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The college life: Fun, cheap and healthy 'fast' food for September

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As a college student, it is often difficult to find delicious, healthy and relatively affordable snack foods and meals. There are added difficulties when you are an undergraduate or simply unemployed, as there is even more limited space and funding for storing everything you want to eat and can afford to buy.

This past year, while attempting to live a fuller and healthier life while maintaining an affordable weekly grocery bill, it has been made apparent that some kitchen tests that have yielded good results, while others yield bad ones. One of the most important things to remember when both grocery shopping and cooking is to use what's in season, which both helps in mixing up your healthy choices and in keeping your grocery bill down.

Listed below are some of the delicious produce that is in-season for the month of September. If you are already trying to mix up your food from simply being pizza and mac 'n cheese, go to your local grocery store and get more healthful food in your diet.

Some of what's in season for September includes:

A favorite soup in the creamy and savory variety, butternut squash soup has recipes around the web that will aid in satisfying this craving. One of the simplest and best is by the Food Network Kitchen. As a college student, you shouldn't have to fuss over whether you have that needed tablespoon of cumin or chives to dress up this soup. By following this recipe, you need only six ingredients and a hour to get one of the best soups you've ever tasted. You may even make lifelong friends with some of your floor-mates simply through the power of butternut squash mixed with chicken or veggie stock and cream.

  • CauliflowerMake roasted cauliflower with garlic, onion and pepper in your oven or on your stovetop.

Tired of getting plain cauliflower as a side to your pasta or a topping to your salad? Wait no longer to try a whole new spin on what some may call a very bland vegetable. By roasting cauliflower with some garlic, onion and black pepper either in your oven or on the stovetop, you have a fantastic and hearty addition to your meal. All this with a once bland veggie, all while attaining one of your five daily servings of fruits/vegetables!

Cranberries are a bit difficult to utilize in a healthy diet when they are so often placed in desserts. If you have difficulty getting your 64 ounces of water per day, why not spice up your plain water with some cranberries? Simply slice and put in your cold water before placing in the fridge for a little while. Then, enjoy! You can still achieve some sweetness to your day without indulging in a larger cranberry dessert.

  • GrapesTurn the fruit on its head for a great frozen treat (with yogurt too, if you'd like!).

Simply eating grapes plain can become a bore after a period of time. Yet, as shown through Pop Sugar's Fitness page, you can now enjoy grapes another way—frozen with yogurt and chia seeds! This recipe is simple, fast and cheap for any college student, and helps us to both attain a serving of fruit and protein while tricking ourselves into eating "something sweet" as well. The grapes will taste a bit like gumdrops, and you can even play with the yogurt flavors to find a taste that's right for you. Just make sure not to go too sugar-crazy!

  • GuavaUse for a sweet drink.

After experiencing Mexican drinks such as guava agua fresca, you may be craving that sweet yet satisfying taste without having to book a plane ticket. To make a guava agua fresca, all you need is a blender, guava, water, and a wee bit of sugar. With that simple of a process, you might even be able to make enough guava agua fresca for your entire floor to enjoy and fiesta! One of the most straightforward and easy-to-follow recipes is here on MexConnect—enjoy!

  • HuckleberryMix with some cookie dough for a late night treat.

If you are interested in grabbing a quick chocolate chip cookie before hitting the books late at night, why not add in some huckleberries? These berries, native to the Northwestern U.S. and Canada, have a sweet type of tartness that hits the right spot as an addition to your cookie dough or your ice cream. If you aren't sure if you do like the taste, not to worry! You can always make some delicious huckleberry jam in your dorm's kitchen to spread on toast and rice cakes before you rush off to your morning class.

  • PersimmonDry your persimmons for a crunchy and delicious easy-to-grab-and-go snack.

One of the most delicious yet healthy treats for this time of year (and even into winter) is dried persimmons. Dried persimmons are fairly easy to make, and you can yield a hefty serving from just one persimmon if you don't have a lot to pick from. This crunchy and delicious snack simply requires you to slice up a persimmon and place it on a baking sheet in the oven at a low temperature for about an hour and a half—it's really that simple! Aside from just mixing up your snack routine with this treat, which you can pair with a serving of nuts to really hit the spot, you are still getting another serving of fruit without all of the sweetness and sugar of a regular persimmon.

  • PumpkinUse as an ingredient for your desserts.

While Americans love pumpkin pie, pumpkin doesn't only have to be paired with your sweets. Get some pumpkin for yourself—whether that be in a can or as a whole—and eat it with some vanilla Greek yogurt and cinnamon for a late night or even early morning treat. It may seem odd to treat pumpkin as a dessert, but hey, one of America's favorite desserts is made from the gourd, so don't knock it without trying!

  • Sweet PotatoMake some sweet-potato chips or sweet-potato fries to smartly satisfy your indulgences.

Sweet potatoes truly have a great deal of benefits aside from being a part of so many delicious Thanksgiving and holiday foods. To really enjoy the somewhat odd vegetable, try to make your own sweet-potato chips or sweet-potato fries for an add-on to your sandwich or burger. These sides really do hit the spot that you usually satisfy with potato chips or French fries, but are much healthier and less greasier than their counterparts. Just make sure not to over-indulge too much!

Although these options may seem to be a hefty dose of food-ideas for your first or second month at school, it is important to realize that you don't need to find food satisfaction only through your college's cafeteria or convenience store. Branch out with these varied types of produce, and you will definitely be working your way on up in both the culinary and social world!

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