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Essential snacks to bring back to U.Va.

Consider buying these snacks to spice up your pantry and whip some deliciously easy recipes

Grain-free, gluten-free and vegan, this granola is perfectly delicious on its own or can be used to top cereal or yogurt
Grain-free, gluten-free and vegan, this granola is perfectly delicious on its own or can be used to top cereal or yogurt

2020 was a year unlike any other with hundreds of unexpected ups and downs — from a pandemic to the 2020 election. As many of us prepare to return to the University this spring, COVID-19 health regulations are still in place and should be taken seriously to help prevent further spread. So while you’re spending most of your time with your roommates, these snacks will not only be useful when you are studying or need an energy boost, but will also help keep you all company. 

I recommend these snacks to ensure a smoother transition into spring semester to balance out the turbulent year. While they won’t be able to replace a normal semester, hopefully, they will make the transition into the upcoming semester more fun. 

One of my favorite grocery stores to shop for snacks at is Trader Joe’s. They have a diverse array of unique and healthy snacks that are hard to find anywhere else. My recommendation would be its Organic Fruit & Seed Granola. Grain-free, gluten-free and vegan, this snack is only $3.69 for ten ounces and is perfectly delicious on its own or can be used to top cereal or yogurt —  I prefer using it with greek yogurt, which makes for a delicious balance between sweet and sour. 

Furthermore, the granola is so versatile that you can use it to make additional snacks, such as these Easy Crunchy No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars by Yummy Mummy Kitchen. This snack is perfect if you want an easy healthy replacement for traditional store-bought granola bars. Plus, the Trader Joe’s granola already has clusters of seeds, coconuts, cranberries and raisins, making this recipe is even easier. If you are allergic to peanut butter, these Almond Butter Energy Bites by Jennifer Debth, the creator of Show Me the Yummy are the perfect alternatives. 

Another one of my favorite Trader Joe’s snacks is their Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. A somewhat healthier alternative to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, this snack is only $4.29 for 36 peanut butter cups and is perfect to satisfy any sweet tooth. My favorite way to eat them is by storing them in the fridge rather than at room temperature as this will give them an ice cream-like consistency. Since this is a sweeter snack, it is a perfect pick-me-up to cure your afternoon slump. 

If you’re craving dessert, the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are perfect in these Peanut Butter Cup Gooey Cookie Bars by Dorothy Kern, a professional food blogger. This recipe calls for mini Peanut Butter Cups, which makes the Trader Joe’s cups a perfect substitute since they’re smaller than the original Reese’s Cups. Although this dessert isn’t the healthiest, it is great to make as a “treat yourself” dessert. 

One of my favorite snacks is a simple chips and salsa — I love dipping Tostitos Hint of Lime chips into chunky tomato salsa. Although I buy my chips and salsa from a local grocery store, like Target or Costco, I would love to make homemade tortilla chips and salsa with my roommates. 

This homemade tortilla chips recipe by Elise Bauer, the founder of Simply Recipes, is perfect for college students who love using minimal ingredients. This recipe is so versatile as it can be made using several different cooking methods —  frying, baking and even microwaving. This homemade salsa recipe by Sommer Collier, a professional food writer and recipe developer, is fresh, flavorful and perfectly chunky. This recipe yields about five cups, so it can easily be stored and consumed later. Other than eating with chips, Collier recommends pouring the salsa over eggs, serving with veggies or my personal favorite, enchiladas.

As spring semester is just around the corner, kick it off with delicious snacks to help you forget the troubles and misfortunes the past year has brought you.