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Collegiette Eats: The Best Alternative to French Fries

Sick of eating cereal and ramen for lunch and dinner? Want to spend less money eating out and finally start cooking for yourself? Put down that frozen pizza, because HC’s Health Editor, Sammie Levin, is here to share her daily eats so you can get ideas for healthy, satisfying meals that are easy enough for any time-strapped collegiette to make. After you read Collegiette Eats, your taste buds, wallet and waistline will thank you.

Breakfast 

I did hot yoga yesterday morning, and after sweating my brains out, I was craving something cold and refreshing when I got back. I saw that a black cherry Chobani Greek yogurt I had in the fridge was about to reach its expiration date, so I decided to use it up in the form of a chocolate cherry chia smoothie. Yum! I blended together the 6-ounce container of yogurt with a cup of frozen tart cherries, half of a frozen banana, two tablespoons of cacao powder and a half cup of chocolate almond milk. Once it was blended, I stirred in a packet of stevia and two tablespoons of chia seeds and then let the smoothie sit in the fridge for about a half hour to thicken before guzzling it down. 

I love all flavors of Chobani so much that it’s tough to pick a favorite. Black cherry is definitely up there – it tastes decadent enough to be dessert, especially when mixed with anything chocolate. I think if I had to choose, my top two favorite flavors would be apple cinnamon and peach, but after that it’s a toss-up between black cherry, strawberry, pomegranate and basically every other flavor in existence. 

Lunch 

The beauty of weekend lunches is that you actually have the time to make them. During the week, I have a relatively short window of time to stop by home for lunch or I end up having to do work during my break, so I either whip up something quickly or grab something on the go. But on the weekends, there’s usually no rush, which means I can kick back while something is cooking. Yesterday, that something was spaghetti squash and roasted Brussels sprouts – a killer combination. The smokiness of the sprouts tasted great with the sweetness of the squash. Both take about 40 minutes to cook in the oven, so it was easy enough to make them at the same time while I watched some TV. I also put the squash seeds on the baking sheet in the oven for the last 10 minutes that the squash was cooking for. I love toasted seeds so much! Once everything was done, I mixed a bowl’s worth of squash strands (don’t they look so much like real spaghetti?!) with the sprouts, seeds, a half cup of garbanzo beans and marinara sauce. I sprinkled some salt, pepper and basil garlic seasoning on top. Sprawling on the couch with this bowl of goodness and a couple of episodes of TV made for a perfect Saturday afternoon. 

Dinner

Are you ready for your mind to be blown? I’ve introduced you to the best alternative to pasta (and just reintroduced it to you if you missed it, since I had it for lunch) and the best alternative to ice cream, and now it’s time for me to unleash the best alternative to French fries: roasted carrots.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking… a carrot can not replace the salty, greasy, crispy-on-the-outside, mushy-on-the-inside perfection that is a French fry. And that’s true. But, when you’re looking for a healthy side dish that kind of acts like a French fry, roasted carrots do a better job than you’d think. They’re crispy and crunchy, and they can be seasoned just the way you like your fries (some salt, pepper and whatever else your heart desires). Roasted sweet potato wedges are also an amazing alternative to fries, maybe even better than the carrots in my opinion. However, you’re probably already aware of that since sweet potato fries are pretty common, and I wanted to add something new to your repertoire instead.

Before you write off carrot fries as a farce, chew on this. A small order of fries at McDonald’s has 230 calories and 11 grams of fat and a medium has 380 calories and 19 grams of fat. There are only 25 to 35 calories and zero grams of fat in one full-sized carrot, so you do the math! If you think the carrot fry is starting to sound better, just wait ’til you taste it. 

Enough raving – I’ll tell you how to make them. The following instructions will make a batch big enough for one to two people as a side dish or snack. You can cook as many batches at once as you can fit on a baking sheet as long as the carrots are spread out enough to roast; they shouldn’t be piled on top of each other.

First, cut full-sized carrots (about three to four per batch) into wedges or skinny slices. Make sure the segments are roughly equal in size so that they cook at the same rate. Toss the segments with a half tablespoon of olive oil and season them. I used salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper on mine. Then, bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout. Cooking times may vary, so keep an eye on them while they cook to make sure they get as crispy and charred as you want them to be.

I enjoyed my carrot fries as a side dish to a bowl of brown rice with kale, cabbage, mushrooms and tahini dressing that I made following this recipe from The Boston Globe, courtesy of my mom. I love when she sends me good recipe finds from The Globe since I don’t read it when I’m at school. The recipe was for four servings, so I halved the recipe and saved the second serving in the fridge to eat for lunch or dinner today. I also omitted the tablespoon of sugar from the dressing recipe and didn’t feel like I was missing it. I liked the dish a lot; it was light and flavorful. But, if there is only one thing you try from this post, have it be the carrot fries! Trust me. 

Sammie is a student at the University of Michigan where she is pursuing a BBA. A foodie since birth, she enjoys cooking, eating, smelling, looking at, photographing, reading about, and playing with any and all types of food. Her idolization of culinary delights is complemented by her active spirit- she enjoys running, swimming, barre classes, and even spontaneous bursts of interpretative dance if the mood strikes her. She has completed two triathlons and a half-marathon and plans to tackle more races in the future. She also dreams of traveling the globe, saving the world, and marrying James and/or Dave Franco. 
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