Thursday, July 22, 2010

The UMD Food Co-op

Eating fast food for lunch is no longer a worry for me. My friends and I have discovered the Maryland Co-op. Or what we call the coop. We’ve been going there everyday for lunch since we came across it. It’s basically a lunch bar run by students. They sell many supermarket products such as bars, cereal, milk, bagels, but also freshly prepared foods like sushi, noodles, and burritos. Aside from already made food, they have a sandwich bar where you can design your own sandwich. They have a wide variety of sliced bread, tortilla wraps, pita bread, and bagels. You choose your bread and add whatever spreads, vegetables, meat and cheeses you want. Each kind of filling costs a different sum. For example, carrots cost 20 cents, mushrooms cost 30 cents and soy cheese costs 40 cents. My friends and I have gotten many sundried tomato wraps. They typically cost about $2.50 each which is a great deal for a satisfying lunch. The other day, I managed to make a sandwich that only cost $1.05. I was quite impressed and treated myself to a Fruit pop. The sandwich tasted delicious too; however, my friends said it was “too green.” Today, I had a sundried tomato wrap with bean sprouts, mustard, Tofurky, soy cheese, green peppers, and onions. It cost $2.30 and it was more than worth it. I heated it up today in the Co-op’s microwave to melt the cheese. I love the Coop not only because you can get good food at cheap prices, but also because you have the power to create your own meal.

Everyday, the students at the coop cook up different hot foods such as curry, casserole, and soup. They sell the hot food by weight at $4.99 per pound. I’ve tried some of their stew and it was delicious, but I still prefer to make my own sandwich.

I love the atmosphere inside the coop. One kind guy in particular even remembers me and my friends. The people there are all so kind and patient when you make your sandwich choices. I would love to work at the food coop in my future college (fingers crossed that they have one!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ice Cream Social

Last night we had an ice cream social! It was my first ice cream social and it was very satisfying. There was vanilla ice cream, strawberry ice cream, and chocolate ice cream as well as many topping options, like chocolate chips, crushed up M&M’S, crushed up Oreos, marshmallows, strawberry syrup and chocolate syrup. Needless to say, there was a lot of sugar. Here are our concoctions of creamy goodness…

Monday, July 19, 2010

Food Adventures at the University of Maryland

First I have to say, “I’m loving college!” Okay let me update you. I’ve been at the University of Maryland for ten days now taking a course in entrepreneurship. It’s part of their Young Scholars Program where high school students, like me, get the chance to explore college life. I’ve experienced roaming around a college campus, meeting new people, and being “engaged” in class; however, I have to say, exploring the food options here has been one of the most fun activities. I actually took photos of all the food I ate during my first week at UMD, but my camera broke so I lost the photos; however, I managed to get another camera and took photos of food from my second week.

While breakfast changes from day to day, there is always a cereal and yogurt bar, bagels, grits, eggs, and bacon or sausage. On some days, there are pancakes, waffles, French toast, or something else special. There are also three drink fountains where you can get everything from Gatorade to ginger ale. Every morning there is freshly brewed coffee and tea, which is always popular especially when you have freezing cold classrooms. Oh and how could I forget, there is fresh fruit for breakfast every morning!!! They’ve had apples, bananas, oranges, peaches, and cantaloupe. Starting the day off with fruit always leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to sit in class for the next three hours.

While breakfast and dinner are buffets, lunch is different. You have to buy your own lunch from a card that you are given. For lunch, most people go to The Stamp, which is the Maryland student union. The Stamp houses many fast food options, such as McDs, Chick-fil-A, Panda, and Sbarro. They also have some healthier options, like Saladworks, Subway, and sushi. I’ve had fun trying out different fast food options, but I don’t know that I could eat fast food everyday. I had Chick-fil-A for the first time the other day, but found it too salty for my liking. The other day, my friends and I went to the main road just outside of the university campus. We had Potbelly for lunch (it was my first time). I actually liked it a lot. If only they had one in The Stamp… Oh well.

When I first came here, I was worried that I would not be able to get enough fruit and vegetables in my diet. Much to my delight, I have discovered that the dinner buffet provides me with plenty. The dinner menu changes every night, but there is always a salad bar (YAY!). For the main dish, I have had entrĂ©es like blackened catfish, Hawaiian chicken, roast turkey, and baked ziti. There is also a freezer full of ice cream, but I have not yet had the chance to try anything from there. For my first few days at Maryland, I could never get to dinner on time for the watermelon, but now I make sure that I get some everyday. For dessert every night, I get a whole bowl of fruit. I already have the reputation of being a “health nut” here on campus.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Honey Pistachio Biscotti

Afternoon tea (or should I say afternoon snack now that I’m in America) is a time I look forward to everyday. There’s simply no way that any lunch could last me 6 hours before it’s time for dinner. American’s constantly ask me, “You drink tea in the afternoon?” No I do not drink tea in the afternoon, at least not on a daily basis. A typical afternoon tea for me is some fruit, yogurt, or cereal. Sometimes I feel the need for some extra energy and I dig out the infamous bag of chips or the tub of ice cream.

Today, for afternoon tea, I made some biscotti. Biscotti is a hard Italian cookie that pairs perfectly with coffee. Biscotti means twice baked in Italian. This is because making biscotti requires shaping the cookie dough into logs and baking them, then cutting up the logs and baking the cookies once more. Essentially, these cookies are in fact “twice baked.”

The following recipe from Ellie Krieger is for pistachio biscotti. You can put any nut or fruit in biscotti. There are almond biscotti, walnut biscotti, lemon biscotti, and even chocolate biscotti. I used Ellie’s recipe for a base and added in almonds in place of pistachios since I didn’t have any on hand. I also added some raisins and dried cranberries for extra sweetness and nutritional value. This recipe is reasonably low fat and low sugar. Some biscotti recipes have butter in the ingredient list. Butter, along with its hoard of saturated fat, is completely unnecessary to make perfect biscotti. The best biscotti are made with healthy oils such as the olive oil used in this recipe.

• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 2 large eggs
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl beat together the sugar, honey, eggs, oil, zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract until well combined. In batches add the dry ingredients until the mixture forms a dough. Stir in the pistachios.
3. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead several times. Shape into a log about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.
4. With a serrated knife, cut 1/2-inch diagonal slices. Arrange on the baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Turn the cookies over and bake the biscotti until golden 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blueberry Pancakes

Pancakes are an absolute delight for a weekend breakfast. And what can get better than pancakes oozing with blueberry goodness? As much as I would love waking up to the smell of pancakes, I don’t mind being the one to make them. It’s great starting off a day with some measuring, mixing, and frying in the kitchen. And when you can finally sit down and enjoy what you’ve just cooked up, well, that’s just the first success of the day.

These fluffy blueberry pancakes are low in fat and sugar. I simply found a recipe for buttermilk pancakes and added frozen blueberries to the mixture. They are chock full of blueberries, the number one fruit for healthy antioxidants. I have to admit, I’ve never bought buttermilk before. Instead, I use a simply trick. For one cup of buttermilk, put one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into a cup and pour normal milk in until the cup is full. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes and you’ve got yourself some homemade buttermilk! I’ve used this trick for years and it has never failed me.

I’ve always wondered why pancakes have become a breakfast food when really they’re just as good for dessert or afternoon snack. Drizzle some honey or golden syrup on top and you’ve got yourself a satisfying meal great for any time of the day!


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup low fat buttermilk
2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries


1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl, combine egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add wet ingredients. Mix until smooth. Carefully add in the blueberries.
3. For each pancake, scoop about a 1/4 cup of batter on to a hot nonstick pan sprayed with cooking spray.
4. Turn pancakes when bubbles appear and edges are cooked, after about 1 1/2 minutes. Cook for 1 minute on the second side or until golden.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Congregate With Food—Profiteroles, Honey Soy Fish, and Sweet Potato Salad

When it comes to meeting up with family friends, food is always a big deal. Whether we eat out or just munch on sunflower seeds and fruit, a gathering is never complete without something to eat. Back in New Zealand, my family would frequently host dinner parties and I would be the one busy in the kitchen whipping up delicacies. Since we moved to the U.S. however, we haven’t managed to host anyone for a meal yet. As the school year just finished, I was excited to put down my books and put on an apron. When it comes to feeding a whole group of people, I like to prepare food that can be shared easily, such as profiteroles or salad. In fact, at almost every gathering my family hosts, there are profiteroles and salad.


Profiteroles are the perfect little pastries for guests to enjoy. They are cute, they are pretty and most importantly, they are delicious. In NZ I used to fill the choux pastry puffs with sweetened whipped cream, but now that I know better, I fill them up with JELL-O Sugar Free Pudding. It’s not much of a compromise in flavor, but it’s a dramatic decrease in calories and fat. In these profiteroles, I put in chocolate pudding, but it really doesn’t matter what flavor pudding you fill them up with. I like to drizzle melted chocolate over the top just before plating. These profiteroles look adorable on a white plate, decorated with chocolate dipped strawberries. I like to add a finishing touch by sprinkling some icing sugar over the top. TaDaaaa!!


100g butter
1 cup water
1 cup plain flour
3 eggs
1 packet JELL-O Sugar Free Vanilla Pudding
2 cups milk
Dark chocolate
White chocolate


1. Preheat the oven to 395 degrees F.
2. Combine butter and water in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and quickly add the flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
3. Add the eggs one at a time to the saucepan, beating well with an electric beater after each addition. The mixture should be glossy. Spoon small teaspoonfuls of the pastry onto a greased oven tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until puffy and golden.
4. Lower the temperature to 250 degrees F and continue baking for about 15 minutes until dry. Cool completely.
5. Prepare the pudding as directed on the packet.
6. When the profiteroles are cooled, poke a slot into each pastry and fill with the pudding.
7. Melt some chocolate and drizzle over the top!

Honey Soy Fish

Having a whole fish right in front of you is just so much more satisfying than having pieces of meat already removed from the bone. You know how bears like to kill their prey otherwise it’s no good for them? Well, I like to have a whole fish to tear up into pieces myself. It’s simply human nature. Honestly.

I created this fish dish by uniting Asian flavors with western cooking. It’s salty, sweet, sticky goodness! It’s also VERY healthy. As my mum says: “Eat fish for brains!” So eat up!


2 lb whole tilapia
3 cloves garlic, chopped into slices
2cm piece ginger, peeled, cut into thin strips
2 stalks spring onion, chopped

3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp cooking wine
1 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Wash the fish thoroughly and place on an oven proof dish
3. Cut slits on the fish’s skin and stuff slices of garlic and ginger inside.
4. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the whole fish.
5. Sprinkle the spring onions on top. Cover the fish with tin foil and using a knife, cut slits all over the tin foil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Sweet Potato Salad with Orange-Maple Dressing

Usually, I like to have a potato salad for parties. However, we ran out of potatoes so I had to compromise with sweet potatoes. I had never made a sweet potato salad before so I went on Google in search of a recipe. I found this recipe on The flavor in the dish is very different from a typical potato salad. I’m not sure that I like it very much but our guests sure seemed to!


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 cup chopped green onions
2 stalks celery, chopped into slices
3/4 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raisins


1. Whisk all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Steam or boil the sweet potatoes until they are just tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer sweet potatoes to large bowl. Cool to room temperature.
3. Add green onions, celery, pecans, and raisins. Pour dressing over; toss gently to blend. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper.