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Avoiding the Freshman 15

I know we’ve all heard of the freshman 15 lbs. and the devastating consequences it can cause our bodies. We’ve likely heard several personal stories of the dreaded weight gain already, but it is completely avoidable and is hyped up more than it should be.

Of course, there are factors that can cause incoming undergraduate students to gain a little bit of weight, but it usually is not to such an extreme. The first tip to keeping the pounds off is to avoid unhealthy cafeteria foods. I know that with dining dollars it can be hard to avoid impulse buying when it comes to food, but there are healthy options available that are a much better choice.

I know this one is obvious, but also avoid drinking heavy amounts of alcohol. Alcohol is packed in empty calories and they add up fast when drinking in excess amounts! Another great tip is to avoid eating foods late at night, try and not eat past 8 or 9 pm. This can be especially hard during those late night study sessions and parties on the weekends. I know this is a particularly bad habit of mine, but what really helps curb appetite is cold water. Water subdues the hunger and gives the appearance of a full stomach. Food consumed late at night before bed is hard to digest and is converted directly to fat, so stop eating at least 2-3 hours before heading to sleep.

Another thing that really helps is to not keep unhealthy foods in your dorm or apartment. In my experience, when I tried to cut caffeine out of my diet it helped to not buy cokes that way I wouldn’t be tempted to drink any. The same goes for unhealthy snack foods: if you don’t buy it and keep it in your room, you won’t be as tempted to eat it. It’s as simple as that. Here are a few great meal choices that will keep your weight at a healthy level so you can avoid packing the pounds on.

Here are some simple ingredient swaps you can use to make anything a healthier option:
1. Use rosemary, basil, garlic or other fresh herbs instead of ones that come packaged such as seasoning salt
2. Trans and saturated fat free margarine or butter as opposed to shortening
3. Use cooking spray instead of butter
4. Fat-free ricotta cheese, not cream cheese
5. Egg substitute, not a whole egg
6. Use nonfat plain yogurt instead of sour cream
7. Use skim milk, not whole milk

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

  2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
         1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
   1 teaspoon ground cumin
  1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1/2 teaspoon salt
  4 1/2 large bell peppers (preferably yellow and orange)
  8 ounces 95 percent lean ground beef
  1/2 cup converted brown rice
  1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  1/4 cup raisins
  chopped parsley (for garnish)

1. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes (with juice), vinegar, cumin, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to mix. Pour 1 1/3 cups of the sauce mixture into a 4-quart or larger slow cooker.
2. Finely chop the half bell pepper. Slice off the top 1/2″ of the remaining peppers. Seed the peppers and reserve the tops.
3. In a large bowl, using your hands, combine the beef, rice, onion, raisins, chopped pepper, and the remaining sauce mixture. Spoon the mixture into the peppers and replace the tops. Place into the slow cooker.
4. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the peppers are tender and the meat is no longer pink. Serve topped with the cooking sauce. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Healthy Bread

1 1/4 cups warm water 
One packet active dry yeast?
1 tablespoon honey?
1 cup white whole wheat flour?
1 cup whole wheat flour?
1 cup rolled oats?
3 Tbsp. ground flax seed?
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. sunflower seeds (optional)?
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt?
1 tablespoon butter, melted, for brushing

1. In a medium bowl, mix the yeast with the warm water and stir until it dissolves. Mix in the honey and set aside for a few minutes until the yeast blooms and swells, about 5 – 10 minutes.
2. In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, flax seed, 1/3 cup of sunflower seeds, and salt in a large bowl. When the yeast liquid has bloomed, add it to the dry ingredients and stir very well.
3. Brush an 8 1/2-inch loaf pan generously with the melted butter. Place the dough into the pan, sprinkle one tablespoon of sunflower seeds on top, and press them gently into the dough. Cover with a warm, slightly damp cloth. Set in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for a few moments to give the top a deep golden brown color. I needed 2 – 3 minutes under the broiler, but this will vary from oven to oven. Whatever you do, do not walk away. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly and let it cool on a rack.

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