Living Smart, Spending Smart: A Healthy Food and Lifestyle Guide for Students on a Budget

As a recent college freshman, I completely understand and can empathize with what I like to call the 'student struggle'; that is, of course, the difficulty in finding the right food and lifestyle options for you on a student budget (which, if you are like me, is not anything to brag about). Oftentimes that struggle can prove to be extremely difficult for those with dietary or lifestyle restrictions and needs, such as gluten allergies, kosher requirements, and foods that help supplement or support a healthy weight loss and maintenance. Let's face it: ramen noodles are cheaper than meal plans at your institution, but it doesn't have to be your only choice. Here is a guide to living smart and spending smart, because we all deserve to keep our bodies as nourished as our minds are in college. Now that we are heading into midterm week, now is a more important time than ever to make sure our diets are as nourished as our minds. Here are a few simple recipes for the average student to get through college on.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
• 1 1/2 cups brown rice
• 6 large green bell peppers
• 3 tablespoons soy sauce
• 3 tablespoons cooking sherry
• 1 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
• 1 1/2 cups extra firm tofu
• 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
• 1/4 cup chopped pecans
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese salt and pepper to taste
• 2 cups tomato sauce
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a saucepan bring 3 cups water to a boil. Stir in rice. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, core and seed green peppers, leaving bottoms intact. Place peppers in a microwavable dish with about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom. Microwave on high for 6 minutes.

In a small frying pan bring soy sauce, wine and Worcestershire sauce to a simmer. Add tofu and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Combine rice (after it has cooled), tofu, cranberries, nuts, cheese, salt and pepper; mix and pack firmly into peppers. Return peppers to the dish you first microwaved them in, and bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, combine tomato sauce and brown sugar; heat until hot throughout. Spoon sauce over each serving.

Lemony Lentils and Kale
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 onion, diced
• 1 carrot, diced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 4 thyme sprigs
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• ground black pepper to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
• 1/2 pound green lentils
• 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
• 3 cups chicken broth
• 1 bunch dinosaur kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
• 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion and carrot in the hot oil until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, thyme sprigs, kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes; cook and stir to coat, 1 minute.

Stir lentils, tomatoes and their juice, and chicken stock into onion mixture. Cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Add kale, lemon zest, and lemon juice; cook until kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.

Mango Pineapple Salad
• 2 cups peeled, diced ripe mango
• 1 cup pineapple
• 1/4 cup flaked coconut
• 1/4 cup dried cranberries
• 1/4 sprig chopped fresh mint

In a medium bowl, toss together mango, pineapple, cranberries, and coconut. Garnish with mint. Cover, and chill until serving.