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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Clean College Cuisine

Okay, I’ve been bad, I’ve been absent, unavailable, indisposed, MIA, not attending my blogging duties. Call it what you will. I’m sorry! I’ll make more of an effort for you guys. I promise! Thanks for staying loyal.
Now that I’ve gotten this off of my chest, let me tell you what I’ve been tinkering with of late.

Eating healthy is a topic that has become an important concept in my home. To make a long story short I was battling with an unseen and ugly health crisis that left me uncomfortable, tired, and feeling like there was no way out. I still struggle with this problem, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
Firstly, I found that my diet plays an important role in how I feel every day. Eating a healthy, high fiber low-carb diet, with lots of fruits and veggies has made a huge impact in my life (doesn’t mean I don’t cheat every once and a while though).
Adding exercise and a boost of vitamins to my routine have made a difference too.
The added bonus was the compliments I received for my weight loss as well my newfound love affair with food. Controlling what I put in my body led to curiosity and experimentation; when things started tasting good I was ecstatic;
 “I can eat right and it’s YUMMY”!
I’ve had friends ask me for suggestions on how to eat smart on a college friendly budget. It got me thinking. Though I don’t live in a dorm room I do frequently run into the trouble of finding quick, easy lunches and snacks to put together so I can opt out of the drive-thru window. Not only did it aide me in my health quest it also put extra cash in my pocket. I noticed that I had been spending more money on eating out then I would have if I’d been eating in. Thus, weekly trips to the grocery store ensued to stock up on what I needed.
Below is a list of items I buy on a regular basis.
 *Tip: When buy fruits and veggies make sure you know whether they are in season as it affects both taste and price. Oranges and pears for example are fall/winter fruits and the prices drop dramatically during this time. Berries and melons are spring/summer fruits (that taste a whole lot better from a local market). Peaches and grapes usually do as well. Broccoli, artichokes, beans, snap peas, and tomatoes are spring/summer fare that are delicious from local farmers! Zucchini, yellow squash, and corn are usually best around late summer/ early fall.
Consider stocking your dorm with quick and easy (healthy!) snacks:
·         Fruit such as apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, pears, grapes, strawberries, berries, plumes
·         Fresh veggies like celery, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, cauliflower (pick up a bottle of Ranch and have a little fun with it)
·         An assortment of nuts (I prefer walnuts myself, almonds are great too)
·         Keep lemon slices around for water
·         Cheese (be wary of this though, I wouldn’t buy cheese sticks but instead look for block cheese that hasn’t been so processed)
·         Low fat yogurt ( I love nuts and raisins or even fresh berries in mine)
·         Raisins
·         Fat free popcorn
AND LASTLY: keep it all pre-prepared and ready to go in small, reusable Tupperware containers. By keeping things pre-prepared in tubs, you are more likely to grab for it when you open the fridge.

Other entries I’ve posted have some great tips for fresh foods prepared fast and healthy (see Cabbage Craze and Tongue Tingling Salsa).

Tips for keeping perishables fresh longer are to rinse them in cold water and dry. Then wrap in a paper towel (for some reason Viva works best) and place back in the green baggie you purchased it with, place in the veggie drawer of the fridge.
Another great tip I learned from my mama is a useful one and pretty self-explanatory. Celery is mainly made up of water, so if it begins to age place it in a glass of water in the fridge and, ‘viola!’ instant freshness!

Let me know what some of your favorite fresh fast foods are, I’d love to hear!
Virginia Belle

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