And that’s why we’re giving you some ways to get around the nutrition hurdle. It’s a whole lot easier to eat well when you live near campus with house mates and have a full-sized fridge like¬† Kate does. Here are some ways to maximize your dorm eating experience so that Ramen noodles isn’t your staple food.

The ‘staple’ items we suggest getting from the grocery store are mostly non-perishable, or at least, have a very long-shelf life, but they’re really good for you.

-canned tuna (both in water and oil)
-pita pockets
-apricots and other dried fruit (figs, dates)
-sun dried tomatoes
– Daniel bars
-long-lasting fruits and vegetables(Granny Smith and Fuji apples, winter squash, jicama, grapefruit, bananas)
-amaranth
-couscous
-baby food (yup we’re serious)
-dried legumes(garbanzo, pinto, navy, white, kidney, chickpeas)
– whole wheat bread
-cheese, grated and blocks of cheese
-pre-packaged and sorted raw salad greens (spinach, arugula, endive, lettuces)
-baby carrots
-apple cider, orange juice (all unsweetened in family-size tetra packs)
– avocadoes (Haas variety)

A great many canned foods, such as pineapple, corn and soups, have a great deal of sugar, salt, EDTA (preservative) and other additives in them. The items we suggest have few preservatives but are readily accessible to dorm residents.

Canned tuna is great with mayonnaise/plain yogurt plus olive oil with lettuce in pita pockets. It’s packed full of protein that’ll keep you awake so you can cram for that nasty exam, and the fats in tuna are good for you while making you feel fuller for a longer time.

Pita pockets are useful for leftovers from frozen dinners (reheated in microwave) and canned one-container meals such as Stagg chili. We suggest getting whole wheat pitas which have extra fiber; great for your digestive system, your heart and your blood sugar levels, and it makes you feel fuller longer.

Apricots and other dried fruit can be added to that standby, Rice-a-Roni. They can be eaten alone, as a snack when included in a ‘study hall mix’ with peanuts and chocolate chips, or when you’re nervous and need something to chew on. They’re also great when added to amaranth, as you’ll see below.

Sun-dried tomatoes with olive oil can be included in pitas, microwave dinners, in sandwiches or eaten alone for a loaded source of Vitamin A, C and E.
Daniel bars are made with whole grains, and it’s done using the microwave. Try out our recipe for an energy bar or snack better than the average pricey granola bar you find at the store.

Our interview with Kate when she went hiking has a nice rundown of the long-lasting fruits and veggies. We suggest buying a grater, a small cutting board and a paring knife so you can have lots of raw salads (cheddar turnips, squash ‘n’ beets, apple-jicama salad with hummus) with stuff you can make in a microwave, like our dorm-hummus recipe. Winter squash (small) can be cut into flat slices or chunks and microwaved with cheese and a spice mix. You can read up on squash and get a couple of recipe ideas in our Food Market. The fiber, energy and vitamins and minerals will do you good.

Amaranth and couscous are grains that can be found in most bulk food sections or on the shelf near rolled oats. With really hot water (or hot cider, hot chocolate, hot chicken broth) you just stir in the whole grain, let it sit for five minutes for amaranth, ten for couscous, and eat up. Super-easy and pretty cheap, too.

Baby food, the on-the-shelf kind for 6-months old babies and up are packed with nutrients and taste quite good. We love using it as a spread for whole wheat crackers here at HTT.

Beans are a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals and make a complete protein when eaten with brown rice, or with squash and corn. Dried beans can be flash-revived in the microwave after you soak them overnight in a plastic container, covering the beans with two inches of water. Add a large pinch of baking soda to “degas” the beans. Pour hot water over the beans and let sit, then microwave on high for 20 minutes, taking it out to stir once in awhile. Then let it sit covered for one hour, and your beans are ready to drain and eat or add to one of those awful cans of condensed soup for some nutrient value. They can also be mushed up with fresh parsley, plain yogurt, mixed dried spices and lemon juice for a dip.

Whole wheat bread is great with a spread that doesn’t need refridgeration. There “are” some out there, including Skippy peanut-jam stripes, powdered wasabi and condensed milk, or plain maple syrup or honey.¬† Cliff likes his pb sandwiches with honey, cinnamon and banana slices. Give it a try to maximize the nutrition you get.

Cheese is useful because it works in salads, sandwiches, pitas, microwave dinners, as a snack on its own and to thicken up soups. The other suggestions we have can just be rinsed and eaten as they are, maybe with lemon juice added or better yet, a vinegar dressing (vinegar mixed with lemon zest – that grater comes in handy again – and five spice powder or chillies you nuked in the microwave). We also insist on flavour-enhancing condiments that can be kept on the shelf, such as chipotle chilies in adobo, roasted garlic (done in the microwave), and powdered herbs and dried spices. Dried dill does wonders for the ‘dorm hummus dip’.

And here’s a sample recipe:

Dorm Hummus Dip

2 cans chickpeas, drained
half can tomato puree
1 16 oz. container plain yogurt
dried dill (optional)
1 or 2 chipotle chilies in adobo
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons olive oil

Let plain yogurt drain for at least 20 minutes, pour liquid that gathers from the bowl. Mash chickpeas and mince chilies and garlic, or mash all ingredients in a blender. Use in tuna pita pockets, on crackers, cheese or to jazz up Granny Smith apple slices.

If you’re in a dorm now and planning to transfer to a house that has a refrigerator, check out our grocery list to maximize nutrition while minimizing cooking time and money spent!