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Tasty Dorm Food Made Easy

Image: dorm kids (ARA) - Remember when dorm food meant cooking on a hot plate? Times have changed. At many colleges, school-sponsored housing means a furnished apartment with a full kitchen -- and the opportunity to eat healthy.

Chef Michael Roll recalls his dorm room hot plate and thinks today's students have a sweet deal. Roll is a chef instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Washington. Although Roll's dorm cooking skills may have been better than most, his choices for what to cook were limited. "Today there are so many options in the grocery store for college students to have a balanced meal while balancing school work," says Roll.

Trying to think outside the pizza box? Roll recommends bags of frozen vegetables as an economical and easy way to create a meal. "I personally like the frozen bags of corn and broccoli. While my chicken is baking in the oven, I throw a bag of vegetables in the microwave. In less than 30 minutes, you have a meal," he says. Boxed noodles and the old reliable mac and cheese are other favorites.

For a delicious, easy-to prepare snack, Roll suggests a fruit crisp dish. "Use half cup of apples, berries, pears or peaches -- whatever you have around. Top the fruit with one cup granola, sprinkle with a half teaspoon of cinnamon and sugar, add one half tablespoon of butter, spread evenly on small square pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes."

But eating healthy can be hard without a parental unit stocking the refrigerator with nutritious foods. Roll cautions, "No one is reminding you to eat your fruits and vegetables. So grab an apple instead of chips. Have a super salad instead of a super burger. It's habit-forming!"

For many first-time college students, leaving home can be hard -- and learning to cook can be even harder. But there's no need to miss mom's cooking. Ask for the recipes to your favorite dishes. Take some cooking classes while in college and make new friends with roommates by cooking together. "Cooking should not be intimidating for anyone," notes Roll. "It's fun and if you just take your time, you will learn to enjoy it."

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