Archive | Cooking

Alexa-powered microwave brings us one step closer to having a personal chef

Amazon

Ok, maybe it’s not the same as a personal chef, but let’s face it, an item that can heat up food while we sit on the couch is a win.

Amazon has just introduced its AmazonBasics Alexa-powered microwave, letting you tell Alexa to start heating things up. Even the installation (if you can call it that) is easy, provided you have the Amazon Echo already set up (it is required for the microwave to respond to voice commands). Just plug in, connect to the app, and away you go!

You’ll have the option to activate the microwave the same way you do with Echo, by saying “Alexa”, or you can hit the “Ask Alexa” button on your microwave and proceed with your instructions. Voice presets will help eliminate the need for you to know how much cooking time is required. For example, you can tell Alexa to cook a potato, defrost peas, or reheat a cup of coffee. It’s practically magic.

Can’t get enough of stay-in movie nights? If you so choose, you can sign up to automatically reorder popcorn. Alexa will keep track of how many times you use the Popcorn button or voice command, and reorder popcorn for you when it knows you’re running low.

For those of us that aren’t quite ready to embrace voice technology, the microwave still has the “old-fashioned” keypad.

For the affordable price, the compact size, and the ease of use, this microwave is perfect for your dorm room!

Size: 17.3″ x 14.1″ x 10.1″
Cavity Size: 0.7 cu.ft.
Power levels: 10
System requirements: Alexa app, Echo device
Price: $59.99 USD
Buy: Amazon.com

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Student Cooking: Nutritious Meals Make Better Grades

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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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Easy To Prepare, Healthy Dinner Recipes For Students

Image by Ali Inay, unsplash.com

A student life is not easy these days. The pressure of studies and never-ending financial crises are dealt with by the majority of students, yet we swallow our shortcomings and try to look cool. It’s quite normal to see students pack up after class to get to a part-time job.

Sometimes, we work 4-5 hours a day in order to make up for some of the expenses. After a long, tiring day, the last thing we want to do is prepare dinner.

So, today, we are going to discuss a few healthy recipes that can be prepared in a short amount of time (some even in 10 minutes).

1. Beans on Toast

This is not just healthy, but cheap as well. You can prepare it well within 10 minutes and it also tastes good (if you love beans). Consider adding tomatoes, cheddar cheese (grated), or pepper to make it more flavourful. Some people boil the beans first to make a thick sauce and caramelize the beans. It is up to you to decide which version you want to go with.

2. Omelette

Most students are big fans of omelettes. It’s an easy dish to prepare and it sure is healthy. Now, what type of omelette you want to prepare depends on your preferences. Omelettes are prepared differently in different parts of the world, so you can make your favorite version. Or, just follow the following steps and try out this one:.

  1. Crack two eggs and mix them well with two tbsp. of milk.
  2. Add some salt and pepper.
  3. Place a red copper pan on the stove, and heat some butter on it. Then add the egg mixture.
  4. Add onions, mushrooms, ham, tomatoes or any other ingredients of your choice.
  5. Let the omelette heat up for 2-3 minutes, then flip it.
  6. Sprinkle some cheese on top of the omelette and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
  7. Fold the omelette in half, and enjoy your dinner!

3. Soup

If you are looking for a light and healthy option for dinner, go for soup. You can buy cans or cartons of soup, but I recommend you cook it yourself. It will cost less than those cans and cartons, and it will be a lot healthier. French Onion Soup, for example, is full of flavor:

  1. Chop ½ kg of onions.
  2. Take pot and add some butter in it. Melt the butter on low heat and add the chopped onions.
  3. Increase the heat and keep cooking until you see the onions becoming sticky and caramelized.
  4. Add 1.2 liters of chicken stock or beef stock, cooking until it starts boiling.
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. If you want, toast some baguette bread and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle grated cheese and bake it in the oven for a few minutes until the bread is golden.
  7. Enjoy your soup with toast on top.

4. Jacket Potato

If you have a microwave in your kitchen, you’ll want to use it for jacket potatoes. This is one dish on the list that will take more than an hour to prepare, so if you can hold your starvation for an hour, go ahead with this recipe.

  1. Wash the potatoes and prick them with a fork.
  2. Rub salt on the potatoes.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 220C and place the potatoes in it. Cook the potatoes for about an hour or until the skin becomes crispy.
  4. Cut open the potatoes and add your favorite fillings – cheese, cottage cheese, coleslaw, beans or sour cream. Consider topping with bacon and green onion.

5. Mushroom Risotto

Did you know that risotto is also an easy dish to make? There is no obvious list of ingredients, so you can choose whatever you want, from chicken to prawns or even vegetables.

