Two Semi-Healthy Meals that got me Through College

By Jesse Montavon

“Learning how to manage your time is one of the most important skills you will gain.” That’s one thing all of us have heard a thousand times throughout our college career, including from Fran (endearing adviser at CMU) during our first week introduction seminar. Balancing school, work, internships, working out, and free time is no small feat, especially when you include cooking healthy food to eat every day. After basically starting at ground zero of cooking expertise, I have evolved and learned to cook pretty healthy, cheap meals that will leave me leftovers for a couple days, limiting my meal prep time per weak to just a few hours. Here are just a couple of my favorite one-pot meals that have made my life easier during college.

Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Gumbo

  • One pound of ground turkey
  • One medium sweet potato/yam
  • One can of black beans
  • One can of unsalted corn
  • 3-4 cups of raw spinach
  • 6-8 eggs
  • One cup of white rice
  • One piece of toast

Grab your cast iron skillet and get it heating up on medium heat. Once you can feel the heat with your hand, spray your pan with cooking spray and break up 1lb of ground turkey, starting to brown. Once completely browned, chop up one medium sweet potato or yam and throw into the pot. Stir the turkey and sweet potato for three minutes. Pour in one can of black beans, one can of unsalted corn kernels and a few cups of raw spinach. Cover and keep on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Uncover, and crack open 6-8 eggs on top of the gumbo. Cover again, allowing the eggs to cook over-easy on top of the gumbo for at least 5 more minutes. Uncover and turn off the heat, allowing to cool. Once cool, scramble up the gumbo so that the eggs mix evenly with all other ingredients. If you’d like, serve on top of a cup of rice and with a piece of toast.

Chicken Ricotta Spinach

  • One large chicken breast
  • 2-3 cups of raw spinach
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • Two colored bell peppers
  • 1/2 a yellow onion

Heat a medium size cooking pan over medium-low heat, adding 2 tablespoons of olive oil once hot. Throw in the 2-3 cups of raw spinach and stir until almost fully cooked. Add in 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese and mix together with the spinach until you have a clean mixture, remove from heat. Take the chicken breast and make 7-8 slits along it, going almost to the bottom. Using a spatula, scoop the spinach/ricotta mixture and fill the slits of the chicken breast until the mixture is gone. Line a cookie tin with tin foil and place the chicken breast in it, drizzling with one tablespoon of olive oil, paprika and salt and pepper. Chop up the two bell peppers and scatter on top of the chicken breast. Place in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, making sure it is fully cooked once you pull it out. Serve with a side of ranch if you’d like.

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