Monday, December 22, 2014

Cooking for One: Broke College Student Edition

Hey y'all!

I just want to start out by saying I'm so sorry it has been so long since I have was a crazy crazy semester! I can't believe it is over already, but I am so relieved that it is!! This semester brought up lots of new and exciting adventures. One of which was living in my very first apartment with these lovely ladies.

As we all know, a major part of living on your own means cooking and grocery shopping for yourself. I didn't think there would be too much to it, but when you are constantly on the go it can be so tempting to just pick something up from a fast food restaurant on the way home! I am going to give you my tips for grocery shopping and cooking for one that I've learned in these first few months!

RULE #1: It all starts at the grocery store.  Whether you shop at Meijer, Walmart, Aldi's or wherever at---there are coupons and aisles to avoid at every store.

MY RULE: I try to spend less than $50 for 10-14 days worth of groceries.

Whenever I go grocery shopping I start at the back of the store and work my way up. I know that many studies say to start in the produce section so that you will buy more produce---however, when I am cooking for myself...I often do not eat all of my produce before it goes bad so I usually go at the end and buy 1 or 2 different fruits and whatever vegetables I want for pasta or snacks.

I usually skip about half of the grocery store. Why do you ask? Well, my apartment holds 5 girls, which means 5 girls share one little freezer so I never really buy frozen dinners due to limited space. I also skip the cookie/chip aisles because if I don't walk by it, I won't buy it, which means I won't eat it. Simple as that.

Some things that I often buy: whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, eggs, fat free skim milk, fortified orange juice, cottage cheese, nonfat greek yogurt, low fat cheese, progresso soup, nature valley granola bars, carrot sticks, apples, bananas, strawberries, spinach, lettuce, chicken breast, green peppers, sweet potatoes, potatoes.


Honesty time: I stay in bed probably 20-30 minutes after my's a problem.

So when I am in a rush I will usually make a PB&J with chunky peanut butter, strawberry preserves (or just real strawberries) and toasted whole wheat bread.

If I have a little extra time, I will make a parfait with nonfat greek vanilla yogurt (DO NOT---I REPEAT DO NOT BUY PLAIN GREEK YOGURT FOR THIS---YOU WILL GET A MOUTH FULL OF SOMETHING THAT TASTES LIKE SOUR CREAM AND STRAWBERRIES AND THAT IS JUST NOT OK), strawberries or whatever other fruit I have on hand, and about a tablespoon of granola.

If I am going to work or know that I won't be able to eat for a long time, I usually will have 2 eggs with 2 pieces of whole wheat toast and some OJ.

All of these are super cheap (probably under $1.25 each) and easy to make.


I am a huge fan of CASSEROLES and LEFTOVERS. They just make life so much easier and they are cheap!

Simple Recipes I have used:
  • Baked Potato: Bake at 375 for 60 minutes (I like them really soft), and add plain low fat Greek yogurt or low fat sour cream and salsa.
  • Sweet Potato: Microwave for 5 minutes (remember to poke holes in it before!) and add minimal butter and brown sugar for taste.
  • Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas: I make this on my awesome George Foreman grill. I take a whole wheat tortilla and put cheese, grilled chicken, peppers, and a little bit of Kraft's Chipotle Mayo.
  • Chicken "Fried" Rice: Grilled chicken, peas, carrots, broccoli, brown rice, and any type of Asian sauce found at grocery store.
  • And my random renditions of casseroles featuring whole wheat pasta, veggies and any sauce I can find...they usually are really random and made from whatever is left in my kitchen!!

Extra Tips:
  • I use M-Perks through Meijer for additional discounts on food.
  • I can never eat a whole bag of carrot sticks before they go bad so sometimes I just steam them and put them in with whatever I'm eating!
  • Cut up all of your produce into ready-to-eat/ ready-to-go portions the day you get them. This will encourage you to eat them more if they are ready to eat already!
  • Happy Hours are great for cheap college kids as well, there's a little pizza place near where I live and it's literally $2 a person---not a bad deal for a night out!
  • Make nicer dinners for more than you can eat, you will have 3-4 meals done in one cooking session---the casseroles like I described before can be made to be about 50-75 cents per serving!
  • If you crave chocolate all time like I do: get ONE thing with chocolate that is not easily accessible (like a bag of cookies)--sometimes I like special K with chocolate and strawberries because it is still somewhat healthy and fixes my cravings.
Comment with any other tips you have!

Thanks for Reading! :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Vitamin and Mineral ABC's: Vitamin C

Today I am going to be talking about the importance of Vitamin C and just exactly what it does for your body. Unlike what we talked about for Vitamin A, Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which in simple terms means that it won't stay in your body for very long and gets flushed out fairly easily. We've all heard that Vitamin C helps keep the cold away and its found in orange juice and other acidic fruits...but what else can it be helpful with?

What does Vitamin C do for my body?

Vitamin C is known to repair tissue all over the body including bone tissue in teeth and healing skin tissue when wounds are healing. Vitamin C ultimately helps prevent cancers because it fights against free radicals which over time can lead to diseases and faster aging. Some specific diseases it helps fight against include coronary heart disease, strokes, breast cancer, colon cancer, and can even reduce cataracts. Vitamin C also helps increase the amount of iron that the body can use.

Fun Fact: According to the Linus Pauling Institute, women who consumed 205 mg/day of Vitamin C had a 63% less chance of getting breast cancer than those who consumed 70 mg/day.

**According to Medline Plus, taking Vitamin C pills during a cold does not help heal the cold, however if you take the supplements (or eat foods high in Vitamin C) regularly it should make your colds last for a shorter amount of time.

Am I at risk if I have too much/ too little?

The body cannot make Vitamin C on its own, and it also cannot store it for very it is very important to consume it on a regular basis. Way back when, people would get VERY deficient in vitamin C and develop a disease called scurvy (which sounds very pirate-like to me). The symptoms of this would be bruising easily, hair/tooth loss, and swelling in the joints. This is very uncommon for the US though because this sickness can be cured with very little Vitamin C. The only other major risks of not having enough Vitamin C is that you won't be able to process iron in your body as well, wrinkly skin is likely, and you will not form collagen as easily (which is part of a connective tissue).

Taking too much Vitamin C is not really as big of an issue because it streams out of your system so easily. Common side effects of having way too much Vitamin C are diarrhea and nausea.

How much Vitamin C should I consume?

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin C
Life StageAgeMales (mg/day)Females (mg/day)
Infants0-6 months40 (AI)40 (AI)
Infants7-12 months50 (AI)50 (AI)
Children1-3 years1515
Children4-8 years2525
Children9-13 years4545
Adolescents14-18 years7565
Adults19 years and older9075
Smokers19 years and older125110
Pregnancy18 years and younger-80
Pregnancy   19 years and older-85
Breast-feeding    18 years and younger-115
Breast-feeding19 years and older-120
 **chart provided by Linus Pauling Institute

To give you a better idea of what these numbers mean, here is a chart of different foods high in Vitamin C and the amount of mg each contain per serving.

Amount of Mg of Vitamin C
Red Pepper
Green Pepper

Hopefully this gives you a sense of relief knowing that some of these foods actually meet your daily requirement with just one serving. Eating these foods is the best way to give your body Vitamin C. Eating produce rather than taking supplements gives your body other nutrients and fiber to work with that supplements do not.

Where can I find Vitamin C?

Vitamin C can be found in many places that you probably wouldn't even think of. It is found in vegetables such as broccoli, red and green peppers, and spinach. Lots of fruits are packed with Vitamin C too such as cantaloupe, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, and watermelon. 

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Saturday, July 12, 2014


Hey Everyone,

Today I am going to be talking about KFC and how to make the best of what they have to offer. Again, I am not saying that fast food is the greatest, but I do realize that most people do consume it on a regular basis because it is handy. I figure if I can't stop people from going to those places, I will teach them to eat smarter when they do go there.

