Regular readers may have noticed a rather trending topic on Aspire to Amble recently: food-related articles. As you can tell, lately my mind is constantly occupied with what I will be cooking/eating next. But unfortunately, as much as I love sharing my recipes with you, I have to admit that I am still very much an amateur- and I thought it was about time I got someone on the blog that knows a lot more about food.
Alex Reay is a fellow student and self-confessed foodie and she definitely knows her way around the kitchen much better than I do! Her recipes first caught my attention when she began posting wonderful things on her year abroad blog, like these yummy breakfast ideas and these healthy brunches/lunches. She hopes to be launching her very own food blog in the new year, so watch this space! But in the meantime, here’s an introduction by Alex, and her Top 4 delicious but healthy snack recipes:
Being a Treat-Yourself Gal/Guy on a Student Budget– By Alex Reay
Ok, so I know most of you can relate to the title of this blog. When you just wanna treat yourself to that venti starbs but your bank account’s telling you to get the short. When all you want for dinner is the Pizza Express Leggera Pollo Arrabbiata but you’ve got a fridge full of veggies that you bought when you told yourself that you’d be good this week. Or maybe you’ve had the worst day, and you just want a fat dominos stuffed crust margarita with olives and a biiiig glass of vino on the side. I feel ya!
Let me introduce myself. My name’s Alex, and I’ve just started my fourth and final year of uni studying Modern Languages, French and Spanish at the University of Birmingham. I spent the last year in France and Spain eating and drinking my way through the cities, and it was hands down the best year of my life. However, now is time to knuckle down, and finish what I came to Birmingham to start. It is also time to start budgeting and stop thinking I’m some kind of Princess who deserves all the finer things in life.
Another thing about me (if you couldn’t already tell), I am suuuuch a foodie. I got into cooking towards the end of second year, and I found it really calmed me down after a stressful day. I am a firm believer in mental and general well being, and how important it is to take an hour out of every single day to just have some ‘you’ time. Whether that be just listening to some music or a podcast, reading a book, cooking your fave food, having a bath, watching an episode (or four) of a series, working out or going for a walk; I think it is fundamental to university life to keep you sane. For me, my choice is almost always the ‘cooking your fave food’ option.
As a final year student, or any year for that matter, I think it’s pretty necessary to maintain a somewhat healthy lifestyle. My mum once said to me that as long as I’m eating some kind of fruit and veggies, and doing some kind of activity a couple of times a week, not to worry about the rest, and obviously being a mother, she’s right. Evidently, your uni routine doesn’t allow you to spend all day whipping up delicious meals (as much as I wish it did), and your student loan doesn’t stretch much further than a few big Aldi shops a month, Sainsbury’s on the good months. However, what you put into your body really deciphers what comes out. You have to fuel your body with goodness, and in return, that 8 hour library session won’t seem so difficult. I try and live by the 80/20 rule. 80% health, 20% naughty. Although let’s be honest, it’s more of 60/40 right now, but I’m only human.
Anyway, enough babbling. I know most of you know the importance of food prep at uni, or just in general everyday life. I normally just make double the amount of whatever I have for dinner, and if I can resist temptation to eat it, pack it up in a Tupperware and have it for lunch the next day instead of spending the extortionate amount of £4.05 on a crappy sandwich that fills you up for 2 hours. So, food prep is key unless you want to be spending an extra £25+ on food a week. However, something I am definitely guilty of, is spending money on snacks. Last week I got into a bit of a routine of buying a flat white and a packet of sweet & salted popcorn from the uni cafe, and sitting down to do some work/reading. I did this 3 times last week, so I spent around £9 on something I really didn’t need. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but if I carried on doing that every week throughout the academic year, I would be spending an extra £360 of my loan.
So, what to do about this? I researched a few different snack recipes, but there really isn’t much out there that’s good for you, and isn’t full of ingredients you can’t even pronounce, and can only buy at a health foods shop for a very hefty price, so I took things into my own hands, and produced my own. Easy, quick, affordable recipes, that you can batch cook/bake, and take a little bit to uni/work every day. So, here are my Top 4 faves:
1. Salted Chocolate Almonds…
What you’ll need:
- Dark Chocolate
- 2 tsp sea salt
- Melt your chocolate.
- Pour it over your almonds evenly in a mixing bowl.
- Pop them on a tray and cover with your salt.
- Place into the fridge to harden.
2. Roasted Chickpeas…
What you’ll need:
- 1400g tin of chickpeas (drained and washed)
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- Preheat your oven to 180⁰.
- Place the chickpeas into a roasting dish.
- Drizzle over your oil, seasoning and paprika and mix well.
- Leave in the oven for around 15-20 minutes.
3. Granola Bars…
What you’ll need (makes 12):
- 220g porridge oats
- 75g almonds
- 75g pumpkin seeds
- 40g chia seeds
- 80g dried fruits (raisins, cherries, mango etc.)
- 150g coconut oil (can buy from aldi for cheap!)
- 100g brown sugar
- 150g honey
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 75g dark chocolate
- Preheat your oven to 180⁰.
- Fry your oats and pumpkin seeds for around 3 mins, or until fragrant.
- Line a square tin with baking paper, add your almonds, dried fruits and your oats and pumpkin seeds (once they’ve cooled down abit) and set aside.
- On a low heat, add your coconut oil, sugar and honey and leave to simmer (keep an eye on it as this happens very quickly).
- Take off the heat and add the cinnamon.
- Add to your dry mix, add the chocolate, and make sure it’s combined well. If it isn’t holding together well, add some more honey.
- Pat it all down, transfer to the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.
- Chop into slices and enjoy!
4. Blueberry Oat Bites…
What you’ll need:
- 500g oats
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Punnet of blueberries
- 4 tbsp honey
- 200ml milk (I used almond milk, but whatever you like will work!)
- Preheat your oven to 180⁰ and line a tin with coconut oil/butter/whatever you’ve got to make sure it doesn’t stick.
- Add everything to a food processor (except for a handful of blueberries) and pulse until all combined. If it’s too runny (depends on the strength of the processor), add more oats.
- Transfer the mix to a bowl, add the rest of the bluebs, and pop in the tin.
- Bake for 15 mins or until you can put a knife through and it comes out clean.
- Chop into bite sized pieces and enjoy!
Big thanks to Alex for her yummy recipes, I can’t wait to try out some of these! Which is your favourite? Do you struggle to find healthy snack options at uni? Any tips? As always your comments are always welcome and much appreciated!