Tag Archives | cooking

Student Cooking: Nutritious Meals Make Better Grades

Image by 089photoshootings, pixabay.com

Some students feel like they have to pull off some kind of culinary alchemy on a shoestring budget. Others tend to come up with a boatload of excuses, including lack of time. Well, you should know that eating habits have a great impact on your academic performance. They can make your systems run like clockwork and keep your mood soaring high. The key to harnessing the power of a wholesome diet is to know its staples; its main building blocks. With that in mind, you can go ahead prepare meals that are mouthwatering and healthy at the same time.

Time to step up

Like it or not, food has a major role to play in your student life. It affects everything from mood and confidence to cognitive abilities and overall health, supplying your body with fuel and energy. Studies show that students who eat healthily are less likely to fail literacy and other tests.  They can avoid running out of steam as well as the peaks and valleys of energy throughout the day. So, there are no excuses!

There are numerous money- and time-saving tips to check out, but the real problem is often that students’ cooking environments are uninspiring, to say the least. It pays off to invest in your kitchen, as cooking can become a thrilling adventure instead of a chore. To boost the functionality, comfort, and visual appeal of the area, consider appliances such as a quality Bosch microwave and high-grade cookware.

In nutritious balance

You have probably heard about the importance of balanced meals, but what does that really mean? Well, first off, fruits and vegetables are the mainstay of healthy nutrition; the go-to sources of vitamins, fiber, minerals, and carbohydrates. Hence, they should compose at least half of your daily menu. A rainbow-colored food palette does the trick. Think in terms of apples, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, lentils, etc.

Let us start gathering nutrient pieces with a protein, the cornerstone of a healthy diet. To get ample lean protein, introduce something like chicken or turkey. Red meat with fat trimmed off is particularly good, so have an occasional pork chop or beef cut. In case you are a vegetarian or simply prefer not to consume meat, opt for non-animal sources such as quinoa, meat seeds, tofu, and beans.

Furthermore, include dairy products to get your share of lactose, lean protein, calcium, and other vital nutrients. A cup of low-fat milk or yogurt is thus an excellent addition to your breakfast. Strive to consume whole grains that are a natural source of fiber, magnesium, copper, selenium, protein, vitamin B, zinc, iron, etc. You will not only get necessary nutrients, but also keep your blood sugar in check.

Last but not least, fat, despite its reputation, is not to be overlooked either. In fact, healthy fats are critical to the normal functioning of the body. Some of the best foods in this regard are dark chocolate, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, and chia seed. On the other hand, steer away from the saturated and trans fats one typically finds in junk and processed food.

Avoid the sugary grave

Students, like all mortals, need to include various liquids in their diets. Coffee is seen as a natural ally, but going overboard is not advisable, especially when it comes to sugars and creamers. Also, beware of sugary snacks and drinks. Commercial juices and sodas are loaded with sugar and offer zero nutrients. Stick to organic and sugar-free alternatives. Likewise, healthy snacks in the league of fruits and nuts must be prioritized over their sugar-laden counterparts.

An initial sugar high is simply not worth it as the effects quickly wear off and leave you feeling tired and craving more. Besides, the long-term consequences are dire for your body. Remember that the best diets are nutrient-packed, varied, and also flavorsome. So, do not shy away from culinary experiments. Throw some herbs, exotic delicacies, and spices into the mix. Implement new dishes and meals to prevent appetite loss and tackle academic challenges with flying colors.

The best of both worlds

Scientists have identified a strong link between nutrition and academic performance. In light of the mounting evidence, it is of the utmost importance to strike a fine dietary balance to maximize health gains. Get into the art of planning and figure out meals that are both wholesome and cater to your inner hedonist. Ensure the proper functioning of your body and brain, feel motivated, and keep those engines roaring towards success.

This article was contributed by guest author Lana Hawkins.

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5 Tips to Save Money When Cooking in Your Dorm

Image by Anne Preble, unsplash.com

Adventures of college students always make the best stories, but in reality, things aren’t always that simple and funny. Though we gladly think about parties, friends and all the fun we had, being in college teaches us about life and its less fun sides too, like learning how to save money and prioritize correctly. If you’re a student on a tight budget, you know that every cent counts and how important it is to learn to spend money wisely.

