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Forgive the short response, but I'm blogging from my phone, which, in my opinion, is pretty stellar. Anyway... As I sat staring at my lunch today I found myself thinking 'Crap! This is so not gluten-free.' So there I was, looking down into my chicken caesar salad carefully navigating around the very delicious-looking croutons. I did my damnedest to avoid eating them, and I turned out to be...

Take Two on Day One

Well, kids here's what we learn from this unfortunate predicament: whenever you write anything you're proud of, strange and invisible forces of nature will undoubtedly conspire against you and make it disappear. So, now that I'm on my second attempt at a beginning, forgive me if my tone is a little sarcastic and rude. I am just not in the mood to be technologically trifled with.

Cheap Eats: Top Chefs Talk Restaurant Week

Once a year, high-end restaurants in every major U.S. city open their menus for a week of slash-priced meals, at around thirty dollars a head. This, splurge-deprived restaurant-goers, is called Restaurant Week. Clientele shifts, tables fill, and dishes like foie gras with fig are eaten, guiltlessly, in excess.

Quick Dish!

After a long, long, long day and into the wee hours, I hear hallmates next door fumbling for their phones and the Chinese take-out number. It’s not hard to find since the vendors wickedly slide the ad underneath our doors or stick them on the handles. Weren’t thinking about an eggroll?

Food Court Frenzy

Alas, the winter holiday season is upon us.  Then again, judging by commercials, radio stations, and public decorations, Christmas was probably unfolding itself before Thanksgiving menus were even considered.  With this wonderful time of festivity comes the massive onslaught of end-of-se

Clif is My Friend.

Looking for a power snack after you hit the gym?  An on-the-go breakfast bar?  An energizer for late-night studying?  I've gotta say, I'm really digging Clif Bars.  They're super dense, moist, and leaning on the sweet side.  Chewy and filling.  Variety of flavors including Crunchy Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, Banana Bread, Black Cherry Almond, and so on.  Sometimes we like a nice sit-down dinner with our friends.  Sometimes, we just don't have the TIME!  If we did, how could we qualify ourselves as college students?  You mean there are people with lives in which they can spend time doing nothing and not lose sleep for it?  Absurd.  I don't believe it.

(P.S.  Exaggeration.  I condone a healthy dose of nothingness.)


So deliciously convenient while I suffer through four research papers.

Halloween Week

Halloween this Friday!  On a day devoted to candy, it's pretty hard to eat healthy.  I say, indulge a bit!  Be festive!  Maybe tune in a little Vampire Weekend, paint your face, carve a pumpkin.  Whatever makes you happy.

9 Green Halloween Treats

Healthier Halloween Treats

Think eating candy here and there is better than more at once?  Think again.  Nibbling throughout the night will continually soak your teeth in sugar and acid, and such exposure leads to tooth decay.  You probably don't want to have a filling next time you're at home and your mom makes you go to the dentist.  If you eat an allotted amount of sweets at one time and then brush your teeth afterwards, you'll decrease your chances of cavities.

Going to a party but don't know what you can possibly bring from your wee dorm or apartment?  Some healthier and accessible recipes:


Dracula's Blood  (At least you are getting calcium?)

1/2 cup cold low-fat milk
3 Tbsp. instant vanilla pudding
1 drop of red food coloring

Mix it all up.  One box of pudding will make 4 servings of BLOOD.

Black Cauldron Dip (One way to trick ourselves into eating veggies)

Black food coloring
Ranch salad dressing
Prepackaged raw veggie sticks

Just mix until desired color is achieved.  Or use green food coloring for "slime."


Bloody Popcorn Balls 

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
5 cups popped popcorn
extra butter for handling
Red food coloring

1. Place air-popped popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.

2. In a 2-quart microwave-safe bowl, combine honey, sugar, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon butter. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high or to 275 degrees F for 5-7 minutes. Add red food coloring and stir.

3. Pour honey mixture over popcorn and stir to coat with a wooden spoon then set aside to cool.

4. After thoroughly washing your hands first, butter your hands then shape popcorn into balls.

Makes 6 popcorn balls.

[From Public Health Seattle & King County]

 Jack-o-Lantern Smoothies (Pour this into festive cups/glasses.)

1 cup canned sweet potato
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. unpacked brown sugar
1 small banana
2 cups of 1% milk (or your choice)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Cinnamon to taste
5 ice cubes or more as desired to increase volume

Blend it in a blenda!  Serves about four 8-oz. glasses.

Estimated Stats per Serving:  148 calories, 1.4 g fat, 28 g carb, 2.3 g fiber, 6.8 g protein.  Not bad for Halloween.

[http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=405794 ]

Breakfast in the Dorm

Bland?  Boring?  Doesn’t have to be!  The varieties of instant oatmeal and cereal can be dizzying.  Be humble with your food choices, pay attention to what you eat, and you may realize there is more flavor to food than how much you can stuff yourself with.  Choose quality in health over quantity in bulk. (Ramen noodles, anyone?)


If you’re fortunate enough to have a small fridge, you can stock up on whatever fresh fruit is on sale, tons of different yogurt flavors, and milk.  Activia Light yogurt is fantastic in raspberry, blueberry, vanilla, peach, or strawberry/banana.  Buy a tub of plain fat-free yogurt or cottage cheese and add your own fruit, if that is less expensive.  Cereals like all bran, Uncle Sam’s whole wheat flakes, grape nuts, cheerios, or unfrosted mini wheats can be paired with skim milk, plain or flavored soy milk, rice milk or almond milk.  If you aren’t used to the hearty, earthy tastes of those relatively unsweetened grains, adding a few pieces of your favorite sweet cereal or berries can help ease you in. 

