On Monday, November 30th Kobe Bryant, guard for the L.A. Lakers and West Philly native, visited Larry’s Steak on my school’s campus! Since the Lakers were to play the Sixers the next day, he grabbed a cheesesteak and sat with some old friends around 8pm. Almost as soon as one of my classmates recognized him, the word was out, and within minutes, hundreds of Saint Joseph’s students (including me) came to Larry’s to see the Black Mamba in the flesh. When I myself heard the news (I was laying down at the time), I hopped out of bed, put on my coat, and ran to Larrys. I got to Larry’s in a blazing 2 minutes, and it usually takes me 7-9 minutes to walk there from my dorm. I was not risking missing Kobe Bryant! I climbed on top of tables and almost got trampled by an eager mob just to get my pictures and videos (And it was SO worth it). It was an amazing experience seeing him up close, as I’ve always only been able to watch him play, take interviews, and interact with others behind a TV screen. My heart almost stopped when I got within an arms reach of him! The fact that Kobe was from Philly was simply the icing on the cake. At that moment, he showed how he will never forget where he came from and the cheesesteak shop that will always have his heart.
The next day after his game, during Kobe’s press conference, it was reported that the entire Lakers team ordered 60 cheesesteaks to go from Larry’s! Wow!!
Below is a short video I caught while I was at Larry’s steaks:
Here are some more pictures from the Kobe sighting:
This wouldn’t be my typical blog post, but I could not resist sharing the news!
You don’t always have to dramatically change your diet to eat healthier. This video will show you how you can eat healthy without even trying by making simple substitutes. Taste won’t be sacrificed, but calories and fat will!
Thanksgiving may be all said and done itself, but what still lives on is the food that was not eaten on the tummy-stuffing holiday.
As a college student who is more in charge of their own money, in order to save some dollars, you are already not a stranger to bringing food back from home to bring to your dorm or apartment. Some of the best parts of being at home are the home-cooked meals. That same happening of “fridge raiding” and “pantry shopping” while at home is more evident during the Thanksgiving holiday. College students home for the holiday are sent back to school with leftovers, as there is ALWAYS plenty of extra food to go around.
If you’re like me, you’ll want to utilize all of the leftover food you’ve acquired from that delicious Thanksgiving dinner, partly because it is wholesome, tasty, and home-cooked, and mainly because it is FREE. When I was growing up, after Thanksgiving was over, my mom was not up for wasting all of the food that was not eaten. I basically had a turkey sandwich packed for lunch everyday until Christmas. The turkey itself stayed good for so long because my mom froze it until she was ready to use it in meals. I never got tired of those turkey sandwiches too, as they were ten times better than the usual packaged lunchmeat I ate everyday, and they were packed with the flavor and love of a home-cooked meal. Also, my mom would add some turkey to soups or make casserole with leftover green beens.
Growing up eating repurposed Thanksgiving leftovers has extended into my independent life. It has always been a part of my meals growing up, and I yet to get sick of it. Now that I am more on my own, I continue to repurpose my leftovers, and have found more and different ways to do so (and it’s cheap because you already have most of the ingredients).
Also, during the fall and winter seasons, the heavy holiday eating of rich foods is the most prominent. You are more likely to eat the same unhealthy holiday foods on days other than the actual holiday. Since ’tis the season of weight gain, I have also learned to make some of those repurposed leftovers a bit more healthy, too. Rich foods must also be consumed with moderation, like with anything, but I again I have found ways to remove some of the guilt on some of my favorite holiday foods. College athletes like me on a budget can especially benefit from eating healthier repurposed thanksgiving foods, because we get a chance eat well and indulge a little at the same time, as well as spending little to money.
Here are some of my favorite repurposed Thanksgiving meals:
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin cup pan with a an olive oil cooking spray. Gather leftover stuffing and divide it evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the stuffing is firm and the tops are golden brown.
Thanksgiving Stuffing Waffle (This only works if you have a waffle maker)
Coat the surface of the waffle maker with your favorite cooking spray. Gather leftover stuffing, spread evenly on the waffle maker surface, and let it cook for 3-5 minutes. Pair with a scrambled egg, and enjoy!
