Like a beehive, a college campus is a small city of residents with wildly different roles and needs. You’ve got your workers, your studying drones, your drama queens – some need just enough energy to hold a book up, others to run a marathon.
Each month, my blog will track down one type of student trying to find his or her way through a maze of dietary options. I will get to know them, discuss their food choices, and make an interesting “Guiding Stars inspired” meal suggestion for them to try. I begin here with my first summer voyage to Holloway Commons, the main dining hall at UNH:
For the first time since freshman year, I felt lost in the dining hall. I scanned through a sea of prospective students and UNH Wildcat campers. Although I seemed not to fit in, I felt entitled to be there, a dining hall “veteran” – like a worn crayon thrown into a box of crayons fresh off the press. Just when I was about to give up on my search for a college student, a gray UNH t-shirt caught my eye. I approached her carefully as if she was a mirage but quickly recognized her authenticity. After getting her permission to feature her in my first blog, we sat down to talk food.
Erin is a senior at UNH studying Athletic Training. When she graduates, she plans to get her certification, go to grad school, and eventually become a physician’s assistant. She is spending her summer working at the UNH sports camps. Erin explained that if she had free time she would spend it at the mall, hanging out downtown with friends, or enjoying Portsmouth, NH.
This busy-bee is highly active and needs to feed on some serious (yet quick) grub. She meant business this day with a green plate filled with several delicious 2 and 3 star choices. She chose stir-fry—one of her dining hall favorites—with snow peas, carrots, broccoli, and chicken. We both agreed that stir-fry is an easy way to get a well-balanced meal: whole grains, lots of fiber, various vitamins and nutrients, and lean protein. This meal is healthy, filling, and will sustain a girl like Erin throughout a hectic afternoon.
She defines nutrition as “choosing options that are healthy” and was proud to share her knowledge about Guiding Stars, “3 stars are the best,” Erin explained.
Guiding Stars can be helpful for busy students like Erin who need to make choices quickly. She is often pleasantly surprised when certain foods in the dining hall get 3 stars. Even if you normally eat and enjoy broccoli, when you see that you are making the 3-star choice it’s as if you are receiving a badge of honor.
This multi-tasker needed to get back to camp but expressed an interest in my Guiding Stars inspired dessert. I made her a healthy spin on apple crisp by using juicy sliced apples, about a tablespoon of water, a sprinkle of cinnamon & sugar, and a healthy sprinkling of granola – I nuked it in the microwave for 45 seconds. It was more than a success. Erin was happy to know that she could make a dessert at the dining hall that had more nutritional value than something like a chunk of brownie. Impressed, “the bee” shook my hand and made her exit, seeming to have a new swing in her step (or should I say wings) knowing that dessert can be made healthy.
I know many students at UNH that would be classified as “busy-bees” just like Erin. Guiding Stars caters to this lifestyle—it helps us make decisions without having to think too much. If you’ve been studying all day, save some brain power and let the stars reward you – but remember to get creative!
Sarah Frederickson is a junior Nutrition & Wellness major at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). I have a strong passion for promoting healthy eating and overall wellness. With some help from the UNH dietitian, I recently finished a project called Creative Eating which is an approach to educating students on making interesting, delicious, and smart choices in the dining halls. Along with a personal blog that I use to support this project, I have a Facebook group where Creative Eating enthusiasts can stay updated with project events, news, and recipe ideas. I am also an active member of Students Promoting Information on Nutrition (SPIN), a UNH student organization meant to spread nutrition knowledge to students through peer education.