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Heather Options, Better Options

| Tuesday, March 25, 2014

healthier options WEBKeri O'Mara | The Observer

It’s 40 degrees outside, and you know what that means: it’s time to trade your Snuggie in for a swimsuit. During the winter, everyone dreams about basking in the summer sun. It seems so far away, though, that we don’t worry about downing that extra mug of hot chocolate.

So maybe we’ve pulled a polar bear and packed on a few pounds during the winter. It’s okay – we needed those bites of lasagna to insulate us from the biting wind. Now that the sun has come out, though, it’s time to shed our layers and winter weight.

Some students find it challenging to eat healthy dinners in the unlimited dining hall. For them, the sun is not just a source of vitamin D; it is also a source of anxiety. However, students need not fear the warmer months and shorter shorts. There are plenty of healthy and delicious options at the dining hall just waiting to be discovered.

Option No. 1: the grilled chicken quesadilla. 

Instead of using a taco shell, find a whole-wheat wrap or pita pocket at the deli station. Then, salsa over to the salsa at the Mexican station and fill your pocket with grilled chicken, lettuce and chopped tomatoes. Next, sprinkle some shredded mozzarella or cheddar on your creation before you stick it in the Panini press for a few minutes. When it’s done, squeeze the juice from a lemon or lime slice over your freshly finished quesadilla to add a zesty zing.

Option No. 2: chicken parm. 

Even though the chicken from the grilled meat section is slightly overcooked, covering it with tomato sauce from the pasta section will mask and moisten the dryness. To balance out your meal, add one scoop of wheat pasta, a few heads of broccoli and a sprinkle of Parmesan. If you want something sweet on the side, opt for a bowl of apple slices; the natural sugar will contrast well with the saltiness of the cheese.

Option No. 3: the rice, veggie and bean bowl. 

This is a great option for vegetarians or those looking to limit their meat consumption. First, snag a blue bowl from the stir-fry line and head to the home-style section for brown rice. If today is your unlucky day, they may not be serving brown rice, and you may need to use rice from the Asian section. If they are only serving white rice, feel free to use quinoa from the pasta line instead. Then, head to the salad bar and scoop some red, black or brown beans into your bowl. Lastly, add as many steamed or salad-bar veggies as you’d like. It’s the one food group that you are encouraged to overdo.

These three meals are healthy and filling because they have a balance of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and vegetables. If you aren’t eating yogurt or adding milk to your cereal in the morning, you may want to have a glass of skim milk with your dinner. If you tend to get hungry in the evenings, feel free to bring a piece of fruit out of the dining hall to snack on later.

One final note: even if you are trying to slim down for the summer, do not drastically limit your eating or cut out food groups entirely. Eating less than 1,200 calories a day can have a long-term detrimental effect on your metabolism and can cause you to binge eat. Cutting out food groups may stop your body from getting adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates or healthy fat, which you need to be a full and functional human being.

You do not need to go on a dining detox to get ready for the summer. It is not a natural or enjoyable way to fuel your body and brain. You will be healthier and happier if you use these three meals to guide you when you create your own balanced dinners at the dining hall.

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About Erin Thomassen

I am a freshman double majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and French. PLS (aka the Notre Dame Book Club) is the history of ideas through literature, philosophy, math and science. It was the perfect major for me, because I couldn't possibly choose one subject and hurt the other subjects' feelings. French was also a natural pick, since I have been prancing around my house under the pretense of performing ballet for eighteen years. If someone asks me what I do in my free time, I will tell them that I run and read. What I actually do is eat cartons of strawberries and knit lumpy scarves. If you give me fresh fruit, we will be friends. If we become friends, I will knit you a scarf for Christmas. It may be lumpy, but it will be in your favorite color. And if enough people become my friend, lumpy scarves might just become a trend.

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