Mashed Potato Pizza*
Pre-bake whole wheat pizza dough until the edges are set and browned to your liking, then spread that dough with leftover mashed potatoes, and sprinkle with mozzarella or shredded cheddar. Top with chopped up turkey bacon.
Thanksgiving Fried Rice*
Chop up leftover veggies, and then stir-fry them in olive oil. Fry an egg or two, chop it up, and add to the leftover veggie stir fry. If you have any plain leftover rice, add that to the stir fry as well. If you don’t, add cold cooked brown rice (you would have to acquire or buy the brown rice separately), and toss all the ingredients until they are coated golden brown and warm. Additional toppings can include chopped up leftover turkey or ham, and a splash of soy sauce.
What you’ll need is whole wheat sandwich bread or a whole wheat hoagie roll, the leftover turkey, and whatever toppings/condiments that you enjoy.
Turkey Noodle Soup*
This soup is similar to chicken noodle soup. To make it, you can literally throw the whole leftover turkey carcass into the pot to make the broth. And no worries if the carcass is already far gone, you can buy turkey broth from the store for fairly cheap too. Boil whole wheat egg noodles in water for 8-10 minutes until al-dente, or until your desired firmness. Once you have all the broth together in the pot, add chopped turkey leftovers, any leftover vegetables (string beans and carrots usually work the best), and stir in the pot on medium-high heat until all of the contents are heated thoroughly. Add the cooked noodles last (as they are already hot), stir all contents again for the last time, and enjoy.
Turkey Caesar Salad*
Buy your favorite salad greens from the store, and then top with chopped leftover turkey, Caesar salad dressing, croutons, and cranberries.
Leftover Thanksgiving Panini
Put turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and between two slices of sourdough (adding gravy is optional). Put the sandwich on a skillet and grill it as if you were making a grilled cheese.
Thanksgiving in a Cone*
Using 90-Calorie Reduced Fat Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough, mold the dough into a cone shape and rest on an upside-down muffin pan, with the muffin basins facing downward. You will need to flip the muffin pan upside down to achieve this. protruding side up. Continue to to make cones until there are no more muffin pan plateaus to cover. Place in the oven at 375 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown. Place the heated thanksgiving leftovers of your choice inside the finished cones and enjoy!
*Healthier options to food repurposing
**The key to these repurposed recipes is moderation! Most of them have been turned into healthier eating options, but remember, it will always be rich Thanksgiving food!
This post is the third and final post of my favorite cheap and healthy snacks I usually enjoy (for now!!)
Goldfish Snack Crackers
Goldfish were always a part of my life of snacking, starting from when I was very young. They were a staple in the lunchroom and were always the hot item to have in yor lunchbox. These snacks became notorious because they taste great and although they are not he healthiest snack ever (they provide little nutritional benefit), they are generally healthier than their other snack options, like potato chips, corn chips, etc. They are packed with carbs, have 150 calories per serving, and are a good snack to hold you over until the next meal. They are also good for filling you up if you are hungry before athletic activity, but you don’t want to have a meal or eat too much. Again, I prize these snacks more for their taste, but they are indeed nutritionally better than your average junk food selections. They can be found for $2.50 at your local store.
Whole Grain Cheez-It Snack Crackers
Similar to the Goldfish Snack Crackers, Cheez-It Snack Crackers have always been a part of my snacking experience. I always used to eat the orginal type of Cheez-Its (opposed to the Whole Grain kind shown above), and they also had very little nutrional value. When I came to college and went food shopping for my self for the first time, once I entered the store, I bee-lined into the snack aisle (must be the inner kid in me). I went to get Cheez-Its, and amidst all of the varieties of the snack, I noticed that there was a new whole grain option to my favorite snack. The whole grain junkie inside of me couldn’t resist. I put the Cheez-Its inside my shopping cart, prayed that they did not taste different (or even nasty) compared to the original flavor, and continued food shopping. I’m glad I took the risk! The Whole Grain Cheez-Its taste exactly the same as the original, with a better nutritional benefit. They pack 5 grams of whole grain per serving, which contributes about 5% towards your daily recommended needs for whole grains. It may not be a lot, but every little bit of whole grains helps toward the daily goal. These can be found for around $2.50-$3.00 at your local store.
Sunbutter and Jelly Sandwiches
I personally have many food allergies. Two of which include peanuts and tree nuts. Before realizing my food allergy, eating a pb&j was routine for school lunches and midnight snacks. Peanuts and tree nuts are a fantastic source of protien, and after I discovered that I was allergic, it became harder and harder to get that protein without having my daily nut butter sandwich. When I entered high school, my mom and I found sunflower seed butter in the grocery store. It looked and smelled very similar to peanut butter, so I gave it a try. Not surprisingly, by itself it tasted like sunflower seeds, but once I put it in a sandwich with some jelly and ate it, it felt just like eating a pb&j. The texture and taste with bread and jelly is all similar to original.
Once I got to college, I found that I liked Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Butter the best. It is a bit pricey at around $5, but in my allergy-specific situation, it is worth it. It has the most consistent and smooth texture compared to peanut butter and it also has the best taste out of all the sunflower seed butters I have tried. Also, I always eat my sun-butter sandwiches with Concord Grape Jelly on toasted Whole grain/Whole Wheat Bread (toasted bread has less calories and tastes better to me). As a lighter snack, I put the sun-butter and jelly in between Ritz Snack crackers and I usually eat about 4-5 mini sandwiches (they can be very filling). Welch’s jelly can be found at your local store for around $1.50-$2.00.Continue reading Cheap and Healthy Eats: Snack Edition Part 3→
To continue from the previous post, here are a few more of my favorite cheap and guilt-free snacks I consume on the regular:
Navel Oranges are an easy and healthy way to fix a sweet tooth. I like Navel Oranges in particular because they are easy to peel and are not too messy and juicy, but they are juicy enough to give you great flavor. The Vitamin C in oranges are essential for the protection of the immune system from viruses and deficiencies, and it is also eye and skin health. Since Navel Oranges are also great for energy and replenishing muscles, I usually eat one before games and during halftime. I have been doing this since I started playing sports at 7 years old. It’s just a habit! They give me that little extra bounce and energy on the court , and paired with some water, they give me hydration also. Prices may vary.
Apple Sauce with Cinnamon Sugar
I do cinnamon apple sauce differently — I buy unsweetened applesauce and then add some cinnamon sugar to it when I go home, instead of getting traditional cinnamon applesauce already made for you. This way, I get to moderate how much sugar I am taking in, and I can keep my applesauce as tart or as sweet as I want to. According to SFGATE.com, “A 1-cup serving of unsweetened applesauce provides about 100 calories and 2.7 grams of fiber, or 11 percent of the daily value. It’s an especially good source of soluble fiber, the type that dissolves into a gel-like substance and helps maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Applesauce also contains pectin, a special type of soluble fiber that’s particularly effective in reducing high cholesterol levels. More so than other types of soluble fiber, pectin efficiently binds to cholesterol and other fatty acids and promotes their elimination through waste.” Unsweetened applesauce is the way to go, and if you don’t like your applesauce tart, you can always add your favorite sweetener and/or spices. A six pack of personal-sized apple sauce goes for about $2 in your local store.
Craisins Dried Cranberries are such a versatile snack. I eat them by themselves, i put them in yogurt parfaits, I put them on ice cream, on salads, the whole nine. They are another way to easily curb a sweet tooth. They are also an easy snack to pack for when you are on the go. The greatest benefit of Craisins are that eating just one serving gives you twenty-five percent of your daily recommended fruit needs. I’m not gonna lie and say that I’ll only eat one serving at a time either (it’s usually 2 because they are just so good), so I myself get around half of my daily recommended fruit needs just by this sweet and delicious snack. My other favorite kind of (other than the Cherry flavor shown above) Craisins are the kind with no added sugar. Even though Craisins have great benefits, they can be packed with sugar, especially the fruit infused kinds. The less sugar, less problems, as consuming too much sugar in your diet can cause acne. The no added sugar kind of Craisins do not compromise taste and are twice as guilt-free than its sugared counterparts. A bag like this will cost you about $2-3 in your local store.