First off, was anyone else freaked out as a kid by the statues of the Colonel in the restaurants? No? Just me? ... Okay.

So KFC has been making some effort to improve the quality of the food that they hand out. They have their new grilled chicken option "KGC" and it significantly lowered the amount of calories in the chicken. But, what else is there to look out for?

First, I am going to show you just how much the way that chicken is cooked completely changes the nutritional value of it.
When you are picking out your chicken you can choose from grilled, original recipe, or extra crispy. You also get to choose between thigh, wing, breast and drumsticks.

Original Recipe


Extra Crispy




I think that the winner here is obviously the grilled chicken because it is the lowest in calories and fat, the highest in protein...and although I didn't show you the sodium values it has over 1/3 less sodium than the fried chicken does.

Another thing to watch out for is what kind of piece you are eating. I think that although the breast is the most caloric--it offers the most protein. And more than likely you will have more than one drumstick, thigh or wing because they are not very big. So really you will still be consuming about the same amount of calories, but more fat grams all together.

P.S. if you are looking for dipping sauces---Sweet and Sour and Honey BBQ are the way to go. They have the least amount of calories, fat, and sodium.

Next is everyone's favorite...side dishes. (:

Here is the basic information for all sides available:

Green Beans
Whole Kernel Corn
Corn on the cob
Mac n’ Cheese
Cole Slaw
Mashed Potatoes
Just by looking at the options you can probably tell that I would say green beans and corn/corn on the cob are the best choices....and you are absolutely right. What I was most shocked by was the amount of calories and fat in the cole slaw...who knew! So besides the veggies I think that your best bet would be to pick mashed potatoes because they are low in fat and calories and always seem to fill me up. Just be careful how much butter you add to them (if any) because that can drastically change the nutritional value on them.


1. Take KFC home for dinner instead of eating it in the drive thru---have a side of whole wheat bread, fruit and a glass of milk to complete your meal.

2. Please, for the love of the food gods, do not order this <---- it is a heart attack on a .... oh wait there's no bun. Yeah just don't do it.

3. If choosing between the famous bowl and the pot pie...choose the famous bowl. It has about half of the fat.

4. If you are getting a kids meal you can choose applesauce as a side and milk as a drink.

5. Just be smart about what you are putting into your body, just because a new unhealthy food is being advertised as the new thing does not mean that you need to splurge and get it. Stick with what you know is good for you and it'll all pay off. (:

Thanks for Reading!

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Favorite July 4th Recipes from Pinterest

Happy 4th of July!
Today is going to be a pretty quick post, but I was looking up recipes for a Fourth of July party later and I thought I would show my favorite ones! All of these can be found on Pinterest, I just typed in "July 4th Foods".
4th of July Firecracker Dogs, the perfect kid food for the family festivities or the neighborhood picnic!
I thought these were the cutest things, try turkey dogs and low fat cheese and it'll be delicious, full of protein  and low-fat! (:
4th of July party drink!
 The sugar content on this is pretty high, but this would be fun to give the little ones while the grown ups are sippin' on something else. (;
Lovely 4th of July food & drink Ideas :) Allison C - just like the others on candies/desserts. :)
I usually make these around the holidays, but this is a cute twist! Just bake a Hershey's kiss on top of a pretzel until the chocolate is soft and then place an MnM on top.

Strawberry Angel Food Cake Jars by iowagirleats #Cake #Strawberries #Jar
Low fat and oh so good. Angel food cake with strawberries and whip cream. Add some blueberries for an extra burst of antioxidants. July 4th Treats
This is probably the recipe that I will be using because it is so simple, and quick! You could also put the fruit on kabobs, but I kind of like this idea better.
fourth of july food ideas | 4th of July/Summer Food/Ideas / 4th of July join our text club for first dibs on giveaways, specials & parties! text MOMS to 57711
...But if you are going to kabobs, I think these are adorable.
4th of July waffles!
Easy breakfast Idea! Waffle with blueberries, raspberries, and whip cream (could substitute for bananas)
Fourth of July salad
Why not make a salad with almonds, feta cheese, strawberries, and blueberries for lunch?
July 4th salad
A new twist on 7 Layer dip!! Use black beans for the stars and I would use diced tomatoes for the stripes.
4th of july picnic Cool project from Fruit and Vegetable Kabobs
Why not mix veggies into your fruit kabob for lots of different nutrients and flavors? You could even add some grilled chicken and peppers. (:
Thanks for Reading!
Everyone have a safe Independence Day!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vitamin & Mineral ABC's: Vitamin A

