Three Quick Meals With Things Kept On Hand

There are some days where I run out of the house like a bat out of hell, most likely because I've hit the snooze button too many times or my short attention span led me to distraction.  So here are two quick meals (or snacks) that I'm able to make quickly with things that are ALWAYS in my fridge or pantry. 

For breakfast, I'll take a container of yogurt (usually nonfat and of some fruit variety) and throw some Cheerios or other cereal on top, and chow it down.  This can be portable if you are walking to class, but doesn't work so well in the car.

For lunch, another quick and portable meal is a grilled cheese sandwich or even quesadilla.  These can be made on the stove-top in a pan, but the broiler works pretty well too. I recently moved into a house that has a decent broiler (I'm talking flames, not the lame-o broiler that electric ovens have), and had a broiled quesadilla today.  This saves time and there is less fat because you don't have to butter the bread or tortilla.  
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Soul food, vegan eats and a fantasy bar

Journalism is hard work. In the past few weeks, we've send our intrepid reporters out to a soul food restaurant, a Buddhist-inspired vegan eatery and a hookah bar. Our reviewers came, they saw, they ate.

This week, it was Andy Nguyen's, a Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant. Inspired by Buddhist thought, Andy Nguyen's menu offers intriguing culinary delights like Transformation of the Mind, a grilled Hanoi-style soy meat dish in a lettuce wrap. Though a vegan paradise, our reviewer says meat-eaters should be wary.

Layalina offers a bit of Far East exoticism, too, albeit fewer references to the Dalai Lama. A smoker's delight, the hookah bar, restaurant and club offers everything from baba ghanouj to a DJ spinning beats. Our writer says get there stylishly late to enjoy the DJ and stop by on Thursdays for a hip hop-themed night.

And then there's Table 260, which serves up Southern-fried soul food with a twist. Mouth-watering chicken and waffles, jambalaya, pulled-pork sandwiches and ribs are all on the menu, but, our reporter warns our readers the prices may be a bit high for the average college student.

For more dining reviews, visit The State Hornet and get the skinny. We'll figure out which restaurants are worth the time of your taste buds.

Journalism, I repeat, is hard work.
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Three Ingredient Salad Dressing

This is a very simple salad dressing recipe that I got from a friend who is on a super-strict diet, but the dressing tastes faboo!It contains less fat and less artificial ingredients than store bought dressing.

This recipe is good for one salad, so just multiply the ingredients by the number of salads you'll be serving.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl, and then drizzle over the salad of your choice.
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Scrambled Egg Pitas

Here is a quick recipe for breakfast pitas which are great for on the way to school.

The main ingredients are pitas and eggs, but there are some simple variations to suit your tastes. The pita makes this breakfast extremely portable, because it is a little pocket for your food.

Just scramble some eggs, and stuff the pita with egg and you're good to go. If you have time in the morning, the eggs can be scrambled in a pan. If in a hurry, scramble the eggs in the microwave. To do this, crack the egg into a microwave safe container and whisk with a fork. Pop in the microwave for 45 seconds, stir, and then microwave for another 45 seconds.

If you are feeling extra crafty, add some of the following ingredients:

- Crumble some sausage into the pan if cooking on the stove

- Chop some onions or mushrooms, or both, and add to egg before cooking (Chopped bell peppers also work quite well)

- After stuffing the pita with scrambled eggs, top with shredded cheese

- Top your finished pita with salsa or hot sauce

The possibilities are endless!
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Lentils, they're good for you

This is a recipe for a meal that not only is inexpensive, it's good for you.
With cool nights headed our way, this recipe is easy and inexpensive to make.

1/2 lb lentils ( I like the black ones at Trader Joe's)
2 0r 3 Roma tomatoes, 1 onion chopped ( I use shallots)
1 bay leaf, 2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water

Rinse lentils, chop tomatoes, put all ingredients in a pot. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese, serve with crusty bread and a nice glass of red wine. Enjoy.
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Making the Switch to Whole Wheat Anything

In my ongoing efforts to eat healthier, my husband and I decided to start adding more whole grain items into our cart. This wasn't a very hard decision, especially with all of the evidence that is out there about the benefits of whole grains. The only problem was getting used to the taste and texture of whole grain pastas and cereals.

Our first attempts at cooking with whole grains were kind of a bummer. For instance, if you don't use enough water when cooking brown rice, it can come out kind of chewy, and chewy rice was not what we were looking for. When we made spaghetti with whole grain pasta, we didn't cook it long enough, and the noodles also came out chewy, and it put me off of using whole grain pasta for awhile.

