Nutrition Corner: Simple ways to eat healthy on campus

August 23rd, 2017 3:58 pm

Whether you are returning to campus or an incoming freshman, you have a lot going on. Purchasing textbooks, reading syllabi and finding your class building to name just a few. Eating is most likely at the bottom of the list.

Dining halls can be overwhelming. I could not find half the food I wanted and, by the time I did, I needed to run on to the next class. Food choices need to be simple if you are going to keep your brain fed and energy level up.

First, think protein — milk, yogurt, low fat cheese, beans and lean meats are all good sources. Skip the soda and opt for low-fat milk. It is an easy 8 grams of protein plus calcium for just under 100 calories (1% milk). Yogurt can be high in sugar, so read the food label to find the one that has the least amount of added sugar and the greatest amount of protein. Low-fat cheese sticks are easy to pack and a better option than a bag of chips. Hummus, chickpeas and anything in the dried beans and peas group are packed with protein and have little salt. Top cucumber slices and mini carrots with hummus to get your veggies, too. Stick with sliced chicken, turkey, ham, roast beef and a low-fat alternative to ground meat burgers. Skip the gravy.

Next, choose whole grain carbs. Whole grain cereal, bagels, breads as well as oatmeal, popcorn and salads made with bulgur, such as tabbouleh will keep your digestive system healthy. They stick with you longer and help you avoid the low blood sugar lulls that popular commercial cookies or non-whole grain pretzels may cause. Whole grains even out blood sugar levels as opposed to high sugar cookies or candy which spike blood levels and then drop.

Vegetables and fruits round out the snacks and meals. Grab them on your way out of the dining hall or pack for snacks. Mini carrots and apples help keep your fiber up. Both contain more water, which helps keep you more hydrated than traditional vending machine snacks.

Of course, keep that water bottle in the backpack. Most campus encourage using refillable water bottles.

A few simple healthy eating practices will keep you well as your schedule becomes crazier with midterms. They are not too far away.

Here is a way to cook scrambled eggs in the microwave. It is easy clean up, packed with protein and a great start to the morning or as a late-night snack. Top with frozen veggies like broccoli. Both can be stocked in any dorm room refrigerator. Enjoy!

Microwave Scrambled Eggs with Broccoli

1 egg

1 Tbsp. milk or water

2 Tbsp. of thawed, frozen chopped broccoli

Spray glass bowl or other microwave-safe dish with nonstick spray. Add milk or water and egg, blending lightly with fork. Top with thawed chopped broccoli. Cover with plastic wrap and cook for 30 to 45 seconds for one egg. Remove from microwave; stir. Cover and let stand two to three minutes. Season to taste.


Add onions, peppers or other vegetables before microwaving to add color and flavor to your eggs.

Sprinkle with cheese or top with salsa after taking the eggs out of the microwave.

Makes 1 servings.

Per Serving: about 70 calories, 5 grams (g) of fat, 6 g protein and 70 mg sodium.

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at