  1. Chop one onion and some mushrooms. Crush one garlic clove as well.
  2. Take a saucepan and melt some butter in it on medium heat. Add the onions and cook them until they become translucent.
  3. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Turn up the heat a bit and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Take 150 grams of risotto rice, put it in the pan, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add 600 ml of vegetable stock so the rice can be properly cooked. Stir the pan, scraping the bottom, until the liquid evaporates.
  6. Take the pan off the heat, add some salt and pepper. For the final touch, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top.

This article was contributed by guest author Monica.

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Top 5 Healthy Snacks You Must Try

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In the view of constantly increasing obesity and general lack of time in everyday life, many people have already turned to consuming healthy food and natural snacks, which is now a popular trend. You’ve probably heard of that dietary rule that eating after 8 o’clock in the evening could have a negative impact on your weight. This is only partially true! What really matters is what you eat. No one can resist snacking on something tasty while watching a movie, comfortably seated in their bed, but you have to be aware that it may create consequences. While our attention is focused on the film, we do not feel that we are full and we don’t stop eating. These are foods that you can nibble on for hours which are healthy and do not affect your overall health.

Nuts

According to current experts in nutrition, nuts are great for us because they do not increase our weight like processed snacks, and they are full of unsaturated fats that prevent blood clotting and maintain a normal heart rhythm. Nuts also give a feeling of satiety and do not cause a rise in blood sugar. Walnuts are rich in antioxidants and are a great night time snack. Since they are full of fiber, they will help you feel satiated longer and prevent an empty stomach from calling you to walk to the fridge in the middle of the night. These nut snacks also contain magnesium, protein, potassium, copper and vitamin E, which are great for your skin, helping it stay soft. A great advantage is that you can put them in your bag for a quick and easy, healthy snack. So, instead of sweets – use nuts.

Popcorn

Popcorn is a great choice if you are looking for something salty at night. Not only is it a good source of complex carbohydrates, popcorn also has few calories. Moreover, due to the fact that it is rich in fats, you will not feel bloated in the morning, nor will your stomach hurt. In addition to being a favourite snack, popcorn is good for your health. Of course, be sure to eat the butter and cheese free versions – and go easy on the salt.

Whole grains

As well as milk, cereals are rich in carbohydrates, which help the increase of the level of tryptophan in your blood (acids which stimulate the production of serotonin). Pure proteins are not only the cornerstone of the muscles, but will also maintain a longer feeling of satiety without expanding your waist. Whole grains have fewer calories than fatty and carbohydrate-rich foods. But be careful, because processed carbohydrates, such as pasta, chips and white bread, cause a jump in blood sugar levels, which can make your sleep less restful. Take, for example, oatmeal, high-fiber cereals or whole grain toast. You can search online for many recipes and delicious meals which contain whole grains. Simple, easy and healthy.

Dried fruits

Given that they are high calorie foods, dried fruits should be eaten because they provide additional energy for daily activities. Prunes are rich in fibers and sorbitol, and therefore have a greater laxative effect than fresh plums. They represent the real little treasure of potassium, vitamins C and K. Dried apricots are recommended for those who are physically active because they contain huge amounts of potassium, which is important for normal muscle. Figs contain important vitamins from the B group, vitamin C and beta-carotene, and contains calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and copper. Raisins are a healthy and tasty source of natural sugar, so they can always be used to give you that sweet fix. They are also rich in calcium and iron. Dried bananas and pineapples are rich in magnesium, which is why they are great fighters against stress.

Dark chocolate

When the desire for sweets prevails, it is difficult to satisfy it with anything other than chocolate. Take care in choosing this kind of delicacy. Five cubes of top quality dark chocolate with less than 100 calories are just fine; and they do have other health benefits. Studies suggest that dark chocolate can help to lower blood pressure and protect you against heart disease and stroke, improve mental ability, help with chronic fatigue and even raise your libido. It is sweet, tasty and juicy, making it an excellent choice for a snack. It helps in the treatment of anaemia, fatigue, arthritis and rheumatism.

Nature has it all. You just have to listen to it carefully and it will help you. Enjoy these healthy snacks!

This article was contributed by guest author Vanessa Davis.

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5 Tips to Save Money When Cooking in Your Dorm

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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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5 Facts You Need To Know About Healthy Eating

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Being a student is an easy excuse to succumb to the unhealthy way of eating. Well, for one, you can blame your deadlines for not allowing you to cook healthy food. Am I right? It is perfectly understandable, and no one can question why you prefer to study more and eat less healthy foods.

Business at its Finest
Homework, quizzes, exams, term papers, thesis… It’s as if your teachers and professors have conspired against you. Don’t they want students to get a comfortable night’s sleep?

It’s way too easy to just grab a pack of cheesy poofs, a can of beans, a jar of chocolate, or instant ramen! The convenience is key because you don’t spend much time preparing it which means you will have more time to study.

