Quick and healthy snacks help for long nights of studying

A how-to guide for fast snacking

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Making your meals and snacks healthy through exam time will also keep your brain sharp. 

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

As the holiday season is quickly approaching, so too is that dreaded time of year between where students hole up in the library for countless hours to cram as much information into their heads as possible. Yes — exam time is coming.

There is nothing enjoyable about being constantly stressed about the amount of projects, papers, tests and work you have to do before you can go home, relax around a fire and forget about school for a month. Along with the copious cups of coffee you’re drinking to stay awake, you’re probably ordering Papa John’s to the library every night because you have absolutely no time to cook for yourself or wait in line at Roots for some healthy food. So, to avoid losing your appetite for pizza and to help you get some brain food, here are some fast and healthy snacks you can make during exam time instead.

The first item that you need to have stocked in your fridge at all times during exams is peanut butter. I don’t care if you think you’ve outgrown the peanut butter and jellies your mom used to pack you for lunch — peanut butter is not only creamy and delicious, it is also a great source of protein that will keep you full while you study. Peanut butter also goes well with lots of other foods such as graham crackers, bananas, apples and chocolate. You can easily slap some peanut butter on salted crackers or graham crackers to take with you to Aldy or Clem as an in-between-meals snack.

If you also want to include some potassium into your diet, cut up a banana into thin slices, slice a wheat tortilla into strips, put peanut butter on the tortilla strips and then roll the peanut butter tortilla strips around the banana slices to make little peanut butter banana poppers you can eat on the go.

One other great peanut butter recipe to try is first cutting an apple into round, thin slices. Then, coat one of the apple slices with peanut butter and sprinkle some granola on top. Close the sandwich with a second apple slice, and now you have some delicious mini apple-peanut butter sandwiches.

As a note to go with all of the peanut butter recipes I have mentioned — if you want to be extra healthy with your exam snacking, substitute peanut butter with almond butter to cut out some extra sugar intake.

If salty snacks are more your thing, I suggest buying hummus for dipping pretzels, pita chips, celery or carrots. There are also many different flavors of hummus to choose from – some of my favorites are Sabra roasted red pepper hummus or Hope kale pesto hummus. Speaking of chickpeas, you can also buy roasted chickpeas from Corner Juice to substitute for a meal, as they are very high in protein. 

While you should steer away from sweets such as candy bars, ice cream and even the incredible Insomnia Cookies if you are trying to snack healthy, a bit of dark chocolate is good for you and will add a bolt of energy for your studying. One of my favorite snack recipes to make for exam time is mixing granola with dark chocolate chips, almonds and walnuts — both nuts are filling and contain healthy fats. I remember distinctly shoving as many dark chocolate chips as possible into my mouth before going into my English exam last year and feeling very satisfied — if not a bit pukey.

If you want to be a little more adventurous with your exam snacks, or just really want to procrastinate from studying, take 30 minutes or an hour to make some Nutella energy bites. You’ll need one and half cups of oats, two thirds of a cup of Nutella, half a cup of shredded coconut, half a cup of honey and half a cup of roasted hazelnuts. Then, add two tablespoons of ground flax seeds, one tablespoon of chia seeds, two teaspoons of vanilla extract and half a teaspoon of salt. Put all of these ingredients into a blender and then blend until the mixture becomes smooth. After blending, put the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour, and once the mixture has chilled, you can roll it into little balls to easily pop in your mouth when you’re cramming for that calculus or economics exam.

While the few weeks before winter break may be dreary, the food that you eat does not have to be. Snacks are a great way to keep yourself full and focused as you study for your exams. Making your meals and snacks healthy through exam time will also keep your brain sharp and alert so you can ace those exams before winter break. Once exams are over, go pig out on Christmas cookies, gingerbread houses and hot chocolate. Happy studying!

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