Summer 2013 has been incredible in every sense of the word. One of the things that has contributed to that is having a little bit more free time to be able to cook. See, there’s this misconception that as a college student, you must be surviving off of ramen noodles, you must be scarfing down doughnuts at 3 AM in preparation for finals, etc, etc.
It’s not like this doesn’t happen. There will be instances where you simply just don’t have the time to do anything except grab something and run out the door. However, I took it upon myself to find some easy, fun recipes to ensure that you are feeling as nourished and energized as possible throughout your time here at Parsons! You will not believe the difference a well-balanced diet will make in your school performance as well as overall outlook on life. I might sound like one of those nutrition commercials on television, but this is seriously coming from firsthand experience! I instantly noticed a difference in my mood once I started cooking for myself. I felt more positive, energized, and most of all, I was happier. Plus, cooking is so much fun! It’s like making a piece of art, only you get to eat it in the end. And that is just awesome.
*Most of these recipes come from vegan/ vegetarian blogs, but feel free to add chicken, eggs, fish, etc. Easy as pie! Mmmmm… pie…
Peanut Butter, Banana, Honey, and Cinnamon Topped on Whole Wheat Toast
What You’ll Need:
-Whole Wheat Toast
Prep Time: Five minutes
This is seriously as easy as it gets. All you have to do is buy the ingredients, toast your bread, and there it is. The great thing about this is not only does it take five minutes to make, but it’s packed with protein and fiber, which helps to keep you full during your morning classes. (You want to avoid going ridiculously hungry in class… We’ve all been there. It stinks.) This tastes just like dessert, and you simply can’t go wrong with a glass of milk on the side. If you want to go the extra mile just add a side of raw carrot sticks! The extra fancy version of this could have raisins or shredded coconut on it. Maybe sunflower seeds. Get creative! This can also be done with apples, Nutella, dried fruit, etc. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?
Oatmeal, Oatmeal, Oatmeal!
Oatmeal is a lifesaver. I am absolutely crazy about it. What I love about it is that it’s so versatile and easy to make, and it carries the whole grains you need to start your day off with a bang!
Back to versatility: Did you know that oatmeal not only has the capability of being sweet when you toss in fruit or cinnamon, but it can be savory as well? Yes! There are recipes for oatmeal with eggs in it, cheese, curry powder, even salsa. It can act as a much healthier substitute for grits, too!
1 cup milk of choice, or water
1/2 cup regular rolled oats (I use Country Choice Organic)
1 ripe banana
2 tbsp lemon juice, or 1/2 tsp lemon extract
pinch of salt
handful fresh blueberries
- Bring milk (I use 1/2 c almond milk and 1/2 c water) to a boil, add oats, and reduce heat to medium. (If you’d like to add flax or chia seeds, do so now.)
- Mash the banana thoroughly and stir into oatmeal.
- Once more of the liquid has absorbed, add lemon juice/extract and salt. Stir.
- When you’re pleased with the consistency of the oatmeal, transfer to a bowl. Add a splash of your milk of choice, blueberries, and any other additional toppings (shredded coconut, nuts, etc.).
Avocado and Kale Oatmeal
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup water
1 kale leaf, shredded
2 slices avocado
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cocoa nibs
Mix oats, water, and a pinch of salt in a microwavable bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Top with kale and avocado, sprinkling avocado with salt to taste. Top oatmeal with chili flakes, drizzled olive oil, and cocao nibs.
Turns out you woke up at a decent hour, and you’ve exhausted multiple variations of oatmeal, toast, yogurt etc. Why not whip up some eggs instead? You really can’t go wrong with these bad boys- they’re packed with much needed protein to keep that mid-morning crash at bay. Eggs have the capability of holding you over until lunchtime. This means a happier, more productive, less cranky version of you. Yay! AAAAND-yet again- they’re super easy to make! The only thing that is even slightly inconvenient about making eggs is the clean up. But even then-ten minutes, and you’re done. You can see I like to change up all of my meals, so once more, you can literally do anything here! Like salsa? Pile it on top. Salsa and beans? So good. Those things inside of a whole- wheat tortilla with guacamole? Congrats, you’ve made yourself a breakfast burrito that covers a good portion of your protein and veggie intake for the day.
Other Breakfasts for Champions:
-Greek yogurt with fruit, honey, and granola (Parfait? Yes, please!)
-waffles! (easily toasted, easily topped, fold-em up with fruit and yogurt inside for waffle-tacos! )
Here’s the deal: come lunchtime you’re probably not at home. Chances are you’ve just gotten out of your 9 AM class, and you’ve only got about 20 minutes to get to your next class which starts at noon. What to do? Two words: meal prep. I know you’re thinking that sounds virtually impossible. School, homework, and on top of that, meal prep? Yes. Again, this only takes about an hour out of your life, an hour that you can most definitely spare. It really helps to bring along non-perishable snacks with you that are filling and can hold you over if you don’t have time to grab food. After lots of experimentation here’s a list of some of the things I like to bring with me to school.
