Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ain't no Ramen in College

If your campus is near a shopping complex, market, etc., you are in luck. College students like us certainly do not need processed food like ramen noodles, Twisties, Snicker bars or RedBull to recharge and perform in our studies. In fact, those food actually drain your energy off because your body needs more work to process them and they are quickly absorbed by the body, meaning that you will have energy rushes and crushes which make you hungry later, and in turn, eat more. This is bad for your health and pockets!

Try these easy treats, especially during the weekends, if there is no refrigerator in your campus (like mine). Plus, you need not risk confiscation of your electrical appliances because the only cooking tool you need is...


beside some manual tools such as knife, fork, spoon, potato masher etc. of course. They don't consume electricity so you will be safe.

For noshing: Stuffed dates

Forget Sour-Plus, Mentos or candy bars. This snack is easy to prepare and good for those stay-up-until-3am days as energy boosts which do not result in a sugar crash later. 

All you have to do is to pit a date with the end of a chopstick gently to avoid tearing the date, and stuff your favourite nuts and chopped dried fruits in! For nuts, you can use almonds, cashews, pistachios or walnut halves because they are small. For dried fruit, goji berries, raisins and dried apricots are good. You can omit the dried fruit if you do not have a sweet tooth since dates are sweet on their own. Other things like oat bran and seeds can be stuffed inside too!

Best of all, this snack keeps and travels well. You can buy in bulk when you get to go to the supermarket and make them during your free time. That way, you will get delicious and healthy snacks on your busy days without resorting to the vending machine.

WARNING: This snack is VERY addictive so consume in moderation. Around 40-50 calories per treat.

For Weekend Dessert: Fruit salad

No, salads are not and should not be boring. In fact, salads can be downright delicious.

I made this fruit salad last week with the ingredients shown below:

... and here is the end result, topped with chia seed gel.

It's easy. Just wash, chop and assemble the fruits in any design that you like. I promise you that it is a twist to that ubiquitous fatty dessert like cendol, ais kacang or cheesecake. It's refreshing, tangy and filling due to its fibre and water content. Who needs vitamin C supplements with a dessert like this? Plus, the price is similar, if not cheaper than most fatty desserts, depending on your choice of fruits.

Mine's apples, kiwis and strawberries, so it is a little expensive-almost as expensive as cheesecake which used to be my favourite dessert.

Of course, if you like a little bit of decadence, add some nut butter or avocado. Do so in moderation though.

P/S: I am badly lactose-intolerant. Please don't call me "the fox yearning for sour grapes" for this...

Noodle without fogginess: Veggie pasta

Who says that you can't have supersized pasta to stay healthy? I have this every week. In fact, it is nutrient-dense and very filling with minimal calories unless if you go crazy with nuts and fatty dressing. This huge container of pasta is under 400 calories plus packed with protein, minerals and fiber. 

If you want it to be healthier, use organic produce. I am on a college student's budget so I have to be contented with the conventional ones. LOL.

The way to make pasta can be found here.

Power breakfast: Fruit salad/Oats and fruits, ANYTHING with real fruits in it

Forget coffee. Fruit salads and fruity oatmeal take less than 10 minutes to prepare, plus you can choose any fruit that you want and top it with anything, like oat bran, chia seeds, nuts, goji berries and nut butter. Apples and oranges keep best-1 week in room temperature. Banana and kiwi store for 3 days maximum. Berries can only last for a few hours before it turns mushy.

Oh yeah, for salads, you might want to make it a little savoury for a complex flavour. My pick will be some yellow mustard and herbs. Oh so yummy!

For a quick lunch: Kettle Soup

Just layer your chopped veggies in a heatproof bowl, while waiting for the water to boil. I boil difficult-to-cook veggies in the water, such as carrot, and add salt for taste and to lengthen cooking time so the carrots are softer. Feel free to switch it up with other veggies such as potato and turnip, and add red dates to sweeten it.

If you want to make it a meal, add some beans and boiled potatoes, but by all means, SHARE YOUR PRODUCT OF LABOUR because the servings will be huge! (Unless if you are able to eat at least a pound of veggies and lots of liquid at one go, but trust me, it's guilt free.) Huge in volume and nutrients, but low in fat and calories... how cool is that?

I learnt to make my kettle soup from here.

I flavoured mine with salt, pepper and herbs. Feel free to jazz up yours with other seasoning such as curry powder and black pepper sauce. It's up to your tastebuds :D

Light Dinner: Salad

If your idea of a salad is a bed of limp greens, YOU ARE DEAD WRONG.

As you can see, this bowl of salad does not even have the slightest green in there-purple cabbage, carrot, apple, orange, cashew nuts and cherry tomatoes, topped with herbs and spices.

Perfect for weeknights (if you don't have a fridge and have to finish your greens in a day), this salad is extremely easy to put together and cheap too. Instead of buying a tiny bowl of salad for RM15.00, why not use RM15.00 to buy loads of veggies and make two, or even four or five salads? Use some for lunch, and some for dinner with different toppings. Probably you can make a fruit-and-veg salad for lunch, rainbow veggies salad for dinner, or salsa, or pasta-whatever your heart desires. Plus, the extras can be shared with friends if you can't finish it. If you can, that's great!

Of course, the price applies for conventional produce. I use conventional produce because organic produce is at least three times more expensive than conventional. Plus, I just cannot be sure whether they are really organic.

Fruits and nuts are more calorie-dense than veggies, so if you add fruits and nuts to your salad, your salad will be considerably smaller than the one with ALL veggies, but they are tasty either way. Just don't ruin it with highly processed food like commercial dressing, croutons and deli meats! 

Here are some of my ideas for simple ramen-free dishes without a microwave oven or fridge. I hope you will try it out. Bon appetit!

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