Just as eating healthy, filling, and complete meals are essential to the athlete, healthy snacking is too. Healthy snacking is a good way to fit extra nutrients into your diet and prevent overeating during meals. Listed below are some of my favorite healthy (and cheap) snacks I eat not only in between meals, but sometimes before games to give me that extra energy.
Bear Naked Granola
Bear Naked’s Original Cinnamon Bearly Processed Granola is my new favorite snack. During September, when I started lifting weights again during my basketball preseason, I was looking to build my lost muscle from not lifting all summer. I needed to incorporate more protein into my diet to help me build amino acids to help retain muscle. I looked for protein-filled alternatives to protein shakes, because the shakes can tend to be heavy on my stomach and can be jam packed with sugar (which causes me breakouts). I was then introduced the Bear Naked Granola by my strength and conditioning coach. It is fantastic!!! It a delicious collection of whole grain oats, honey, cranberries, and sunflower seeds, which collectively packs in 10 grams of protein per serving. This cost usually costs me $2.50-3.00.
Yoplait Yogurt Lite
Yoplait Yogurt Lite are my favorite types of yogurt, period. I have always ate them, even throughout my childhood. I just started eating the light versions of these delicious yogurt for obvious reasons— it has less sugar, no fat, and less worries. They are easy to take on the go and great for the mornings. Pictured above are some of my favorite flavors; from left to right includes Very Vanilla, Key Lime Pie, and Very Cherry. My other favorite flavors are Harvest Peach, Red Velvet Cupcake, and Blueberry Patch. For a delicious protein-packed yogurt parfait, top with this yogurt with Bear Naked Granola, and all together you will get a whopping 15 grams of protein! These yogurts usually go for $.20 a piece, or 10 for $2.
Chocolate Graham Crackers
Honey Maid’s Chocolate Graham Crackers are a new take on your traditional graham crackers. I love these graham crackers, because besides tasting great, they are my substitute for more sugary and fattening chocolate cookies, like Oreos or chocolate chip cookies. They have only 8g of sugar per serving, contain 8g of whole grain, and even have a little bit of fiber for a healthy digestive tract. They also taste great crumbled over vanilla yogurt, ice cream, and are great for smores when you want that extra dab of chocolate! This box usually sells for $2.
Fuji Apples are my favorite type of apple. It’s not too tart, and it is not too sweet; it is the happy medium. Eating these are great for getting a little extra energy before practice, and they are great for the the mornings! Having an apple in the morning is just as effective as drinking a small cup of coffee. Eating more great tasting apples like these also can add more water to your diet, as part of daily water intake includes the water content in the fruits and vegetables that you eat. Prices may vary.
The plain spaghetti can be substituted with wheat spaghetti, or any pasta of your choice, the Badia Sazón Tropical Seasoning can be substituted with your favorite seasoning, and the frozen broccoli can be substituted with any vegetable of your choice to make a delicious and filling meal.
An 8 quart Pasta Pot
To cook the spaghetti, boil four quarts of water on HIGH.
Add a dab or a spritz of olive oil to the water to taste.
Wait for the water to actually boil (you will see and hear a lot of bubbles), and then add the pasta.
Cook until “al dente” (firm to the bite), for approximately ten to twelve minutes.
Remove from the heat and drain in the colander.
To cook the chicken and broccoli, spray the skillet with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Spray and heat both frozen ingredients together in that skillet on MEDIUM HIGH heat until they are thoroughly cooked and browned to your preference.
Let the chicken and broccoli simmer for about ten minutes, and stir occasionally so that chicken and broccoli are browned evenly. Add the Badia Sazón Tropical Seasoning sparingly. If a generous amount of seasoning is added, it will make the chicken and broccoli too salty in addition with the Ragú® Cheesy Roasted Garlic Parmesan Sauce.
