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Wellness > Health

Let’s Normalize Whole Food Eating

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McMaster chapter.

Doesn’t it seem strange that our society eats so much junk food that eating real food is considered dieting? As students, it’s almost guaranteed to be rushing for time. A lot of individuals resort to making foods that are processed, frozen, or dehydrated as a means to keep themselves fed. However, this takes a toll on health more than students realize. Foods that “seem healthy” are chosen because ingredients are almost never looked at and many trust labels that say, “all-natural” or “natural flavours”. Even items such as protein bars and granola are considered good and healthy food options when in reality they are often packed with sugar to keep customers coming back to buy them again. Sugar can even be found in frozen chicken strips, ramen, and bread.

Now, I’m not saying sugar is necessarily bad, but the amount that we consume is bad. Eating large amounts of sugar, without moderation, has the potential to cause short- and long-term health risks. This is why it’s important to stick to whole foods, as much as you can, when cooking. What are whole foods? Whole foods are natural, unprocessed, or fresh (nonfrozen) foods. When foods become processed, many important nutrients like fibre are replaced with fat to make them taste good. Most importantly, these have lower sugar contents and natural sugars that are more beneficial to your health and wellness. Your skin will get better, you will sleep better, have better mood, and have more energy. It is important to note that not all foods will affect everyone the same, but it will make you feel better going from processed to whole foods in some way. So on to some recipes! These are some of my favourite go-to school recipes that are easy, quick, filled with nutrients, and simply delicious. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not a chef; you’ll notice that these recipes become easier over time with practice. 

1. Pasta and Protein

So, this is a classic! Everyone’s go-to seems to be pasta, and I enjoy it too. It’s easy, quick, and really tasty. Now, having your pasta and some sauce has limited nutrients that can leave you feeling less satisfied. One great hack is to add protein and some vegetables into the mix to create a well-balanced meal. How I would upgrade this meal would be to add either shrimp, chicken, or white fish. If I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll bread the protein by coating it with spices, salt, pepper, chilli powder, paprika, and some hot sauce before frying it in the pan. Don’t be afraid to be generous with spices! Then towards the end when heating up your pasta sauce, add some leafy greens to the pan and continue stirring until they are fully steamed. You know when it’s done because the greens will shrink down! I love steaming leafy greens because I can eat a ton of them without feeling like I’ve eaten too much.  

2. Salmon or Trout                                                                                                       

I like this meal because you only need about 15 minutes for prep before you can use oven cooking time to do homework. Start by preheating the oven to 400. While that’s heating up, wash the fish and set it into an oven-safe pan. Squeeze a whole lemon and spread the juice evenly over the fish. Next cut up some cloves of garlic into thin slices and place them across the fish. Throw on a pinch of salt and pepper and cover the pan tightly with tin foil. By now your oven should be set, so pop it in the oven for half an hour. You can pair this dish with rice, pasta, or couscous. About 10 minutes before the fish is done cooking, boil some broccoli, asparagus, or any veggie you have in your fridge to add to your dish.

3. Some Dope Salad 

This one requires a bit more multitasking, but it’s worth the challenge. For this salad you need kale, avocado, beets, corn, edamame, and some couscous. You can start by preheating the oven to 400°F. While that’s warming up, start boiling two separate pots of water on the stove. Then peel your beets and chop them up into quarter cuts. Once the water is boiling, throw some corn into your first pot and your beets & edamame in the second. Boil them until tender. Then take your washed kale, put it in a bowl, and cover it in olive oil. Note: Make sure you toss and massage the oil into the kale for best results. Now, time for seasoning! I usually put some salt, pepper, chilli powder or paprika, and chopped chilli peppers. Mix that all up and then place it on a pan. Put it in the oven for 10 minutes before taking it out to flip the kale and baking it for another 10 minutes. Start cooking your couscous on the side. Rinse your boiled corn, beets, and edamame under cold water for a few minutes or until it’s cooled down. Hold the corn perpendicular to a plate and cut off the corn with a knife to set the loose corn in a bowl. Take your beets and shred them with a grater. Once everything is ready, mix it all into a bowl together and top it off with some sliced avocado. 

4. Cucumber Salad 

This one is so yummy, easy, and only takes about half an hour (or more for enhanced flavour) to make. It can also be wonderful to keep in your fridge for a side dish or takeout meal. You’re going to need some large cucumbers, sesame oil, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and salt. Slice the cucumber into very thin slices. This might take a while, but with time comes great things. Place them into a bowl, add about 1 ½ tablespoons of salt and then mix thoroughly. Let the cucumbers absorb the salt for about 10 minutes. Once that’s done, rinse the cucumbers and add some sesame seeds, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Add to taste. Mix it all in a container to marinate. This can be ready to eat after 10 minutes or overnight, but the longer it stays, the more flavourful and delicious it’ll be.

5. A Hearty Bean Dish                                                                                                       

This meal is very simple, and you can make a big batch of it to keep in the fridge and be warmed up to your convenience. Start by heating some oil, chopping up an onion, and a couple of cloves of garlic. Let that all simmer for about five minutes while mixing. Add a small case of baby tomatoes and a tablespoon of tomato puree. Throw in a can of chickpeas or white kidney beans along with the liquid, and add some chicken stock. Continue to stir everything and let it simmer. Add in a handful or two of spinach and stir to let the spinach steam. And that’s it! Serve over rice. This is a delicious meal that won’t let you down!

There you go, some yummy recipes that will be able to fill you up, give you nutrients, and help sustain your body. Enjoy!

Nicole Kolder

McMaster '24

Hey guys my names Nicole Kolder and I am a writer for HerCampus :) I’m going into my third year for social psych and so happy to share my articles with you!