Holiday Treats Vs. Healthy Eating: How Balance is Key

By: Abigail Moore

As the temperature gradually decreases, cookies and hot chocolate replace summer-time ice cream treats and become staple items in the nation’s winter diet. With BOGO holiday coffee deals and delicious desserts, the excitement of the Christmas season comes with a few extra pounds. While the holiday season is rapidly approaching, maintaining weight while still enjoying holiday ‘favorites’ can be difficult, especially for college students.

Quincy University’s Assistant Food Service Director Kelly Pfab, makes sure that students are receiving nutritional meals with various options available for healthy eating in the university’s cafeteria.

“We have a wide variety to choose from here so if somebody is looking to eat healthy here there’s plenty of options available. It’s common sense. It’s eating a lot of fresh fruits, a lot of vegetables; things that you hear over and over again. We have all of those things that we offer here daily,” Pfab said. “If you’re looking for something hot and fresh, we always offer a healthy option everyday on our main line and a lot of that information you can get on our product identifier that we put out on the lines. It will list the calorie count and the serving size, so you can kind of watch your intake, as far as that’s concerned.”

Pfab believes the secret to keeping the weight off during the frigid winter months is maintaining portion control. She says the cafeteria employees and cooks make a point to always make students aware of what they are consuming, how many calories it contains, and the ingredients. In addition to product identifiers on the main line, Quincy University also has a “Dine on Campus” app that students can download that helps with pre-planning meals and knowing the nutritional information of every item that is served. The app also lists ingredients of each item.

“Don’t miss out on your favorites but don’t overindulge either. Enjoy those things that you like to have. Make sure that you keep exercise a part of your plan as well in that time. Portion yourself and have those tastes so you can indulge that way, but don’t overdo it,” Pfab said.

For students who do not regularly dine in the cafeteria or are always on-the-go, Pfab suggested several different food choices that would benefit students more than the contemporary college diet, including: whole grain breads, lean proteins, (turkey and chicken breast), certain types of cheese, lots of water, fruits and vegetables, and replacing chips and soda with healthier options such as baked chips.

QU senior and cafeteria employee Nick Clark, recognizes that even though the holiday season brings extra treats, balance is the key to maintaining weight but still enjoying seasonal favorites. Clark believes that the café is doing its part in helping students achieve this dietary goal.

“I know they’ve made more an initiative to make healthier food options. There is a lot better options for healthy eating. They are more conscious about it now,” Clark said. “I try to avoid anything with sodium, like french fries. I try to eat things with not a lot of salt, that will add to the puffy look. Also, it’s good to stay away from stuff with sugar.”

QU Junior and cafeteria employee Stevie Wallace is in charge of the dessert table. Although he takes pride in his creations, he knows it adds to seasonal weight gain. Wallace cautions students to “stay away” from the dessert table if they are looking to lose weight. The cafeteria employees prioritize the student’s needs by always providing items fresh from fresh produce, vegetarian options, and gluten free items.

“Each week, we have different options not on menu. We also have veggies available. For the week, we have freshly made sandwiches, a hot evenly balanced meal, vegetables, a starch and different fruit items, a variety of things at the salad bar, the soup station, and the pantry area,” Wallace said.

Students have various options provided by the university to eat healthy but also enjoy the occasional peppermint coffee and pumpkin flavored desserts. With off campus eating, students can make healthier choices by paying attention to the calories on the menu and asking about gluten free and vegetarian options. In addition, students can eat smart by avoiding high-carb and calorie dense foods and tackling more nutrient filled foods.

The internet provides various ideas for quick and easy healthy eating options as a college student. Provided below are ingredients for three different healthy creations that can be shared with the family over the holiday break.

Mason Jar Greek Salad

Pick your favorite leafy greens, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains. Layer them, and you have an easy on the go delicious salad. The mason jar allows you to seperate ingredients without ruining the taste later on.

Ingredients

  • Dressing
  • 2 Tbsp hummus
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ¼ tsp minced garlic
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp water, if needed
  • ½ cup drained chickpeas
  • ½ cup diced cucumbers
  • ½ cup diced vine ripe tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp sliced black olives
  • 2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
  • 1-2 cups chopped romaine lettuce

 Curried Chickpeas with Spinach

This requires very few ingredients and very little time to put together. This creation is chalk full of delicious vegetables and can be served over rice.

Ingredients

  • 2Tbsp olive oil
  • one small onion
  •  two cloves garlic
  • 1inch fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2Tbsp curry powder
  • 8oz spinach fresh or frozen
  • 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 29oz can chickpeas

 Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta

This is a quick and easy pasta dish, made with real ingredients! In this case, you can choose between whole wheat and white pasta and also interchange the ingredients to fit your preference.

Ingredients

  • 1/2lb penne pasta
  • one small onion
  •  two cloves garlic
  • 1Tbsp olive oil
  • 15 ozcan diced tomatoes
  • 1/2tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2tsp dried basil
  • pinchred pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 2Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2oz cream cheese
  • 1/4cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2- 9 ozbag fresh spinach
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