Ever since my health kick, I have tried to find better substitutes for foods that are considered high in calories. Most incoming freshmen are freaked out by the "freshman 15" (I was one of them... three bowls of cereal in one sitting takes its toll). If I had known of other dishes to make instead of constantly eating rice 24/7 in the dining hall, I wouldn't have to work my ass off as hard to get that extra weight off now.
So, I'm here to save you from panicking over not knowing what to cook and buy for your dorm room (always keep a chocolate bar though, that's a must for when you fail that geology test).
Here are 15 great substitutes for basic dishes you can make in the small dorm kitchens or snacks for your box-like room:
1. Cauliflower rice for regular rice.
I love rice as much as the next food freak, but honestly, it makes me BLOAT. Cauliflower rice is a lifesaver with calories and an upset stomach. I usually use a grater and add diced onions or peppers to add flavor!
2. Zucchini noodles for spaghetti.
I remember seeing these and thinking how in the world can you take pasta out of my everyday life? But Zoodles will change the way you see pasta. I sometimes spiral carrots and turnips to add more flavor!
3. Halo Top for regular ice cream.
Yes... this is still technically ice cream. But when a pint of Halo Top is only 240-360 calories and has a good amount of protein in it, how can you not add it to a lower calorie list? I usually go for the dairy-free oatmeal cookie one... but that's just me!
4. Bananas dipped in dark chocolate instead of an ice cream bar.
I tried a banana dipped in chocolate for the first time in Disneyland this past summer. Let me tell you, it changed the way I looked at dessert forever! Fruit and chocolate with antioxidants in it for a late night snack? Count me in!
(Also, you can add peanut butter or nuts to it if you're feeling CRAZYYY!)
5. Rice cakes for crackers or bread.
I know nothing will taste as good as bread. But, rice cakes are a close second! I usually add peanut butter and fruit on top or tuna and hummus for a pick me up during the day! Don't dismiss this until you try it!
6. Romaine lettuce for tortillas or hamburger buns.
You can usually go to a burger stand and ask for a "naked burger" where they wrap the patty in lettuce instead of bread (shoutout to Red Robin). I honestly prefer this because I feel less bloated and full (plus, more calories for fries, right?).
7. Non-fat, unsweetened, Greek yogurt for sour cream.
My friend Emily (shoutout for this food life save girl) told me that she added this to a recipe and it didn't taste any different. Thank goodness she was right because it's so much better for you and will feel somewhat "healthy" after indulging in taco night Tuesday.
8. Homemade sweet potato fries instead of fast food fries.
Sweet potatoes have so many benefits, why would you not choose this over McDonald's golden fries? (Okay, I guess when it's 3 a.m. and you're drunk they sound pretty damn good). It's also a great item to dip hummus in and take to class for a snack!
9. Mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.
I do love mashed potatoes, but when I'd rather eat some Halo Top that night, mashing up cauliflower keeps me feeling good about what I'm putting in my body. Boil the cauliflower then mash your heart out and BAM... you've got a healthy and delicious mash!
10. Epic bars instead of a processed/sugary protein bar.
Since my mum started doing CrossFit, she introduced me to the world of Epic Bars. They are a little pricey, but they are made with six ingredients or less and are full of GOOD protein! Not random preservatives that have no room in your healthy lifestyle #yikes. The chicken sriracha is incredible... FYI.
11. Nuts instead of croutons.
Even though nuts are HIGH in calories, they are better than empty carbs like croutons. Nuts have healthy fats and will leave you feeling fuller longer! Plus, salted cashews are to DIE FOR...
12. Oatmeal for cereal.
You can do so much with oatmeal from putting fruit on top of it to mixing in nuts and peanut butter. Cereal contains around 10g of sugar per serving which is insane because who is only going to have one serving of cereal? I sometimes eat half the damn bag (damn you Honey Nut Cheerios!). Also, oatmeal is pretty cheap when you buy it in bulk compared to cereal boxes.
13. Watermelon with whipped cream instead of sorbet.
It's summer, who doesn't like eating a juicy watermelon? (I don't, but most people do. So here's a great idea for you watermelon loving human beings). Fewer calories and "healthy," minus the cream.
14. Almond milk with milk.
I stopped drinking regular milk about three years ago, and almond milk has been my dairy lifesaver. It's about 1/2 or more fewer calories than regular milk and doesn't upset your stomach if you're lactose intolerant. It tastes great in lattes too!
15. Lemons or other fruits infused in water instead of fruit juices.
Fruit juices are more of a fake "healthy" drink/food trend. They contain unbelievable amounts of sugar (yes, even if it's just pure fruit). Lemon water has many benefits and is also a good pre-workout drink to get your butt moving when you're not in the mood to do cardio (I'm looking at you, StairMaster...).
I hope this will get you into switching up your favorite dishes for something lighter and better for you in general! Good luck my health nerds!