5 Minute Lunch Break

College was a busy time for me, if I wasn’t in class I was studying, if I wasn’t studying or in class I was working. The rest of the time I was sleeping. I had more than a few semesters where I was signed up for 16 and 18 hour course loads. When you are juggling a course load like that, finding the time to eat can sometimes be difficult. Some professors don’t allow food in the classrooms, so finding the time to eat can be daunting. In addition, during the majority of my four years at college I was a vegetarian. In this post I provide you with 3 ways to get lunch in during that five- ten minute dash between classes.

First, it takes extreme organization skills as you will need to bring a lunch bag or box with you on the days where your doing this. The most important thing to remember is pack light, and make sure you have a fresh cold pack ready every morning.

Ideally, you want a protein, vegetable, grain, and dairy product with every meal and if you can muster it a piece of fruit. So how do you do this is 5 minutes without choking? Well there are a few ways.

Option 1: (Fastest Option)

Simple and easy pack a smoothy and granola bar. The smoothy is easy to drink during class time, increasing your five minutes to as long as it takes your History teacher to talk their way through 14th century Europe. While your walking between classes you can pull out the granola bar to fulfill your grain requirements.

Option 2: (Healthiest Option)

Cut a sandwich in half, and rinse it down with your favorite fruit juice to fulfill the requirement for fruit. Note don’t attempt to eat both halves of the sandwich in the same break, unless your just awesome like that. Eat one half between one set of classes and then eat the other half between the next two classes. This will also keep you full longer if you spread your Noon-time meal across the typical lunch block. Another bonus, by cutting the sandwich in half you make it easier to carry as you walk between classes.

Option 3: (Super-time Crunched Option)

Plan to eat a late lunch instead, and bring small protein enriched snacks like trail mix and carrots with hummus as a way to make it through the hunger hour. Also don’t forget to drink lots of water, as this can help fight off hunger, making your stomach feel full.

Hoping this helps and wishing you well.

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2 Ingredients 4 Step Salsa

Today I would like to share my easy 2 Ingredient 4 step Salsa. With the Super Bowl just around the corner everyone is scrambling for the perfect party dishes, whether it’s a pot luck or a dinner party this salsa is the perfect dipping sauce for guests who like to graze.

All you need is:

1 Can Rotell (Any brand of diced tomatoes and jalapenos will work)

Fresh Cilantro

A Blender or Food Processor

Step 1: Open Can DO NOT DRAIN, poor contents into the blender

Step 2: Take between a pinch and a small handful of fresh cilantro (you can use the leaves and the stems if you like, you shouldn’t need any more than three or four full stems for a large portion) add this to the blender as well

(NOTE: I place the cilantro on top of the tomatoes when using my magic bullet, in this particular blender you screw the blade portion on top as the lid. If you are using a regular blender or Food processors the blades are located at the bottom of the blender upon adding materials in this case steps 1 and 2 should be switched for optimum chopping of the cilantro.)

Step 3: Turn on blender and chop between 15 and 35 second depending on desired consistency (chunky or soupy)

Step 4: Pour and Serve

It’s perfect, simple, cheap, and easy. Tastes great with chips, on tacos, over Latin inspired salads, burritos and anything else you can see yourself putting salsa on. The best part you can decide if you want it extra spicy or not just by examining the spice level of the Rotell you purchase.

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Have a Happy Wednesday! And feel free to share your super awesome salsa recipes in the comments below.

My Most Commonly Used Kitchen Items

My Most Commonly Used Kitchen Items

Obviously: pots; pans; spatulas; and mixing spoons are at the top of anyone’s list of Common Kitchen Items. This list excludes these particular kitchen tools and instead includes all other highly utilized tools.

#1Rotiserie with flavoring cone

This is definitely my favorite kitchen tool as it allows me to make the most amazing chicken on the face of this planet, the plus side being that I can change the flavor as I see fit. I’ve made your typical lemon pepper and barbecue chicken, but I’ve also experimented with flavors and seasonings including fennel, limes, jalapenos, and ginger (of course not all at once). If you ever find yourself considering the purchase of one of these awesome kitchen tools grab it, it’s worth so much one chicken can feed a family of five for a night and when you’re done the bones are excellent for broth. Buying your chicken whole is the best means of saving money and in addition produces the least amount of waist.

#2 Basting Brush

This item is best paired with my rotisserie however; it is also used with other items. The importance of a basting brush is for the even spread of oils, marinades, and other liquids across solid surfaces.

#3 Ceramic Knife

Every cook could use a sharp knife. I prefer the ceramic one I own as it requires no sharpening, this means it consistently will cut through anything and everything I need to chop, slice, and/or mince. Relatively inexpensive these knives are excellent choices for non-professionals, as they are not as easily dulled, as most metal knives tend to be. However, there is a downside drop this thing and it will shatter, so it’s definitely a big risk factor especially if you tend to be on the clumsy side.

#4 Silver Mixing Bowl

I love this bowl, though a relatively new item in my arsenal of toys it is one of my favorite items. The bowl is large and perfect for mixing chopped salads, batters, pie filling, and marinades. It has nothing to do with the fact that the bowl is silver or that it is metal, what makes this bowl amazing is its size as well as its shape. The rim of the bowl has a larger circumference than the bottom of the bowl allowing for a perfect means of stirring and mixing.

#5 Wooden Spoons

Many people would include mixing spoons, spatulas and ladles on their list of most commonly used kitchen items so what’s so special about my wooden spoons. They don’t conduct heat, and if I should accidentally walk away from the stove leaving the spoon in the bowl, I never have to worry about coming back to a string of plastic dripping down the sides of the pot I’ve been cooking in. I can’t tell you how many plastic utensils I’ve ruined either leaving them on top of the stove (not touching the burner, but left sitting on just the metal stove top), or sitting in the pot. I love that I never have to worry about this with my wooden spoons and that I can feel safe using them no matter how hot the pot or stove get.

#6 Magic Bullet (blender)

I use this blender on almost a daily basis for my salsa. In addition, it has also proven great for items such as smoothies, as well as the chopping of garlic. Though any blender or food processor would likely do an equally good job, I prefer the magic bullet for its compact size and ability to make servings for no more than one or two individuals at a time. This is perfect for the college kid, single person, or couple.

#7 Hammer

Yes, you are reading that right; though it is more of a heavy rubber mallet than a hammer, originally it was bought by my fiancé at a convenience store to fix the exhaust pipe on our car. The exhaust had fallen down and he needed it to hammer the hooks back over the loops. With no other use for the mallet it was put in the kitchen where we’ve used it to peel garlic. In addition, to garlic the hammer has also been useful in the tenderizing of meat. For those asking the question, yes the mallet was thoroughly washed before it was placed in the kitchen, and is always sanitized after use.

#8 Lemon Squeezer

Rather simply, I love lemon pepper chicken this means I often need fresh lemon juice in order to make some of the yummiest lemon pepper chicken you can imagine.

#9 Whisk

There are many uses for a whisk, uses that cannot be replaced by a mixer or a fork. Some of my favorite utilization’s for this item are “instant” muffins, fluffy eggs, and marinades.

#10 Large Measuring Cup

Most measuring cups hold only 1 cup at a time, often however, recipes will require more than just a single cup; it is in these moments that I am glad to have my four-cup measuring glass. Though it’s important to have a single cup measuring device, I feel having a larger measuring cup is handy as it saves you time that could otherwise be better spent completing the dish getting you just that much closer to eating it.

Preparing the Grocery List #College Style

The key thing to keep in mind while shopping as a college kid is cost, cooking requirements, and lastly nutrition. Obviously its more ideal to keep nutrition as your first priority and we all want to eat the healthiest foods available. However, many find that often times for college kids optimum nutrition does not always line up perfectly well with budget. So what are some ways you can improve the way in which your budget coincides with your nutritional needs? There are many tricks to achieving a healthy college diet. And in this article we talk about the number one way to optimize your health within the reasonable realm of your budget.

You may have heard this advice before, but I will re-iterate “It all starts with making a list,” before you step into the grocery store. Here’s an additional hint, Beer is not included on that list. Beer is a want, not a necessity. Wants and necessities are key things to keep in mind when putting together a grocery list.

So, how do you prepare a list that is going to meet your dietary needs? Well, besides the obvious need of starting with a pen and paper look at what it is you have available to cook with. Do you have a hot plate? Are you lucky enough to have a stove? What about a coffee maker, is there a microwave? For my first year of college I was stuck in the minimalist club. Of course just about anyone who was living it dorm style at my university found this to be the case as hot plates were absolutely forbidden and to be caught with one was a hefty fine that no one wanted to pay. So it is for the minimalists that I write for here today. However, I will note that there are many more ways for those in possession of hot plates and stoves to follow the example I set forward here, especially when I know that college kids outside of the dorms often have less grocery money to work with.

