Archive | Cooking

Image by Peter Hellberg, Flickr

Image by Peter Hellberg, Flickr

When there are finals to study for and frat parties to attend, our health usually takes a back burner during college. Whether this happens intentionally or unintentionally, severe consequences are usually the result.

No One Worries About Vitamin Deficiencies

For many college students, the extent of our concern for nutrition extends to:

  • What seems most edible at the dining hall
  • Which foods can safely be prepared in a microwave
  • How many restaurants deliver
  • The best foods to keep you awake during a late night cram session
  • The easiest things to eat while walking to class
  • Whatever sops up alcohol the quickest

Even if you are the exception to the norm and actually try to eat healthy, there is still a very real possibility you aren’t doing enough.

Nutrients are complicated. They need to be consumed at certain times with certain other foods and at a certain rate each day. College students have enough to deal with—worrying about the recommended daily intake for zinc isn’t high on anyone’s to-do list.

But it’s a pretty safe bet that you will, at some point, think about vitamins. The question is…will you think about them now while you can still do something to guard your health or will you only acknowledge them when you are faced with a deficiency?

Vitamin B12 Takes the Cake

A vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common forms of nutrient shortages. This is especially true for college students.

Let’s take a look at some of the most probable reasons for a vitamin B12 deficiency in college.

  1. Your poor eating habits started a long time ago. For most of us, our hectic schedules started back in high school. We’ve been eating poorly for a long time. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning you need to consume it each day. However, the liver is capable of storing some of the nutrient for a short period of time.

    Unfortunately, the liver can only store vitamin B12 for a maximum of five years. That means, by the time you reach college, there is a good chance your B12 levels have already been depleted.

  2. You’re still eating unhealthy foods. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products — beef, pork, lamb, seafood, milk, eggs, etc. It isn’t present in Ramen Noodles, Pop Tarts or Easy Mac. If your diet revolves around those things (and a microwave), you’re doing serious damage to your body.

Getting Help

Let’s be real. You aren’t going to snarf a steak dinner every night of the week. Even if your schedule allowed for a sit-down healthy meal on a regular basis, your wallet sure wouldn’t.

It is probably safe to say you won’t be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet alone. You’ll probably need supplementation.

There are two forms of supplementation: oral pills and vitamin injections.

Oral pills might seem like the lesser of two evils. After all, who voluntarily agrees to poke themselves? But for many, vitamin B12 injections are actually the better option.

Oral pills need to be taken once a day (sometimes twice). Vitamin B12 injections, on the other hand, are usually only a once-a-week dose. You’ll only need to remember your supplement once a week, rather than every day.

If you want to talk to someone about the different forms of supplementation, ask your doctor or campus nurse.

Fix it Now!

A vitamin B12 deficiency is only one nutrient shortage you need to worry about. If you are short on B12, you are probably missing out on other essentials too.

Technically, you should work on improving your overall health—getting enough of all the essential nutrients. But if you are only going to focus on one nutrient—make it B12.

Even a mild deficiency can seriously damage your college career. Those who don’t get enough vitamin B12 experience…

  • Exhaustion (the frat parties and weekly cram sessions are tiring enough, thank you very much)
  • Light-headedness (if you are walking up eight flights of stairs to get to your dorm room because someone hurled in the elevator, you don’t want to get tippy)
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing (the attractive co-ed sitting in front of you in Econ 101 is distracting enough)
  • Pale skin and a sore tongue (totally not cool on the dating scene)
  • Easy bruising or bleeding (unless it is Halloween, you don’t want to look like someone beat you with a baseball bat)
  • Diarrhea or constipation (ew!)

If left unchecked, these issues will only get worse. Since vitamin B12 is responsible for maintaining the nervous system, you can expect to experience mental damage including depression, mania, dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. We’re pretty sure those issues would put a damper on your future career.

