Smart Food for School

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Don't fail at staying healthy this school year! Rutgers University Nutrition Specialist, Peggy Policastro has four quick fixes to keep you guilt-free, on a budget, and healthy!

Whether you're hitting the dorm dining hall or cooking off-campus, this cheat sheet will help you earn high marks when it comes to keeping a balanced diet.

1. Make a Salad Creation

The hot food line is too long and the deli bar doesn't appeal to you. Should you leave the dining hall and head for the food court? Absolutely not! Forget those cheeseburgers and french fries and try making a meal at the salad bar!

• Grains: The base of any meal should consist of a serving or two of grains, especially whole grains. When building up your plate, remember to include items such as 7-grain bread, multi-grain rolls, or pitas. Get creative and fill them with your favorite salad bar items.

• Vegetables: Fields of dark, leafy greens and baskets of fresh-cut veggies are bountiful at the salad bar. Add a variety to your plate including lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, and red cabbage. These foods provide hefty doses of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.

• Fruits: They aren't just for decoration or dessert. Mandarin oranges, Craisins®, pears, and raisins are popular on salads. They add a spectacular sweet taste to your dish without adding lots of refined sugar.

• Protein: Just because you are eating a salad doesn't mean it can't be filling. Items such as tuna, chopped egg, tofu, chopped meats, beans, hummus, seeds, and nuts will add color, flavor, and texture to your plate, and provide lots of protein.

• Dairy: If you feel the need for a little dairy, shredded cheese can be added to your salad plate. If cheese isn't your style, add a bowl of creamy soup, a serving of yogurt or a glass of low fat or skim milk to your meal.

• Oils: Don't be afraid to use oil in your salad dressing, but don't go overboard. A little olive oil with vinegar or simple lemon juice can create a flavorful and healthy dressing.

2. Load up on Baked Potatoes

Most people don't think of a baked potato as an entrée. However, if you toss on some healthy toppings and have a soup or salad on the side, it can become just that. Margarine, butter, and sour cream shouldn't be the only options for toppings. Below are some examples of tasty, hot potatoes that are loaded with good nutrition.

3. Eat Super Soups

Brrrrr… baby, its cold outside! When the weather turns frigid, nothing sounds more inviting than a steaming bowl of soup. Soups can be highly nutritious and offer a bounty of different foods in one single bowl. But which soups are best to nourish your body and chase away the chills?

• Bean-based soups are high in fiber and good sources of protein and complex carbohydrates. This allows them to be satisfying and still low in fat.

• Vegetable soups, such as mushroom rosemary, summer vegetable, and tomato corn cilantro are great ways to get some veggie variety.

Most soups are low in fat, but be careful of cream-based soups such as cream of broccoli or lobster bisque. Cheese soups also have a higher fat content than broth or bean-based soups, so if you choose one of these, make it your meal by adding bread or crackers, a side salad, and a piece of fruit.

4. Try Tortillas

• One flour tortilla (6-inch diameter) contains 159 Calories,2.5 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of protein.

• A corn tortilla (6-inch) has 58 Calories, 1 gram of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein.

All in all tortillas are a low fat, filling food that can inspire a multitude of creative dishes.

Here are some ideas to help you liven up your tortilla:

• Try layering on some lettuce, spinach and any other greens

• Spread cooked grains on it: couscous, rice, bulgur or tabouli

• Flavor it with your favorite low-fat dressing or a tasty salsa

• Be colorful by adding vegetables: bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans or corn

• Top with meat, chicken, seafood, or tofu

• Go easy with guacamole, refried beans (made with lard), cheeses, sour cream, and high fat sauces or dressings

Extra Healthy Tip: Can't decide if you want hard or soft tortillas? Choose soft tortillas. They have less fat because they are not fried.


• For more back to school tips and advice, check out the rest of our special section >>