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5 Healthy Meal Ideas: College Dining Hall Edition

The bottomless piles of fries and the all-day-long ice cream are all very tempting, especially when there is nobody to oversee what we eat. I myself gave in to having a side of vanilla ice cream with my breakfast on my first day of freshman year. Sometimes, however, the meals can get repetitive, and that can lead to us avoiding the dining halls altogether, despite being on meal plans.  If you’re like me and you have an enormous amount of swipes left, keep reading to find out how to use your swipes and eat some healthy meals!

Avocado Toast

All you need is toast of your choosing and some avocado or guacamole! Taco Tuesdays are usually when the guacamole is available, so I just ask for some then. Spread some of that delicious topping on your toast and feel free to go crazy with other ingredients! I love topping my avocado toast with some tomato slices, bruschetta, arugula, salt, and pepper. If worst comes to worst and there is no avocado or guacamole, you can buy some pre-made (or even make it in your dorm) and bring it to the dining hall. I recommend the Classic Guacamole from Sabra, which is less than $10 and lasts me at least a week in my fridge. 

No-Bun Burger

This dish is exactly what it sounds like: a spin on the classic burger. Get all of the components of a regular burger: the patty (you can customize this portion to be vegan or vegetarian!), tomatoes, onions, condiments, etc. All of these ingredients are usually available in most dining halls. Then, replace the bun with 2 pieces of lettuce. You still get all the best parts of a delicious burger, but without the extra carbs. This is also an easy way to add more greens to your diet!

Buddha Bowl

Buddha bowls have been taking over the food-stagram world. They’re  essentially rainbow-colored bowls packed with grains, roasted veggies, and proteins. The best part is that Buddha bowls are totally customizable! Fill them up with quinoa, rice, sweet potatoes, asparagus, peppers, tofu, chicken, or anything else you’re hungry for. 

Mediterranean-Style Salad

The salad bars at dining halls are just sad. Spice up your typical dining hall salad by adding some chicken with lemon, tzatziki, falafel, or hummus to make a Mediterranean-inspired salad. I usually find those ingredients next to the salad bar and the soups in my dining hall. I’m sure other dining halls also have exciting options that can be used to customize the typical salad bar experience. You just have to go out and explore them!

Fruit Parfait

Fruit parfait may sound fancy, but it’s really just made of three key ingredients that every dining hall is bound to have: yogurt, granola, and assorted fruit. Add a scoop of yogurt into your bowl, toss some berries or other seasonal fruit on top, and finish it off with some crunchy granola. Yum! I usually find granola, yogurt, and fruit all together in one section of the dining hall. You can add other toppings as well, like peanut butter or honey if you have a sweet tooth.

At the end of the day, listen to your body. If you’re really craving those french fries, go get them. Everything can be enjoyed in moderation. However, if you want something fresh and exciting, don’t be afraid to mix and match ingredients from the dining hall. Be creative and live your best life!

Sylvia Goldfond is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania and is a Cognitive Science major from Kearny, New Jersey. Her interests in women helping other women has led her to a platform for just that, Her Campus! You can most likely find her making a new Spotify playlist in a room with holiday lights on full-year or playing with her shitzu-poodle puppy named Lucky.
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