As a freshman living in the dorms, I always wondered how I was supposed to eat healthy when I had no time or space to cook a well-balanced meal. Living in Sheehan especially put me at a disadvantage, since we only had one kitchen stove to thirteen floors of girls – the odds of actually getting a period of time in that space to cook for oneself is pretty slim.

The struggle of maintaining a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle is one that college students know all too well. We stuff our schedules with classes and extra-curricular activities, and balancing our schedules with time to take care of ourselves can be tough. Eating healthy is often put on the back burner.

What’s the solution?

It was not until recently that I started hearing about a new sensation called mug meals. What a mug meal entails is self-explanatory: cooked meals in a mug, done so in the microwave. They were becoming all the rage on Pinterest and food blogs everywhere.

As someone who loves to cook, I was highly intrigued by this. It seemed like a silly thing, but once I realized how quickly I could make a healthy breakfast in a coffee mug to-go, I was sold. I rapidly came to the conclusion that these mug meals would be a great, healthy idea for college students.

Professional Advice

To better educate my readers on healthier living and mug meals, I sat down with Dr. Kent Hansen, a HERS professor here at Winona State, and Janet Macon, Nutrition Instructor, so that I could get some professional input on the matter.

I was delighted to hear that Macon was a strong advocate for mug meals and had previously done television work discussing them.

“The focus should be on getting four of the five food groups incorporated into each of your meals, mug ones included,” Macon said. “I like to coat a mug with non-stick spray, crack two eggs, splash in a little milk, and mix it up. Microwave it for a minute and a half and you are set. I like to switch up with my flavoring and this is an awesome base to build from.” She discussed adding salsa, brown rice, a little cheese and spinach as one of her favorite ways to get her four food groups in her mug meal.

Making it Count

My discussion with Dr. Hansen also focused on obtaining the proper nutrients in our meals. “It is very important that we take care of our bodies when they need the attention,” Hansen said. “When you are hungry after a workout, address that need with healthier options, otherwise the build up of your body’s needs will turn into cravings that bite you.”

Alternatives

We discussed other quick and healthy alternatives to mug meals, such as simply reaching for a bag of carrots or an apple instead of chips when we are in a time crunch. He pointed out that this statement sounds a bit redundant since often times we do not feel satisfied after eating these things. “Peanut butter and almond butter are great things to keep around for added healthy fat and they allow for us to feel satiated after eating,” Hansen continued.

Though aiming to eat as healthy as possible is important, both Hansen and Macon mentioned the necessity of “not stressing” about our food and dieting. “Try to have half of your plate be vegetables, one quarter of it starch, and the other quarter protein,” Hansen said.

Try it Yourself

These insightful discussions prompted me to dig up some recipes for my readers and I found plenty. I tried out a similar scrambled egg recipe to Macon’s and also attempted a blueberry muffin. I strongly recommend both recipes. For these recipes and more, check out 21 Healthy Meals (and Desserts) You Can Make in a Mug.

The Wellness staff also made a video of their attempt at making French Toast in a Mug. Check it out:

 

Have Fun Eating Healthy

Maintaining a healthy diet can be challenging for many. Speaking with your healthcare provider may be a great place to start to learn better how to meet your individualized needs. Health & Wellness Services offers medical appointments Monday- Friday 7:30am-4:30pm in IWC 222. Health & Wellness bills most insurance plans. To make an appointment, call 507.457.5160.

On my final note, remember to have fun with mug meals and other healthy creations. Our diets are not meant to be stressful and taking care of ourselves is of the utmost importance. If you find yourself struggling with nutrition like myself, try out a mug meal with our Instructors’ advice in mind – you will likely enjoy your meal and feel great afterwards, too.

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Claire Bowman

Claire is from Crystal Lake, IL and majoring in English Literature & Language with a minor in Creative Writing. Her hobbies include music, poetry, hula hooping and a variety of outdoor activities.

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