I know it sounds daunting the idea of being able to eat healthy on a college kids budget, but trust me it can be done. Remember you only have to eat like this seven or eight months out of the year and then if you choose you can return home to mom and dads house and pig out at there place of course if Mom and Dad are not in a position to be hospitable then well yeah you have at least four years of this to look forward too.

First I have Six simple rules to remember for healthy college eating:

#1 Grocery shop at least once or twice a week for your perishables and only once a month for non-perishables (this is a rule everyone should follow)

#2 Never underestimate the versatility of ramen noodles and canned vegetables.

#3 Beans are the cheapest protein on the market.

#4 Microwaves can cook anything from an egg to a pork chop (though just to be safe I recommend sticking to chicken and fish for the duration of your college stay, especially if your only heat source is a microwave)

#5 Coffee makers are not just for coffee, they can also boil water, and are great for making soups (not the ramen kind) I mean the less sodium infused homemade vegetable and meat kind.

#6 Raw vegetables require no cook time or heat source

Ramen on its own will do nothing but make you dehydrated. So what should every college kids grocery list look like? Try this on for size:

Monthly Grocery List: 30 days

Milk

Bread

Ramen (20 pkg.’s max you really shouldn’t eat this much ramen)

Cheese

Canned Goods

Boxed Potatoes

Eggs

Granola Bars

Tuna

Crackers

Cereal/Oatmeal

Fresh Fruits/Veggies

Meat (if you have a stove or hot plate and you already know what your planning to make, if your planning to cook chicken or fish in the microwave make sure you actually use it and that you follow proper cooking times.)

Lunch meat (not recommended as it can get expensive, if you must buy lunch meat pick it up from the deli as you can more often get more bang for your buck this way)

Toilet Paper (I know its not a food product, but the money to pay for it has to come from somewhere make sure to keep this in your monthly budgeting otherwise you may find yourself stealing rolls from the school bathroom.)

For greater detail on what some of the vague descriptions above mean for you take a look at my deconstructed shopping list after all remember suggestion #1 to grocery shop at least once or twice a week for perishables and once a month for non well here’s the breakdown.

Weekly buys:

Milk (160z container/ small container holding no more than a pints worth)

Veggies: Best buys include carrots, celery, sweet pepper/bell peppers, salad mix (small bag), radishes, avocados, individual potatoes, and mushrooms

Fruit: Best buys include Apples, oranges, pears, mangoes, bananas, and grapes

Any meats you plan to use for a specific meal that week

Bi-weekly Buys: (You may find that some perishables you only need to purchase twice a month)

Cheese

Lunch Meat (again highly non-recommended food source as it is expensive)

Bread (depending on how often you eat bread if your even a bread person at all you may find it a necessity to purchase this item twice a month vs. once.)

Monthly: In order to make sure that there is always something to eat be sure to stock up on these items in abundance

Ramen

Canned Goods: Beans (unflavored/unsalted varieties) Black, kidney, and Garbanzo (Chick Peas) are some of my favorites, Diced Tomatoes with Jalapeno, corn, peas, green beans, and tuna.

Eggs( purchase one dozen once a month especially if you eat these on the regular

Crackers, Cereal, Granola Bars, Oatmeal (these are great snack food and breakfast items and necessities to keep around)

Semester/yearly Purchases to keep in mind:

Jelly (Again depends on how quickly you go through it and how big the jar is I imagine having to replace this at least once a year especially since keeping it longer is just gross.)

Peanut Butter (depends on how quickly you go through it and how big the jar is I wouldn’t be surprised if you went through one or two in a semester)

Butter (depending on how much you use, I imagine the need to replace a small tubs worth one for each semester)

Water filter (replace the water filter in your water jug at least once for every semester Spring, Summer, and Fall (twice in the summer if you can)

So with all this how much should you be spending on Groceries every month? When you are feeding yourself and I mean only yourself, no roommates or friends dipping into your well stocked fridge/pantry and also with the consideration that you made the decision not to dish out cash for a meal plan to feed yourself. I expect the cost of feeding yourself 3 meals a day and possibly taking in two snacks between meals that you can get away with spending in between 100 and 130 dollars a month on food (that’s also begging that you don’t do fast food, and you don’t eat at the school cafeteria…like ever.) Of course this pricing might change depending on your location, its my understanding that states with a higher cost of living also have higher food costs. The price point noted above is an estimation based on Texas standards.

Four Recipe Inspiration Sites

I love trying new recipes, I don’t like eating the same thing over and over again, so to spice it up I often check out new recipes from across the web. The following four websites are great places to go when you are looking for something new to try, have ingredients you are unsure of how you want to use, and for fighting those strange cravings.

Website #1: For the Overworked Mama

This site isn’t just for Moms, it’s also for Dads and anyone who finds themselves short of time. At Ready, Set, Eat not only can you find your meals for the week, you can also make a grocery list, and see what ingredients are on sale at your local grocery store. Just sign up FOR FREE, go through the recipes find ones that you like and add them to your online recipe book, and see what ingredients are on sale at the exact place you will be shopping.

My personal favorite recipe from Ready, Set, Eat is their Fiesta Spaghetti with Meat perfect if you’re looking for a carb and protein enriched meal. It takes 30 minutes to make and only requires 7 ingredients.

Check it out here:

http://www.readyseteat.com/recipes-Fiesta-Spaghetti-with-Meat-5735.html

Website #2: For those in search of a kitchen adventure

Many of these recipes will probably take the novice cook a bit more prep, so these recipes are best saved for a weekend of cooking. Though they have some quick recipes as well, I’d use these for a special dinner party or even a special date night. If you spend anytime watching the Food Network you’ll definitely have heard of this site by now don’t be afraid to check out Bon Appétite.

Here’s the link:

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes

Website #3: For a gourmet treat without the gourmet time stamp

Food52 is a fellow blog site putting out recipes for dishes that usually take hours, but with their recipes you can X-out the large time frame and enjoy amazing and beautiful food. Stop by and stumble through there some 31,000+ recipes.

Get clicking:

https://food52.com/recipes

Website #4: When your lost

When I’m not really sure what I want to make, but know that I definitely want to cook, I check out what I consider to be the google of cooking the Food Network. Even if I don’t wind up cooking any of the recipes I find, I’m usually inspired enough after my search to make something amazing with what I have on hand. In fact, it was thanks to this awesome site that I came up with the recipe to my favorite Vegetarian sandwich.

Have a look around at:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes.html

Prego Cooks Do’s and Do Not’s

Having just entered the second trimester of pregnancy, my mind is on a one-way track to healthy pregnancy eating, and in this article, I will discuss the dos and do not’s of feeding the baby belly. First of all cravings are real and I don’t see any reason not to indulge within reason, if your suffering from pica and looking forward to eating your couch cushions you may want to refrain and perhaps check with your doctor to see exactly what’s going on.

Personally, I have major cravings for tacos, pickles, fruits, and veggies though not always together. (I count myself lucky that my baby is craving such healthy food, though there have been a couple of not so healthy cravings for Doritos, and ice cream.) Now that I’m out of the first trimester and no longer feeling nauseous all day long and I can happily announce that I’m eating if not the full 2350 recommended calories required of my somewhat active lifestyle, I believe I’m getting close at least on most days. Pregnant woman should eat approximately 300 extra calories per baby that they have growing in their stomach.

So what are the Dos and Do Not’s of Prego’s in the Kitchen:

Dos:

  1. Eat 300 extra calories a day
  2. Cook your food fully and thoroughly.
  3. Follow your food groups AmericanPregnancy.org has great pregnancy nutrition advice of course always check with your doctor before making any major health decisions
  4. Drink a lot of water, excellent advice if you are going to be spending time in a hot kitchen or even in the hot outdoors.
  5. Put cleaning on the back-burner, it is important that when cleaning you avoid high fume products, especially while pregnant. Give the de-greaser to your partner or put de-greasing duties on the back burner. (In my case, de-greasing duties are on the back burner until the baby is born, as Daddy to be is severely allergic to de-greaser.)
  6. Cook at home, don’t eat every meal out you want ultimate nutrition for your baby and you don’t always know what’s in the food when you eat out.

Do Not’s:

  1. Avoid UN-pasteurized foods: feta cheese and some fresh squeezed juices are considered no-no’s for pregnant women.
  2. Alcohol is of course off limits this includes things like rum cake.
  3. Raw fish is not okay same thing for expired food. If you have any doubts it’s better to just not eat it. After all food poisoning during pregnancy can cause unnecessary complications.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions while eating out know that the food is healthy for your baby.
  5. Avoid caffeine, you should not consume more than 200 or 300 mg of caffeine a day while pregnant as it has been linked to preterm labor and small birth size.

Please discuss with your doctor all questions you have related to diet and nutrition the advice in this article is meant to be nothing more than a guideline and may not be the most healthiest thing for you.