By Peggy Crum, RD, Health4U Nutritionist

Pineapples, native to Brazil and Paraguay, with their pinecone shape and leafy green tops have long been displayed as signs of friendship and hospitality. Their botanical name, Ananas, aptly means fragrant excellent fruit.

Our desire for excellent fruit in late winter and early spring coincides with harvest time in the tropics for the sweetest pineapple of the year. After growing for 15 months, pineapples have a final surge of sugar production just before harvest. Once cut from the stalk, they do not continue to ripen. To be good, pineapples must be picked ripe and ready to go to the cannery or to the market.

The color of the skin, whether green or golden, has nothing to do with ripeness. Look to the leaves—deep green, not dried out or brown—as a sign of freshness. To choose a good pineapple, pick it up, squeeze it gently and smell it. It should give slightly and the aroma should be fragrant. If it has soft spots or mold on the stem end or if it smells fermented, try another one. At home, store your pineapple at room temperature for only a day or two before preparing it.

Canned pineapple is fine for use in baked goods and preferable if you want to use pineapple in a gelatin salad. For eating plain, in a salad with other fruit or to caramelize as in Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski’s recipe, you can’t beat fresh! The flavor difference will reward your effort although cutting one up is not difficult when you use a sharp knife and a cutting board.

Begin by laying the pineapple on its side; slice off the crown and base. Sit the fruit on its flat end and cut from top to bottom, thinly slicing off the rind. Remove the “eyes” by using the point of a paring knife or vegetable peeler, or by cutting shallow grooves that follow the natural spiral pattern of the eyes. Next, cut the peeled pineapple into wedges. Lay each wedge flat on the cutting board and slice off the fibrous core. Ready to enjoy!

Join Culinary Services Corporate Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski from 12:10 - 12:50 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9, at the Demonstration Kitchen in Brody Square as he demonstrates a pineapple and shrimp banh mi recipe during the Health4U Recipe for Health program. Try the Vietnamese-style sandwich for lunch at Brody Square, Riverwalk Market at Owen Hall and The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips!



By Gina Keilen, Culinary Services Registered Dietitian

I don’t think it’d be a surprise to anyone if I told you MSU is a big campus.  And most of you cover this campus in almost every direction possible on most days of the week. With the weather getting warmer, let’s use that to our advantage! 

It’s recommended that everyone gets at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking counts) each week. The catch is all this time doesn’t have to come in one shot. Breaking it up into at least 10-minute chunks of time makes it much more manageable. And, for those of you who hate exercise, you won’t even notice the time commitment. You can do little things like walking to and from classes and it all adds up. 

It can seem daunting to get up and walk to your class, but it might not take as long as you think. And each step is a step closer to getting to that recommended quota for the week. The average person walks 1 mile in about 15-20 minutes, with the lower end getting you closer to that ‘moderate-intensity’ level. So, doing the math for you, that’s walking 10 miles each week and that’s something you can brag about. Sound crazy and undoable? Take a look at the chart below and see how easy (and fast!) it can be to squeeze in walks here and there to get the exercise you didn’t even know you were getting. I’m sure there are times you have waited for the bus longer than it takes to actually walk it and let’s face it, MSU is beautiful so take in the scenery and fresh air.




Time it Takes

(~15 min/mile)

Case to Wells for a campus cinema movie

0.5 miles

8 minutes

Wonders to the Main Library to study

0.67 miles

10 minutes

Business College to MSU Police for parking tickets

0.75 miles

12 minutes

Hubbard to the Gardens for some much needed R&R

0.75 miles

12 minutes

Sny/Phi to Anthony Hall Dairy Store

0.85 miles

13 minutes

Chemistry Building to Dem Hall to watch the MSU Band practice

0.9 miles

14 minutes


Gina Keilen pull quote: "Gina Keilen pull quote, "It’s recommended that everyone gets at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week."


The first of a series of interviews taking a moment to shine the spotlight on Culinary Services' life changers around campus.

By Kelly Mackie, Food Truck Marketing Intern

Gardner in The Vista at Shaw


Mike Gardner is on his third trip to Shaw. Hired in 1972 as a dining service manager, Gardner became a food manager for five years and is back at The Vista at Shaw again 30 years later.



What is the best part about your job?

One of the things Gardner enjoys most is working with college students. He tells people, “I’ve been here 41 years but I think I’m 18-22 years old! Until I look in the mirror … then I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh! What the heck happened to you?’"

Gardner shared how having fresh faces and new talent keeps him young; it gives him the opportunity to influence and educate students. “When I have the opportunity to work new managers, I try to focus on how you treat people. Give them respect, work with them, and give them the benefit of the doubt. People will make mistakes and you can’t hold them accountable for the first time they do something,” said Gardner. “They’ve never had anybody pay attention to them like this before.” He talked about giving students the chance to learn and grow, realizing this may be the first job for many students.

Photo collage of Gardner through the years.

