As April exams and end of semester term papers are quickly approaching, these first few weeks of March stand as the calm before the storm. This penultimate month of the academic year, when the average undergraduate brain is warming up for examinations, it is important to ensure its need for nutritious and healthy meals are well met. Unfortunately, when the priority list gets rather overwhelming and the weight of an entire academic semester comes barreling down into a few exams, it is no wonder that healthy eating is squeezed out of the day’s to-do list.
The good news is that UTM’s Health and Counselling Centre has some insightful resources at the disposal of any undergraduate. Specifically, their website contains an outline for a weekly meal planner where students can use the designed table to organize their meals for the rest of the week. At a closer glance, planning for your consumption goes a long way in helping you stick to your goals for healthy eating and being totally efficient during grocery shopping for the right ingredients and preparing the food. To make lasting diet changes, the HCC recommends this planning behaviour to put yourself in the right frame of mind. In addition, the HCC also has a webpage for beautiful recipes. In essence, it provides a comprehensive list of 36 meals that were researched, taste-tested, and handpicked by UTM‘s dietician, Kimberley Green.
Evidently, each recipe consists of five key characteristics: they’re efficient to prepare, consist of simple ingredients, are cheap, delicious and of course, healthy. Some of the recipes even have links attached for step-by-step video tutorials on how to prepare the corresponding dish.
For a more nuanced perspective, the HCC also offers a webpage for “trending topics” that consist of a list of quite tastefully designed pamphlets on very specific topics related to healthy eating. Questions relevant to undergrads are addressed thoroughly, including topics such as food beneficial for acne, study snacks, weight gain, sports nutrition and muscle building.
Apps can also be quite helpful in this domain for healthy meals. A popular one is Univore, which was in fact coded by some of U of T’s medical school students. It works simply with the user inputting ingredients they already have and requiring at least one type of protein, a type of fruit or vegetable and carbs. A minimum of three ingredients are required and the app basically spits out a list of easy recipes one can make using whatever’s already in their refrigerator. There is a plethora of other mobile apps that can similarly outright cure the dilemma of health eating.
A particularly good idea for a healthy meal this week can be fish tacos. The bulk of the work is only in preparing the fish. The basic instructions are to spread some flavour of salsa evenly over a fish fillet and place it in the oven for 20 minutes at 230°C. Then one can simply chop it up to place the pieces into whole-wheat tortillas and then add various types of toppings including tomatoes, shredded cheese, or onions. These can also be served with guacamole or sour cream if desired. Fish tacos are rich in omega-3 fats and a great source of fiber.
A particularly great breakfast recipe is known as breakfast parfait. It simply requires one to chop up a few types of fruits such as blueberries, peaches, grapes, tangerines and place them into a cup or small glass bowl. Then it can be layered with 15g of All-Bran Bran Buds™ cereal and ¼ cup of yogurt. Then repeat the process with an identical layer of fruit as well as the cereal and yogurt. This sweet meal is high in fiber and can be easily stored in the fridge overnight to be consumed for breakfast.
Both the fish tacos and breakfast parfait are listed in the HCC recipes webpage along with thirty-four other gems. These are clearly perfect meals designed specifically for busy undergrads that don’t have the time, money, energy, or patience to spend on healthy meals.