7 Simple Ways to Cook Healthier in College

Eating healthy on campus is nearly impossible, and we all can’t help but indulge ourselves to some fries at the Husky, a chocolatey Frappuccino from Starbucks, or a taco from the lunch cart. However, there are easy ways we can eat healthier at home and not suffer on the weekends when our friends are enjoying themselves without us because we’re too poor to hang.

 

Swap out oils for Avocado Oil

I bought a huge bottle at Costco for less than $10! So it’s cheaper and healthier than other oils!
I bought a huge bottle at Costco for less than $10! So it’s cheaper and healthier than other oils!

If you’re not into avocado toast, you can still be a part of the trend by using avocado oil for all of your cooking and baking! The oil has a higher heating temperature than all other oils, which makes it great for cooking, and, in my experience, a lot easier to clean off of your pans. According to LiveStrong, the oil also has anti-inflammatory effects, which is good for your dental health, more potassium than a banana, more protein than any other fruit, and carotenoids—which causes it to be low in fat.

 

Organic Coconut Palm Sugar

I also bought my sugar from Costco for only $4 (my family has a membership) but you can also find these items cheap on Amazon!
I also bought my sugar from Costco for only $4 (my family has a membership) but you can also find these items cheap on Amazon!

Anyone Oprah trusts, I trust, which is why I think everything Dr. Oz says is gold. He has a segment on his show where he explains that because coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index, meaning the body releases the energy from your intake of sugar slower, you don’t have the ups and downs of a sugar high and have less food cravings. While the sugar itself doesn’t have less calories than regular sugar, it can help you snack less—one of the many things us college kids are good at. Plus, anything that’s organic is automatically better for you, right?

 

Peanut Butter Powder

I think you can guess where I bought mine…but the company sells this and all their other products on Amazon as well!
I think you can guess where I bought mine…but the company sells this and all their other products on Amazon as well!

Yup, you read that right. I recently discovered this item through many hours of Instagram lurking on food blogs followed by another hour of research and the creation of a new folder on my phone of recipes using the product. The wonderful thing about this is it has 1/3 the calories and 85 percent less fat than traditional peanut butter. You can mix the powder with water to make your own peanut butter, make baked goods, or, my favorite way, put it in a smoothie for added protein and a nice flavor without the stickiness of a normal peanut butter.

 

Chia/Flax Seeds

I bought a blend of the seeds at a grocery store for $6, but they are also sold separately in stores and online.
I bought a blend of the seeds at a grocery store for $6, but they are also sold separately in stores and online.

These seeds are not exciting. They have no special flavor that will make you want to go out and buy them, but the health benefits of these seeds are definitely worth the price:

  • They are both rich in fat, but healthy fats and omega 3’s, with flax having slightly more.
  • They are both high in fiber, with chia leading three grams more per ounce.
  • Research has suggested that flax seeds can reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer because of a phytochemical called lignans. Chia also contains lignans but not as much.
  • They have a similar amount of protein, but chia seeds are a complete protein.
  • Both seeds can give you a dose of calcium and phosphorus for bone and teeth health, with chia giving almost double what flax does.

Overall, both seeds have great benefits, but if you have to choose one, go with chia. Not only do they have more benefits and can aid in weight loss—a bonus for vegetarians and vegans—when added to water to let sit, it produces a “chia egg,” which can be used in baking. I add these seeds to smoothies and baked goods, but they can also just be sprinkled on top of salads or smoothie bowls.

 

The New Noodles

These noodles are similarly priced to a regular box of pasta, sometimes a little more if you go organic, but worth the health benefits.
These noodles are similarly priced to a regular box of pasta, sometimes a little more if you go organic, but worth the health benefits.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t eat pasta at least three times a week. It’s cheap, easy, and always delicious. This might be the easiest and cheapest way to be healthy on this list. Instead of buying your beloved carb-filled or even whole-grain pasta boxes, opt instead for spinach pasta! There are tons of spinach or vegetable pastas in the organic section of the grocery store, and they taste a lot better and are a lot healthier as well.

You can also go a step further and use “zoodles.” Zoodles are a new trend on the food scene; it’s basically spiralized vegetables that you can slightly cook or eat raw in the place of pasta. Whether you make these yourself or buy them premade at the grocery store, you can be sure you’re getting you’re daily intake of veggies in.

 

It’s All about the Fruit

One tip for shopping for produce: always check the clearance shelves! They have them in almost every grocery store.
One tip for shopping for produce: always check the clearance shelves! They have them in almost every grocery store.

As I mentioned earlier, I use a lot of these ingredients in smoothies because I make smoothies all the time. One thing to be careful with when making smoothies, is the amount of fruits you use. Fruits like bananas are high in calories. Fruits like mangoes and grapes have a naturally high sugar content, so eat in moderation. Strawberries, peaches, raspberries, blueberries, and even avocados are all good choices.

I stock up on frozen fruit, especially when it’s on sale. Whatever fruit I don’t eat before it goes bad, I just pop in the freezer. Smoothies are easy to make, filling, and inexpensive. They’re also ideal for walking to class or revitalizing your body after a trip to the gym.

 

Kale Chips

kc

I had to have a snack on this list, and if you haven’t tried making these yet, you should. I am not lying when I say they taste like potato chips; you won’t miss those fatty, addicting bagged chips at all. All you need to do is buy some kale, either bagged or in a bunch, tear off big pieces, and cook in the oven with oil and salt until crispy. These chips will literally melt in your mouth if you make them right.

I use kale for salads, freeze some for green smoothies (I promise you can’t taste it among the fruit), and cook it down as a side vegetable. This is my favorite way to enjoy it. While kale is packed with fiber, protein, and a whole list of vitamins and minerals, it stands out among other foods for being the highest source vitamin K. It is essential for preventing heart disease, reducing inflammation, and may help prevent cancer. Kale is also one of the cheapest leaves you can buy, so there’s no reason not to give it a try!

 

Not all of these options are appealing, or will they work for everyone, but do your own research and find even more ways to be healthy. You will find yourself more full (of energy), feeling more motivated, and possibly even more focused on school if you change the way you eat. These smart decisions are possible not only for college, but for after as well!

Comments

comments