-apples and bananas
-peanut butter snack packs
-hummus and carrots or celery
-whole wheat pretzels
This method of thinking ahead and packing your lunch/ snacks will save you so much money in the long run, too! Think of it as an investment. Save money on food during the week, and go out to eat with friends on the weekend.
Other quick lunch ideas (Just in case you are home, or pack if you are feeling ambitious!):
-Mini-Pizzas: Grab whole-wheat mini-pitas at the store, some marinara sauce, cheese and/or veggies (think mushrooms, spinach, peppers, onions, olives, etc) throw into the microwave or oven, or raw, and you’ve got a filling nutrient-packed treat!
-Whole-Wheat English-Muffin Avocado Sandwiches: I’m a huge fan of avocado on anything and everything. Cut one in half, add tomato, olive oil, and greek yogurt instead of mayo on an english muffin, and you’re full until dinner time. Add a squeeze of lemon juice for extra yumminess!
-Never, ever underestimate the power of a quick veggie burger. Ever.
Veggie burgers are awesome because you can pan-sear them or just stick them in the microwave. I would encourage making your own vs. store-bought, but we are thinking college life. Do what you can. Also, Instead of treating them as typical burgers you can crumble them on top of a spinach salad along with various veggies if you’re sick of hearing about all of these sandwich-like ideas. Woohoo!
-Pinwheels: A different take on wraps! Pinwheels are super quick and easy to store, and they can vary in flavor. My personal favorite is to take greek yogurt or cream cheese, feta, dried cranberries, and green onions for a sweet and savory lunch. You just spread everything into the wrap, roll it up, and cut it horizontally into mini-pieces. These make great on-the-go snacks, as well as side dishes! Another take would be refried beans, mashed up avocado, black beans, and salsa with some salt to taste.
The day may be over for you, and you could be feeling overwhelmed with homework or whatever else may be going on in your life. You deserve to enjoy your last meal of the day, so here are some quick recipes that will keep you relaxed and full.
Grilled PineappleOver Brown Rice with Teriyaki Sauce (Chicken Optional):
Prep time: 40 minutes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes (I do tofu, but to each his/ her own!)
1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 1/4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, undrained
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Place the green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, teriyaki sauce, pineapple chunks with the juice, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper into the wok, and turn the heat to medium. Bring to a simmer, stir in the flour, and continue simmering 15 minutes until thickened.
Don’t Forget the Pasta!
Pasta is super easy to make! In moderation it is a great source of energy you might need replenished after a long day.
Prep: 10min |Cook: 18min |Total: 28min
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
- 2 cans (14.5 oz each) seasoned diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 12 oz rigatoni
- 1 lb broccoli florets
- 1/3 C crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
Directions:1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Add the garlic, and cook gently for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes (with juice), vinegar, basil, and red pepper flakes. Increase the heat, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook the sauce for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.3. While the sauce is simmering, add the pasta to the boiling water. When the pasta is almost done, add the broccoli to the pot, and cook for 2 minutes longer.4. Drain the pasta and broccoli, and transfer them to a large bowl. Add the sauce, and toss well. Sprinkle with the feta cheese.
Along with Veggie Burgers, Never Underestimate the Power of a Hearty Salad.
Salad is the furthest thing from boring. The possibilities are endless, and if you do it right, it doesn’t have to leave you hungry. Hence using the word “hearty”. Get ready to dig in on this tasty recipe!
Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad
Prep Time: 25 minutes
- 1 15- to 19-ounce can beans, such as chickpeas, black-eyed peas or kidney beans, rinsed
- 2 5- to 6-ounce cans water-packed chunk light tuna, drained and flaked (see Note)
- 1 large red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 4 teaspoons capers, rinsed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup lemon juice, divided
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 cups mixed salad greensDirections:
- Combine beans, tuna, bell pepper, onion, parsley, capers, rosemary, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl. Season with pepper. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil and salt in a large bowl. Add salad greens; toss to coat. Divide the greens among 4 plates. Top each with the tuna salad. Voila!
I hope that all of you feel inspired to at least give cooking for yourself a shot. Like I said before, it really makes all the difference. It may seem a pain at first for some of you, but eventually it just becomes a part of your routine and it gets super fun! Always switch it up, and offer to cook for others, too! Dinner parties in the dorms were a favorite way for me to bond with my roomies and some neighbors. The first morning we all spent together I made us breakfast, and I really feel like it helped us all bond in a way that reflected throughout the entire year afterward. Food is powerful! It has the ability to nourish you as well as bring people together. Take advantage of that when you can. You’ll be better for it, I promise. Plus, you should never put your health on the back-burner. When it comes down to it, you are the most important thing to be taking care of. Finding the time between class, homework, and socializing to be good to yourself is a must. Now go out there and see what you can do! Good luck 🙂