Photo by rakratchada torsap

Photo by rakratchada torsap

At the dining hall, the first two weeks of the semester are tolerable. Then, once you’ve gotten your fill (until next semester) of French fries and chicken patties, mealtime starts to become a chore.  Not only is it boring, but getting a diet filled with the same foods day by day is unhealthy. Diversity in the diet is essential in order to get all the vitamins and minerals the body needs to fully function.

The beauty of boring basics, though, is that they can be turned into gourmet-esque, interesting meals on the fly. Simple, easy combinations can lead to a fun, tasty creative outlet during the time you used to dread.

1. Chicken Carbonara:

baked/grilled chicken + whole-grain pasta + alfredo sauce + peas + bacon bits + black pepper

Slice up the chicken and combine all the ingredients on a plate or in a bowl to create a flavorful pasta dish. The chicken’s protein and fiber from the whole grain keep you full, and the bacon, although a treat, adds warmth to an otherwise basic dish.

2. Chicken Parmesan:

chicken patty + whole-grain spaghetti + tomato sauce + shredded cheese

Put the chicken patty on top of a bed of spaghetti and cover in sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and pop it into the microwave briefly to melt the cheese. It may not be mom’s recipe, but it’ll do.

3. Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad:

fresh baby spinach (or whatever type of fresh greens you like) + fresh veggies + chicken patty + bacon bits + ranch dressing + hard-boiled egg

Chop up the chicken patty (or use grilled chicken for a healthier, protein-packed kick) and put on top of the spinach or any other fresh salad greens. Add lots of your favorite fresh vegetables to add even more fiber and feel-good vitamins. Add a hard-boiled egg, some bacon bits, and ranch dressing. Fresh, yet energizing.

4. Fruit Parfait:

fresh fruits + yogurt + granola + nuts

The wonderful thing about fruit parfaits is that they are totally customizable based on what’s available at the dining hall and what suits your taste. Choose your favorite fruits, flavor of yogurt, and whatever granola is available (other dry cereals, like Chex and Grapenuts also work wonderfully). Fresh and never boring.

5. Healthy Waffle Fruit Sandwich:

Waffles + fresh fruit + peanut butter

Prepare or toast waffles, and spread one half with peanut butter. Pile on fruits, nuts, or whatever suits your fancy, and top with the other half of the waffle. If you’re in need of a sweet treat, add chocolate chips or some whipped cream. This dish can also be mixed up daily based on what’s available; don’t be afraid to get creative!

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