Staff Picks: Our favorite homemade snacks for a study break

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Staff Picks: Our favorite homemade snacks for a study break

Tofu cooking in a pan.

Tofu cooking in a pan.

Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Tofu cooking in a pan.

Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Tofu cooking in a pan.

By The Pitt News Staff

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With finals week rapidly approaching, it’s important for us college students to keep our bodies and our minds fueled for the stress of studying. When dining hall meals and Pop-Tarts won’t satisfy a body that is mentally and physically worn out from the semester, look no further than our staff-favorite DIY snacks. Not to mention, spending some time cooking presents the perfect opportunity to take a study break or procrastinate.

Potato hash // Delilah Bourque, Senior Staff Writer

My favorite meal of the day is and always has been breakfast. I love to eat breakfast food at any time of the day. My favorite thing to make, especially after a long day of studying, is a potato hash with over-easy eggs. Since I’m cooking for just one person — me — some personal home fries are fast, easy and delicious to make.

I take a few minutes to dice up one or two potatoes I have lying around, along with some ham or prosciutto, and fry them in butter. Seasoning is really important to me, and my spice drawer is chock-full of different mixes. My favorites to use for this recipe are onion salt, cumin, coriander and regular ground pepper. Potatoes are a versatile food and soak up whatever seasonings you add to them like a sponge. Once the potatoes are almost done, I add a minced clove of garlic and spend a few minutes cooking a couple eggs. Classic Frank’s RedHot sauce is a staple for me, so I top my eggs and hash with a few dashes. Cooking potatoes can seem daunting or time-consuming, but they’re perfect for a warm, hearty snack in the midst of finals season.

Tofu with vegan ranch dressing // Sarah Connor, Culture Editor

As someone who eats a mostly vegan diet and also doesn’t really know how to cook anything more complicated than pasta and microwave dinners, my snacks tend to be pretty basic. I stick to peanut-butter-dipped bananas, plain popcorn or Double Stuf Oreos — yes, Oreos are vegan. However, I have recently discovered that grilling up tofu is not too difficult. All I have to do is open up the package, chop it up into small cubes, squeeze out the water and throw it in a pan with melted butter — my personal favorite is the vegan butter by Earth Balance. I flip the tofu cubes on the pan until all sides look golden and crunchy.

I have also discovered the gift that is vegan ranch dressing. Sold by the brand Daiya Deliciously Dairy-Free, the ranch dressing is the perfect compliment to freshly grilled tofu. It is a tasty, protein-filled snack that I can expand into a full meal if I’m really hungry. Grilling up some frozen vegetables and adding some rice or noodles to my plate is always a great way for me to build upon it.

Ants on a log // Elizabeth Donnelly, Senior Staff Writer

As a second-year Towers resident, I can attest to how hard it can be to successfully make tasty and efficient study snacks with very little space, time and supplies. With no stoves or ovens at my disposal, it is difficult to create filling and tasty culinary treats while living in what some may call a room the size of a shoebox — shout-out to Tower C. A go-to snack for me is the traditional ants on a log, a crunchy celery stick filled with smooth peanut butter and topped with a row of raisins.

Ants on a log is a snack I’ve enjoyed since preschool, and it’s honestly simple enough for a preschooler to make themselves. There are endless variations to this snack staple, and they will leave you feeling full and satisfied. One that I’ve enjoyed is substituting cream cheese for the peanut butter and then using mixed berries, either chopped fresh or dried, in place of the raisins. This is awesome for people with nut allergies and the fruits and celery help get in that daily dose of vitamins. The fun doesn’t stop there, however. You can transform it into fish in a stream using hummus and goldfish crackers, or even beans on a stalk using guacamole and black beans. The options are endless when it comes to this treat, which is why is has always been and will continue to be a staple in my snack routine.

Ramen with Kraft parmesan & veggies // Mary Rose O’Donnell, Senior Staff Writer

My cooking skills are incredibly limited, as I have just learned to successfully boil water and cook noodles within the past year. Like most college students, I am on a budget and ramen noodles are a staple in my life. As much as I love and appreciate ramen, it can get pretty boring sometimes. The various flavor packets like chicken and lime chili are too much for my Caucasian tongue and often give me heartburn. But without the flavor packets, I find that plain ramen is just, well, too plain.

My solution to this dilemma is quick and simple: add Kraft parmesan cheese — that kind in the green bottle, you know the one — grape tomatoes and spinach to plain ramen noodles. No flavor packets needed, just the lovely flavors of Kraft parmesan and vegetables. If Market is serving grilled chicken that day, grab a tupperware, sneak some of it back to your dorm and add it to your ramen for that extra protein. Each of these ingredients can be purchased — or taken from Market — for a low price, perfect for Pitt students on a budget!

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