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Spring Into Fresh Food

Spring is here, and with it has come the peak of freshness for many fruits and vegetables. With summer on the horizon, now is a particularly great time for students to start thinking healthier when it comes to their diets. However, with popular dining establishments such as Nelly’s and Jr.’s Burgers open until the wee hours of the morning seven days a week, it can be especially hard to tame those bad eating habits so often associated with a college lifestyle.

“Lack of access to cooking equipment and refrigerators too small to hold fresh foods in the dorms is one of the main reasons I think many students might find it difficult to eat healthy,” says senior Amy Rodriguez.

“I am notorious for microwave cooking, even now living offcampus in a house with a fully equipped kitchen just because it is quicker and easier,” she added.

But have no fear! Students here at the University can still eat fabulous and fresh without sacrificing taste or time. One dish that is a personal favorite is the Mardi Gras Salad. The recipe can be found at cinnamonhearts. com. It incorporates fresh and healthy ingredients, such as spinach and mandarin oranges, without sacrificing taste. Students can also add Purdue Short Cuts chicken strips for added protein and substance or toasted walnuts for vital and beneficial omega-3 fats.

 Another student, junior Jessica Gordon, suggests frozen yogurt as an alternative to traditional ice cream desserts.

“Top It on Ocean Ave and Red Mango in Pier Village are two newer dessert locations around campus. They offer a variety of frozen yogurt flavors and many different toppings, including fresh fruits and whole grains. It’s similar to ice cream but much less heavy and fattening,” she says. R ed M ango b oasts t heir non-fat yogurts that provide a good source of calcium while remaining 100 percent fat free.

But what else can students do to try to maintain a healthy diet? Of course there will be those urges and cravings for fries and fat sandwiches.

Health Services has some recommendations. “If there is one simple piece of advice for college students today, it would be to cut down on portion size. One nutritionist was quoted as saying that if someone wants a simple and cheap way to reduce caloric intake, than only eat enough food to fit on a salad or sandwich plate versus a dinner plate,” suggests Kathy Maloney, Director of Health Services.

Some additional tips on healthy diets provided by Maloney include the following: Cutting down on carbohydrates with refined sugars, avoiding the “hidden” calories of drinks with high fructose sugars, avoiding fried foods all together, choosing lean meats, remembering that one portion of meat is actually the size of a deck of cards, and choosing breads and pastas that are whole grain and high in fiber.

One very active and health conscious student, senior Laura Ledman, recommends some dorm room snacking alternatives she has learned over her four years at the University.

“I liked to keep a lot of grains in my dorm when I lived on campus. They are easier to store, good for you and fill you up. I liked to always have oatmeal, granola bars and trail mix around. I also tried to keep my mini-fridge full of yogurts, cheeses and veggies. They’re all healthy and light snacks that are much better options than ordering greasy, fried foods late night,” she says.

So students, be not discouraged by your living situations or lack of chef skills in the kitchen. Healthy, fresh and nutritious meals can be made.

Also, by implementing the suggestions made by Maloney in Health Services, like limiting portion size and reducing sugary drink intake, you will already be making a positive difference in your diet that you may have ever known about before.