Chances are we lost some of you when we first suggested you add one more thing to your overflowing college responsibility plate. But if you’ve stuck around this long, it means you acknowledge the possibility that your diet is pretty lousy. If so, then it is time you did something about it!

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.

Image by Adelle & Justin, Flickr

Image by Adelle & Justin, Flickr

Being a hungry student during exam period is hard – from personal experience I know the struggle: do I study, sleep, or eat? It’s also difficult to find the motivation to cook.

To maximize your mealtimes, include as much protein and complex carbohydrates as possible in your meal. While refined carbs (white bread) and sugars can be cheaper, they will not keep you satisfied for long, and you’ll either have to interrupt study time to eat again, or go to sleep hungry. Invest in your exam period meals. If you’re already paying a whopping tuition, instead of ordering in fast food, underwrite your existing investment by spending a couple bucks more on healthy alternatives, which will enhance your brain power and GPA. A protein-packed meal could give you the burst of energy needed to finish your final paper, or pull a final all-nighter.

Meat is the most obvious, easiest way to ingest protein. Note that protein can also be found in other foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, etc. I’ve thrown in some vegetarian options for inclusivity, but all recipes below, including the vegetarian ones, contain at least one serving of protein.

Here are several healthy, protein-packed recipes you can cook that are designed to deliver a protein punch for a study time crunch. In case you’d like to make substitutions, the main protein component of each recipe is italicized:

Cook with Protein:

Nutty fruit parfait

A variety of fruit
2 tablespoons walnuts and almonds, chopped
1 cup of yogurt (Greek yogurt is preferable)
1/3rd box of bran cereal

Put the nuts in a plastic Ziplock bag. Lay the bag of nuts flat, and using a blunt object (such as a mug or textbook) carefully crush the nuts without ripping the bag. Cut fruit into bite-sized pieces. Scoop one layer of yogurt into bowl. Layer fruit on top. Pour cereal and nuts on top. Repeat: yogurt, fruit, yogurt, cereal, nuts. End with fruit.


1 banana
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 slice whole wheat bread

Toast bread if desired, spread peanut butter on top. Slice banana onto bread.

Pita Pizza

1 whole wheat pita
2/3rd cup marinara sauce
1 ounce cheddar cheese
2 ounces mozzarella
2 slices salami (or equivalent amount of pepperoni, chicken, any meat)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread marinara on pita, lay or grate cheese on top. Lay slices of salami on top. Bake until cheese is melted.

Tomato Spaghetti Carbonara

1 ½ cups spaghetti
½ cup marinara sauce
¼ cup parmesan, or any cheese
2 eggs

Boil water in a medium pot, follow instructions on pasta box. Drain pasta and return it back to the pot. Crack both eggs into the hot pasta and toss until the egg is worked into the pasta, and cooked by the residual heat. Stir in marinara sauce and parmesan.

Homemade Mac & Cheese

1 ½ cup pasta (whole wheat preferable)
1 can of tuna
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup skim milk
3 ounces cheddar, grated
Pinch of salt and pepper

Boil water in a medium pot, follow instructions on pasta box. Drain pasta when it is fully cooked, and return to the hot pot. Add butter, flour, milk, cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.

Chicken Nuggets

*1 uncooked chicken breast
1 egg
2 slices white bread
Salt and pepper

*Always handle raw meat with great caution. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water before and after handling, and any surface/tools the raw meat comes into contact with. Do not touch your face or any other objects between washings.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toast the bread slices until they can be easily crumbled into breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper. Whisk the egg in a bowl. Cut the chicken into pieces. Dip the pieces of chicken in the whisked egg. Roll the pieces of chicken in breadcrumbs. The egg and breadcrumbs should stick to all sides of the chicken pieces. Grease a baking tray with non-stick cooking spray, margarine, or butter. Place the pieces on the baking tray. Bake the chicken at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. After baked, cut the chicken to the centre, checking for pink parts. If the middle is white, it is cooked through.

  Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee  /

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee /

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:

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.

