It’s every girl’s worst nightmare. It’s scarier than clowns, spiders and belching on stage during a large speech. It seems that no matter how hard you try, it is unrealistically unavoidable and strikes on every campus far and wide. No, it’s not a bug in the shower (although that IS disgusting) or a broken heel on your favorite shoe.
It is, in fact, (drum roll please) the “Freshman 15”.
Your first year of college is tough, but super exciting. You’re running around here and there and trekking your poor legs all over campus. Besides gaining some extra calf muscle mass, you’re also eating more to maintain energy. And, the types of food you have access to on or around the campus aren’t so healthy friendly. Unless your campus has a Whole Foods nearby (with lowered prices to meet your college budget), you’re pretty much stuck with eating in the cafeteria during open hours, and nuking some Ramen Noodles in your dorm microwave.
If you’re into eating healthy, don’t let a lack of resources hinder your routine. In fact, use them to your advantage. The cafeteria is always serving healthy alternatives in addition to the “fun” but not so healthy foods; ie, pizza, burgers, subs, but we understand that the same mixed green salad can get boring after a few days. The cafeteria also is time-sensitive so if you’re in class all day or hit the gym, you may miss your window to get some dinner. If you’re looking to be the Chef Ramsey of your dorm hall and cook up some interesting, healthy, yet delicious munchies, grab a pen and paper and take some notes. I’m about to school you in dorm room cooking 101!
First things first, eating “healthy” has a different meaning for everyone. To maintain a balanced diet, you need to make sure you’re covering all of the valued food groups and in the right quantities. If you’re diabetic or have food allergies, make sure you pay attention to the ingredients you’re buying and what healthy snacks you can keep by to sustain you while cooking, in between classes, etc. It’s helpful to make a few of something (ie- wheat turkey wraps) sliced in half, to keep handy in your mini fridge for an on the go bite. If you’re looking for some some food inspiration, here’s a yummy list of treats you may want to try.
1) Whole Wheat Turkey Wraps (Switch out for your favorite lunch meat or chicken!)-
These are fast and delicious! The best part is that they’re healthy and will sustain you through a long class. Pair one of these babies with an apple or Chobani yogurt and you’ve got the best dorm room lunch out there. You can always switch out the turkey in this recipe for chicken or your favorite lunch meat. Mouth watering? Here’s how you can make these in under ten minutes.
a) Whole Wheat Tortillas (Usually about 8-inches). You can heat them up if you’d like or serve them room temperature. We don’t recommend chilling them too much before use as they may crinkle and crack up on you.
b) Honey Mustard or Dijon- You’re going to want some flavor or “zest” in your wrap, so pick your favorite spread and use about 3-4 teaspoons for taste.
c) Turkey- Add as much of this as you want. Make sure that you can still close the wrap up without it being too bulky.
d) Cheese!- Most people add a Muenster or provolone cheese to their wrap but if you prefer those cute orange American slices, those will work too!
e) Bacon? Bacon!- Some people prefer bacon BLT wraps over turkey. If you’re one of those bacon fanatics, don’t let the fact that you don’t have a stove deter you from your favorite crunchy breakfast favorite. Most home stores (Homegoods, TJ Maxx, etc) carry these “Piggly Wiggly” Microwave safe bacon plates with a lid to cook your bacon in just a few minutes! I bought mine for a little under $8 bucks and it’s been a life saver for quick breakfast recipes. If you’re going to add bacon to your meal, make sure that you have it stored correctly. Always check your bacon first to see if it’s fresh and cold enough to not grow bacteria in your fridge. Don’t keep it in your mini fridge for too long, when you buy it cook it a few days later. Mini fridges are great, but they don’t hold up to your at home refrigerator with the icy cool settings.
f) Avocado- This is optional, but it’s been said time and time again that Avocado is a brain food. And, it’s healthy and yummy! Avocados can be sliced or mashed beforehand and kept in a Tupperware in your mini fridge. A few teaspoons here and there on your wraps will give it a sweet and creamy taste. Your brain will love you for it!
g) Lettuce- If you don’t want to keep a whole head of lettuce in your mini-fridge, you can pick up a bag of the mixed greens from your local supermarket. Sometimes you can find the bags with shredded carrots and such mixed in the bag, which is an added bonus ingredient to you wraps. Just a sprinkle or two of the mixed bag gives your wrap that extra crunchy (and healthy) zest.
You can always add ingredients to your wrap, but make sure that you don’t stuff it so full that you can’t wrap it up! Your wrap needs to be wrapped up tight and secure to hold all day. You can buy little toothpicks and stick them in through the folded and tucked in ends of your wrap to keep them in place, just be careful not to poke yourself pulling your lunch out of your bag!
