Chilli Days

January 13, 2011

49 out of 50 states are covered in snow right now.

Mine is no exception.

Yesterday afternoon morning, Roomie and I woke up to a blanket of snow and ice outside of our window and were thrilled to find out that classes were cancelled. Glorious. Sledding > studying.

Of course, being the cheap college student I am, I don’t have a sled. Or the proper footwear. Lucky for me, my RA is a genius and informed me to wear rain boots. She also provided me with a sled.

Fabulous.

Yes, my ghetto ass sled was a box. No shame.

 

Come on, you didn’t think I managed to stay on, did you!?

My RA isn’t the only genius around here though. My brilliant neighbors discovered the most innovative sledding solution of this still very young century. Can you tell what it is?

No? Well, it’s a cookie sheet! I’ll tell you what, if you have a spare anywhere and you’ve still got snow on the ground, you need to get your toosh on that cookie sheet and find a hill to speed down. I am doubly sure that I would singlehandedly own any and all of my competition in Bobsledding. London 2012, anyone?

After two hours of intense sledding, we were pretty frozen. My hands were numb, my sweater was filled with ice, and I had muddy smears on my peacoat. I may or may not have looked like I peed my pants. I knew what was in order: a warm, comforting, warm, delicious, warm, and filling lunch. That was warm. Enter one pot chilli!

Chilli To Warm Your Bones

This delicious chilli is easy to prepare and perfect for heating yourself up after a romp in the snow. The spices are completely versatile, so you can adjust the heat to your taste and use whatever ones you want or have on hand. Serves 4-5.

You’ll need:

2 cans of beans, your choice. I used kidney beans.

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 cups TVP, hydrated*

1 can of no-salt added diced tomatoes, with the liquid

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon chilli powder

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1/2 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

 

*TVP, or textured vegetable protein, is pretty easy to rehydrate. Click here for the 411.

To start your chilli, heat up a large pot (large enough to fit everything) with a drizzle of good olive oil. I feel like Ina Garten when I say that.

From foodnetworkhumor.com

Once your EVOO is heated (Oh God, now I feel like Rachael Ray!), toss in your onion and, if you’re feeling saucy, go ahead and toss in a tablespoon of minced garlic. Once the onion is translucent, add your TVP and bell pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Heck, you could even roast the pepper beforehand for even more deliciousness. Crazy talk.

Now you’re at the point where you need the TVP to absorb all of your spices, so go ahead and add them in before you add in your canned tomatoes and vegetable stock. If you want to be even more of a risk taker, you could pour in a bottle of Blue Moon. Hey, I won’t tell, especially if you live in a dry dorm. 😉

Once everything is in your pot, bring it to a boil. Then let it all simmer and hang out for as little or as long as you like. The flavors will intensify and meld and become the most comforting chilli you ever imagined. It’ll warm you up enough to go play in the snow some more.

Just be sure to wear the right shoes.

How did you spend your snow day(s)?

Living on campus sure has it’s perks. It’s hella convenient to get to classes because I’m smack dab in the middle of everything, I love my dorm, and I love feeling like I’m involved on campus. But it also sucks majorly. Maybe it’s the lack of parking for residents on campus, or perhaps it’s the overcrowded dorms and the fact that I now even wear shower shoes when I’m at home. You know, I don’t think those things are the worst. Living on campus would be just perfect if it wasn’t for one thing…

a required meal plan. Meals look like this:

We all know what that means. Burgers, fries, pizza, white pasta, and a salad bar with greens that have been out for far too long. Any vegetable in sight has been bastardized in one way or another: it’s creamed, mashed up with cheese or bacon or, to top it all off, has been deep fried. We don’t get much say in what’s available that day – what they’ve prepared is what you get.

So what’s a healthy college kid to do when they’re not craving fries and ice cream all day long? Here are my tips for healthy dining in an unhealthy dining facility.

1) Look for whole grains. Got a pasta bar? Then there should be whole wheat pasta somewhere. If not, request it! In fact, go on a whole wheat requesting spree. Ask for whole wheat bread and bagels for toast, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice.

2) If you’re going to have a salad, choose spinach over lettuce. Darker greens = more nutrients. Plus, they taste better.

3) If you go to the dining hall for breakfast and choose the make-your-own waffles or pancakes, bring your own maple syrup. I’m talkin’ 100% pure here, folks. Here’s a secret: the syrup the dining minions use is just sugar with flavorings, and is reused. How gross is that?!

4) See if there is a gluten-free section. In my dining hall, there is and generally I’ve found that gluten free cereals on offer are also vegan, whole grain, free of refined sugars, and are deeeeelish. That’s better than Lucky Charms.

5) Avoid going to the dessert or pizza bar every day. Sure, it’s great to enjoy these things if you want to, but just remember that moderation is key.

6) Get creative! Make a salad and then top it with vegetables from the hot bar, or get a whole wheat bagel and top it with veggies to make a sandwich. It might sound gross or weird, but the most delicious creations can be made if you think outside the box.

7) This is my most important tip: talk to the dining hall staff! Most of the time, they love to hear your feedback. They won’t know something is wrong unless you tell them. Don’t be afraid to say so. See if you can talk to the head of the staff, he or she is usually there during the day. Tell them you want more options, healthier fare, fresher fruit, etc. They will listen.

8 ) Drinking soda with your meal? Only fill your cup 3/4 full and top it up with water. The same goes for sugary drinks like punch or juice.

9) Whatever you decide to eat, put it on top of a bed of spinach or leafy greens. Yay for extra nutrients!

10) Don’t eat the meatloaf. Just don’t.

11) Keep healthy snackage in your room! Some days, you just don’t feel like going to the caf for dinner and I don’t blame you. Have fruits and vegetables (think bananas for snacks and potatoes for baking) as well as cereal, oatmeal, boxes of pasta, and frozen/canned vegetables.

Did/do you live and dine on campus? What are your tips for healthy eating when you’re not the one preparing the food?

 

One of Those Days

October 17, 2010

Sometimes, you wake up and it’s one of those mornings. Whether it’s because you had a long night at work, pulled an all nighter in the library, or because you had one too many glasses of passion fruit rum/apple schnapps/vodka/OJ. Not that I did that.

Either way, there’s a great solution to a crappy morning. And it involves chocolate. Seriously, could life get any better? A lot of people that I know turn to junk foods when they’ve got a hangover..maybe now I can convert them. I rely on green monsters to get me through rough mornings, but sometimes a girl just  needs herself some chocolate.

The Ultimate Hangover Cure: Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

Serves two hungry, lazy, hungover friends

1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup chocolate flavored non-dairy milk (I used almond)

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract

2 T maple syrup or agave nectar

1 t baking powder

cocoa or carob powder to taste

1 banana, sliced

a handful (or two or three!) of chocolate chips

 

Slice up your banana while you heat up a non-stick griddle or skillet. Put it at about medium.

The batter is insanely easy. Just mix everything together (sans bananas and chocolate chips) and then pour it onto your griddle. Once you’ve done that, press in your bananas and chocolate chips. They’ll get all melty and delish as they heat through. Cook the pancakes for five minutes on each side, or until the bottoms are cooked.

Top with more chocolate chips and maybe a dollop of fantasticness.

Just don’t put any vodka in the batter and you’ll be set.

What’s your favorite drinkie and what’s your go-to hangover meal?

Break Away

October 12, 2010

Oh, how I love five day weekends. It’s the last 24 hours of fall break. This means it’s the last 24 hours of me procrastinating on studying for four, yes four, midterms that I have this week. I spent a good chunk of my weekend in Chapel Hill getting speeding tickets (those cops are sneaky as hell), being forced to watch Twilight (I hatehatehate those movies and books), stuffing my face with Mellow Mushroom pizza (hello, Daiya!) and last but certainly not least, going to Whole Foods for the first time in my life. Actually, I had a [rich] foodie’s dream day. I went to Earth Fare, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s all in the same day.

Sad speeding ticket face:

Yay for court dates.

I don’t even want to know how much this is going to cost me, between needing an attorney (I can’t make it as my court date is during a final exam) and the fact that I was going…well… let’s just say I was going a lot over the limit. But it will be okay in the end I know, so I’ve decided that I’m not going to let this affect me. After tweeting my speeding ticket anger away, Happy Whole Foods face ensued. But I’m a bad blogger and didn’t capture it. I realized as I walked into the store that I had forgotten my camera. Trust me, there was madness. I don’t know how I only spent $17, hot bar included. Oh God..the hot bar. Don’t even get me started. I had some of the banginest (that’s a word) tofu EVER. I am sad and happy that I don’t have a WH store back home. Happy because I’d never have any money, but sad because it’s Whole Foods, man.

I hope Heaven has a Whole Foods.

Other treats include Sweet and Sara marshmallows, a squeezie pack of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butta (!!!), Daiya, and a sh!t ton of chocolate. I also purchased something I’ve had my eyes on for a while…

I’ve only heard praise for this stuff. With the nutritionals, it was no surprise. Lotsa protein and fiber and goodies inside. I’ve been using Trader Joe’s chalktastic soy protein powder for my green monsters, so it goes without saying that a change was welcome. I’ve also been avoiding cafeteria food like the plague, so a smoothie for lunch sounded delicious the other day.

Post-gym lunch.

Into the blender went 2 very ripe bananas, a dash of vanilla almond milk, ice ice baby, and Vega’s Vanilla Chai optimzer.

Faaaavorite mug!

Yum. Green.

I really wish I could say I loved this. I want to say that it was an explosion of vanilla-y, banana-y goodness. All my favorite flavors were there, but something was off. I took about four sips before having to pour the rest down the sink. It was just so chalky! Maybe I did something wrong? I’ll give Vega another chance sometime, but not for a while. I’ve lost my faith in protein powders.

And cops.

Have you ever had a run-in with the cops? When I was 16, I got pulled over for the first time for running a stop sign. I turned on the water works and got away with a warning. Also, what’s your favorite brand of protein powder?

My Life in Pictures

October 2, 2010

Somehow, I’m managing to fit in a heavy classload, work, working out, yoga, meetings, a social life, dorm responsibilities (we’re a “living and learning community”), my boyfriend, aaaaaand every day tasks like laundry. Okay, well, sometimes. Unfortunately, blogging has taken the backseat. I’m posting a lot less and I’m sorry for that. I promise I’ll get my act together soon. Until then, here’s a glimpse into what’s been happening lately…

Laundry out the bahookie.

“Oh my god, the bend and snap!”

Too many dishes to wash..

Mario Kart > studying

Dying Roomie’s hair!

Boyf 😀

Cupcake baking for dorm events.

Eta Sigma Gamma – Professional Health Education Honorary induction!

It was just an excuse to wear 3 inch heels 😛

But none of this.

Okay, maybe a little…

How involved with campus life were/are you? Are you still busy – how do you find the time to fit everything in?

College 101: Grocery Shopping

September 24, 2010

Let’s pretend for just a minute. It’s the weekend and you’re sick of the food on campus, but you certainly don’t want to order Chinese. It’s nearing supper time, but you’re not jonesing for “normal” college eats like pizza. You want something fresh, something healthy, something you can recognize (and we all know that doesn’t come from any cafeteria on campus). You want to (brace yourself) cook something! But how can you do this?! How can you afford to buy tasty treats when you’re on a budget? Besides, aren’t grocery stores for moms and their screaming kids in the carts?

Give me cookies, woman

Well, my friend, never fear. There’s a way you can buy groceries on a college budget so you can safely satisfy your craving for recognizable, tasty food. Here are my top tips for anyone (not just college kids!) to reduce your grocery bill so you can afford tuition and textbooks.

1) Don’t go to Earth Fare or Whole Foods. Okay, I know this one’s a bit obvious. We know these stores are more expensive from the get go. If you don’t need to buy specifically gluten free or organic products that you can’t find anywhere else, then don’t go there. You will be sucked in by the hot bar. Or the vegan cookie dough.

2) Buy local, local, and local. You know what’s fun? Going to the farmer’s market! It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning (as long as you’re not nursing a hangover… *cough*) and it’s a good money saver. I bought 6 local, organic, hugh jass cucumbers for a dollar once. It made me a happy bunny.

3) Clip coupons. They’re not just for your grandma anymore.

4) If you have a roommate, see if they’d be interested in chipping in and buying food to cook together. This works especially well if you live in an apartment and have more than one. You guys can totally make an awesome meal and split the bill at the supermarket. Even if you only make a joint meal once or twice a week, you’ll save some cash.

5) Talk to your parental units. Even if you’ve got a job, money can be tight. Parents (usually) understand this. Ask if they’d be willing to send you a monthly stipend to help cover some food costs. A little goes a long way.

6) Buy frozen veggies. I know, I know, fresh is always better. But if you’re in class all day long, then go to work, then have epic parties and occasionally fit homework somewhere in between, your veggie drawer might be a little neglected. If you don’t have time to always cook fresh picked produce, go for frozen ones (with no salt added!). They’ll keep for longer and they’re cheaper so sometimes you can even go organic. Woah, slow down now…

7) Canned veggies are okay, too! I regularly stock up on green beens, canned mixed vegetables, diced tomatoes, and beans. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

8 ) At the supermarket, go for the store’s own brand. Depending on the chain, their own knock-offs are usually pretty darn tasty. Plus, if they have reward card programs, you can score sweet deals such as buying 2 cans of green beans and getting 3 free. I may or may not have bought 10 for the price of 4. Hey, I was set.

9) Look in the clearance. Yeah, I said it. I went there. No, don’t you dare buy those apples that are bruised just because they’re .50 cents. I’m saying really look through that clearance section. You can find some good stuff for killer prices on a good day. We’re talking anything from hair care to lady things to produce. People get to the register and realize they actually didn’t want that asparagus. Employees will throw the food away or if they’re not feeling lazy, it’ll go on the restock or clearance shelf.

10) Don’t buy organic. Shock and horror, I know, that’s probably the worst advice you’ve ever gotten. But seriously, if you can’t afford organic produce, it’s not the end of the world. To be honest, I can’t afford to buy all organic all the time and I don’t know many people who do, so I do what I can. I use this rule of thumb when buying fresh produce: if it has skin that you’ll eat and comes from underground, buy organic. After I check the frozen section.

So there you have it. Ways to be super cheap when you’re buying groceries. I can’t help you with the whole “wanting to slap that screaming kid” problem, though.

What’s your number 1 money saving tip?

Break the Fast

August 25, 2010

Good morning!

I swear, this is the alarm I wake up to every day now.

So you know what’s nasty? Eating cafeteria food every day. Living on campus (AKA having a required meal plan) is lame. You know that food’s not good for you, especially at breakfast. How can you call processed sausage “meat,” fake scrambled eggs (they use instant egg powder, nasty much?) and butter filled grits a great way to start the day? I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I could do that, even if I was able to eat that shiz. The whole “roll out of bed and drink a cup of coffee for breakfast before running to class” thing is not for me. And don’t even get me started on skipping breakfast all together. If you do that, you just lost a ton of cool points. So what do I start my day with? What keeps my full through class, work, dorm events, and a busy social life?

It sure as hell ain’t cafeteria grits, y’all.

Fruit and veggie smoothies!

Soy/Coconut milk yogurt with oatmeal and fruit.

Banana freaking pancakes.

CHOCOLATE banana pancakes. Seriously, why wouldn’t you start your day with these?!

Weetabix with maple syrup, almond milk, and strawbz. AKA the cereal laxative.

Aaaaand my absolute morning favorite! I’m sure this beautiful girl would approve…. oatmeal!

The stuff truly is wondrous. It’s such a blank canvas. You can make anything.

From PB&J oats…

to green tea oatmeal…

…to strawberry banana oatmeal..

…and even cinnamon raisin oatmeal so good it’ll make your tastebuds dance!

You could even make chocolate covered strawberry oats. Katie approved and all!

So you see, if eating a healthy breakfast in a dorm room is possible, it’s possible anywhere! Here are my top tips for a fantastic, fulling, and delicious breakfast.

1) Go for fiber! Fiber helps keep you full as well as helping you…well, you know. Adding fruit to your cereal can be a great boost, nutrition-wise. I think bananas are epic in nearly everything breakfast-y.

2) Fatten it up. Add a glob of peanut butter to your oats, go for coconut milk in your cereal, heck, melt a square of dark chocolate to anything. (Fellow cheap college kids: you can usually find peanut/almond/soynut butter in your caf and pilcher as much as you need!) Fats are like fiber – they’ll keep you full for longer because they have more calories per gram. Remember: they are your friend!

3) Swap out your sugary cereals for their healthier, 100% whole grain, refined sugar-free counterparts. Seriously. Stop eating Sugar Smacks and Cookie Crisp. Come on, man. Those don’t even sound healthy. If my cereals contain any of the following, they are out like Seacrest: high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated anything, [refined] sugar, refined grains, artificial colors/flavors, dyes, preservatives, or chemicals. These little devils leave you craving more and hungry with a headache later. They’re the reason so many kids fall asleep in lecture.

4) Make sure you have 100% juice if you must drink it. Fresh pressed, unpasteurized orange juice is a winner. You’ll get a crap ton of vitamin C as well as a serving of fruit. Fresh apple juice tastes so much better and has so much more going for it. When buying juice, remember this: the murkier your juice is, the less processed it is.

5) Plan the night before. Set out everything you’ll need for breakfast the night in advance. My mum has done this for years and it’s never failed her. Maybe try making this stunning gal’s overnight oats. Simply put your oatmeal, milk, banana, and whatever else you want in a bowl and let it sit overnight. Viola! Breakfast will be waiting for you once you’re ready to eat. If you’re gonna be on the go, make a green monster and put it in a portable coffee mug. A little planning goes a long way.

6) Wait until you are hungry to eat! This is probably my favorite tip. Breakfast should be savored, not shoveled down your throat because you didn’t plan ahead or because you have to leave the house in a hurry. If you’ve followed the whole “plan ahead” idea, you should be able to eat when you’re hungry, not when your schedule says to.

7) Buy a blender. Do it. I invested in a single serve blender to make breakfast smoothies and it’s super convenient in my room as well as on the go between classes (the top swaps out and it becomes a cup!). It was cheap, definitely under 20 bucks, and it’s lasted quite a while. Smoothies are a great way to sneak in fruits and veggies, especially if you tend to consume a lot of *ahem* beverages or find yourself eating too many slices of pizza or bowls of ramen.

So there you have it. What I do for breakfast, and how to start the day off right.

Of course, it won’t start out right unless you have the same alarm as me. 😉

What’s your best “healthy breakfast” tip?