Meal plans in colleges can cost a small fortune, which is why they’re not always an option for frugal students. Thankfully, dorms are equipped with shared kitchens that can be abundantly used for honing your cooking skills, which will not only save you money, but will help you learn how to feed yourself on your own. That’s a big deal! If you’re still finding your way around how to cook in your dorm, these 5 tips will help you stay on a budget.

1. Shop in Bulk
Whether you’re living with a roommate, or you’re lucky enough to have your own apartment, when you’re buying food, you need to know how to do it right. What are the ingredients you use the most and what is their shelf life? One of the go-to strategies when it comes to saving money is to buy food in bulks. Not all food, naturally, but things like flour, rice, pasta and tomato sauce can stay in the cupboard for longer periods of time and you can save a whole lot by buying them in large quantities. It would be wise to organize one big shopping trip every month, when you can restock your fridge and set a foundation for what you’re going to be cooking in the next several weeks. There’s no excuse not to cook when you’ve got all the ingredients at your fingertips and buying in bulk will save you money, time and energy.

2. Don’t Go to the Supermarket Every Day
This is a big one, even though most college students don’t realize it. If you don’t go on a food shopping spree once a month, you risk ending up at the supermarket every other day, buying foods you need and spending more money on less quantity. Besides, when you go to buy a couple of things, you usually come back with much more than you predicted and that alone can cost you a lot. If you truly want to save and cook real food in your dorm, forget about running off to the store every day. It helps you to steer clear of temptation and your bank account will be grateful.

3. Know What You Eat
College is the time when most of us are running around winging it as we go, but this shouldn’t be the case when it comes to our diet. It’s wise to learn the basics when it comes to the nutritional value of different kinds of food and how you can make them work to your advantage. Chances are you’re not a cooking wiz, but you’ve got the World Wide Web at your disposal and you can learn pretty much anything you set your mind to. Also, learning what foods are good for you and what you should avoid is essential because you want to eat well and stay full longer. If you have a roommate, split your cooking tasks and “specialize” in different things – healthy meal prep, baking, meat preparation, veggie preparation – you don’t have to learn it all on your own and at once. The key here is not to recoil from cooking, which is infinitely cheaper than having a meal plan, but to have a constructive approach that will allow you to learn a new skill and save a pretty penny too.

4. Don’t Go Overboard with Dishes
You need to be smart when it comes to buying dishes, because a) they’re quite expensive and b) you don’t want to have bunch of dishes with you every year when you have to move. Less is definitely more in this case, so don’t burden your kitchen with unnecessary gadgets and gizmos that you barely use. Know what you need and how much of it you need, otherwise your student budget will suffer and so will your kitchen, as it will be packed with stuff you have no use for. When you know you’re going to use something often, like a frying pan, buy a high-quality one that can be used for just about anything – it will take up less space and you will spend less money in the long run.

5. Don’t Do Frozen Meals
Frozen meals might sound like a great idea when your exams are around the corner and you can’t sleep well, let alone cook, but you really shouldn’t go for it. Not only are they expensive, but they are also packed with sodium, fats and extra calories, so that they can keep you full longer. If you know you’re going to have a hectic couple of weeks, prepare. Cook extra batches of your favorite meals and pop them into the freezer. That way, not only are you saving some serious money, but you’re eating healthy food and you know exactly what’s in it, which can’t be said about frozen dinners.

Being good at saving money isn’t something that comes overnight, and you will need experience and practice to make it work. Cooking in your dorm has many benefits when you develop the habit of doing it and that way, you take your diet into your own hands, which is all the more reason to be responsible about it.

This article was contributed by guest author Vanessa Davis.

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Cheap and Easy Meals for College Students

Image by Shanice Garcia, unsplash.com

Image by Shanice Garcia, unsplash.com

As a college student, we know you’re very busy. You juggle schoolwork with part-time jobs and may have to subsidize your living expenses from your own income with student loans. But despite the busy schedule, it’s important to eat healthily while keeping food costs practical. So here are some recipes to help you get started:

1. Hash Browns

Potatoes are the perfect breakfast or snack if you’re looking towards a full morning with little to no time to spare. A good way to cook potatoes in the morning (or to keep in your brown bag for later) is to turn them into hash browns.

