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Oatmeal bowls NEU

College tests new chef-inspired DIY oatmeal concept

A build-your-own oatmeal bar with fun flavor profiles is off to a promising start at Northeastern University.

Last week, Northeastern University (NEU) Dining presented students on the Food Advisory Board with a new breakfast possibility. The Chef-Inspired DIY Oatmeal Bar concept is part of a continuous effort for NEU, which is located in Boston, to participate in Menus of Change, a healthy, sustainable eating initiative by The Culinary Institute of America.

Oatmeal fits into the whole-grain part of the healthy eating initiative, but the problem is, it’s not always the most exciting thing on the breakfast menu. The dining team brainstormed ways to present the old faithful breakfast standby in a fun, unexpected way that would get students interested in eating more grains.

Tom Barton, executive chef, focused first on familiar, sweet flavor combinations and plans to eventually introduce more savory additions.

“At the tasting event, we focused on the classic combinations like peanut butter, banana and chocolate or sautéed apples and artisanal maple syrup,” Barton says. “In the fall, we’d like to roll out savory combinations such as a fried egg with Sriracha or smashed avocado with kale stem pesto or curried sweet potato with candied black pepper bacon or Greek yogurt with toasted nori and ginger.”

Students on the advisory board raved about the initial sweet offerings, so the oatmeal bar will move forward.

“We plan on offering this as a special starting next semester,” Barton says. “While we offer oatmeal daily, we thought the students would enjoy more variety and interesting combinations.”

As for the set up, at the test event, the flavor combos were divided into stations on butcher paper and parchment paper, which not only helped to give each oatmeal theme a different look but also helped with cleanup.

As with any do-it-yourself concept, Barton foresees a fair amount of attention will be needed to keep the station looking neat and organized at all times.

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