Add the Ragú® Cheesy Roasted Garlic Parmesan Sauce to the cooked pasta, and stir to get an even distribution of sauce.
Top with the cooked chicken and Broccoli. Stir well.
Sprinkle dry Parmesan Cheese on top of the pasta for added texture.
Select your portion of food and Enjoy!
*16 ounces of pasta feeds four to eight people.
This meal is relatively cheap to make, as one serving of this delicious entrée cost me about $1.79 to make. All of these items used in this recipe can be found in your local supermarket, and if not, you should be able to find very close substitutes. The chicken used in this recipe provides at least 12 grams of protein, which is great for storing amino acids in the muscles, which helps build muscle. The pasta has 42 grams of carbs, and carbs help give energy. The broccoli gives you atleast 50% all of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals.
This meal to me is the meal of a champion. It gives me everything I need, especially if I eat it the night before a big game or practice. The morning after, I wake up with tons of energy!! When I began cooking for myself in college, this was and still is my go-to dinner to eat because it is cheap, simple, healthy. It tastes and smells delicious, and it is one of the things that inspired me to cook more for myself and cut down on eating out often.
Everyone knows that water is important for the body. But for the athlete (or even the recreational exerciser), the constant and correct consumption of water is almost twice as important than it would be for someone who does not exercise. The normal daily intake for water is about half a gallon, or 64 ounces, but for someone who is working out, they have to consume 64 ounces on top of the water that needs to be consumed before, during, and after exercise. Generally, one should drink about 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before exercise, an additional 8 ounces during your warm-up, 10 ounces every 20 minutes during exercise, and 8 ounces immediately after finishing exercise. More or less is needed depending on you gender, height, and weight.
Not only do you feel better when you regularly drink water, you also perform better. When you are well hydrated, your joints are lubricated, making your movements more fluid, and you don’t get as tired as fast (as opposed to not drinking enough water) because water energizes you muscles The other benefits of drinking water include clearer skin, it helps maintain a normal bowel function (because your system is continually being flushed with a pure substance), and water is the cheapest beverage to consume because it is the easily accessible!
A great way to get water for cheap is to utilize the tap water/water fountain right in your home or dorm. Or if you prefer, you could go to the dining hall and fill up on their cold, filtered water (and any other drinks that you may like) too, as mentioned in my previous post “Top 5 Ways on How to Make the Most out of College Cafeteria Food“. The water is basically free! All you have to do is snag a reusable bottle and fill up. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, you could invest in a Brita Filter Pitcher. They have reasonable prices, as their cheapest pitcher costs 20$. These filters are great! I grew up with a Brita filter and I loved it. Just fill it up with tap water, put it in the fridge, and you are good to go. Of course, you could always buy that 24 pack or 36 pack of water bottles, and those are fine, but they can get pricey and you have to buy them at least twice a month.
If you don’t like the taste of plain water, you could also get a fruit infuser. A fruit infuser is a water bottle that has a small chamber inside that can hold fruit and disperse the fruit juices in your water as you drink it. It will keep you hydrated, and because it tastes better, you will not feel the need to buy a fruity drink or soda as often. They sell fruit infusers like these in every grocery store, and you can also order them online. On amazon, there’s a great fruit infuser for only $2.50! Being healthy does not always have to come at a huge price.
Here some more tips on how you can make water work wonders for you:
Don’t wait until you are thirsty! If you are thirsty, chances are you are dehydrated.
Eat more fruits and veggies. Their high water content will add to your hydration. About 20% of our fluid intake comes from foods.
Keep a bottle of water with you handy, whether it is in you car, your bag, your sports locker, or the fridge.
Ordering takeout can be your best friend and worst enemy. How easy can takeout get? You order the food you want, and it comes to YOU. Most times, plates/and or containers, plastic wear, napkins, and your occasional condiments are included. That can be a top luxury and convenience to the busy college student athlete. Sometimes, after a long day of class and practice, you don’t feel like going to go get or make something to eat, so ordering food is an easy answer. So what’s the big deal?