Ingredients:
● 2 large Russet potatoes
● 2 tbsp cooking oil
● 2 tbsp butter
● Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:
Peel and wash potatoes. Grate potatoes and place into a kitchen towel to drain. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick pan and add in oil and butter. Place a thin layer of grated potatoes into the hot pan or skillet and cook until brown and crispy. Flip hash browns and cook other side. Season with onion powder or other dried herb if desired. Serve with ketchup or sour cream.

2. Spinach Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This is an awesome comfort food that is cheap and easy to make. Adding in spinach also makes it healthier.

Ingredients:
● 1/2 cup spinach
● 4 slices whole wheat bread
● 2 tbsp feta cheese
● 1/2 tbsp olive oil
● 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
● 1 clove garlic, minced
● A dash of salt and pepper

Procedure:
Saute garlic in a skillet and add in spinach. Cook for 5 minutes. Season spinach with salt and pepper. Divide feta cheese for two sandwiches and layer on two slices of bread. Add cooked spinach on top of feta cheese, then cover with mozzarella cheese. Cover with the remaining slices of bread. Grill sandwiches on a grill pan until browned and cheese melts.

3. Veggie-egg Muffins

Perfect for breakfast, you can also prepare these muffins in advance and freeze them. When you’re hungry, you can simply reheat them in the microwave.

Ingredients:
● ¼ cup chopped spinach
● 2 whole eggs
● 5 egg whites
● ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
● ¼ cup skim milk

Instructions:
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Meanwhile, whisk spinach, eggs and egg whites together. Pour in skim milk. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Spray oil into the muffin tray and pour in egg and spinach mixture. Top each cup with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes and remove with butter knife.

4. Easy Pita Pizza

Instead of expensive and unhealthy pizza, make one in your own dorm or apartment. It tastes good and costs less!

Ingredients:
● 1 whole wheat pita
● Chopped bell peppers, spinach, onion and tomatoes
● Shredded mozzarella cheese
● Pizza sauce
● Parsley for garnishing

Instructions:
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Spread toppings (pizza sauce, bell peppers, spinach, onion and tomatoes) evenly over pita. Top with shredded cheese. Garnish with parsley. Bake for 10 minutes or until pita is toasted and cheese melts. Slice and serve.

This article was contributed by guest author Katherine Tuggle.

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7 Easy & Delicious Meals to Cook while Abroad

Image by Andy Chilton, unsplash.com

Image by Andy Chilton, unsplash.com

Healthy food is one of the most essential elements for our sustenance. But given today’s fast paced life, little time is left to cook. And for students who are studying abroad, cooking something fancy becomes a far-fetched dream. Between costly restaurants and different varieties of food, sometimes you don’t get what you’re used to eating.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. You may have never cooked a day in your life, but now you need to. It shouldn’t be a daunting experience – once your cooked food tastes good, you gain confidence and can be inspired to try new healthy recipes.

The most important thing to keep in mind while starting to cook is buying the right ingredients. Prepare a list of items you’ll require for the week to help you save money and effort. Try not to buy crisps, biscuits, wafers and ready to eat food items – take advantage of your time abroad to experiment with putting meals together. Here are a few easy, delicious recipes you can try:

• Pasta with Salmon – Buy packs of raw salmon and freeze them. Cook pasta based on the package instructions. In the meantime, add a bunch of chopped vegetables and pieces of salmon to preheated olive oil. Add whipping cream, some cheese, and chopped basil leaves to it. Drain the pasta, and mix everything together.

• Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Potatoes – Have a craving for a home-cooked meal? Boil lamb or beef pieces, and mix them with a granular gravy (handy at any supermarket). Peel and 5-6 potatoes, then mash them evenly while adding butter. Add the meat mixture to your baking dish, with a subsequent layer of mashed potatoes. Grate some cheese on top and add a few basil leaves to finish it off. Preheat the oven, then bake your dish for 15-20 minutes.