 Photo collage of Gardner through the years.


What is the biggest change you have seen on campus?

Gardner explained the biggest change is the recent dining hall remodels and putting executive chefs in every unit. “I was a communications major with three years’ experience working in the dining halls,” explained Gardner. “Did I have any culinary training? Zip. And I was responsible for overseeing all the cooks who knew everything that I didn’t know!” Culinary Services now has well-trained culinary team members who are responsible for their areas of expertise. The dining halls offer a much more sophisticated and professional environment for the guests to come in and to receive a good-quality product.


What did you study at MSU?

Earning a degree in communications, Gardner worked in the dining halls as well as a radio DJ in McDonel Hall. “My show was from 4-5 p.m. and it would air throughout the residence hall. They would even play it in the dining hall! When I became a food manager, I continued to play the student radio because it had a special place in my heart,” recalls Gardner.


When you were a student, what was dining like?

“There were three items to choose from. And no vegetarian options, unless it was macaroni and cheese that happened to be on that day. Fish, once in a while. That was it,” Gardner explained.

The dining halls ran on a three-cycle menu and it never changed. “Seems to me Wednesday was ham and spaghetti, apple pie and fruit cocktail. I can tell you exactly what was on that day because that’s just the way it was,” said Gardner.

When he started, yogurt was an entrée on the line, you got a vegetable dish, tacos and quiche were brand new, never before seen on the menu. A lot of things were convenience. Going up for more was a thing of fantasy, unless you wanted a side dish from the “seconds only” line. And there weren’t salad bars. Students could get lettuce with dressing and once in a while there would be a garnish on the top. The one highlight was Sunday dinner, which happened to be Mike’s favorite. Why? “It was the only day we had hard-pack ice cream. It was a real treat for everybody to have that.”

To eat in the dining halls, men were required to wear a shirt and tie—a far cry from the staple sweats or yoga pants in many students’ wardrobes nowadays. Back then, Shaw’s dining hall had sliding doors closing off East and West, and you did not mix the two. East Shaw ate in the east, and West Shaw in the west. They had the line drawn. Brody was much the same. The dining hall was divided by residence hall; Bryan would eat in one section, Rather would eat in another. “That’s how they all had them set up back in the day. It was really weird.”

Explaining the strange behavior in more detail, Gardner shared a story about Mary Mayo dining hall closing for renovation. All of the Mayo kids would go to Landon, which had far less space than other dining halls. Confused, Gardner questioned the students. “Why don’t you go to Campbell? There’s tons of room over there!” The students’ reply? “Oh no. The students look at us funny when we go over there.”


What were your favorite classes as a student?

Gardner was quick to answer, “My independent study!”

Back in the late ’60s, they only had three TV stations: NBC, ABC and CBS. His theory was the media shaped what people think and he wanted to prove it through a comparison of the stations. He taped the 6:30 p.m. news from each station to see what the lead story was, how much time they spent on each story and the manner in which the stations were presenting information. “How they presented it, or whether they even covered a story, was how the American people perceived the war or whatever else was going on,” explained Gardner.

He also spoke of a documentary he filmed about the march students did from campus to the Capitol during the war. “I filmed the whole march with a little Brownie 8 camera. I even got some music I put on in the background!”


Did you meet your wife at Michigan State?

He did. He hired her. She was a junior and he was a senior; Jenny Orr was her name. After Gardner had hired her, he told all of the other supervisors, “Oh man there was this girl! I just hired her! She’s, she’s just really cool!” They asked, “Well, what’s her name?” When Gardner told them about Jenny they asked, “Mike, are you okay? Jenny already works in the kitchen.” Turned out there were two Jenny Orrs!

So, he made a date with her. Back then, you couldn’t go up on floors of the opposite sex during weekdays­—very different from our halls today! Open hours were on Sunday from 2-5 p.m. and that’s when the opposite sex could visit. You had to have the door open a book’s width, and at least three feet on the floor ... not on the bed. RAs would patrol the floor. There was a house phone where you would call to let the student you were visiting know you were waiting to be officially signed into their room at the front desk. So the day of their date, Gardner goes to call. “I go up and I’m looking at the rooms and names for Jenny Orr. There were two Jenny Orrs. They both live on the fifth floor. It was like, ‘uh, which one?’ It was pretty funny.” One went by Jenny and the other went by Jennifer, and he was pretty sure she went by Jennifer. “I got lucky. I called the right one,” recalls Gardner. “And everything went well from there.”


So obviously the dress code has changed a bit since you have been here. What was young Mike Gardner wearing on a Tuesday?

“Man, you would freak out. Bell bottoms were huge. And because all of the students had to wear ties, I had paisley ties. They probably had multiple different kinds of stains on them.” Sporting turtle necks, with hair to his shoulders and a full face of facial hair, Gardner was fully embracing his college freedom. But when it came time to get a job, he said, “Alright fine, I’ll keep my ’stache.” Never getting into ear piercings, tattoos or contacts, Gardner kept it classic with his glasses and mustache he still sports. What has changed over the years? “I had hair back then, and now I don’t so … that’s what happened.”