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.

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!

Maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet is something that most students find to be challenging. Preparing healthy foods can often take time, which is hard to come by when catching up on readings, preparing for a huge presentation, pulling an all-nighter to complete an assignment, or studying for an exam that is worth half your grade. Nevertheless, it is important to make healthy choices when it comes to eating in order to provide your body with the energy and nutrition it needs to carry you through these hectic times.
Here are ten food items that any college or university student should have in their kitchen to make healthy eating as easy and enjoyable as possible:

Image by alexlomas, Flickr

Image by alexlomas, Flickr

1. Vegetables
Vegetables – especially dark greens such and kale, broccoli, and green leaf lettuce – contain vitamins, minerals, fibre, and plant-based substances that help to improve one’s overall health. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can cause problems for the brain, which can lead to a lack in productivity. Eat them raw, in a salad, sautéed, or by incorporating them into more substantial dishes.
Image by rumpleteaser, Flickr

Image by rumpleteaser, Flickr

2. Fruits
A perfect snack for students. They can easily be consumed on the go and contain healthy sugars that can curb a sweet tooth. In particular: bananas are rich in potassium and make a great accompaniment to breakfast; blueberries are filled with antioxidants, and help to improve one’s learning and memory; and, as the old saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!
Image by s58y, Flickr

Image by s58y, Flickr

3. Nuts
A great source of protein – especially for vegetarians! They are a quick, easy, and surprisingly filling snack. Moreover, there are numerous types to indulge in depending on your personal preferences, including almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and cashews.
Image by Neeta Lind, Flickr

Image by Neeta Lind, Flickr

4. Salmon
The ultimate brain food. This type of fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that help to develop the brain and enhance its function. Unlike tuna, salmon does not contain large amounts of mercury, making it a healthier option. If purchased pre-seasoned, it can be very quick to merely grill or bake.
Image by SodanieChea, Flickr

Image by SodanieChea, Flickr

5. Yogurt
An excellent source of calcium, which is a vitamin that aids in bone development and preservation. This delicious food can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack, or even as dessert. Opt for a low-fat variety and add some granola and/or fruit on top to make it more satisfactory.
Image by SweetOnVeg, Flickr

Image by SweetOnVeg, Flickr

6. Quinoa
Quinoa is among some of the newest health food trends. It is said to be a super-grain, and offers incredible health benefits such as protein, fibre, and iron. Iron deficiency can lead to energy loss, which is why it is important for students to keep their iron levels up. Quinoa is a great alternative to white starches, and can be prepared in an endless amount of ways to accommodate different tastes.
Image by jenn.b, Flickr

Image by jenn.b, Flickr

7. Granola Bars
One of the easiest, tastiest, and least distracting snacks to bring to class. They are high in fibre, and can be rich in protein if they contain nuts. Purchase ones with a light chocolate drizzle over them and you have a great way to satisfy your chocolate craving without going overboard.
Image by jeffreyw, Flickr

Image by jeffreyw, Flickr

8. Eggs
Eggs can be prepared in so many different ways, each of which is quick and simple. Again, they are a great alternative to meat. If made into an omelet, you can even mix in some vegetables for added health benefits and a more filling effect.
Image by USDAgov, Flickr

Image by USDAgov, Flickr

9. Whole wheat bread
It’s much healthier for you than white bread, and is a versatile food to have in the kitchen. It can be eaten for breakfast with some natural peanut/almond butter, or for lunch and/or dinner in a sandwich.
Image by veggiefrog, Flickr

Image by veggiefrog, Flickr

10. Healthy, savory snacks
Non-buttery microwavable popcorn and kale chips are perfect for when you get that salty craving. Although they are not the absolute best for you, they are substantially healthier than buttery popcorn or regular chips, and can still do the trick in satisfying your craving.

By having all of these items readily available in your kitchen, you can easily maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet, as well as increase your brain function, energy levels, and overall productivity.

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.