As spring slowly creeps onto campus, students may start to show renewed interest for healthy living and spending more time in the sun. Many students are spending a lot more time in their dorm rooms and trying to eat out less. In this unusual year on campus, we turn our focus to dorm room cooking and the simple, but healthy, meals students can create.
Natalie Cooke, director of undergraduate programs for nutrition science, said cooking a meal during the day may benefit your mental health.
“If you spend a lot of time in front of the computer screen watching lectures for your classes, writing papers or attending meetings via Zoom, there's something really relaxing about being able to chop up some vegetables for a stir-fry or make a pizza from scratch,” Cooke said. “You might even learn how to prepare a healthier take on a familiar, comfort food or meal.”
Cooke recognizes it can be difficult to find time every day to cook, but she believes it’s important to do so occasionally with friends or family.
“The student wellness days that are built in throughout the semester are a nice time to practice your cooking skills, when you have a little bit more time to be intentional about trying out a new recipe, whether that's alone in your dorm or apartment or collaboratively with your roommates or family,” Cooke said.
During this semester, especially, students can use all the help they can get to start cooking and build up a sense of confidence in the kitchen. Lauren Smith, director of nutrition and wellness for Campus Enterprises, talked about the variety of ways that nutrition education programs on campus are working to provide resources and information to students on campus.
The health and wellness resources are only growing, like being able to meet with a nutritionist to discuss eating habits. Among some of the new resources offered that students may see in the future is a “teaching kitchen” that will allow students to follow along with cooking demonstrations.
“It is not fully open yet, but we've been using it for demos,” Smith said. “We did a demo for Valentine's Day with Parents & Family Services and showed them how to build a charcuterie board, to have fun and feel fancy. We are also working on moving towards the idea of meal kits. We have had a few kinks in the road, but we plan to eventually have something where students can follow along. They'll be able to buy a kit with those ingredients and then follow along with the cooking demo.”
While students might see school-provided meal kits in the future, for now they often have to rely on the basics of dorm cooking: microwaves and mugs. For students hunting for a easy recipe, Smith recommended this omelette in a mug recipe for students:
Omelette in a Mug:
1 microwave-safe mug
Cooking spray or oil
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped bell pepper or veggies of choice
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives or green onion (optional)
Pinch of salt and pepper
Spray or oil your mug. Combine the eggs and milk in your mug and beat well with a fork. Mix in the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Microwave in increments of 20-30 seconds, stirring in between each increment. Continue for about two minutes until the omelette has set. Garnish with additional ground pepper, cheese or herbs if desired. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Simplyrecipes.com