Easy & Healthy Recipes for the College Girl

College is the first time where many individuals will be responsible for cooking their own meals. This is especially true if you have just moved from the dorms to off-campus housing. Now that you don’t have to deal with the disaster of the dining hall, you are free to have more control of what you are putting into your body. Cooking can be intimidating, particularly if you have had zero experience in the kitchen. Although you may be more inclined to eat out or prepare overly processed foods due to lack of skill, opting for healthy meals is essential for avoiding weight gain in college. Not to mention, poor nutrition can lead to stress, tiredness and your capacity to work, and over time it can contribute to the risk of developing some illnesses and other health problems such as being overweight or obese, tooth decay, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis, some cancers, depression, and eating disorders. All things that deter you from being the best you possible.

Healthy eating does not have to be hard or expensive. A little planning, a great recipe, and a couple of coupons can go a long way. A solid way to save at the grocery store is signing up for a club card. Memberships are typically free and give you access to the best deals that the store offers. Nowadays, grocery stores generally have their own apps. Take advantage of these to see where you can cut costs.

One of the best ways to stick to a healthy diet while making it fun is to get your roommates involved. Don’t forget, there is power in numbers. If you and your roommates make it an effort to consciously eat healthier, you will be more inclined to stick with it. My roommate and I absolutely love spending time in the kitchen together, tweaking and creating our own recipes in a healthy way. By simply replacing typically high-calorie foods with healthier substitutes, you can turn a dish from a cheat meal into a nutritious masterpiece. Put on your favorite playlist or turn on Gilmore Girls while you cook and hang out. Indulging in a glass of red wine is not a bad idea either, as red wine actually has health benefits! Red wine contains antioxidants which may increase your levels of high-density lipoproteins and protect arteries. Make meal preparation a fun activity to share with your roommates rather than a chore. Establishing incredible healthy cooking skills in college will not only improve your diet, but it will also prepare you for the future. After a little practice and plenty of patience, you will become a seasoned chef! 

Spinach Spaghetti & Chicken Sausage

What you will need: 1 box of spinach spaghetti Half pound of chicken sausage 1 can of crushed tomatoes 2 cloves of garlic (minced) 1 basil leaf 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning Olive oil Salt & pepper Parmesan cheese

This is a recipe I concocted the other day that turned out to be delicious! After a quick call to my grandma on how to make the sauce, I tweaked the recipe by replacing regular spaghetti with spinach spaghetti and pork sausage with chicken sausage.

First, start off by making the sauce. Combine crushed tomatoes, garlic, basil, and Italian seasoning in a medium sized pot. Cover and put on low heat for about one hour. While your sauce is simmering, add olive oil to a separate pan and begin cooking the chicken sausage. Cook well, until the sausage is brown. After your sausage is cooked well, add it to your sauce. About 15 minutes before your sauce is done cooking on the stove, boil a medium pot of water. Add the spinach spaghetti and follow cooking instructions. Strain pasta and put on a plate. Add the desired amount of sauce and top with parmesan cheese with salt and pepper to taste. This tastes almost exactly like the higher calorie version, but better. There’s no need to feel guilty after this meal. You will feel that you have indulged while still remaining healthy and nutritious.

Veggie & Tofu Quesadilla

What you will need: Whole wheat tortillas Tofu Peppers Onions Mushroom Mexican blend of cheese Sriracha (optional)

This is an amazing recipe that will even satisfy meat lovers. Start off by chopping up the desired amount of vegetables. Slice the tofu into small cubes and cook in a small pan until well-done. The tofu should have a golden brown color. Grease a medium-to-large pan with cooking spray. Place tortilla on the pan and fill with vegetables and cheese. If you like things spicy, add some Sriracha! After you see the cheese beginning to melt, fold the tortilla over, like a half circle, and brown the other side. Once both sides have a golden brown color, plate it and enjoy! This veggie and tofu quesadilla would be great to pair with a healthy guacamole recipe. If sour cream is your preferred side, replace it non-fat, plain Greek yogurt. You won’t even be able to tell the difference.

Thai Peanut Sauce Chicken Stir Fry with Spaghetti Squash

What you will need: 1 spaghetti squash Olive oil Chicken Stir fry veggies Thai peanut sauce

Spaghetti squash is surprisingly super easy to make. I learned by simply following a YouTube video. Spaghetti squash is low in calories, and when combined with other ingredients, tastes exactly like Asian noodles. 1 cup of spaghetti squash in only 42 calories opposed to regular pasta which averages to be about 220 calories.  What a difference! After you have prepared your spaghetti squash, heat up olive oil in a medium pan. Once hot, add the chicken and the vegetables. Cook all the way through. About a minute before you are going to plate your chicken and veggies over the spaghetti squash, add your desired amount of Thai peanut sauce. If you are allergic to peanuts or simply do not care for them, this is easily replaceable with soy sauce. Combine everything in a bowl and get ready to indulge in a tasty and healthy Asian-style meal.