By Eli Zimmerman
While the university dining services provide an array of food in the North and South Campus dining halls, it can be hard to find healthy food options that still satisfy an individual’s preferences.
With choices like chicken fingers and pizza, as well as a constantly changing spread of baked goods and ice cream flavors fresh from the Maryland Dairy, the odds are certainly stacked against the healthy college eater.
However, some Terps have been able to find ways to make healthy treats using a few diner points and a dash of creative genius.
The salad bar is a classic option for eating healthy, however it can also be used to help curb your sweet tooth.
Students like sophomore psychology and studio art major Maddie Monaco find the salad bar a great way to gather fresh ingredients for their own healthy meals and snacks.
“I think it’s important to find the raw things,” said Monaco. “The problem with things that are premade or made behind the counter is that you don’t really know what’s in it.”
One of Monaco’s go-to solutions for a satisfying, healthy breakfast is a waffle with a twist.
Monaco starts by spreading peanut butter across the top, which she says is a great way to add protein in the morning. She then adds sliced bananas and nuts for sweetness, energy and crunch factor.
“The main thing here is the energy,” Monaco explains as she puts the finishing touches on her meal. “This really gets me awake for class, and the bananas give it a sweet touch.”
When she is on the go or is interested in something even sweeter, Monaco also enjoys making simple parfaits by layering yogurt, fruit and granola that she finds on the salad bar.
Anna Bella Sicilia, a sophomore philosophy and history major, loves making creative toasts when she needs to satisfy her stomach.
One of her favorite options is toast with one of the flavored hummus options from the salad bar with a sprinkle of beans and peppers on top.
As a vegetarian, Sicilia is used to finding creative solutions for food when she gets tired of eating at Sprouts, the vegan food counter at the North Campus Diner. She said her approach to making healthy food choices is to make sure to switch her meals up.
“Listening to what your body needs is important,” says Sicilia. “Don’t get stuck in a rut, be creative and try new things.”
Shayne Zaplitny, a freshman kinesiology major, encourages students to share creative recipes with each other if they are having trouble.
“I get a lot of my ideas from my friends because I’m not especially creative,” Zaplitny said. “But I can usually come up with some pretty cool stuff.”
Zaplitny enjoys making fast snacks, such as the classic “ants-on-a-log,” which for her consists of celery she got from the sandwich station and peanut butter.
While Zaplitny omits the sweet topping in her snack, dried cranberries or even some fresh blueberries can be a great alternative to chocolate chips and are usually available in the diner. This creative freshman also enjoys taking fruit to go and using it later for fruit salad.
“They have a lot of options if you can get creative,” says Zaplitny. “Those options switch depending on meal time which is nice.”
For those who struggle with coming up with recipes, the university’s dining services has a smart choice menu, which guides students to make healthy food choices at the diners.
The menu, created by UMD dining services nutrition student employees, lists two meal options for each day, one for lunch or brunch and another for dinner, using food that the diners provide.
The menus are posted in both diners daily, with new suggestions every week.