When you were in college, who was the person who influenced you most?

Gardner recalled having a couple professors and managers who took a chance on him. Gardner also spoke of a group of roommates and RAs who were very supportive. “They all have a little bit of influence on you, whether you realize it or not.” Gardner also mentioned the importance of family. “My father was one of those pranksters who like to play games, always the life of the party.”


Did you ever pull any shenanigans like your dad?

“I am known for pulling a lot of pranks!” exclaimed Gardner before he launched into the first of many stories. One time, Gardner had a manager who was planning for summer conferences and he left the schedules out on in the dining room. So, naturally, Gardner picked them up and hid them. When the manager found the schedules and figured out Gardner was behind the prank, the manager retaliated in a way Gardner still laughs about. The day after the missing schedules resurfaced, Gardner arrived at work and no longer had a desk. Everybody was waiting for him to freak out, but he kept his cool as if nothing was wrong. A cook finally came up and said, “Mike, I need some help in the freezer.” Gardner opened up the freezer door, and what did he see? “My chair, everything on my desk as perfect as I left it, coated with ice! He got me bad. He had to take the door off of the supervisor’s office to get my desk out to get it in the freezer.”

Gardner also has a giant picture of cheerleaders posing with a ’57 Chevy in front of the Spartan Statue serving as much more than wall art. “I’ve convinced a lot of people it is me driving the car. Even Chef Cruz will bring people in and he’ll say ‘Look! There’s Mike! He was a cheerleader!’ And I don’t refute it. To this day, he still doesn’t know!”

Michigan State cheerleaders photograph Gardner uses to prank visitors.
Michigan State cheerleaders photograph Gardner uses to prank visitors.


If you were a kitchen utensil, what would you be?

“Most people would say I’m a spoon or a whisk because I like to stir things up,” Gardner said laughing. “I am notorious for playing devil’s advocate. You gotta consider all sides.”

MSU Concessions Supports MDA

On March 8, the Michigan Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) hosted the Greater Michigan MDA Muscle Walk 2014 at Jenison Fieldhouse. MSU Concessions partnered with the Michigan MDA to provide concession items at a discounted rate to help support this event and feed volunteers.

“We are—and should be—focused on maximizing opportunities to give back to the community,” said Alan Wilkinson, MSU Concessions manager. “We are doing our part to further advance President Simon’s initiative to enrich community, economic and family life.”

The Michigan MDA raised $58,000 at the event for families in Greater Michigan. To view photos from the event, click here.

This partnership is just one of many that MSU Concessions has established with local groups to assist with fundraising efforts. MSU Concessions is always seeking nonprofit groups to partner with at a variety of sports and entertainment events. For more information, visit:


While snow still covers the ground and the air is frigid, escape to spring at our on-campus Starbucks locations.

March 12 – 14, enjoy a free grande hot brewed coffee with the purchase of any breakfast sandwich—available at our Wells Hall and Broad College of Business locations. New this spring, indulge yourself with the Premium Slow-Roasted Ham & Swiss, Premium Vegetable & Fontiago and Egg and Cheese breakfast sandwiches, inspired by La Boulange. Or, try the new and improved Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon Sandwich.

All three on-campus Starbucks locations are serving new spring bakery items including the Michigan Cherry Oat Bar (available now), the Triple Berry Croissant and the Marshmallow Dream Bar (both available soon).

Wash your breakfast sandwich or bakery items down with the new Vanilla Macchiato, featuring layers of sweet indulgence with signature espresso, steamed milk, vanilla syrup and vanilla drizzle. The Vanilla Macchiato is yours to sip—hot or cold.

Vanilla Macchiato POS sign at Wells Hall Starbucks

Or try the new Evolution Fresh™ juices, available in five varieties: Defense Up, Orange, Organic Carrot Apple, Super Green and Sweet Greens & Lemon. Evolution Fresh™ is natural fruit and vegetable juice. The juice is cold pressed and never heated, which preserves the integrity—the flavors, vitamins and nutrients—of fruits and vegetables.

Evolution juices in fridge at Wells Hall Starbucks.

If you crave something more complex—the Starbucks Tribute Blend may be your cup of coffee. This dark roasted, full-bodied coffee features dark cherry and spice notes. At-home packages are available at the Wells Hall location, along with new spring-inspired tumblers to brighten your day.

Tribute Blend at Wells Hall Starbucks

Tumblers Spring Starbucks at Wells

Do want to hold onto winter a little longer? You can get Starbucks' favorite holiday beverages, the Caramel Brulée Latte and the Gingerbread Latte, for 50 percent off through the end of March, while supplies last.

Starbucks is located at Wells Hall and the Broad College of Business, as well as the Broad Art Museum Café Proudly Serving Starbucks! Visit for our Starbucks hours of operation.