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With reading week fast approaching and many British students heading home for a first-term breather, it seems we’re more in need of some healthy home-cooked food than we realise. Research released by Panasonic, to mark the launch of its new Sensor Microwave, reveals that over three quarters (77 per cent) of British students admit that their dinner diet during term-time usually consists of processed foods, including take away and ready meals. Parents may be shocked to discover their offspring have become victims of the ‘Freshman 15’ – a.k.a a whopping 15lbs of weight gain. Creative ‘home-cook’ recipes that British students admitted to making include a pizza with a chicken nugget base and a carb-laden lasagne toasted sandwich.

To save the UK’s students from a fast food coma, TV nutritionist Amanda Hamilton has teamed up with Panasonic to share her top healthy eating tips for term-time.

Take away tip

If you are visiting the chip shop…I’m NOT saying that chips are good but if you are going to indulge, splash on a generous dose of vinegar. A study from Arizona State University found that adding vinegar to a carbohydrate rich dish reduced the rate of the blood sugar surge afterwards. If you can eat the accompanying fish without batter too that would be a good idea!

Feed your brain

Brain food should be high on the menu given the purpose of higher education is actually to learn, rather than just socialise. Salmon, sardines and mackerel are amongst the best foods for your brain as they are an excellent source of omega 3 fats and protein. These essential fats may boost the level of serotonin, a feel-good chemical in your brain too – good news, since women are particularly susceptible to depression in their 20s. Vegetarians can get thier fill from nuts and seeds and ground flaxseed.

Tip:

Buy salmon in bulk from the large freezer packs available in supermarkets.

Buy mackerel, salmon and sardines in cans and stir into budget-freindly pasta dishes.

Quick meals

Part of being a student is mastering the art of time management. Eggs are the ultimate meal in five minutes or less. And, studies show if you eat eggs for breakfast you are less likely to snack for the rest of the day. Baked beans are a quick-fix student staple too. Verstile, cheap and delicious on toast or in a jacket potato. Can be heated in just a few minutes in the microwave. Try branching out to other beans and pulses such as chick peas or puy lentils – all available ready made. They can easily be added to a soup, salad or one-pot meals such as stews or casseroles to boost the protein content – which keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

 

Freshman 15

Ever heard of Freshman’s 15? That’s the name given to the weight gain typical of freshman (first year) students in Amercica. One of the best ways to avoid the student weight gain is to keep you intake of fruit and vegetables high. Vegetables and fruit are naturally low calories, can be bought seasonally to suit a budget and are packed full of nutrients to keep your immune system in check after all those late nights. In winter, warmed fruit dishes such as baked apples or pears make a delicious sweet treat.

Porridge oats

I once went a whole year having porridge for breakfast and dinner, with only one “real” meal in between. Ultimate cheap, healthy filler-upper. Make friends with your flat mates by cooking a batch in the mornings – everyone has a favourite topping – strawberry jam, yoghurt, honey and chopped banana and nuts are some classics.

Tip:

Soak oats overnight in a little apple juice and eat chilled if you can’t face cooking in the morning. But porridge only takes about five minutes in the microwave so it really is a quick and healthy meal.

Become a soup kitchen

If you learn to make one thing in your university kitchen it should be soup. It’s easy to make, nutritious and really cheap – and the perfect way to use up leftovers in the fridge or cupboard. If you have a stock pot of soup on the go, you are likely to be a popular flat mate. It takes minutes to cook in the microwave so is perfect for when you aren’t in the mood for making something from scratch.

Help a hangover

All alcohol contains toxins and in fact, the whole experience of getting intoxicated is simply giving your body so many toxins that it can’t process them quickly enough. So, when you wake up the next day (hopefully in your own bed) and your head hurts, you feel like you want to vomit, and you have the shakes it means that there are too many toxins inside of your body.

Most of us know that drinking plenty of water between alcohol helps, and lots before going to bed. Not so many of us know that fizzy or sugary drinks which actually speed up the rate that alcohol is absorbed into the system and contribute to a stronger hangover. Sex in the City cocktails are out.

When you have ignored my advice and need help the morning after, drink lots of water then make a fruit smoothie with freshly squeezed orange or apple juice base to bring back some of the vitamins to your system. When your stomach has settled, make an egg-based brunch – the protein can help steady your blood sugar.

Drink yourself slim

It’s not just junk food and beer that adds to the waistline, fruit juice and fizzy drinks are a major culprit too. If you were to drink a can of fizzy each day you will consume 77 cups of sugar in that year – with sugar linked to acne and weight gain around the tummy, you won’t looking your best either.

Manage the munchies

So much of a student loan can be eaten away by endless snack-attacks. Popcorn is a great snack if you are after a treat; it’s also perfect for those students that like to get creative in the kitchen. Simply buy popcorn kernels and make your own popcorn dish using a creative topping, such as:

  • Simple sea salt
  • Mexican seasoning – nick from a taco seasoning
  • grated parmesan cheese

Shopping list

Inexpensive and nutritious ingredients are the goal of student shopping. Here is my top student shopping basket fillers:

  • Bananas are a great source of fibre, potassium and manganese.  Frozen the taste like ice cream (almost!)
  • Beans are a great source of protein and fibre. Try more interesting varieties than the simple baked bean – although on toast nothing quite beats it!
  • Canned tomatoes are the basis for innumerable recipes across countless cuisines; sauces, soups, stews, and chilis wouldn’t exist was it not for the humble tomato
  • Carrots are super cheap and extremely versitile. Carrots can be eaten raw of course but they’re also excellent roasted, braised, in soups, and mixed with other foods
  • Lentils are an excellent source of fibre, protein, iron and B vitamins. A true super food and one of the cheapest store-cupboard stables. Learn how to make a good pot of lentil soup and your student flat will soon be the go-to kitchen
  • Oats, no, not that kind of getting your oats boys – porridge oats. Slow-release carbs never tasted better. Ditch all processed breakfast cereals, they are expensive, a waste of packaging and nutritionally inferiour
  • Sweet potatoes are one of the tastiest of all natural starches: the sweet potato (or yam), has all the benefits and cooking versatility of regular potatoes, plus lots of fiber, a ton of Vitamin A, and an alluring orange colour

Lasagne Sandwich