Delicious, Nutritious Breakfast

I know I’ve said it before, but true things bear repeating: maintaining a healthy lifestyle while at school is hard. Granted, it’s hard in general, but I think especially so at school. In college we experience a host of new things: less sleep, more stress, practically unlimited access to junk food, late night WaHo (read: Waffle House) runs, and no parent figure preparing balanced meals. For a lot of college freshman (whether they gain the freshman 15 or not), this can mean a decline in health level.

At my school, all freshman are required to purchase the unlimited meal plan. We can have food from the Dining Hall whenever we so please, with fast food options in another location on campus. Because I am cheap aspire to fiscal responsibility, I am and was determined to get the most out of my meal plan, and avoided purchasing foods for myself. I think a lot of other students run into this same problem–often, what’s cheapest and easiest to prepare in a college dorm room doesn’t have the most stellar nutritional stats. Though I’m right next to the kitchen on my dorm (a luxury many students don’t have) we lack pans and pots to cook in, as well as time. I also love the social experience of eating in the dining hall–I get to see my friends and take a break from class.

With this said, I have a hard time with breakfast and the weekends. On the weekends our dining hall has very limited hours and limited options, and for breakfast I have fewer vegan options than I have at home. Most of the cereals are full of added sugar, sodium, and refined carbs, the potatoes are fried, and the soy milk also has added sugar. That leaves oatmeal and fruit–not bad, but given my extreme hatred for aversion to oatmeal… let’s just say I’m learning to like it, and at this point only enjoy it with added cereal or granola for crunch, peanut butter for flavor, raisins for sweetness, and soy milk to make it like cereal. So the oatmeal I prepare isn’t that much better than the other cereals…

Because I’m trying to limit/remove sources of refined sugar in my diet (more on this later), I’m going to start having breakfast in my dorm room more often. This is good! More time to sleep, less available liquid caffeine to encourage my dependency. My parents are coming this weekend for the first time since they brought me to school last August, and they’ve procured an inexpensive, used blender for me!! Prompted a shopping trip that was heavy on nutrition and easy on the wallet. The fruit is courtesy of our dining hall–I recommend making your meal plan work for you!

That shredded wheat has no sugar or sodium,9 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein! I also got peanut butter that was only peanuts--no added oils or sweeteners!

Enter the breakfast smoothies. At home, I have one every morning chock full of whatever veggies we have in the fridge, unsweetened soy or almond milk, fruits, and other goodies that vary depending on my day and mood. Cocoa powder, stevia, cinnamon,  protein powder, nut butters, tofu , and oats are some of my personal favorites to add in.

I’ve washed and sliced my smoothie ingredients, and they’re waiting and ready to be blended together!

frozen pears and apples!

My poor roommate–I’ve filled our small freezer!

Spinach is my FAVORITE mix in for smoothies. Adds a serving of veggies in the morning, and I can't even taste it.

 Since I don’t get my blender until Thursday, I’m trying out alternatives both in my room and the dining hall. This morning, I had shredded wheat with my special mix of flaxseed, protein powder, and cinnamon (I carry it with me to our dining hall in the mornings in a tupperware container…I get some funny looks, but it’s worth it). The nutritional stats were awesome (about 16 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber), and I was full (even with a hard workout) until lunch!

What are your favorite healthy breakfasts on the go? 

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Spring Cleaning

Often at meals my peers will look at my plate and exclaim something akin to, “you’re so healthy!” Or, “What are you eating?” I do follow a vegan diet (with slip ups here and there) and so I tend to place a heavy emphasis on vegetables and other plant based foods. When I’m at school and following a schedule, I find it’s easier to eat healthy at lunch and dinner. Breakfast is a bit of a struggle for me, being a vegan at college I have the option of processed cereals (often laden with hidden sodium and sugars), soymilk sweetened with “evaporated cane juice” (read: sugar), peanut butter (with hydrogenated oils and therefore trans fats as well as added sugar), or oatmeal. Obviously, oatmeal is the obvious choice, and I’m trying to learn to love its slimy, congealing consistency. Learning.

The past few months, however, other foods have been slipping in that I previously avoided all together. “Food” isn’t an accurate description: I’ve been indulging in much more candy and processed food, made entirely of sugar, artificial flavors, and artificial dyes. These had no draw for me in the past, but I think that now that I am vegan when I am in a situation with less than ideal food options I’ll eat anything that’s non-animal based, whether it is healthy or not.

I need to prepare in advance rather than feel remorse looking in hindsight. It is difficult, however, because I find that if I pack food for myself (even if it’s healthy food) I eat it when bored, whether I’m hungry or not. I love the way my body feels when I feed it good, whole foods. I’m energetic and eager to exercise, I feel confident and competent. When I eat poorly, I feel lethargic, unmotivated, and guilty (though food should never inspire feelings of guilt. Ever.)

Time to spring clean my diet and return to my high standards! They may have been mocked, but they make my body happy. No more artificial flavors. No more artificial dyes. No more aspartame or other fake sweeteners. No more partially or fully hydrogenated oils. No more candy that I don’t even like, but that I’m eating because it’s vegan so I technically “can.” No more food that isn’t food. Scientifically, I know it is damaging to my health. Empirically, I know it does nothing to nourish me and only leads to a life I don’t want. I desire energy and clarity, not lethargy or unwarranted feelings of regret.

I eschew the idea of deprivation, and this list of “No’s” seems to be full of that. Rather, I’d prefer to view it instead what I’m encouraging in my life. Vitality. Strength. Self-assurance. Good food. Appreciation. Regularity, if you know what I mean.

The hardest part of this? Sugar free flavors in soy lattes…*

What do you not like in your diet?

Are you going to do any “spring cleaning” in your food choices or exercise regimen? 

*in the interest of full disclosure, I’m probably going to still have some soy lattes, on occasion, as a treat. Everyone needs some “fun foods” in their diet, and those are mine!