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MIT student blogger Rachel D. '16

Healthy Eating Craze by Rachel D. '16

It is not difficult to be a vegetarian here at MIT

These past six months, I’ve found myself getting sick fairly often, about once every other month.

The people surrounding me have brought up many very valid suggestions on why I might be falling ill.

“You run too much.”

“You have too many jobs.”

“Rachel, just go to sleep!”

“Is it something in our lab?”

“Take vitamins!”

“You don’t eat enough food!”

“Eat meat!”

“Eat fish!”

“Just sprinkle some MSG on your food – here you go.”

So I took this all into consideration, and I have come to the conclusion that I want to start eating healthy and keeping track of what I am eating.  I have been a vegetarian for about four years and I’ve had a fairly weak immune system for what seems like forever, but it had never really been quite this bad.  So I have begun to cook healthy foods and eat healthy foods and keep track of my calorie and vitamin and nutrient intake to try to find out what’s wrong with me.  I also went to the MIT pharmacy and picked up vitamins.  I really wanted the chewables but the pharmacist told me that I wouldn’t get nearly as many vitamins and nutrients as I would from the giant pills, so I got the giant intimidating pills. They scare me, but I take them because I can hear my mother in my head going “take vitamins!” (Hi mom.)

As a part of my healthy eating craze, I’ve started to use this website called calorie count which does all the work for me of analyzing what is in the foods I am eating and determining which nutrients I am lacking.  So far, I’ve found that I was actually lacking in potassium, protein, and calcium, as well as most vitamins. Because I now take the vitamins, I am no longer lacking in Vitamin A, Calcium, or Iron!  It is like magic! No more broken/breaking bones for me!

Also, I’m really starting to like looking up new healthy recipes and discovering new healthy foods I can eat everyday.  Every morning, I wake up and eat my Cinnamon Apple oatmeal with my scary vitamin.  I go to work, and then for lunch I eat a yogurt parfait made of the following:

  • One sliced banana
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup light&fit vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup honey&flax granola

IT IS SO YUMMY!  I have never really been a fan of yogurt parfait, but then I had some, and then I became a fan.  Also, with my new calorie counting thingy I can get nutritional information for my creations!

This is the nutritional information for the yogurt parfait I make!

This is low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium and high in protein and fiber!  It also meets about 20% of the recommended need for potassium!

Another healthy snack I’ve made is a banana yogurt smoothie in order to increase my protein and potassium consumption.  All you have to do is put a banana in a freezer for about a day and, once frozen, blend it with about a cup of yogurt and some extra ice.  It tastes so good!  The one problem I’ve had is peeling off the banana peel after freezing it.  If you try this, make sure to unpeel the banana before putting it in the freezer.

Another thing I made the other day which makes me really happy is a mac and cheese caserole that I’ve been making throughout the year which is based on a recipe I found on the got milk website.  I had some milk left over from another recipe that I really wanted to get rid of, so I searched the website and found a really great one for mac and cheese!  Over time, I have completely altered the recipe to bring me additional happiness, and so that it is more veggie friendly.

It includes:

  • 2 cups cooked elbow noodles
  • As much spinach as you want (Sautee in olive oil, but not too long and not too much oil)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 1 1/2 cup cheese (the other day I used 1 cup of fancy shredded cheese and 1/2 cup muenster cheese)
  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs

You mix everything and put it in a pan coated with bread crumbs. Do not overfill the pan (find another pan if that one is full) and then put shredded cheese and bread crumbs on top before placing in the oven for about twenty minutes.  The original way to make these is to make mac and cheese muffins, which are great for bringing to class or work and eating on the go.

One last dish!

I just made a Spinach Quiche that came out so good!  I improvised from a recipe I found on allrecipes.com and the result was wonderfulness.

Here is how I made it!

The Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable milk

Directions:

  1. Put together ingredients and mix until uniform (you can use your hands to ensure uniformity)
  2. Press into pie pan until evenly spread (or however you desire)
  3. Put in freezer for ten minutes or fridge for thirty minutes (this just keeps the crust stiff/firm)

The Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 3/8 cup mayonaise
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz cheese of your choice (I used 2 oz cheddar cheese and 6 oz muenster cheese)
  • 4 oz baby spinach
  • 2 oz shredded carrots
  • 1 tsp minced onion

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Whisk together mayo and milk
  3. Lightly beat the eggs and then whisk them into the mayo/milk mixture
  4. Put a layer of spinach and carrots in pie pan with unbaked crust and then a layer of cheese and repeat three times or until you can’t fit anything else
  5. Sprinkle minced onion over top – if you do not have minced onion, consider adding real onion and salt
  6. Top with mayo/milk/egg solution – it is okay for it to sort of fill over, make sure that the pie tin/pan is on a cookie sheet in case spilling occurs
  7. Put pie pan with cookie pan underneath into oven for 45 minutes covered with tinfoil. Remove tinfoil and let bake uncovered for ten minutes or until settled and yummy.
  8. Pie will seem large and poofy. Let sit for at least ten minutes to cool and it will shrink and be eatable.

SO MANY YUMMY FOODS!

All in all, eating healthy and getting enough nutrients on a vegetarian diet at MIT has been pretty easy.  There are so many resources just outside of our doors to get good food and produce!  Every Tuesday there is a wonderful produce market in the Stata Center where you can get all sorts of great vegetables and fruits, and it is super cheap too!  Every Wednesday there is a farmers market in Kendall Square, and every weekend there is a huge farmer’s market in Haymarket, just a fifteen minute T ride away!  It is so simple to just saute up some vegetables and throw them into ramen to add some extra nutrients, and it makes you feel a whole lot healthier.

For information about eating a meat-filled diet here at MIT, you should take a look at Michael C. ’16’s post from back in January with all of his beautiful pictures!  He also gives a lot of good information about reasons to choose cooking for yourself over a meal plan.

To the worried freshmen who are unsure about being able to cook for yourselves – cooking is easy!  It can involve making ramen (boiling water) or cereal (adding milk) or making a super fancy caserole, but no matter what it is or where you are living there will be many people around you who will be willing to help you figure things out and stay healthy.  MIT has resources at Community Wellness, and Medlinks like myself can help you out too!  Even if we are still trying to figure it out ourselves =]

Anyway, here are a couple pictures of some other simple things I’ve made!

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Balsamic Glaze Salad

Mini Muffin Fruit Tart Pastries

Vegetable Baked Ziti