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Rewriting the college menu

Healthy tips when eating college staples

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Quick, cheap and unhealthy meals have long plagued college students’ diets. We put our obligations as students before our health, from easy macaroni and cheese boxes to Domino’s pizza.

Students who eat healthier have a better academic performance, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. If you’re looking for easy, healthy dishes to get you started, here are a few ideas.

PASTA

Pasta is a staple for college students because it’s filling and easy to make. The appropriate serving size of pasta is the same as the size of a clenched fist, according to London-based nutritionist Jo Travers in The Sun. If you’re looking at your fist now, you probably realized where you went wrong.

Vegetables as pasta is a foodie’s newest trend. Spiralized zucchini makes great spaghetti noodles and sliced eggplant for layers in lasagna. If the thought of vegetables as pasta is too much to handle, whole-wheat pasta or pasta made with vegetables are healthier than white.

The FDA recommends you consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. A jar of store-bought alfredo sauce, however, can reach up to 780 milligrams of sodium for every half cup. Homemade pasta sauce can help to moderate levels of salt and sugar. Garlic, basil and tomatoes make up the base of the simplest tomato sauce, but adding vegetables and different spices can make it tastier.

PIZZA

The thought of having a freshly-baked pizza delivered right to your door within minutes is enticing. But before consuming a calorie-dense meal, there are ways to make a healthier pizza.

Consider taking the time to build your own pizza before ordering. Options like thin crust and lean meat toppings can help reduce the calorie count of a pizza slice by 60-80, according to Consumer Reports.

Flatbread is an alternative to yeast-risen bread, and the thinness and texture can be used for a pizza crust. Flatbread, pizza sauce and your choice of toppings baked in an oven warms up the house better than delivery pizza.

The idea of cauliflower as pizza dough might sound frightening, but combined with eggs and cheese, the flavor of the cauliflower is hidden. After rolling out the “dough,” assemble it like a pizza with sauce and toppings, and wait for a tasty surprise.

ICE CREAM

For some folks, the end of a stressful week means a night with a deserved tub of ice cream. Unfortunately, Ben & Jerry’s is too generous with the sweets, with 1,120 calories and 100 grams of sugar in one Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough pint.

But to those with a sweet tooth, fret not. Halo Top uses stevia instead of sugar, allowing the company to boast ice-cream pints under 400 calories. In addition, Ben & Jerry’s new line of ice cream, Moo-phoria, offers pints of 600 calories, nearly half of the original calorie count.

If you’re feeling daring, nix the trip to the freezer aisle and grab a few bananas. Freezing and blending bananas offers a creamy texture, and if you’re feeling creative, try replicating your favorite flavors by adding nuts and other fruit.

CANDY, CHOCOLATE AND CHIPS

In addition to UB’s C3, these three “Cs” are also known for breaking any and every diet. Exam week and all-nighters make these snacks the perfect study companion, and we are easy victims to snacking on extra calories.

If you’re craving sweets, fruits have natural sugars and health benefits. Blueberries are virtually the same size as M&M’s, but are known to be a superfood for boosting brain health and promoting heart health. Dark chocolate-covered strawberries made with coconut oil are also bound to satisfy your chocolate cravings.

For a savory treat, look for potato chip alternatives like kale and veggie chips. If you want to plan ahead, kale chips are easy to make with just three ingredients: your choice of seasoning, olive oil and kale, baked for 15-20 minutes.

Wanly Chen is an assistant features editor and can be reached at wanly.chen@ubspectrum.com and @wanly_chen.


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