Tag Archives: oatmeal

Healthy Eating in College? | A Conscious Mindset

Given how outspoken I am about my undying love for food, it’s no wonder people constantly ask if I’m even trying to maintain “healthy eating habits” (whatever this means) especially as a college freshman subject to dining halls (……..) and the greatest food megalopolis on this planet. I thought I’d share some thoughts on how to best practice getting into that healthy mindset when there are so many distractions that can and often do prevent us from doing so. These are just some tips that I find helpful for myself, so I can’t guarantee they’re useful or relevant to you; however, hopefully you’ll at least find it a good read and please let me know your own eating habits that have been working out for you!

  • Eat a big, heaping, delicious breakfast. Seriously, if I was (god forbid) forced to pick my favorite kind of meal, it would be breakfast/brunch, hands down. It’s versatile, energizing, incorporates some of my all-time favorite foods, and cross-culturally delicious (looking at you, 油条, and you, shakshuka). Breakfast/brunch offerings at Columbia generally leave much to be desired, so I usually resort to taking advantage of swipes for “express breakfast” at one of our dining halls (choose any 4 of a variety of individual-container cereals, half-pint milk cartons, mini Chobanis, muffins, etc.), stealing bananas, almond milk, and dried fruit from another one of our dining halls, and whipping up something alongside. Here’s a semi-typical snap of what my breakfast might look like:



Presenting: (1) a bowl of one of my favorite cereals of all time, Kashi’s Go Lean! Crunch (SERIOUSLY life-changing–not too sweet, satisfyingly crunchy clusters of high-protein whole grains), topped with one ripe banana and about five sliced dried figs, served with almond milk, (2) some gluten-free oat-cranberry cookie balls (yummy, filling, and healthy), and (3) one apricot-oatmeal muffin(subbed in gluten-free wheat flour for this).

I also love experimenting, particularly with oatmeal, as it’s quick, there’s infinite variations of it, and filling. Some of my favorite recipes are: apple pie oatmeal,peanut butter banana (the ever-dynamic duo), and a variety of overnight versions, like this scrumptious blueberry banana version or a fig and cinnamon option. If you’re pressed for time, check out this post on the ever-effective overnight oat phenomenon!

Whatever you choose for your breakfast, try to eat it, first and foremost. Your body craves energy and good nutrition, and it craves it most at the start of the day. It prevents you from over-eating later in the day (take it from someone who knows) when your digestive processes slow down, adding instead of burning extra fat.

  • Be conscious of everything you eat. I’m also a big believer in everything in moderation. You can have that brownie, but not that other brownie. If you had a starchy lunch, try to cut down on the rice/pasta/bread products for dinner. It’s better, obviously, to overload on greens and fruit–go crazy if you’d like.
  • Be disciplined during the weekdays and let loose on the weekends. Any and all food crawls you see glorified on this blog happen during the weekends only because a) otherwise I’d explode, b) schoolwork consumes my soul the rest of the week #ColumbiaProblems, and c) again, I’d explode.
  • Listen to your body. Resisting temptation, in whatever form it may be, is one of the most difficult things in the entire world. But you and your body are much smarter than you may believe–be attentive when it’s telling you you’re full (usually before you’re even fully aware), when it doesn’t like something, when you’re feeling lethargic from what you’re eating.
  • Remember that nutrition is not a religion. As this is a food blog and not a health/fitness blog, it’s futile for me to preach that “fat doesn’t equal happiness and neither does skinny,” but nothing, especially not your favorite foods to munch on, should stop you from being your happiest you. An awareness of your health is first and foremost, and a love of your body and the food you eat can only boost the love you cultivate for yourself.

Above all, I think it’s of utmost importance to remember that your body is your own and no one else’s–you have the control and power to treat it right, an immensely remarkable thing. Happy eating! :) 


Overnight Oats: Magic in a Jar

If there is one breakfast gem a breakfast aficionado can’t get enough of (and if I was forced–God forbid–to pick just one) it would be oatmeal.

