6 hacks for healthy eating at university
Need a nutritious meal but only got minutes? From microwave risotto to courgette spaghetti, here’s how to whip up something healthy that’s still delicious…
1. Turn your microwave into a steamer
Microwaves don’t just ‘zap’ your food. They retain a surprising amount of nutrients, colour and flavour. Science geek friends will tell you they cook by heating the water molecules in food. That makes them the perfect substitute for stove-top steaming. Sistema tubs are great for locking in the goodness.
Microwaves are built for speed, but they can cook unevenly. Be sure to cut raw veg into small equal size pieces for consistent steaming.
Cooking time: Microwave veg such as carrots and cauliflower on high or full power for 3-4 minutes. If you’re not sure how long something takes to cook, start off with a 2-minute blast and check for tenderness. Cook longer if needs be.
2. Swap spaghetti for courgetti
Pasta meals are a doddle to knock up but, before you know it, you’ve piled on the pounds and can no longer squeeze into your super-skinny jeans.
With a Nutribullet spiralizer, you can turn a courgette into veggie spaghetti in a matter of minutes. There’s just over 30 calories in a courgette and 392 in a bowl of pasta. You do the math.
Aside from courgetti, you can also rustle up sweet potato curly fries, homemade veggie crisps, cauliflower rice and coleslaw – the list goes on. And you’ll have an endless supply of amazing food pics to post on Instagram.
3. Cheat with microwave risotto
Making risotto doesn’t have to mean hours of stirring over a hot stove. After all, there’s so much more you could be doing with your time - like binge-watching Netflix. Why not make a microwave risotto instead?
Have a go at this quick and easy recipe for microwave butternut squash risotto. It even counts as 1 of your 5 a day:
- 250g risotto rice
- 700ml hot vegetable stock
- 1 medium butternut squash
- Grated parmesan
- Sage leaves, roughly chopped
- Put the rice in a bowl, then add 500ml of the vegetable stock. Cover with cling film and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel and cut the butternut squash into medium size chunks. Stir the rice before adding the squash and rest of the stock.
- Re-cover with cling film, then microwave for another 15 minutes, stirring halfway, until almost all the stock is absorbed and the rice and squash are tender.
- Leave the risotto to sit for 2 minutes, then stir in the parmesan and sage. Serve topped with more grated cheese.
4. Bulk up curries and bolognese dishes
Curries are a staple of student diets. But thankfully, they don’t have to be full-on fattening. Add texture and nutrition by including pulses like chickpeas. Chickpeas are very cheap and are a rich source of protein and fibre. You can also chuck in lots of veg of course.
Give spag bol a healthy twist by adding carrots and celery. That’s what authentic Italian chefs do, and they should know what they’re talking about.
5. Swap superfoods for cheaper alternatives
Fed up of bloggers banging on about the wonders of kale, goji berries and coconut water? Try these less expensive foods that are often overlooked:
- Broccoli. While this isn’t as super-trendy as kale, it’s packed with similar goodness, including calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin A and fibre.
- Raspberries. Forget goji berries and blueberries. The humble raspberry is packed with nutrients like vitamin C and fibre. Perfect for adding to smoothies.
- Water. Coconut water may be the latest buzz drink, but plain old tap water is the ultimate superfood. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of fruit juice for a post-workout boost.
6. Visit supermarkets at closing time
You could be quids in at closing time as you can often find bargain meat, fish, dairy and other fresh produce shortly before stores close their doors. You can buy everything from pots of hummus for pennies, to meat that can be stored in the freezer until you need it.