Healthy Eating in College
If you’re a college student like me, I’m sure you can relate to the various temptations for bad food and how convenient it can be to just eat poorly and order pizza during a late night studying or while hanging out with friends. These choices tend to contribute to what people refer to as the “freshman fifteen” or my new favorite the “sophomore seventy”. While it takes a little bit of planning and preparation, eating clean in college is possible, and doesn’t mean always having to skip out on fried fridays or trips to Cookout after a date party.
My best friend Jordan is an absolute rockstar at this. She is amazing at cooking and always seems to be coming up with the most creative ways to combine and eat healthy foods. I usually eat pretty healthy but have absolutely no skills when it comes to making things in the kitchen. Jordan and I headed to Target to do a little grocery shopping so that she could show me what to buy in order to make some of the clean things she eats on a regular basis. Both of us have done the Whole 30 but decided that it’s not a realistic pattern of eating to incorporate into your day to day lifestyle, so the things I am eating on a regular basis now are a bit of a modified version of that.
A definite staple in my diet is oatmeal! This is one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast or even for a quick dinner if I’m low on other groceries. I used to put brown sugar on top, but instead I have found that it tastes so much better with blueberries and even a little bit of almond butter, making it a much healthier option. I try to limit my grains so oatmeal is one way I make sure I get just a little bit in my day to day.
I absolutely looooove fruit. While fruits do have a lot of natural sugars and need to be eaten in moderation, grapes and blueberries are my go-to fruits to snack on whenever I am craving something sweet and don’t want to reach for candy or cookies. These also go well as a side to any main meal for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner.
I never used to be a fan of eggs. I hated the way scrambled and boiled eggs tasted and was always too afraid to try them sunny side up or over easy because the yolk freaked me out so much. This summer I tried over easy eggs with Joe in Minnesota and now that is my favorite way to eat them!! I’ll make over easy eggs and cut up some avocado for the perfect breakfast if I’m not in the mood for oatmeal.
This coconut milk is my absolute favorite. I typically drink my coffee black but if I’m not feeling that, a little bit of this acts like a creamer without the added fat and sugar. This also works perfectly to make chia seed pudding as another snack option. I’ve tried the almond milk from this brand and love it too.
Speaking of chia seeds, these spices are a staple for me. I love sprinkling cinnamon on apples for a little added flavor or even in my oatmeal or toast! Chia seeds are perfect for chia seed pudding as well as on top of avocado toast. They add just a little bit of flavor and texture in a healthy way.
Jordan has taught me how to love sweet potatoes. She make a bomb sweet potato bowl that looks a little bit like baby food but tastes delicious. While I am more of a fan of regular potatoes, sweet potatoes are another option for carbs which aren’t as bad for you as other things. I made sweet potato toast for the first time the other day as I am learning how to cook more and it turned out to be so yummy. Probably not quite as pretty as those you would see on a food bloggers page, but it’s a work in progress! I made different versions of this toast but my favorite was probably the one with avocado and an over easy egg. The other options were almond butter with blueberries, avocado with chia seeds, and drizzled honey with cinnamon. This is a great alternative to typical bread as the sweet potato tastes fairly similar to toast in these thin slices.
Up next are the veggies!!! While vegetables typically get a bad rep in terms of taste, there are definitely ways to incorporate these into your diet which will make you look forward to eating them rather than dreading them. I love making egg white omelets with peppers and spinach. Peppers are also such a yummy snack instead of choosing chips or pretzels. Both carrots and peppers taste so good dipped in hummus and are so much better for you than the other things we would typically rather reach for. I could eat avocados with every meal if I could. They taste so yummy on toast (pictured above) , made into guac, with eggs, or even just simply by themselves. I love how there are so many different ways to eat these as they serve as an amazing source of healthy fat. Cucumbers are another one of my go-to vegetables. I love eating them sliced, on a spinach salad, or even marinated in vinegar. Finding ways to eat vegetables is so important as they are such a key part of a healthy diet.
Red wine vinegar is such a great alternative to salad dressing. Vinegar and oil provides the same sort of added taste to plain lettuce, without the added sugar. This is honestly my favorite way to dress a salad and saves a lot of added calories.
I have yet to make these frozen veggies, but Jordan said these are some of her favorites because they’re so easy to just heat up! Cauliflower rice is a much healthier option than regular rice and tastes so similar. The zucchini spirals are perfect for “zoodles” with pesto or red sauce on top instead of pasta. I am definitely looking forward to trying these different options.
Yet another one of Jay’s recommendations, Turkey burgers! While grilled chicken is a great option for a healthy dinner and great way to incorporate protein, I often get tired of eating that day after day. A turkey burger without the bun is a great alternative and since these come frozen and ready to cook, they’re so easy to prepare. I had only had a turkey burger once before but these have quickly become a favorite of mine.
Last but not least, my favorite go-to bars to snack on. Lara bars and RX bars are great options because they have so few ingredients and don’t incorporate the added sugar and sketchy ingredients like some other bars may. While they can be pretty pricey, when eaten in moderation they are a great option. I like the coconut cream pie and blueberry flavors best!
Overall, learning how to cook and eat healthy is definitely a process. I still love my peanut butter shakes from Cookout and don’t skip out on occasionally ordering Insomnia Cookies with friends during a movie night, but it’s all about balance. Making healthy choices on a regular basis makes those treats so much more worth it, and you just feel so much better overall too. I can’t wait to keep learning how to make different things and continue this journey of healthy eating. I’d love to hear more about your favorite clean eating meals and snacks in the comments below!!