Going to college, whether it is as a first-time freshman or returning upperclassman, can mean big changes. The change in environment can bring new experiences and the freedom to make personal choices: positive and negative. One of the most common concerns among college students is how to stay healthy and avoid the dreaded “Freshman 15.” While it’s easy to binge on late-night carb-filled snacks such as pizza, crackers, chips and ice cream, it’s quite difficult to spend the next semester trying to run the effects of it all off. If you’re already on that track, or just trying to stay on top of your health game, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone! All four Arizona State University campuses offer healthy alternatives: whether they be gluten-free or vegetarian options, health food restaurants, quick substitutes at the dining hall or even your favorite fast food joints. The bonus part: they’re tasty and they’ll fit your tight college budget.
If you live in the urbanized downtown Phoenix, or maybe have to take a few classes at the Mercado during the week, there’s a great selection of quick and easy spots to fit in a nutritious lunch.
Phoenix Public Market Farmer’s Market, open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon, is located a quick five-minute walk north of Taylor Place. It features food trucks, breakfast burritos, gluten- and dairy-free baked goods, fresh produce, homemade jewelry and dorm-transforming decorations, goat milk and cheese, cage-free eggs, fresh flowers and a variety of other options to bring to a picnic table or take home to make your roommate happy!
Quick Restaurants in the Downtown Area
Bowl of Greens, located under the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, offers my favorite smoothies on campus without all the added sugar; hearty salads; copious amounts of sandwiches and delicious pastas. The downside: it’s a little expensive for our skinny wallets.
Devil’s Greens is located under Taylor Place, and though is operates on odd hours it is convenient for late-night meals or snacks after a study session. Devil’s Greens features baked chicken quesadillas, a burrito bar, whole-grain pasta, homemade hummus, a yogurt parfait and salad bar, delicious soups and sugar-free smoothies. Bonus: it takes meal swipes after 7 p.m. on weekends and 9 p.m. on weekdays; it accepts M&G and the manager will personally make any smoothie recipe that you bring in.
Fair Trade Cafe, located under the A. E. England Building, features hummus sandwiches, salads, vegan options and a juice bar!
Pita Jungle, located north of campus on West Roosevelt, serves falafel, pitas (vegetarian, made of ground chick peas and beans), vegan appetizers, salads and veggie wraps!
Tempe Farmers Market, located on Farmer within walking distance of Mill Avenue is a little store that brings in fresh produce including soy milk, vegan and vegetarian options, organic house supplies and a small cafe with food that can be taken to go. Bonus: it is open until 1 a.m. on weekends, so it’s a great, late night stop for a tea or healthy snack.
Desert Roots Kitchen, located on Mill Avenue, is basically a deli and cafe, serving vegan foods that are only made with local ingredients. It has wraps, smoothies, quinoa, pasta salads and smoothies for a very inexpensive price!
Oliveo Grill, located off of University Drive is a fun, spunky college hangout that has a variety of unique, cultural foods including Greek salads, hummus, pitas, veggie burgers and many different types of rice. Bonus: it has free Wi-Fi!
Ike’s Love & Sandwiches, located right in the middle of Mill Avenue, is a small sandwich shop that could be made healthy if you avoid the huge options! The owner is able to make vegan and vegetarian options if you are looking to cut back on meats. They even have faux cheese.
Pita Pit, located on Mill Avenue, is a great place to get a quick veggie or hummus pita on whole grain bread.
Finally, a few tips:
Meal plans can be made to be healthy and low in calories. Salad bars are always an option, along with the plentiful amounts of deli sandwiches, wraps and side dishes including tofu and beans. Vegetables and baked chicken are served nightly, in which you could ask the staff for a smaller portion.
If you’re in a rush, Jimmy John’s (located in both Tempe and downtown Phoenix) has ‘un-wiches’ that skip the bread and put your sandwich in a lettuce wrap, often saving over 350 calories!
Need a coffee fix? Starbucks passion fruit tea (without added sugar) is less than 200 calories, along with plain iced coffee or skinny lattes (ask for low-fat or soy milk, and no whipped cream or added sugar). Protein boxes and Greek yogurt are a good Starbucks alternative to the carb-infused croissants and pastries that entice us behind the glass.
Cut back on soda; you should be drinking seven to eight cups of water in the Arizona heat!
Jamba Juice outside of Manzanita Hall sells oatmeal and quick yogurt before morning classes.
Sushi is sold in downtown Phoenix’s Taylor Market Place and Tempe’s Memorial Union, along with a few restaurants in the area such as Squid Ink and Ra on Mill Avenue.
Story and Photos By Sophie Reiners