Perilous Eating Habits
Grabbing the closest pack of instant ramen may seem to be the logical choice to have more time, but, in the long run, this can have a negative effect on your body.

Instant Ramen
Instant noodles are high in sodium and loaded with preservatives to increase shelf life. Ever wonder why they last so long in your cupboard without expiring? Binging on instant ramen can even lead to high blood pressure and urinary tract infections.

Cheesy Poofs
This junk food and others of its kind are of course, satisfying. But don’t make a habit out of satisfying your hunger with this. These are high in sodium and filled with preservatives to make them last.

Chocolates
There is nothing wrong with chocolates. They are awesomely delicious and bring out good feelings in you. The problem is the amount consumed. Its high sugar content will be enough to fuel your day, but too much of it can lead to obesity and diabetes. You might want to include other snacks like Twinkies and cupcakes in this category.

How to Eat Healthy Even if You Are Busy
It is always easy to blame the lack of time. But the thing is, we really have a way to work around it. There are healthy foods that don’t take much time to prepare. If you just think intently about eating the right types of food, you can even prepare your meals in advance!

Here are some ways to help you manage a healthy eating habit.

1. Break Your Fast
When you skip your breakfast, you will have strong hunger pangs a few hours after breakfast time. This will make it difficult to resist the vending machine. If you had just eaten your breakfast, you’d be able to resist that pack of cheesy poofs.

2. Bring A Snack
If you already have a handy healthy snack, you wouldn’t bother buying junk food. How long does it take you to make a sandwich? If you can make a healthy sandwich in less than 5 minutes, what is keeping you from making it? Maybe the answer is that you don’t have the necessary ingredients in the kitchen – which leads us to number three.

3. Do Your Groceries in Advance
If one weekend you decide to fill your pantry with loaves of bread, slabs of ham, bacon, eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, some sandwich dressing, cheese, and sandwich bags, it will take you less than 5 minutes to prepare a sandwich the following day.

4. Make A Meal Plan in Advance
Planning your meals weekly will spare you having to make a quick decision when you are hungry, and will make grocery shopping a lot easier. Whenever you feel the urge to eat, just refer to your planner and follow your schedule.

5. Contemplate Your Health
A few years of unhealthy eating can lead to serious illnesses and can cut years off your life. We all want a long, healthy, and productive life – so take your health seriously.

Summary
Well, life is short. Our unhealthy eating habits can make it a lot shorter. Unwise selection of the food we consume can lead to chronic illnesses, which will ultimately take their toll and subtract years off our lives.

Stop making excuses about the lack of time and start making healthy food decisions. This will make a great difference in your life.

This article was contributed by guest author Kristin Ryals.

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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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Healthy Breakfast Ideas: 7 Simple Meals for Busy Mornings

When you dash out the door in the morning, trying to make that meeting on time, are you forgetting something? You might have ignored the most important meal of the day. Many of us, especially college students, do not eat breakfast, citing lack of time. To set yourself up for the day, the breakfast you eat should be a source of all the essential nutrients, especially proteins.

Many people are unhappy with the same old porridge or toasted bread for breakfast. So, to kickstart your day, you need something that is healthy, delicious, and quick and easy to make. We have devised a list of 7 breakfast ideas that are incredibly healthy and will make sure that you reach your class on time!

Pumpkin-Breakfast-CookiesPumpkin Breakfast Cookies
What’s your take on a cookie breakfast meal? No, I’m not kidding. Pumpkin cookies are filled with healthy ingredients, rich in essential nutrients. Oats and flaxseed can pump up your mornings, and raisins and pumpkin add a sweet flavor. If you have overripe bananas that are lying around in the kitchen, add them too. Make these ahead of time and just grab-and-go in the morning!

Wheat-Muffin-With-Boiled-Egg-and-Avocado Wheat Muffin With Boiled Egg and Avocado
Avocado is an excellent choice to add on top of a wide variety of dishes, and a whole-wheat English Muffin is a great option. Garnish it with some mustard and dill. This adds great aroma and flavor. A boiled egg is rich in proteins, and easy to make. These ingredients make this dish a champ’s meal, loaded with nutrients.

Overnight-OatsOvernight Oats
Mix rolled oats, milk, Greek yogurt, a mashed banana, chia seeds and some almonds/peanut butter to make this ultimate breakfast meal. Keep it in the refrigerator the night before in a tightly sealed container and grab it the next morning. If you want it warm, warm it in the microwave for a minute or two. Want it sweeter? Try adding chocolate and nuts along with the overnight oats.

