Tag: Cooking

“Quarantine Cooking: Healthy Meals to Keep You Focused on Work” by John Salsini-Tobias

The change from eating dining hall food to actually having to cook at home certainly isn’t the worst aspect of online learning, but cooking nevertheless can take up valuable work time. Without endless options while at home, many students (including myself) will find themselves snacking throughout the day. It’s easy to grab a bag of chips or a granola bar but this option is rarely healthier than nutritious balanced meals. Let’s examine a possible day of eating in easy-to-prepare meals that any student could throw together while listening to a recorded lecture or practicing a Quizlet. 

The first meal of the day obviously is breakfast, and nowadays it’s an easy one to skip if you can wake up and start class just by grabbing your laptop. Staying in a routine will be healthy and this means actually getting out of bed (looking awake and out of bed reflects well in class too). One delectable and popular breakfast dish is avocado toast. Popularized by millennials, this can be spiced up in many different ways to add some flavor and balance to your diet. Personally, I prepare mine with some sea salt and a hard boiled egg on top of mashed avocado on whole-grain toast. Here are the steps to make a new morning preference:

  1. Peel and pit avocados
  2. Put about ½ of an avocado on each slice of bread
  3. Dice the avocado and mash into bread with fork
  4. Add any toppings such as sliced egg, salt, pepper, cheese, tomato, or anything you like!
  5. Toast the bread and allow to cool before eating.

Around midday you’ll probably get hungry again, so now it’s time for lunch. A college favorite that I often find myself making is a classic: ramen. It’s fine to eat a plain bowl with the included seasoning, but you may find yourself wanting a more filling experience in the absence of restaurants like Ramen Kumamoto. I often add a soft boiled egg to my ramen. For this, I recommend preparing the noodles normally and then in a separate pot boiling the egg. Of course, adding other toppings such as scallions, pork, tofu, bean sprouts, or cabbage to the noodle broth can be done to add flavor. Again, this is an easy way to make a tasty meal out of a simple food.

  1. Boil noodles in a pot of water
  2. Add flavor, seasonings, or toppings that need to be cooked to pot
    1. For a soft boiled egg, prepare 1 inch of water in separate pot
    2. Once water is boiling, add egg directly from fridge and leave for 4 ½ min
    3. Remove egg and immediately cool with cold water, then peel and enjoy!
  3. Add noodles to a bowl and add any fresh toppings desired

A powerful way to finish work hours and prepare you for an evening of relaxing (or more work!) is this pasta dish. Once again simple to prepare, this lemon pasta tastes amazing and gives you some carbs to keep up your energy. Just add a salad and a desert!

  1. Bring a quart of water to a boil
  2. Prepare pan of spaghetti, tomatoes, lemon zest, olive oil and 2 teaspoons salt
  3. Add boiling water to pan, cover, and heat until it reboils
  4. Remove the lid to simmer for 6 minutes while stirring
    1. You can add kale or spinach for more flavor and to soak up the juices
  5. Serve with seasonings and some parmesan!

Hen’s Kitchen by Carly Patent

As college students, I’m sure we can all agree on one thing to help us get through long days, busy schedules, projects, assignments, tests, quizzes, homework, reading, meetings, relationships, and everything in between. And, no, sorry to say, but that one thing is not Netflix, puppies, or the Starbucks in Smith, instead, it’s food.

We never really pay much attention to the effect that food has on our overall happiness, but I’m here to say that there’s something quite magical about an ice cream cone rolled in rainbow sprinkles or a slice of ooey gooey pizza. Oftentimes, college students, myself included, take for granted how important it is to eat right – especially during those weeks when your professor decides to assign a fifty-page reading in the last five minutes of class, when your calendar looks like a game of tic tac toe, and when you can’t even remember what color the carpet in your room is. Focusing on the elements that you can control – such as how much sleep and exercise you get and what you put into your body – is a starting point.

