Let me start off this article by saying that college weight gain is real. If you're anything like me, you started school thinking that there was no way you would ever gain the dreaded Freshman Fifteen. You walk to and from class every day, and you probably sometimes find yourself so stressed that sometimes you forget to eat! However, soon you will start to settle in and get comfortable with your surroundings and your new college routine. As you relax and get comfy, the pounds will creep up on you. Those late night runs to Cookout will become more frequent. The pizza parties with your friends will result in you eating almost a whole large cheese pie on your own. Study dates will consist sugary Starbucks concoctions and potato chips. The dining hall, with its self-serve soft serve and cookies, will keep you occupied. Weekend shenanigans will result in trips to Waffle House at 2 A.M. and you ordering more hash browns than anyone should ever put in their body.
What I'm trying to tell you is, the Freshman 15 is no myth. And it's so much fun, that you won't even realize it's happened to you until it does. I know that personally, I didn't even notice I had gained weight until I stepped on the scale and the cold, hard truth was staring me right in the face. But, this horrible tale can have a happy ending. Here are some easy snacks that you can actually make and keep in your dorm room for when hunger strikes. Obviously, this won't keep the Freshman 15 away completely (you're gonna have to do some adulting on your own), but it will surely help combat some of your cravings.
We all have delusions of the perfect morning before class. You set your alarm for a reasonable time, get up early without hitting snooze, and have time for a nutritious, complete breakfast before class. The sad reality is that this hardly ever happens. College students are a little bit lazy, and we are often sleep deprived. Do yourself a favor and make this super quick breakfast the night before, and eat it in the five minutes you give yourself to wolf down a granola bar before lab. Heck, take this with you and eat it en route to class! There are so many different ways to spice up your overnight oats, but the bare bones recipe is as follows:
1. Take the container of your choice and fill it with one serving of old fashioned rolled oats (my personal favorite containers are mason jars), filling the glass with as many oats as you think you'll be able to eat the next morning.
2. Fill the container up the rest of the way with liquid until the oats are covered. You can use regular milk, almond milk, soy milk, or whatever else floats your boat.
3. Add your favorite toppings. These could be nuts, seeds, raisins, all kinds of berries, fruits like banana, cherries, apples or pears, nut butter, coconut flakes, greek yogurt, plain yogurt, or anything else you've got in your dorm at the time.
4. Spice it up! You could add cinnamon, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or any other spice that you like. Then, just leave them in the fridge overnight!
The next morning, you can add a sweetener if you'd like, and eat them cold or after they've been microwaved. Super easy, good for you, and really good!
Yogurt and Berry Parfaits
On the surface, this may seem like a super boring idea. However, how many times have you wanted ice cream or frozen yogurt but have been too lazy to go out?! This way, you have the ingredients for a cold, tasty treat in your own room and it's super healthy! For this, all you need is Greek or regular yogurt, frozen berries, and granola or rolled oats. I usually use rolled oats, because I find that granola has tons of hidden sugar which make me very sad. This is super yummy and very feasible to make and keep in a dorm room refrigerator. Chances are, your friends will want you to share after they see what you've got! This is also a great breakfast idea.
Mason Jar Salad
These are quite good and very very easy to make. I know that realistically, you will be eating lunch in the dining hall or other spots on campus. However, there may be times that you have to rush off to a part-time job and bring lunch with you, or you might be too lazy to go for a meal on the weekends. These salads are so simple and healthy, and will leave you feeling full. Here are just a few ideas for your mason jar munchies:
Mediterranean Salad in a Jar: Start with balsamic vinaigrette. Add in black olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, Parmesan cheese, and mixed greens.
Walnut Apple Salad in a Jar: Start with raspberry vinaigrette. Add in apple, radish, celery, walnuts, and mixed greens.
Ranch Chicken Salad in a Jar: Start with ranch. Add in chicken, tomato, onion, sunflower seeds and romaine lettuce.
Peanut Butter and Banana Rice Cakes
Sometimes when we get hangry, we want food and we want it now. In these scenarios, it is important to have something healthy that you can whip up quick. These peanut butter and banana rice cakes fit the bill because they are simple and pack in protein and fiber. Just take your favorite kind of rice cake (I'm a caramel girl all the way), top it with the nut butter of your choosing, and add a chopped banana on top. Apples also work very well for this, too.
Greek Yogurt Peanut Butter Dip
This dip is amazing with fruits, with pretzel crisps, celery, graham crackers, or even a spoon. All you need is 1 (5-ounce) container of vanilla Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder, and 1/2 tsp honey. You just mix the ingredients together and you are good to go! It's super tasty, and much healthier than dipping fruit in chocolate sauce, even if it isn't as fun.
Graham Cracker "Ice Cream" Sandwiches
This is the easiest recipe on the list, and one of my personal favorites. I actually got this recipe from my mom, because it is widely known as a healthy alternative to ice cream sandwiches. All you need is some honey graham crackers and light whipped cream. You break one whole graham cracker in half and sandwich a tbsp of whipped cream between the crackers. Make as many as you want, and stick these in the freezer. They're super satisfying, really simple, and are only one point on Weight Watchers (but who's counting?).
There we have it. I hope at least one of these recipes has peaked your curiosity and made you want to try healthy dorm snacks for yourself. College is stressful enough, without having to worry about putting on pounds on top of everything else. Give these a shot and let me know what you think!