EggsadillaEggsadilla
Do you want to start your day off with a delicious, egg-based meal? Eggsadilla is the perfect one for you. Scramble an egg in a pan with onion and green pepper. Put it on a tortilla with salsa and cheese, and then fold. Your eggsadilla is ready. The biggest advantage with the dish is that it is mobile. It’s easy to clean up after cooking and takes only 4 minutes to cook. It doesn’t have sugar and has a bunch of good proteins and fats.

Avocado-ToastAvocado Toast
What are the benefits of including avocado in your breakfast? The fruit is rich in monounsaturated fats which helps lower cholesterol, and fiber which aids in digestion. Creamy avocado toast is a tasty avocado and bread combination which can be prepared in under 4 minutes. Toast the bread and put mashed avocado on top of it. Drizzle it with some lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and red pepper flakes to get a distinctive flavor.

Whole-Grain-Blueberry-MuffinsWhole-Grain Blueberry Muffins
This is an entirely vegetarian dish. Whole wheat flour, plump blueberries, low-fat yogurt, oats and flaxseed grains are the key ingredients to make this fruit and cereal-rich version of muffins. The recipe is ideal to stay full for a long time, as it is full of fiber. Another advantage is that it can be kept at room temperature for 2-3 days and in the freezer for weeks. Do microwave before serving to unlock all the flavors.

Beet-Raspberry-SmoothieBeet-Raspberry Smoothie
Beets are rich in nitric acid, which is essential for blood flow throughout the body. Drinking beet juice will increase blood flow even to the brain. Make the smoothie in a blender or juicer by adding chopped beetroots, fresh raspberries, and low-fat yogurt. Perfect for the daily commuter, and easy to make.

Studies suggest that a significant part of the world’s population is a breakfast skipper. You might have heard enough that breakfast is the most important meal. Skipping it, though, can have serious repercussions on your health. Diabetes, heart disease, unnatural weight loss or gain, and poor memory are byproducts of skipping breakfast and lack of physical activity. If you do not have time to hit the gym, check out ideas for a home gym and ensure that you exercise regularly.

The breakfast ideas listed in the article are easy to make and healthy as well. You won’t end up tired or hungry during the morning classes. Grab your breakfast before heading off so that you won’t miss the most important meal of the day! Had to say it one more time, didn’t I?

This article was contributed by guest author Joyce Mason.

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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 Steps to Meal Planning for Beginners

Image by Jamaila Brinkley, Flickr

Image by Jamaila Brinkley, Flickr

Life is always go, go, go for college and university students. Between classes, extracurriculars, homework, and socializing, healthy eating is often pushed to the wayside. It is much easier to grab a quick snack, or to buy a meal while out of the house. This is especially true during busy periods such as midterms and exams.

However, healthy eating is extremely important for students. Taking the time to improve your eating habits will make you feel better, as well as improve your performance in many areas of your life, scholastic or otherwise. Meal planning is a simple strategy that can help save you time grocery shopping and cooking, and make healthy eating much easier. Here are some tips to assist you with your personal meal planning:

  1. Get inspired – Spending some time each week looking for new recipes, or finding old favourites, is a good way to get yourself motivated to cook. There are many resources available to help you find recipes: cookbooks, food blogs, Pinterest, and recipe apps are all great places to start. These resources offer a variety of recipes for different preferences and diet types.
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  3. Don’t overwhelm yourself – Don’t go overboard on the number of recipes you plan to cook in a week. This is very easy to do, especially if you are just cooking for yourself. You’re likely to have leftovers that will last you for a few meals after cooking. Over-planning will leave you with excess ingredients, which is wasteful and costly.
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  5. Choose healthy meals – Planning out your healthy meals will make clean eating that much easier and practical.
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  7. Choose a favourite meal each week – Having a favourite recipe in your meal plan will make you excited to cook your meals for the week. It acts as a reward for choosing healthy meals, and for cooking.
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  9. Make a grocery list – Having a list will make your trips to the grocery store much more efficient, as you can grab what you need, and get out as quickly as possible. It saves you time meandering through the aisles, contemplating what to purchase. It will help you save money as well, since you will avoid buying unneeded ingredients.
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  11. Set time aside – Take a few hours on the weekend, or in the evening to prepare certain components of your meals. For example, you can cook your meat, chop your veggies, or make sauces. This will shorten cooking time throughout the rest of the week.
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  13. Assign theme nights – Assigning certain types of meals to specific nights of the week makes meal planning easier and more fun since you’ll already have a framework of what recipes to choose. Monday can be Indian, Tuesday can be for tacos, Wednesdays for salads, etc.
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  15. Make enough for leftovers – If you plan to have enough food for leftovers, it often means you will only have to cook once a day. You can also freeze leftovers for future meals on especially busy days.

Meal planning requires some time to execute properly, but will save you time and money in the long run, and is ultimately a rewarding process. Happy cooking!

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