Living on campus the past two years, I had the luxury of a meal plan. Whenever I was hungry, I could walk the fifteen or so feet to my nearest dining hall, head up to a station, grab a plate, sit down, and enjoy. I never had to think about meal planning, grocery shopping, preparation time, or washing dishes. Now, however, having moved into an apartment, I now must consider all of these things – on top of my schoolwork, commitments, and activities. Knowing that I am not alone in the boat of college students who came to college with experience making maybe one or two items – scrambled eggs and toast, anyone? I’m here to share what I have learned. And with that, let me present some tips and tricks to guide you when it comes to making healthy, satisfying meals that are not only easy on the wallet but will make you feel like Rachael Ray or Emeril…BAM!

 

Plan Ahead of Time

There’s nothing worse than going to the supermarket on an empty stomach. Anything and everything will be tempting, and anything and everything will make it into your cart and back home with you. The dinosaur chicken nuggets? A necessity. A jug of chocolate milk? Can’t live without it. A family size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos? Ah, toss it in. If you write out a set list of exactly what you need for that week’s meals, you’re less likely to fall into the trap of a growling stomach. Before heading to the supermarket, look through your fridge and pantry to see what you have, what you need, and what you absolutely want. What really helps me, surprisingly, is having limited space to store my food. If I don’t have room for it, then I can’t buy it. Take a cue from Santa; make a list, and check it twice!

 

Make Healthy Choices

When living at home, it’s easy to eat healthy when your mom nags you to eat your vegetables! But, when you have the freedom to instead stock up on taquitos, waffles, and Easy Mac, getting your daily dose of greens might take the back burner unless you think wisely. First, read nutrition labels. I know that we were all taught how to do this in middle school health class and have most likely tried to forget about that time in our life – Juicy tracksuits, hair feathers, Axe, and Silly Bands. Knowing what to look for when shopping for ourselves, however, is important. Items that we consider “healthy” such as granola bars can actually be loaded with sugar. Taking the extra time to read the labels can help you prevent that Freshman – or Sophomore, Junior, and Senior – Fifteen. Second, sneak in your vegetables. We always hear of parents tricking their kids into eating mashed potatoes with cauliflower and zucchini in their muffins. So why not do the same? Throw a handful of spinach into your morning smoothie or add some veggies to your omelette. You can keep eating what you love, but with some simple switches, what you love will show the love in return!

 

Be Creative

While I consider myself to be a decent cook and an avid watcher of the Food Network, before coming to college, I had quite limited experience actually planning and making my meals. The first week or so, I resorted to making the same few dishes, and while they are still my favorites, as I got more comfortable cooking for myself, I began to branch out and try new things. There are literally millions of recipes out there to try so that you’re not stuck eating the same things every night. When I first made chicken – something that oddly enough freaks me out thanks to a not-so-pleasant experience with undercooked chicken – I felt like a true adult and rejoiced in my roommates’ praise for conquering such a task! I think it’s important to recognize that while the kitchen can be scary, coming from someone who has dealt with some minor burns and cuts, it can also be freeing. Trust yourself and your ability to try new things so that you can break free from the Ramen Noodles that are holding you back!

 

Treat Yourself

My final piece of advice for transitioning to the added responsibility of cooking for oneself is to value food for what it is: a story. Every time that we eat, we tell a story of where we are in life, who we are with, and what we value. We all have that one meal that is ingrained in our heads: a meal that we shared with someone we love, a meal that went terribly wrong, or a meal that we would pay millions of dollars to relive. Whether it is the taste of your mom’s caramel brownies or your favorite restaurant’s lobster macaroni and cheese, food has a transformative ability. It can help us connect with those around us. It can bring us back to a special moment. It can heighten our moods. The power of food should not be underestimated. And, for that reason, treating yourself to a nice meal – whether prepared by yours truly or picked up on Main Street – is a valuable act. I’m not sure that there’s anything a warm chocolate chip cookie can’t fix!

Food can take many forms, and not just literally! It can be a warm hug, a much-needed reward, a call home, and a memory. As college students juggling hectic lives and trying to balance everything that we’ve signed ourselves up for, food is one of the many things that we can control, and for that reason, it becomes much more important. For all of my fellow Blue Hens who have recently made the transition from meal plan to apartment kitchen, I hope this blog post has inspired you and made your stomach rumble. We have a lot on our plates, pun intended, so let’s at least make sure that we’re filling them up with something that would bring Guy Fieri straight to Flavortown! (Can you tell that my roommates and I have been watching too much Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives?)

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