vegetarian, vegan, made without gluten-containing ingredients or in balance with a healthy plate.

Look for these icons at each station in the dining hall.  They will also be displayed with the daily menu by the cashier stations when you enter the dining hall. (click image to enlarge)

bon appetit

Strive for a balanced plate.

Because I am a huge advocate for a plate-based eating guide, I was particularly excited to see that Bon Appetit shares the same philosophy.  During each lunch and dinner meal period, at least one “in balance” plate will be offered and designated with the purple COR icon.

“In balance” plates will contain at least one cup of non-starchy vegetables or fruits, < 3/4 cup of whole grains, legumes, or starchy vegetables, <4 ounces of a lean protein source, and a minimal amount of healthy fat.

bon appetit in balance


Develop flavors through skilled healthy cooking techniques.

Bon Appetit strives to use healthy cooking techniques, such as steaming, broiling, boiling, roasting, braising, and grilling.  Fresh herbs and authentic spices are preferred over unhealthy shortcuts of fat, sugar, and salt.


Feature foods that are local, sustainable, and humanely raised.

Bon Appetit strives to use as many local and sustainable foods as possible.  They do this in a socially responsible manner for the well-being of their guests, communities, and the environment.  For example, look for these COR icons throughout the dining hall

Farm to Fork: Contains seasonal, minimally processed ingredients from a local farm, ranch, or fishing boat.

Seafood Watch: Contains seafood that meets the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guidelines for commercial buyers.

Humane:  Contains humanely raised meat, poultry, or eggs.  Must be certified by a credible third-party animal welfare organization.

Vegetarian: Contains no meat, fish, poultry, shellfish or products derived from these sources but may contain dairy or eggs

Vegan: Contains absolutely no animal or dairy products.

And since we all should be striving to eat more plant-based meals, it is exciting to know that Bon Appetit offers at least one appealing vegetarian entrée containing a vegetarian protein source (beans, tofu, tempeh, etc.) at all meal periods.  Some of these delicious offerings have already included Sweet and Sour Tofu with Ginger and Cashew Brown Rice, Jerk Tempeh, Curried Tofu with Vegetables, Lentil Dahl, and more.


Remember, everything in moderation

Bon Appetit strives to offer a menu that contains 1/3 healthy items, 1/3 “in between” items, and 1/3 indulgent options.  Menu indulgent options are served in reasonable portions and with a healthy option.  For example, pizza may be served with a salad,  or a hamburger may be served with a non-starchy vegetable.  Treats such as desserts, muffins, and pastries are served in small portions whenever baked goods are served.  Even indulgent items can fit into an overall healthy diet.


Would you like to learn more?

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