• Rosemary Roast Chicken – Buy a small chicken and grease it nicely with olive oil. Chop up a few potatoes and onions. Preheat the oven and place the chicken in a casserole dish. Add the potatoes, onions and some rosemary to it. Feel free to chop up a few other vegetables like carrots and celery with it. Cover the entire dish with foil paper and cook for about 1 hour. Remove the foil and cook again for 30 minutes in order to make the outer surface brown.

• Grilled Beans on Toast – Just open the can, pour it into a baking dish and heat it in the oven with some cheese. Once grilled, serve it with toast or garlic bread.

• Omelette – Add any number and any variety of vegetable to beaten eggs along with onions, tomatoes, salt, pepper and a bit of milk. One the mixture is prepared, pour it into your buttered pan. Flip it over once the bottom is cooked, then add some cheese. Make some toast on the side for a robust breakfast.

• Fried Rice – Cook up some finely chopped vegetables and make some scrambled eggs. Once your rice is cooked, mix them together and fry it in a wok. Add some soya sauce to it for a nice flavor boost.

• Mexican Tacos – Supermarkets sell baked corn tacos or tortillas. Fry up some beef or chicken, and add vegetables and herbs. When you’re putting it together, top it with salsa and cheese.

This article was contributed by guest author Priyanka Chowdary.

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8 Secret Ingredients to Punch Up Your Recipes

Image by nSeika, Flickr

Image by nSeika, Flickr

Do you find yourself making the same meals over and over again? With Meatloaf Mondays and Taco Tuesdays, your meals are starting to sound like questionable dishes in a teen movie cafeteria. You don’t need to live this way. Something as simple as one ingredient can spice up your meal so it tastes brand new – and might even impress guests (or your mom) when they come to visit.

Here are some suggestions:

Dish: Pasta
Secret ingredient: Bacon
Whether you use a jar from the store, your mom’s sauce, or good old Kraft Dinner, adding some bacon instantly kicks up the flavour. Just cut it up into pieces and fry it in a pan before throwing it into the sauce.

Dish: Chicken
Secret ingredient: Dijon mustard
After frying up chicken in a pan, mix together some dijon mustard and white wine in the pan to make a tangy, creamy, and super-easy sauce. To make it even creamier, add sour cream. For another kick, add chives or green onions.

Dish: Rice
Secret ingredient: Lemon juice
After cooking up your minute rice, add a bit of lemon juice. If you’re feeling adventurous, cut up some red peppers and add some peas to it as well. You’ll have a colourful and flavourful side dish that looks and tastes like you put in a lot of effort. Best part: It tastes great cold as lunch leftovers.

Dish: Cold cuts
Secret ingredient: Roasted red peppers
Pick up a jar of these at the grocery store. When making a basic cold cut sandwich, add in a roasted red pepper, and the flavour is not only completely different, but mouthwatering.

Dish: Fish
Secret ingredient: Corn flakes
Sounds like a weird combination, but it’s a good one. Just crumble up the corn flakes (plain ones, not frosted…obviously) with a bit of butter, and cover the raw fish in them. Then put it in the oven on a baking dish and you’ll have a crispy coated fish.

Dish: Potato salad
Secret ingredient: Paprika
Make your potato salad the way you usually do – nice and creamy. Adding a sprinkle of paprika over the top will give you that extra kick you were looking for.

Dish: Chicken noodle soup
Secret ingredient: An egg
When your soup is almost ready to serve, crack an egg in a bowl and beat it. Take a ladle of soup and put it into the bowl, beating constantly with a fork. Add another ladle and keep beating. Then take a small amount at a time from the bowl and add it back into the pot as you stir, until the bowl is empty. Stir and serve! Now your boxed chicken noodle soup is egg-drop soup, or “stracciatella” if you want to be a fancy Italian chef.

Dish: Nearly anything
Secret ingredient: Spices
Stock up on the basic dried spices – oregano, sage, basil, rosemary, chilli flakes – and experiment. Throw some into your pasta sauce or on your chicken, and taste the flavour change with each spice you try. If you’re feeling adventurous, try stronger spices like cumin or coriander.