Today I am going to start a new segment called Vitamin and Mineral ABC's. I will be talking about all of the different vitamins and minerals that our body needs starting with Vitamin A and ending with Zinc. I think that it is super important for us to understand not only how much of each of these nutrients we need to put in our bodies, but also to understand why we need them and what the best ways are to receive these nutrients without just supplementing.

Just so you guys know, I'm also learning this myself and am just getting the facts from databases and other reliable websites. :)

With that being said, my first lucky contestant would be none other than Vitamin A. Vitamin A is one of the four fat soluble vitamins (along with D, E, and K). Fat soluble vitamin is just fancy lingo for vitamins that are stored longer in the body (just like fat) and they are not lost as easy as other vitamins when they are boiled, microwaved, etc. The vitamins that would be lost through boiling and other cooking methods are water soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C. Because the fat soluble vitamins last longer in the body we don't need them as much and if we consume a lot of them it could be a wee bit toxic.

What does Vitamin A do?
Vitamin A does wonders in the body. The most commonly known one is that it helps improve eye sight-- I remember being told that I need to eat my carrots or else I would go I can thank Mom for scaring the jeebers out of me and getting me to eat my vitamin A. In all seriousness though, there are health risks such as AMD which means that as you get older, your eye sight slowly deteriorates. Vitamin A can also decrease your risks against cancer. The vitamin helps stimulate white blood cells and also helps regulate how much cells split up (cancer is started mainly by an uncontrolled amount of cells splitting).
Vitamin A has also been known to help prevent lung cancers in non-smokers AND smokers. Smokers should not take straight beta-carotene though because it has been known to increase chances...keep Vitamin A in mind instead. (:

How much do I need?

There are two types of Vitamin A. There is preformed vitamin A and also beta-carotene. You can consume as much beta-carotene as you want without any major side effects, but preformed Vitamin A can lead to some birth defects, nausea, dizziness, etc. The precursor, beta-carotene can form itself into Vitamin A if needed, so if you are worried about not getting enough of the preformed Vitamin A--you really shouldn't :). The safest way to make sure you are getting an adequate amount of both is just to consume both!

Here are the recommended values:

Life StageUpper Safe Limit
Birth to 12 months2,000 IU
Children 1–3 years2,000 IU
Children 4–8 years3,000 IU
Children 9–13 years5,667 IU
Teens 14–18 years9,333 IU
Adults 19 years and older10,000 IU
Now this chart seems kind of hard to understand, but I think that the easiest way to know that you are getting enough is by looking at the nutrition label where the vitamins are usually will show a percentage of how much of your daily values of Vitamin A are in the food. Again, don't freak out if you are over the percentages because your body will process what it needs and discard the rest. However, because it is a fat-soluble vitamin it will be stored for longer than water-soluble vitamins. So be more careful with over-doses of A, D, E, and K.
How do I know if I am at risk?
For most people in the USA, Vitamin A deficiency is not common. In developing countries, it is common though because most people do not have a great supply of foods full of beta carotene or Vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency takes a toll on people is when they are just babies. It is usually diagnosed when children are not able to see in dim light or at night.

Where can I find Vitamin A and Beta Carotene?

Beta Carotene is found in yellow, orange, and leafy green fruits and vegetables such as carrots, peppers, and kale. According to the University of Maryland, the brighter the fruit or veggie is, the more beta carotene it has.

Vitamin A can be found in lots of different foods, but its most common spots are in sweet potatoes, liver, spinach, fish oils, milk, eggs, fortified cereals, and broccoli.

Thanks for Reading!

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