Now that we've learned how to cook these grains the correct way and have them taste like the pasta and rice we grew up with, whole grains are a staple in our diets. Here are a couple tips for cooking with whole grain pasta and rice:

-Cook the pasta five minutes longer than it says on the box, and taste a noodle every couple of minutes until the pasta is as soft as you like it.

-For whole grain rice (like brown rice or wild rice) use a little bit more water than you usually would. If the recipe calls for one cup of rice to one and a half cup of water, use two cups of water instead.

Some other ways to sneak whole grains into your diet in relatively painless ways are to switch to whole grain bread, whole grain tortillas and also whole grain cereals. Its a pretty easy way to improve your diet in a small way. According to mypyramid.gov, whole grains provide B vitamins, iron, folate, and may help with weight management. They can also help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, something which may be far from our minds at this stage in life, but it doesn't hurt to be aware of preventing these problems when we're young.
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Quick Bean Fajita Burritos

This is something that I throw together on nights that I want something filling but don't have a lot of time (like when I'm running late for my horror film class), and a plus is that it is vegetarian. All it is is a bean burrito with some sauted onions and bell peppers. Yesterday this recipe took twenty minutes from start to finish.

All you need to make these burritos is a can of refried beans, a quarter of a sliced yellow onion, one bell pepper, olive oil and tortillas. If you are concerned about the recipe being fully vegetarian, pick up the refried beans that say "vegetarian" on the can. Some other optional ingredients you can use are sour cream, grated cheese and salsa. Also, I use whole wheat tortillas, but any tortilla you prefer will do.

The first step is to chop the bell pepper and the onion into strips, and then put them in the pan with the olive oil on medium high heat for about ten minutes.

While the bell pepper and onion are cooking, heat the refried beans according to the direction on the can. Once those are heated, place the number of tortillas you want to use between two paper towels and stick them in the microwave for about a minute and a half.

To serve, scoop some beans onto the tortilla, add some of your bell pepper and onion onto the beans, and garnish with the toppings of your choice, like the cheese or sour cream.

This recipe should serve two, so if you are making this for one, you'll have leftovers which never hurts!
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Mypyramid.gov is your friend

Have you ever wondered exactly how many calories your body needs to maintain your current weight, or even how much you should eat to lose weight? Or how about how much of each food group is needed to get all of your daily recommended nutrients? Mypyramid.gov is the place to go to get answers.

Once on the website, click on My Pyramid Plan. You'll have to enter your height, weight, age and physical activity. (It chastised me about my weight when I entered in the information before it let me get to the goods.) Then, like magic, a food pyramid tailored to your own unique needs is right in front of you.

This website has come in handy for me because I've always wondered just how many fruits and vegetables I need to stay healthy and how many calories I need to take in to gradually lose weight. What is also extremely helpful is that they break down what exactly counts as a portion for any type of food, like a slice of bread or serving of carrots. More to come on that later.
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Things to do with ramen noodles

Ah, ramen noodles. Thought of for years as the universal food of college students, this simple meal has been providing college students sustenance while on a cheap budget. It is easy to see why with the just-add-water appeal, and the plethora of flavors, from beef, chicken, and even lime chili shrimp, which is my favorite, and the simple fact that a dollar can get you 10 packages.

But sometimes this staple of the collegiate diet leaves us yearning for more. Here are a few easy ways to jazz up your favorite flavor of ramen noodles. (Most of these work best if you are preparing your noodles on the stove or in the microwave.)

- After you've added the noodles and seasoning packet to the pot of boiling water, crack an egg into the pot and then add in some sliced green onions.

- Throw some chopped broccoli and chopped bell pepper of your choice into the boiling water with the noodles and seasoning packet. Cook until the broccoli is bright green, but not mushy, aka tender crisp.

- Heat up some store bought chicken strips, and add them to your noodles right before you eat them. (You could always cook a chicken breast yourself if you feel so inclined.)

- For a spicy version, buy the lime chili shrimp ramen noodles, or any of the spicier ones. Cook the noodles with the seasoning packet, and then drain once cooked. Add 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese to noodles, and garnish with sliced jalapeƱos.

- Or you could just do what I like and open one end of the package, add the seasoning packet, and carefully crush the noodles inside the packet and eat it crunchy. I know, not very healthy, but it tastes really good!
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