That understated elegance of that strangely chewy-mushy-sticky texture. The oft-dismissed blandness. Its versatility–you want it classic with a snow-powder sprinkling of brown sugar and nestled among juicy raisins? Check. Baked until it’s crispy and enticing on its edges but still oh-so-gooey and melty towards its center? At this point, you could basically be eating a brownie. A brownie that’s at most 150 calories/massive portion. Want to blend it with its equally superpower friend, chia, into smoothies? It’s got your energy fix covered for that 8:40 you should really try to get to at least once this semester being the certifiably awesome human you are. Maybe honor the power it truly holds over your baking and brunch life by grinding it up and having yourself a beautifully simple, hearty gluten-free oat flour to use in pancakes and muffins. Or simply leave it in its whole, undisturbed glory in crisps, crumbles, and my personal favorite, and healthy addiction, overnight oats.

Not only are overnight oats a testament to the tastiness, convenience, wholesomeness, and, most importantly, downright deliciousness of my favorite grain, but making and eating them leaves one with an unparalleled sense of productivity and satisfaction. The ingredient list is laughably primitive and as you’re spooning (or pouring it straight from the jar, either works) your concoction into your mouth by the truckload you can swear you’re tasting a myriad of flavors you never put in. It’ll save you precious sleeping/dreaming of more food time in the morning; it’s the perfect grab-‘n’-go. It’ll keep you full for hours, and your cute mason jar and its contents will incite the jealousy and hunger, respectively, of all those unfortunate souls around you who have not been #blessed with the joy that is overnight oats.

Additionally, the versatility of oats–the sponge of the grain world–allow you to experiment, which is, in my opinion, one of the greatest rewards of cooking. Peanut butter banana is a classic, as is blueberry banana (which I’ll detail below), but let your creativity take you where it will–try a brownie modification to have an excuse to eat chocolate first thing in the morning or your other favorite candy.

Using mostly ingredients you can find in the bounty that is Ferris or JJ’s express breakfast, you can whip yourself up some breakfast magic that is infinitely less questionable than those geometric shapes in the dining halls. Here they are:

Ingredients overnight oats


From left to right: craisins/raisins, walnuts, rolled oats, blueberry Chobani, honey, one ripe banana, almond milk (or any milk of your choice), chia seeds (optional), and some sliced almonds.

Other than the honey, oats, and chia seeds, everything else can be easily found/stolen from your local Ferris grocery store. 😉

You’ll also need some sort of vehicle to contain your overnight oats (and your excitement). Mason jars are a great choice because they’re sturdy and allow you to shake it up vigorously without worrying about making your entire suite hate you for splattering oats all over the kitchen, and make it incredibly easy to eat these on-the-go. Alternatively, you can also use bowls, mugs, or anything your oat-crazed heart desires.

Measure oats


Measure out 1/3 cup of oats and add it, along with 1/3 cup of almond milk and 1/3 cup of Greek yogurt, into your jar/bowl/cup/whatever.



Measure milk


*NOTE*: for this specific overnight oats occasion, I decided I wanted some more liquid-y oats in the morning, so I added a full 1 cup of milk. This is part of beautiful adaptability of these recipes–tailor it to your liking! 

If you’d like, add in a dash (around 1-2 tbsp) of chia seeds for extra body and texture:

Progress 1


Add yogurt


At this point, mash up half a banana and save the other half for topping in the morning. Banana is by far one of my all-time favorite fruits: scrumptious, filling, good for you, and as versatile as the oats it will complement. Make sure it’s ripe so it adds sweetness and is easily mashable.





Drizzle in some honey (optional, if you like yours more sweet) and make some amorphous design blob if you’re feeling extra adventurous:





Now the best part: SHAKE IT UP! This should be so vigorous that if someone were watching you, they would feel exceedingly awkward. Afterwards, you should be left with one of the most beautiful messes on this Earth:



Refrigerate overnight. Top in the morning to your heart’s desire (I used the other half of my banana, dark chocolate Ghirardelli chips, and a sprinkle of cinnamon). Rejoice in the morning that your day will be made so much better with these oats staring back at you.

