Better Than the Dining Hall: 7 Snack Recipes College Kids Need

According to Health, 70 percent of students gain weight during college. One of the best ways to avoid a “freshman 15″ situation is to keep healthy snacks on hand. The beginning of a new semester is upon us, and along with it comes a need for convenient, healthy, on-the-go snacks to munch on in class or as you’re trekking across campus. It can get costly to keep relying on prepackaged snacks — to boot, many of those packaged snacks are unhealthy and processed. However, there are many alternative options that you can produce freshly and in your own dorm room or apartment kitchen.

Each of these 7 recipes is a fresh, delicious, and relatively easy way to stave off the weight gain so prevalent among today’s college students.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

1. Spicy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one cup of chickpeas has nearly 39 grams of protein. This is a perfect on-the-go snack for a hungry student — chickpeas are already satisfying, and roasted them with some chili, cumin, and cayenne provides them with a little edge. This Chow recipe takes 45 minutes to complete and yields 4-6 servings of roasted chickpeas. Throw them in a baggie and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, thoroughly drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Directions: Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange a rack in the middle. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Spread the chickpeas in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

2. Peanut Butter Oat Balls

Peanut butter and honey are a delicious combination, and mini chocolate chips are an added treat for the lovers of chocolate out there. These little oat-based balls are surprisingly healthy, given how delicious and smooth they are. They consist of protein-rich peanut butter, fiber-loaded oats, and flaxseed — a nutritional jack-of-all-trades if there ever was one. The snack is a simple, fun, on-the-go snack to whip together in the kitchen and bring along to class in a baggie. This recipe from the Messy Baker Blog takes 8 minutes to complete and yields somewhere around 20 peanut butter oat balls.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup flax seed meal
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: Add oats, flax seed meal, and mini chocolate chips to a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add peanut butter, honey, and vanilla extract. Using a wooden soon or rubber spatula, stir until thoroughly combined. The mixture will be very thick.

Shape the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls. Transfer the balls to an airtight container, separating each layer with wax paper. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

3. Homemade Cheesy Crackers

Did you know that the average American consumes about 10 pounds of cheddar each year? So writes the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, and we’re inclined to believe it — cheddar cheese is delicious! If you love snacking on cheddar crackers, then try out these homemade ones. They are a fresher, more delicious – not to mention more cost-effective — way to enjoy your favorite cheesy snack. They’re highly versatile and the measurements and spices used can be adjusted according to personal preference. Enjoy the bold flavors of cheese with this recipe from All Recipes, which takes an hour and 20 minutes to complete and yields around 36 crackers.

Ingredients:

  • ½ teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ¾ cup lightly packed shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • ⅓ cup lightly packed freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cold water, or as needed

Directions: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with vegetable oil. Place butter into a mixing bowl; add Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt. Mix together with the back of a spatula until thoroughly combined.

Mix flour into cheese mixture with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle in cold water, 1 or 2 drops at a time, and mix with spatula until it comes together in a dough that holds its shape when squeezed. Transfer dough to a work surface and press into a thick, flattened disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll dough out on a floured work surface to about ⅛-inch thick. Use a pizza cutter to cut 1-inch wide strips from the dough. Cut strips crosswise into rectangles about 1 ½-inches long. Use the back of a bamboo skewer to punch 5 small holes into each cracker. Arrange crackers onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until crackers are browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Let stand about 3 minutes for crackers to cool and release from the foil. Let cool completely before serving.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

4. Chewy Granola Bars

These granola bars are somewhat more indulgent than the other snacks we’ve listed, but we trust you’ll indulge your sweet tooth responsibly. Granola bars are one of the easiest snacks to take on the go, and these rich and chewy ones will keep you satisfied through even the longest of lectures. They go spectacularly with coffee! Try this recipe from the Food Network and see what you think! The recipe takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete and yields 36 granola bars.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 cups low-fat granola mix (not cereal)
  • ½ cup sweetened flake coconut
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¾ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup slivered almonds

Directions: Combine brown sugar, honey, vanilla, and butter in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat; simmer 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Cool. Meanwhile, combine granola, coconut, raisins, ½ cup chocolate chips, and almonds in a large bowl.

Stir brown sugar mixture into granola mixture. Spread in a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan. Press remaining chocolate chips into top. Refrigerate 2 hours or until completely cooled. Cut into bars.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

5. Spicy Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet, salty, and spicy — a trifecta of flavor. These spicy sweet potato chips from Bobby Deen of the Cooking Channel have it all. Are you an amateur in the kitchen? No worries! This is one of the simplest snack recipes there is, and it’s worth the few minutes to get a tasty batch of homemade chips for class. The recipe takes about 20 minutes to complete and yields about 4 servings of chips.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 sweet potatoes, washed and dried (1 large or 2 small)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the potatoes in ¼-inch-thick slices. In a large bowl, add the oil and seasonings. Add the sliced potatoes and toss to coat. Place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

6. Honey Iced Coffee

If you’re out the door to class but want to add a little extra something to your coffee, try this quick recipe to enliven that morning brew. It’ll keep you up and at ‘em in class and will taste delicious, too. Honey gives this mixed coffee drink a light sweetness, while cinnamon and nutmeg add a distinctive flavor to the mix. This recipe from Just a Pinch takes about 5 minutes to complete and yields 1 serving.

Ingredients:

  • Honey, to taste
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • Ice cubes
  • Whipped cream, optional
  • Ground cinnamon and nutmeg

Directions: Stir the honey into the coffee to taste. Add ice and top with whipped cram if desired; sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

7. Peanut Butter Popcorn

Lightly salted popcorn with a peanut butter finish may be one of the greatest snacks of all time. How can you go wrong with sweet and salty? If you’d prefer to use a bag of microwave popcorn in this recipe, rather than make your own on the stovetop, you can substitute that in to save a few steps. Additionally, this recipe can be made overnight — though, as always, popcorn is at its best when fresh. As written, this recipe from the Kitchn yields 8 cups of popcorn and takes about 35 minutes to complete.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup popcorn kernels
  • Vegetable oil
  • Fine salt
  • ½ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup peanut butter (should be free of added sugar)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions: Have a clean paper shopping bag or oversized mixing bowl ready. Heat a 4-quart heavy pan over medium heat and film the bottom with vegetable oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the popcorn, shake to distribute, then put a lid on the pan, leaving a small crack for steam to escape. When the first kernel pops, put the lid on all the way. As the popcorn starts popping, shake vigorously to make sure the kernels are distributed evenly. When the popping slows to a few seconds between pops, take the pan off the heat.

Pour the popcorn into the paper bag or bowl to cool, and attempt to leave any unpopped kernels behind in the pan. (Coated with peanut butter caramel, the unpopped kernels are a serious tooth hazard.) Lightly salt the popcorn to taste.

Mix the honey and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and add the peanut butter. Stir vigorously until all the peanut butter is melted, then mix in the vanilla. Immediately pour the peanut butter caramel over the popcorn and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until it’s all coated. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

More From Life Cheat Sheet: