Seniors don’t usually live in dorms all four years, but when we do we master the ins-and-outs of the dining hall system. The pizza and French fries are obviously the best looking foods in there, but if you’re on a health-kick, don’t succumb to the grease just because the lettuce at the salad bar is soggy and black. There’s plenty of healthier options than what meets the eye.
A dining hall is like one massively stocked kitchen at your disposal. So, while the quality of the food hasn’t changed much, it’s time to get smarter with using the supplies in front of you. Here are five hacks for eating healthier in the cafeteria.
Overcooked veggies? Grab some raw vegetables from the salad bar or the stir-fry section and have the staff either sauté or steam them. You’ll never get bored of eating the same thing because they always have a wide variety to choose from like broccoli, green peppers, and mushrooms. Mix in some teriyaki sauce for added taste!
Undercooked rice? Get steamed cauliflower and mash it together with a fork until it’s the same consistency as rice. Cauliflower is anti-inflammatory, rich in vitamins and fiber, and only 29 calories per cup. This gives you the room to eat more without the bloated and guilty feeling you’d get from a smaller portion of rice.
Craving avocado? Probably. So, next time you’re at one of the campus markets, buy a ripe avocado and bring it into the dining hall. This fruit provides the good kind of fat that helps lower cholesterol, reduces heart disease, and increases fiber intake. For breakfast, make avocado toast and top it with a juicy sunny-side up egg. For dinner, slice and toss it in with your quinoa and fish.
Nothing to eat? A chicken quesadilla is always the answer. It’s simple, filling and delicious, but the chicken breast at the deli bar looks like rubber. Ask the staff to make an extra-cheesy cheese quesadilla. Then take chicken breast from the hot dog section and cut it into strips. Put the best pieces into your tortilla!
Bland-tasting food? Add hot sauce to everything. Hot sauce will boost the flavor level of any meal and is a lot healthier than the other saucy alternatives. Its key ingredient is capsaicin, which speeds up fat burning, fights infections and might even make you live longer. The dining halls never run out, but just in case keep it in your bag like Beyoncé does.
Stop looking at these cafeterias with a negative attitude. Instead, look at each trip like a new opportunity to get creative with your food and to eat better than anyone else in there. You’ve got 99 problems, but eating healthy in the dining halls ain’t one anymore.
By Mariah Kulak