So you just got your first off-campus apartment. No proctor at the front door making you dig through your bag for your i.d., no R.A. patrolling the halls telling you to keep it down, no Northeastern flyers being shoved under your door, no limit to how many people you have in your apartment, and the list goes on. But what you may also be without, in your new off-campus environment, is a meal ticket to
the dining hall. Sure, cooking in your very own kitchen may sound like a fun and exciting adventure, but once you realize that your diet revolves around your own cooking abilities, it might not seem so exciting. You no longer have an endless supply of various foods at your fingertips, and the ones you do may not be so healthy. So if you’re trying to keep your figure without access to a full salad bar every night, here are some tips to help you cook yourself a healthy meal.
First things first: make sure you are using healthy ingredients in your cooking. If you’re trying to maintain your weight, or even drop a few pounds, be smart about the ingredients you put in your food.
One simple to start is by using whole grains. Unfortunately that means more than simply buying a whole grain loaf of bread. Also buy whole wheat pasta, whole-wheat flour and brown rice instead of those bleached white versions. Whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet and are also naturally low in fat. Use frozen vegetables in as many dishes as you can to add more substance and essential vitamins you need to your daily diet. Cut down on less healthy ingredients like cheese, salt and oil and, instead, use more healthy options like reduced fat cheese, salsa, and olive oil to lower the fat content in your food.
Of course you want your food to still taste good, so what are some ways you can lower the fat in your favorite dishes but keep the taste?
If you’re a bacon lover you can always substitute the real deal for turkey bacon, smoked turkey, or
even some lean prosciutto. Turkey bacon is lower in fat and calories but is also very similar in flavor. Instead of using cream as an ingredient for your food, use fat-free half-and-half, evaporated skim milk or even almond milk. The difference in taste is minimal, but the difference in calorie content is well worth your while. For cream cheese, mayonnaise, milk, sour cream and salad dressings, opt out for the reduced fat versions. These are just a few ways to utilize your new found cooking freedom to your benefit, because the dining hall almost never uses the reduced fat version of ingredients.
When preparing chicken, potatoes, or even vegetables, shy away from frying techniques. Utilize your oven! For delicious potatoes that are low in calories but high in taste, slice up one potato and roast them in your oven with garlic and herbs. You can also do the same with chicken. Season raw chicken with as many spices as you desire, put a little bit of olive oil on the meat to keep it moist while it cooks, and toss it right in the oven.
Even if you have a limited amount of time between class and all of your commitments to cook a full meal, you can still find ways to eat healthy at home. By keeping in mind all of these substitutions and various ways of food preparation you can become more adjusted to a healthy lifestyle. Use your new kitchen to your advantage and maybe even lose an inch or two off your waist!
Photos: instructables.com, itsaboutwomen.wordpress.com, northeastern.edu