With a carton of egg beaters, a bowl and a microwave, you can cook yourself a scrambled egg in about 1 minute.  Make a b-fast sandwich or wrap with some salsa and canned black beans or refried beans, if you’d like!  Got a freezer?  Whole-grain frozen waffles.  Got a toaster?  PBJ or PB-Banana toast.  Apparently, there are even toaster pastries, much like Poptarts, but with more beneficial fiber from the brand Fiber One.


If you don’t have a fridge, like me this semester, instant oatmeal is your best friend.  Quaker’s Weight Control is my current go-to with flavors like Maple Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, and Banana Bread (loaded with fiber and protein).  Kashi’s Hot Cereals, like Truly Vanilla or Honey & Cinnamon, are rich as well.  Add water & microwave down the hall.  BAM!  Warm whole grain action in my belly, and I’m off to Intro.to Literature.


So maybe it’s not your mama’s homemade spread.  So what?  Make the best of it!


A Sweet Quick-Whip:  Peanut Butter-Banana Trifles

Time:  10 minutes or less          Serves:  2


-         1 cup plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt (or soy yogurt)

-         1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter, no sugar added

-         1 Tbsp. honey (or maple syrup)

-         1 large banana, sliced

-         1 cup whole grain or multigrain cereal

In a bowl, whisk/stir together yogurt, PB & honey/syrup until smooth.  Divide ¼ cup each yogurt mixture among two glasses.  Top with half banana slices and half the cereal.  Repeat layers one more time.  FIN.


Food against illness!

Oh my goodness!  Mid-terms, projects, papers galore.  If you have been getting enough sleep, kudos to you.  With fall breaks on the way, the last thing you want to do is catch that nasty lung-rattling cough attacking innocent college students.  Desperate times call for desperate measures?  Not so much.  Your self-defense against sickness is actually available in the dining halls, the grocery stores, and other daily food stops.

Certain nutrients in the foods we eat have been found to enhance the immune system, and they're really not that hard to come by if you just make the thoughtful effort to pick them.  Vitamin C is not very surprising; at least, I think that's what many of our parents drill into us growing up.  (I highly recommend the Halls Sugarless Vitamin C cough drops, by the way.  They are too tasty to be called medicine!)  But what about these other immunity boosters?

- Vitamin E, found in nuts and whole grains (Easy breakfast:  whole-grain PB toast)
- Zinc, found in beans, turkey, and beef
- Garlic (how about in your favorite Italian dishes!)
- Bioflavanoids (fancy way of saying eat your fruits and veggies)
- Selenium, found in chicken, whole grains, tuna, eggs, sunflower seeds
- Carotenoid, found in carrots and yams
- Omega-3 fatty acids, found in nuts, salmon and other fish, flaxseeds

Toss together a big bowl of leafy greens, carrots and broccoli or cauliflower, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and you're well on your way.  Top it with grilled chicken, deli turkey, or a hard-boiled egg.  If you're vegetarian or vegan, add tofu or sprinkle various seeds.  On the side, have a dish of fruit salad or a piece of whole fruit. That's one of the quickest ways to get the nutrients you need when you're super hungry and super busy.  Before you know it, you'll be well-fed, better armed against sickness, and on your way to a restful holiday break!

So the foodventure begins.

Rinsing the dark green grape leaves in the sink, fluffing the hot rice spiced with cinnamon, my mother was passing Lebanese heritage to me through pots and pans. For the labor-intensive recipe of dolmas, or stuffed grape leaves, we spent hours preparing and rolling little bundles of tastebud joy for the special occasion of my father's birthday. Stuffed grape leaves are his favorite. As a "chip off the old block," they are also mine.

Needless to say, as a college student, I do not have time to spend hours working on my great-grandmother's recipe nor the money to purchase "exotic" or fancy ingredients. I no longer have my own kitchen. My mom and I aren't cooking dinner anymore; I'm eating at a dining hall where everything is pre-selected and cooked for me. I want to eat healthy, but the environment and options have completely changed. The last thing I want to hear is the looming Freshman 15.

Simply put, convenience and nutrition don’t go hand-in-hand without some planning and good references. When you’re a college student, running from class to work to clubs to impromptu friend gatherings, it can be hard to eat right. With a whirlwind of brain-consuming activities, we tend to overlook one of the most basic yet important aspects of our lives: our health. (Especially around this time of year! Notice any classmates sniffling and downing coughdrops like M&Ms?)

Learn about food, and we learn about ourselves. We learn how to give our bodies enough energy to feel good and fight sickness. We learn about our heritage through family recipes passed down. We celebrate our holidays with feasts. We share conversation, memories, confidance over food with our friends. Food brings us together.

Now? Food is bringing me to you. My name’s Ann Cochran. In brevity, I’m a short, stubborn “health-nut” with a penchant for dessert, coffee, and cereal. (Make sense? Nooope!) Am I a bonafide nutritionist or gourmet chef? Nope. But I want to learn how to make good choices when I’m browsing the dining halls, when I’m overwhelmed by the zillion ways to dress up a cup of coffee at Starbucks, when I’m on the run and faced with fast-food chains. If I have access to a small kitchen, or even just a microwave, I want to know how best to cook easy, quick, delicious meals. I’m going to collect tips and techniques here, saute it with a little extra virgin olive oil, and spice it with some crushed red pepper for your convenience.

Don’t you want to live well, live long, live light? Live with zest. Live your life!


P.S. Next time: The Skinny on Starbucks!

A Weekend for Foodies

Image Courtesy of Jordana LynneLabor Day Weekend, San Francisco turned into the Woodstock equivalent for food lovers. And with the overwhleming presence of student supporters, Imprint had to be there.

Image Courtesy of Jordana Lynne Mosten 

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