I’ve recently been in touch with a lot of college students who struggle with their school’s cafeteria options when it comes to halal options as well as healthy options. Here are some of the most common questions I get and my tips on hopefully making it a little easier and more possible to do.
- We’re trying to get our college dining services to serve halal options. What are some simple recipes that they can use?
My advice is to keep it simple and healthy using fresh produce and products with as few ingredients as possible and to reach out to vendors and meat suppliers of quality halal poultry and meats to get in touch with your college or university. Let your voices be heard, too- contact your student government office and ask them to be in touch with the administration to understand the dietary needs of the Muslim students.
As an extension of my work blogging and publishing MyHalalKitchen.com, I also train kitchen staff on simple, quick and healthy halal recipes. In fact, one of my favorite projects was with a local school whose entire lunch menu I helped to reform to include quick, healthy and halal recipes that the kids actually like. I am really looking forward to doing that again at another school or institution open to learning how possible it is to create halal and healthy options for students.
- Is it easy for a cafeteria to start serving halal options?
If they have the desire and the focus to learn what it takes to incorporate halal cooking methods (i.e. no cross-contamination) and to read labels that help detect non-halal ingredients as well as learn about some halal products they can use, I think they can easily start serving halal options in no time.
- I’m a college student and don’t have much time to cook, or any halal grocery stores nearby. Any tips on how I can still eat halal and healthy?
For one thing, I’m a huge fan of cooking even if it means just cooking for one person- yourself! It doesn’t have to be stressful; it can be therapeutic and quick. If you have your own apartment, choose fresh ingredients that have already been cut or make foods that are one-pot meals that you can throw into a mini crock-pot overnight and wake up to food that is ready to pack in your lunch. If you’re in a dorm and the right food options just aren’t available in your cafeteria or your classes go on longer than the cafeteria stays open, shop at places like Trader Joe’s or local ethnic markets where you can buy vegan, vegetarian and healthy pasta or quick rice options that can be cooked in a hot pot, one of the best tools a dorming student can own!
If cooking is not an option at all, try the Saffron Road halal frozen entrees. Most university campuses have a Whole Foods Market nearby where you can find these foods in the freezer section and they can be easily microwaved on campus in a study lounge or cafeteria. They’re not just frozen entrees made halal, but they’re from a socially-responsible company that provides consumers with humanely-raised, vegetarian-fed and antibiotic-free meat, something that a lot of college students care about.
- I’m a college student and looking for quick, easy suhoor ideas that will keep me refreshed enough for exams. Any ideas?
Eggs are the ultimate brain food as long as you eat the yolk and the white parts together. Boil eggs (in a hot pot) the night before then place the refrigerator to quickly peel at suhoor time. If you have beans and/or meat that is left over from iftar, pair it with the eggs for a protein-packed suhoor that won’t cause your body to crash later on like carbs or other sugars will. If you have a small pan and a little butter or oil, you can make them simply and quickly. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and eat hydrating fruits like melons while avoiding sugary foods typical of the popular ‘breakfast foods’ found in grocery store aisles.
I hope this has been helpful- what else would you add to this list?