Whether you are vegetarian or you want to be a healthy eater, eating in the Commons can be really tough. But with a little creativity, you can create a healthy, tasty meal. Think about the food in the dining hall as ingredients for you to arrange. Many raw materials are available, such as spices, lemon, fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates. Though the dining hall meals will never stack up to home cooking, some minor changes can add up to a better, more healthful dining experience.
A note on the protein myth: Many Americans still believe that protein is an essential part of the diet. As it turns out, a balanced vegetarian diet provides adequate protein in the quantities that humans need, and in available forms that their bodies can use. Vegetarians used to believe that eating combination of foods such as beans and rice was necessary to get daily protein needs. The general understanding now is that a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains (rice, pasta, barley), and breads will provide ample protein, vitamins, and even cancer-preventing fiber. Processed foods and high-protein animal products – meat, cheese, milk – should be eaten less often, and when they are, the low-fat items – skim milk, yogurt, cottage cheese – are preferable. And whole grains, such as brown rice, provide more fiber than processed grains such as white rice.
Remember, when you eat in the dining hall, don?t be discouraged by the limited range of healthy, tasty, vegetarian food. The dining hall is a display of ingredients, and it is up to you to arrange them in the way you like.
Salad Bar + Microwave = ad hoc stir fry
Stir Fry does not actually have to be fried. Take some vegetables (broccoli, onions, carrots, peppers, cauliflower, for example) and steam them in the microwave for 2 minutes, or long enough to turn the broccoli bright green. Dress the veggies with some soy sauce and other spices such as lemon, oregano, cayenne, sesame seeds, pepper, basil, garlic salt, and a dash of Tabasco sauce and oil. Sometimes these spices are left out for people to use. If they are not out, make a request to the dining hall to make them available for use. You can eat your stir fry over rice or potatoes from the serving line.
Instant Veggie Pizza
It takes just a little extra work to turn greasy cheese pizza around. After you get a slice, put one or two napkins underneath the pizza, and one or two on top. This will soak up the extra grease. Top the pizza with vegetables from the salad bar such as tomatoes, broccoli, olives, green peppers and onions. Microwave the pizza for a minute or so. Top with spices such as garlic salt, oregano, basil, and hot peppers.
A healthy pasta meal is simple to prepare in the dining hall anytime cooked pasta is available in the serving line. For low-fat eating, use only the marinara sauce, not the cream sauces. Take a plate of pasta with or without any sauce. Top with vegetables from the salad bar, or even with the steamed vegetables from the line. Add spices for flavor. Black pepper, lemon(especially on spinach), garlic salt, and red pepper and good choices.
Increasingly, people have started to understand that sandwiches can still be sandwiches even if they don?t contain meat or cheese. Hummus, a chickpea and sesame seed (tahini) spread, is now served often in the dining hall. Here are some other ideas for super veggie sandwiches:
?Roasted veggie?: You can make this one when saut?ed veggies are available in the serving line. Take a bagel, hard roll, pita bread or whole wheat bread, add mustard (Dijon is better for this one) and put the veggies on the sandwich. Add a slice of provolone cheese and/or other vegetables if you choose.
?Steamed pita pocket?: Steam some vegetables such as broccoli, onions, carrots, and cauliflower in the microwave. Spread some mustard (Dijon or regular) on a pita pocket. Put the veggies inside the pocket, and add some sprouts, lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, and/or onions. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese or sunflower seeds on top, or add a slice of cheese if you like.
?Just veggies?: Pick your bread and condiments. Add one or more of the following: cucumbers, grated carrots, green peppers, tomatoes, sprouts, lettuce, beets, olives, and cheese. Yum! The ?recipes? here are guidelines to help you create better meals with what is there. If a crucial ingredient is missing, ask the friendly people who work there. Generally, they are helpful and accommodating-just ask!