Mix Up Your Routine with Easy, Creative Twists on Val Staples
Issue   |   Tue, 02/13/2018 - 21:22
Photo courtesy of Julia Shea '21
By February, eating from a set menu can become monotonous. The selections of Val open opportunities for creativity, from cereal ice cream to DIY pancakes.

At this point in the year, many students find eating from a set cafeteria menu to be redundant. However, with some creativity, you can make meals that fit your personal tastes. Plus, the act of actually making the food creates a greater connection with it and increases the enjoyment in eating it as well. Try one of these ideas, some of which are mine and some of which are crowdsourced.

Cereal and Soft Serve
This is a classic combination of crunchy cereal and soft ice cream. The best way to make this is by adding chocolate Chex cereal to chocolate soft serve, but I encourage you to experiment with other cereals. Also, if you’re not allergic to peanut butter, it’s a great addition to this chocolate-heavy recipe. This combination is also delicious because of the texture contrast between the crunchy cereal and the soft ice cream.

Smoothie Bowls
Val’s thick smoothies provide the perfect consistency for smoothie bowls. Make sure to get a bowl that’s big enough, and fill it with the smoothie. Next, pick out your favorite smoothie bowl toppings that are available in Val: chia seeds, granola, peanut butter, oats, bananas, strawberries, blueberries or any other fruit that’s on hand.

Iced Mocha
Though perhaps less desirable during the chilly winter, an iced mocha is still delicious. Just get a cup and add ice, coffee, either milk or half and half and chocolate syrup from the waffle station.

Yogurt and Jam
Clearly, eating yogurt is hardly a creative find. However, my roommate pointed out to me that adding jam to the plain Greek yogurt, along with some almond butter, makes for a healthy and delicious breakfast. I also like to put granola and blueberries in my yogurt. Different combinations of this yogurt parfait can make the mornings more interesting and help you get a healthy start to the day.

Marinara Sauce on Veggies
Adding some marinara sauce, or really any other pasta sauce, to the cooked vegetables from the Lighter Side makes them more enjoyable to eat and adds a bit of variety to the cycle of available vegetables.

If you’re not eating waffles regularly, you’re definitely missing out. However, it can be good to mix up the normal routine of waffles. It’s easy enough to use the available waffle batter to make pancakes on the panini presses. I would only ask the people doing this to be careful and make sure to clean up after yourself. Don’t expect others to do it.

Pesto on Everything
Similar to the marinara sauce recommendation, pesto tastes great as an addition to nearly anything. Mix it in with the pasta sauces for something a little different. Make a healthy adaptation of a pasta salad by adding pesto to quinoa before mixing in various veggies and meat. If you haven’t been doing this already, add pesto to your sandwiches, add it to the Lighter Side’s chicken or even just the daily dinner.

If you have any additional ideas or recipes that you would like to share with your fellow students, please let me know at alunstad21@amherst.edu or email astudent@amherst.edu.