Eating Healthy as a College Student

Courtesy of Illustration Tower cartoonist Sarah Ajih

By Jamie Franc   

A quick glance of the student restaurant will show what is missing…a large contingent of upperclassmen who are no longer required to purchase an unlimited meal plan. Personally, I still go to the Pryzbyla with my 150 swipe plan because I find cooking to be time consuming. Since juniors and seniors are not required to purchase a meal plan, I can only assume that many cook for themselves or budget to eat out more frequently. To learn more about why anyone would take the time to cook on their own, I interviewed two juniors who live in Millennium South, Aly Senko and Katie Wethli who actually enjoy making their own meals, and spend the time to consider healthy options.

Time is a huge issue for both of them. Each day brings different schedules and with the rush to get to class and extracurricular activities, time in the kitchen can end up being at the bottom of a student priority list. Wethli saves time by prepping meals for the week but also admits to eating out when it is convenient.

“I used to meal prep and my meals would last four to five days. Now, I tend to cook a protein or carb for the whole week like chicken or rice, and then prepare veggies and fruits the day that I’m going to eat them. Everything is more fresh and tasty this way.”

Senko, on the other hand has no hesitation about taking time out of her day to cook, she is used to cooking and makes it part of her routine. She said it comes second nature to her.

“I decided to cook junior year because I became so used to cooking for myself at home in high school and over the summer. As a vegetarian, it can be so difficult to eat pre-prepared food. I don’t know what ingredients go into it because I didn’t make it. I have had poor experiences finding vegetarian options in some catered dining facilities (like when I studied abroad) so it is easier to simply make myself something I know I can eat. I also find that I have more options because I can decide exactly what I want to cook. I eat more fresh produce and tend to eat healthier because I don’t have unhealthy options right in front of me.”

With a busy schedule, most students eat in the Pryzbyla to get their go-to food. When I find time to just eat in my dorm, I notice that the food that I own are slightly on the unhealthy side because they require less preparation and usually end up going in the microwave to cook.

Senko, on the other hand, makes her go-to meals herself in her college kitchen. Her healthier choices include incorporating beans and grains, and she loves sharing ideas based on her experiences in Mexico.

“My absolute favorite thing my host mom made was her “camotas” which were essentially just sweet potatoes fried in grapeseed oil. We would add the camotas and black beans to the rice and it was heavenly. So that is my favorite healthy quick meal to make at school – roasted sweet potatoes and black beans over rice. Add a little guac and cheese if you’re feeling it and you’re good to go!”

Wethli also tends to eat on the healthier side in her favorite go to meal.

“Diced sweet potato, egg, and feta cheese is an easy, healthy, and filling thing to make as a college student. I find it challenging to buy expensive ingredients like flax seeds or other “vegan-blogger” go-to items because some ingredients in healthy Pinterest recipes are not accommodating to the items I have in my cupboard.”

Both like eating healthy, but find it challenging to buy expensive ingredients. Brookland does have farmers markets and if you get inspired you can go downtown to Eastern Market.

I have provided a few websites for on and off campus that may be of interest. First up Catholic U Library – use the new library services platform and generate  645,924 hits on healthy eating.

The Brookland Farmers market located near Monroe Street is a popular destination to get local produce. Senko and Wethli both shop there on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  

For Information on campus Health & Wellness https://cua.campusdish.com/HealthAndWellness
Nutritive Information for menu items on campus https://cua.campusdish.com/LocationsAndMenus/StudentRestaurant
Around Brookland – restaurants for a change of pace https://dc.eater.com/maps/best-restaurants-bars-brookland
Farmers Market Saturdays 9-1 https://www.monroestreetmarket.com/events/brookland-farmers-market-2017-04-29/

Even if you still crave junk food after a long day of classes, it is nice to know that you can check out any of the above options from the comfort of your dorm for inspiration.

 

I got to cook with Katie Wethli last week. We made a simple recipe which included ground beef, vegetable pasta, and squash. It was put together really quick and was surprisingly very tasty.

Ingredients:

  • Ground Beef
  • Vegetable Pasta
  • 1 Squash
  • Syrup
  • Salt and Pepper

 

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