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If you want to stay healthy in college and avoid the freshman 15, going to the gym can certainly help. However, diet also plays an important role in maintaining peak physical and mental health.
Unfortunately, you probably won’t’ have access to an oven or stove for the next four years, but that shouldn’t stop you from making healthy dorm food. In fact, there are plenty of easy, delicious recipes out there and, as long as you have a microwave, you can throw them together in a matter of minutes.
1. Omelet in a Mug
You can make practically anything in a mug, including healthy, veggie, stuffed omelets. Whip up this 3-minute meal whenever you need a boost of energy and don’t feel like doing dishes. All you need is a coffee cup, two eggs and a handful of your favorite vegetables. Use a fork to whisk together all the ingredients in your mug. Then, pop that bad boy in the microwave for two to three minutes, stirring halfway through. Top with salt, pepper, cheese and chives if you’re feeling fancy.
2. Cinnamon Apple and Banana Oatmeal
When fall arrives and the temperature drops, you’re definitely going to want some oatmeal. This hot, comforting meal will keep you warm and full so you don’t fill up on snacks during the day. Simply cut up an apple and add it to a bowl with butter and cinnamon. Microwave for one minute and mix. Then, prepare your oatmeal using the correct water to oat ratio or by following packaging instructions. Top with the apples and a sliced banana and enjoy.
3. Veggie Rice Bowl
In the mood for some tex-mex? Throw together a veggie rice bowl in less than 30 minutes. This recipe is dorm room-friendly and incredibly healthy, especially if you use brown rice, which provides more nutrients than white. In a bowl, combine dry rice, water and olive oil. Cover and microwave for six to eight minutes. Stir in some black beans, corn, tomatoes and onions. Then, top with avocado, cilantro and lime juice. Season to taste and dig in.
4. Microwave Salmon
Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, essential nutrients that can reduce inflammation, fight depression and anxiety and support heart health. This fish is also abundant in protein, which can help you maintain muscle mass and promote quick healing after an injury. Luckily, you can make salmon right inside your microwave in less than five minutes. Season your filet with salt and pepper, cover it with plastic wrap and heat for three-and-a-half to four minutes. Serve with fruit, rice, veggies or a small salad.
5. Ramen Noodle Stir Fry
Instant ramen isn’t exactly considered healthy dorm food but, if you’re going to eat it, you might as well add some vegetables. Place the dry noodles in a bowl, cover with water and plastic wrap and microwave for three-and-a-half minutes. Add peas, corn carrots, mushrooms, salt, pepper, soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice and heat for another minute. Top with sesame seeds and more soy sauce before digging in.
6. Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
Spaghetti squash is like angel hair pasta without all the carbs. Plus, it’s chock full of vital nutrients like cancer-fighting beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin C, manganese and B6. Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds and innards. Then, rub oil, salt and pepper all over the surface. Microwave for 10 to 15 minutes before shredding the squash with a fork. Prepare the sauce and meatballs in the microwave and spoon them on top of the spaghetti squash. Top with parmesan and parsley.
7. Hearty Minestrone Soup
If you’ve never had minestrone, you’re in for a treat. This popular Italian soup is full of vegetables and makes for the perfect meal on cool fall days. Plus, it only takes 10 minutes to make in the microwave. Simply heat the oil, carrots, bell pepper, green beans and garlic on high for five minutes. Then, add couscous, broth, tomato paste, beans, water and salt. Cover and microwave on high for an additional five minutes. Garnish with parsley and cheese before enjoying.
Keep It Simple
When it comes to making healthy dorm food, it’s best to keep things simple. Use fresh, whole ingredients whenever possible and choose basic condiments and spices, especially in the beginning. And, while the recipes above all rely on a microwave, you could just as easily make healthy meals without one.
Salads, sandwiches, wraps and yogurt parfaits don’t require any heating or cooking. Plus, they’re full of nutritious ingredients and incredibly customizable according to your tastes. With a little planning and a simple shopping list, these foods will see you through college and into adulthood.
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