PSA: The 'Freshman 15' is not a myth! Every year, well-meaning high school grads plan their perfect college menus: yogurt, hummus, fresh fruit, probably too much coffee. And then comes the late night snacking, even more coffee than you thought possible, and pizza-fueled study sessions. Suddenly, those carefully-planned menus are replaced with the quickest thing you can grab from the dining hall. With limited time, cookware, appliances, and cash, eating healthy can easily take a backseat to what feels like basic survival. Here are some ways you can trick your dorm into providing healthier alternatives for any meal:
1. Add zest to microwavable veggies with a homemade spice mix.
Ah, the microfridge. Most colleges provide these good-intentioned hybrids for a small rental fee, and then microwave popcorn, styrofoam cups of soup, and anything you can melt cheese on become the new norm. Grab microwavable bags of veggies for a more nutritious option that's just as quick. Before you leave home, develop a signature spice mixture with the head chef of your family (mom, grandma, your crazy uncle who watches too much Food Network). Shake it on your veggies or basically anything else for a taste of home (and a natural remedy for your homesickness)!
2. Get creative with the toaster oven for study snacks.
If your school allows toaster ovens or has some ancient version of one in the common area, get toasting. At 10", our pizzas fit snugly into the microfridge freezer and make the perfect snack when you're cramming for finals. Bake them just like you would in an oven, and you can even find inspiration on our Instagram to get creative with the toppings for some extra fuel and flavor. Have gluten-free friends? Don't worry - our cauliflower crust is naturally gluten-free, so everyone can share! Start here to find a retailer near your new digs: http://caulipower.net/FindUs
3. Ditch the soda and opt for low calorie mixers when it's time to let loose.
Thirsty Thursday rolls around and suddenly your diet becomes mostly liquid. When it comes to drinking, it should always be in moderation and responsible. But responsible doesn't just mean avoiding keg stands - you can also add an element of health to your weekend shenanigans. Opt for a calorie-free mixer, like seltzer or tonic - you can bring it along in a reusable water bottle that you can refill with actual water to stay hydrated. There are also plenty of functional beverages likely becoming more available in the dining hall grab and go section. Try Kombucha, which makes a much tastier mixer and may support immunity, digestion, and detoxification - trust us, you'll need all of that.
4. Make healthy meals out of shelf-stable veggies.
Clear a shelf or repurpose a storage bin to keep veggies that don't need refrigeration. Make sure it's at least 6" off the ground for safety! We recommend avocados, which can be spread on toast, sliced as a CAULIPOWER pizza topping, or eaten with a shake of your homemade spice mixture (thanks, Uncle Fred). Sweet potatoes make another healthy option - they've got more vitamins and nutrients packed in than regular potatoes! Pierce the skin with a fork and microwave for 8 minutes, then add whatever you like: brown sugar and cinnamon for a sweet treat, or butter, bacon bits, and broccoli for a savory meal.
5. Take advantage of the salad bar at every meal.
Every meal you have in the dining hall should include a veggie-packed salad, and, when you have to resort to ramen noodles, take a box of salad bar fixins to go - they make an excellent source of nutrients to add to an otherwise bland and net-negative experience.
Now you're (sort of) cookin! You don't have to be Martha Stewart to eat better at school - gourmet or not, you just need a little creativity to get the nutrients you need to keep you out of the infirmary.