Ten-Minute Recipes for the Busy Student

  Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee  / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 
Essays, laundry, parties. You have your fair share of activities to take up your time. How do you find the hours required to cook a meal? Well for starters, we’re helping you cut down those hours to a mere 10 minutes with some easy and tasty recipes. Whether you’re looking for breakfast or dinner, appetizers or desserts, we’ve got you covered:

 
Nachos
Besides being easy to make, nachos are delicious. They’re perfect as a snack or a meal. Enjoy while studying or watching a football game with friends.

French toast

French toast is great, if you have a sweet tooth. This recipe takes about two minutes. It’s relatively easy and makes a great dessert if you have guests.

Egg sandwich

Ever crave eggs but avoid making them due to the time it takes? You won’t have to deal with that any longer. Making an egg sandwich only takes two minutes when you’re using the microwave.

Fried rice
Cooking fried rice is a great way to get rid of leftover rice. Not to mention, it is tasty. Impress your friends with your cooking abilities by serving fried rice. None of them will guess it took under 10 minutes.

Tortellini with peas

This tortellini with peas recipe is great if you have family coming over. It’s a gourmet meal that involves very little effort. Let’s not forget it is absolutely delectable.

Instant chocolate cake

If you’re craving chocolate cake, there’s a recipe that’ll bring it to you in only 10 minutes. This recipe is great when you need a break from studying or want something sweet for breakfast. The process is just so easy you may have to share with your roommate.

Frittata
Make an omelette in just 10 minutes with this simple recipe. You don’t have to worry about your waist when eating frittata; it’s healthy and low in calories. Get your dairy, vegetables and protein in one nifty recipe.

Pineapple-raspberry parfait

Not only is parfait easy to make, but it is also scrumptious. This is a healthy version of dessert. Pineapple-raspberry parfait can be served at a small get-together with friends or you can enjoy it on your own.

Strip steaks with tomato-mint salsa
This recipe is great for when guests come over. It takes less than 10 minutes to make the meal, so you can get your studying done. Serve with bread on the side, if desired.

Chilli
Get your protein with this 10-minute meal. Dip chilli in bread or eat alone. This meal is great for a get-together with friends.

Cooking doesn’t have to be a hassle, and you don’t have to let it cut into your precious study time either. Sometimes all it takes is ten minutes to cook a healthy, filling meal. Don’t let cooking stress you out!

Glossary of Cooking Terms

Photo by ollesvensson, Flickr

Photo by ollesvensson, Flickr

Trying to cook, but stumped by your recipe instructions? This glossary of cooking terms is here to help!

Bake Cook with dry heat in an oven.

Blend Mix two or more ingredients together.
Blanch To immerse in rapidly boiling water, allowing food to cook slightly.
Boil Heat until bubbling, usually on the stove.
Braise Cook slowly in fat in a closed pot with small amount of moisture.
Broil Cook on a grill under strong, direct heat.
Chop Cut into small pieces.
Cream Blend ingredients until soft and smooth.
Fry Cook in bubbling oil or fat, usually in a pan or griddle on the stove.
Garnish Decorate a dish, usually with herbs, in order to enhance its appearance.
Grate Rub the food against a grater to create shavings.
Julienne Cut into long, thin strips.
Knead Press and fold dough with the hands until it is smooth.
Marinate Soak or brush food with a sauce or liquid mixture of seasonings for a period of time.
Mince Cut or chop food into tiny pieces.
Melt Heat a solid food (like butter) until it becomes liquid.
Pan-fry Cook in a small amount of fat.
Pare Slice off a thin layer of skin, usually when peeling fruits or vegetables.
Poach Cook in simmering liquid.
Purée Mash foods until perfectly smooth.
Reduce Cook or boil down until very little liquid is left.
Roast Cook meat or poultry in the oven by dry heat.
Sauté Fry rapidly in a small amount of oil on high heat.
Sear To brown very quickly using intense heat.
Sift Pour dry ingredients through a sifter to mix them thoroughly together.
Simmer To cook in liquid that is just below boiling point.
Skim To remove fat or scum from the surface of a liquid during cooking.
Stew To simmer slowly in a small amount of liquid for a long time.
Steam To cook over boiling water.
Toss Mix ingredients together lightly with a lifting motion.