I hope you give this fun breakfast idea a try–I know I can’t get enough! Happy eating :)

This recipe was adapted from Hungry Healthy Girl:

  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free, if preferred)
  • 1/3 cup yogurt (for this recipe, I used Chobani blueberry Greek yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup milk (unsweetened vanilla almond milk is my favorite)
  • 1/2 of a ripe banana, mashed (reserve the other half for slicing and topping oats before eating)
  • 1 tablespoon Chia seeds (optional, but helps to thicken oats)
  • 1 packet Stevia or other sweetener (optional)
  • toppings of your choice

Cooking While You Sleep

Everyone knows that mornings can be a huge issue. You wake up too late, you have to do homework before class, you don’t know what you want for breakfast. For me, it’s generally oatmeal to the rescue. By generally I mean very, very often. Oatmeal is one of those things that keeps you going for the whole day, because it’s full of energy and fiber. Overnight oats are the kind of oats that sound really fancy and impress people because they have the word ‘overnight’ in them and so people assume that they’re the fancy version of instant oatmeal. Luckily, they’re a thousand times better but almost as easy to make. Actually, a lot of the work happens while you’re asleep, so it almost makes no sense not to make oatmeal this way. I used to be really intimidated by them and stuck to the ten minute kind until I figured out how to make them, and then it was like a whole new world of oats had come alive. Breakfast got better, so life got better.

peach topped oats

The magic rule here is the ratio: 1 to 1 oats to liquid – whether that liquid be water or milk (almond, soy, dairy, pick your poison). I usually use water, and use a little bit less liquid because I like my oats really thick, but the consistency is up to you. Put it in a bowl, or a container that you can put in the fridge, and add toppings. Toppings make just about any meal better, and that holds true for oats. Add a few pinches of cinnamon, a small spoonful of maple syrup, a drop or two of vanilla extract, or a spoonful of jam, depending on how flavor-y you want your oats. Then add chia or ground flax seeds, coconut flakes or something of the dried fruit variety – cranberries, raisins, mango or dried banana. I tend to like fresh fruit on top, added at the last minute, so I go with a combination of cinnamon, vanilla extract because vanilla makes everything better and chia seeds. Another favorite is raspberry jam and coconut flakes, which is seemingly not good but is actually very good.

So you have all of it in a bowl. Cover the bowl, and put it in the fridge while you sleep. Everything absorbs and melds together. Wake up, cut up some fruit or throw in some granola, and you’re good to go. Easiest homemade oatmeal ever. And it’s actually good. I like peaches on top, because they give the entire thing a fresh summery feel, but stewed blueberries or pomegranate seeds are other options that can work really well for winter. The fact that you can just put it all in a mason jar the night before and grab n go in the morning is just the flax on top of the whole situation.

Westside Watch: A Breakfast of Champions

Delicious, creamy, satisfying.

Unlike most of my fellow students, I am an early riser. No matter what time I go to bed, my body loves to wake me up around 7:30 every morning, even on the weekends and even when I don’t have class until 10:10. I’ve tried to sleep past 7:30 and it simply does not work. So, I really hate it that the dining halls do not start serving brunch until 10:00 on the weekends. It kills me. I can’t wait that long to eat so usually I make do with some instant oatmeal and peanut butter that I have stashed in my room. Needless to say, this is not my favorite option, especially when my roommate sleeps in until noon and I have to tiptoe around the room with the lights off.

Leave it to Westside Market to come to my rescue. One of my good friends shares my habit of waking up early and also shares my frustration with the lack of viable, cheap breakfast options on the weekends. She told me of a magical product that has made my life much better. It’s called cold oatmeal. And it’s delicious.

If you walk into Westside and make your way to the cheese section, you’ll find a glorious array of various puddings, yogurt, and fruit, all packaged in house. You will also find several types of what Westside calls “Maria’s Homemade Cold Granola Oatmeal.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: home-cooked oatmeal but served cold. It comes in a myriad of flavors, all of which I have resolved to try while I am at school here. So far, I’ve had the pleasure of tasting raspberry and blueberry-raspberry and I have fallen in love. The oatmeal is made with soymilk, honey, fruit, and granola, so it’s easy on my lactose-intolerant stomach and incredibly filling. It’s not overly sweet and it is exceptionally creamy—what I would call the perfect breakfast.

I was boggled by the amount of flavors available. Since I’ve discovered it, I’ve observed cherry-vanilla-almond, blueberry, strawberry, pumpkin, gingerbread, peanut butter, cranberry, chocolate chip, etc. The options are endless. I’ve become so entranced by it that I’ve made it my Sunday routine to get up, grab some oatmeal, and sit down at Starbucks to write papers. I find I get a lot of good work done with a filling breakfast. I even took some on the bus with me when I went to visit my sister last weekend in Philadelphia. That’s how much I love it. And you should try it. Because you’ll love it too.