2) Tuna Fish- So maybe it doesn’t sound the most appetizing, but it can be rather delicious if you find the recipe that works for you (If you aren’t allergic to tuna). I’ve always liked tuna myself, but some people I know despise it to the core. I’ve noticed that I like to experience with tuna in different ways. My mother makes it with chopped up hardboiled eggs and her secret seasonings. A friend of mine will mix in sweet relish and chop up some red onions for his own recipe. Both are equally delicious, and healthy. The good thing about Tuna Fish is that it’s so easy to make and store. It gives you a nice serving of protein and goes excellent with whole wheat bread/wraps or on crackers. It might not smell like a basket of flowers, but that’s what gums for!
3) Healthy Yogurts (Like Chobani) with whole grain cereal or cut up fruit mixed in- The good thing about Chobani is that the fruit is mixed in already, in a delicious under layer at the bottom of the yogurt cup. I happen to love Chobani because they come in a variety of flavors and have about 19 grams of protein in each cup! For a yogurt they are undeniably satisfying and sometimes I can’t even finish the whole cup. If your sweet tooth is begging you to dive into some chocolate or ice cream, pull out a Chobani, cut up some apple slices and sprinkle your favorite whole grain cereal on top. You’ll have a delicious fruit-bani parfait that won’t make you feel guilty after you eat it.
4) Make me a friggen Quesa-dilla Napolean (shameless movie plug)!- I’ve been fond of quesadillas since I was little. They’re just too fun and easy to make. You can put anything you want in them and salsa is a great multi-purpose thing to keep around. All you need are some whole wheat tortillas, some diced chicken (you can buy this in pre-packaged containers already cooked from your grocery store), some organic cheese of your choosing (shredded), and whatever veggies you may want. Onions and bell peppers go great, but if you just want cheese, chicken and tortilla, there’s nothing wrong with that. Pop them in your microwave for 30 seconds-one minute (depending on how strong your microwave is), slice them up and serve them with a side of microwave ready brown rice and some salsa. You can get some organic chips from your local food store or eat them with sliced pita and hummus. Yum.
5) Oatmeal with Fruit- You wake up in the morning, your warm bed is screaming at you to come back and rest your head for a few. You look out the window and it’s rainy and dreary, and cold. You don’t feel like doing much and your tummy’s growling. What’s the perfect fix for this? Oatmeal. Oatmeal is super healthy, and you can get the prepackaged boxes with the different flavors. My favorite is cinnamon, apple sugar, and banana nut. You can heat these up in a to-go cup to eat with a spoon on your way to class, or enjoy a bowl with some fresh cut fruit on the side. It’s a great snack or breakfast food that will give that warm and cozy feeling to the start of your day.
6) Apple (or Banana) and Peanut Butter- This is one of my all-time favorite snacks. Whenever I’m craving chocolate cake or those trays of brownies my mother so lovingly baked sitting on the stove, I opt out for a granny smith apple and some low-sugar peanut butter (100% peanuts is best). It gives you that sweet and crunchy fulfillment that you’d be getting from any cake or brownie. I love this snack because I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds; the sweet peanut butter makes me feel like I’m getting a great deal while the apple is healthy and easy to store.
7) Pita Chips and Hummus- Who said chips have to be banned from your diet? As long as they aren’t saturated in fat and carbs, chips are OK. In fact, pita chips are my favorite crunchy treat that I can eat and not feel guilty about. They’re usually a bit thicker than your normal chip, so they’re more fulfilling and crunchy! A handful of these dipped in hummus is a healthy snack while studying or lounging around. Hummus comes in a variety of flavors like garlic or crushed red pepper. Buy a few and switch it up a bit!
8) FIESTA! Dorm Room Tacos- Taco night is fun night. They’re surprisingly easy to make and are super fulfilling. All you need for these bad boys is some lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, can of refried beans, shredded cheese, taco shells (you can buy a pack of 12) and some extra chicken if you have any left over from your wrap! Layer your taco just how you like it and pop it in the microwave for a minute (or until the cheese is melted). You can make dinner for both you and your roomie and save any extra chopped tomatoes or lettuce for “wrap-reuse” the next day.
I think you’ve got the idea. There’s plenty of healthy recipes you can make in your dorm without breaking the bank. Also don’t forget that you can never go wrong with a bunch of veggies and fruits! Chopped celery goes great with peanut butter, cucumber goes great with a little salt, pepper and vinegar, and carrots, tomatoes and cauliflower go great with your favorite low-fat dressing. Dip and nibble whenever you feel that need to munch, and feel good after doing it!
So when you see that “Freshman 15″ rolling your way, don’t get scared and don’t panic. If you’re walking around campus frequently and eating the right things you have nothing to worry about. Just make sure you drink lots of water and keep your body hydrated. Eating a good dose of fruits and veggies will help with your water intake and give your skin a healthy glow for a pretty complexion. And, don’t forget, you can have a “cheat night” one or two nights a week! If your roomie and your friends are going out for pizza, don’t miss out, have a few slices, but don’t overdo it! Get right back into your healthy eating the next day and don’t punish yourself for feeding your soul. Eating things like pizza and cheeseburgers can be fun, and if you’re not eating them everyday, there’s not a lot of harm in it.
Image Cred: Recipes.com