Ordering takeout is a surefire way to burn a hole through your wallet. All of the conveniences of ordering takeout come at a price. Your meal itself may only cost so much money, but after the additions of the delivery charge, the included taxes, and the gratuity, you are subject to paying almost double the price of your actual meal. In addition, once you find a place you really like, you are subject to ordering from them time and time again. In my freshman year, I wasn’t fond of the cafeteria food, so Dominos and Grape Leaves Grille (a local Mediterranean restaurant) was was my go-to. I ordered from Dominos and Grape Leaves Grille so much that every time I called to place an order, they greeted me by my first name and even knew what I want to order! Again, the meal you want is usually not that expensive, but after all of the extra charges added, your transaction is twice as big as originally projected. Also, the majority of companies that deliver food make you order at least ten dollars worth of food, so if what you want costs less than ten dollars before all of the extra charges, you have to order another item off the the menu, which is another unnecessary fee. I did not notice the heavy impact of ordering delivery had on my wallet until I began looking at my bank statements. Almost $20 various times a month began to add up! All of my money was quickly going down the drain.
The other downside of ordering delivery is that it sets you up for unhealthy eating. The food selections when ordering out will not always be the healthiest. For example, the food selection in the image above was and still is my favorite selection to order from Dominos. It’s delicious; it is Chicken Carbonara Pasta, filled with tender grilled chicken breast, onions, bacon, the most savory blend of seasonings, and an Alfredo-like cheese based sauce all put into an edible bread bowl that is evenly baked to perfection. Sounds fantastic right? Well it was. Extremely rich and tasty food like this will make it more and more easy to overeat. As a college athlete, you have to consume at least 500-2000 more calories a day than the average person, so you can afford to have a little extra on you plate, but it feels like it is twice as easy over do it by eating takeout, no matter what type of food it is.
So what is the solution? First, instead of ordering food for delivery, try to pick up the food yourself. Yes, that will make it a little less convenient on your end, but that will eliminate the delivery charge, gratuity, and you can order something that costs less than the delivery threshold because you are the one retrieving the food from the place. It is extra work, but your wallet will thank you in the end. Also, look into cutting down your consumption of fried foods, and look into more low sodium, whole wheat options, or options that include more fruits and/or vegetables. As more information is being given on nutrition facts, and the law that most food companies have to show the amount of calories in each entree, these food companies that you are ordering from are continually trying to integrate healthier options into their menus without compromising taste. Sometimes all you have to do to get a healthier version of what you want is ask!
The best solution would be cutting out delivery completely, unless you are having a party or having a special occasion. I have not ordered takeout since my freshman year, and I have seen the dramatic difference in my spending. I am able to save more, and by making my own meals, I cut my food costs more than 75%. Along with saving more money, I have gotten a little bit more slimmer since I have stopped ordering out. When I was ordering out all the time, I was about 5-8 pounds heavier than I am. I did not gain a crazy amount of weight because I was constantly working out, but I definitely feel the difference being a little bit lighter. My face also cleared up, because I am not consuming as much foods that are high in fat, sugar, and sodium. Overall, cutting out ordering takeout positively effected me.
Either it is a hit or miss with the quality of cafeteria food, and every student, not just student athletes can relate to that. My personal experience with the cafeteria food here was definitely a miss until I found ways for it to work in my favor. The cafeteria food when I use to have a meal plan was horrible; either the food tasted good and created a war on terror in my stomach, or the food looked and/or tasted nasty, or the food would cause breakouts on my face. In addition, almost none of the hot food there was even remotely healthy. I stopped eating in the cafeteria, and I found myself spending a lot of money on other food while still on meal plan. After a while, I got tired of wasting money, and went back to the cafeteria and made some changes in the way I approached the food. I had lemons, so I made lemonade. Here’s how you can too:
Cut down on fried food!!
Load half your plate with fruits and veggies first.
If your dining hall doesn’t have the greatest selection of healthy options (or if you have a food allergy), make a special request.
Let Tupperware become your best friend.
Bring your favorite water bottle and fill it up at that unlimited drink station!