Healthy Eating in the Trop Café

Upon entering college, I have to admit that the thought of gaining the “Freshman 15” was consistently entering my mind. Discussions of the typical college student diet were abundant, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only student out there that was convinced eating healthy in a dorm was nearly impossible. Every student faces the transition from enjoying home cooked, wholesome meals to the stereotypical “dorm food diet.” As a student athlete, I figured I had no reason to focus much attention on my diet; exercise is enough, right? Wrong. After hours of research and goal setting, I made a commitment to myself to maintain a nourishing lifestyle, which included eating as natural and “clean” as possible (whole, unprocessed foods). Small changes and a gradual incorporation of this eating style allow for the process to be exciting and extremely self-rewarding. So where did I start? Here are a few introductory tips I always kept in mind.

  1. Make vegetables your focus. The salad bar is at the start of the food line, so I always fill my plate with the most nutritiously dense vegetables, and make the heavier entrees my sides. Skip the premade potato salad and pasta salads to keep things raw. To make your salad even healthier, skip the fat- and calorie-dense dressings and opt for some lemon juice and olive oil, or perhaps olive oil and balsamic. Yum! Top with some sunflower seeds instead of croutons.

  2. Say no to the soda and juice. It’s hard when it’s all right in front of you…I’m aware. Instead, get a glass of water with some fresh lemon slices. If that’s too bland for you, try a glass of unsweetened ice tea that is located next to the soda machines. No sugar-filled sweet teas for me! To meet your calcium needs, have a glass of low fat milk, skim milk, or even some soy milk.

  3. Order from the grill. My favorite is the grilled chicken sandwich but be sure to write “without bun” on your grill order slip. The bun is purely bleached wheat and is just an empty carb without a lot of nutritious value. With this you get a grilled chicken breast which I occasionally top with some salsa or cut it up and throw it in my salad! The fries and quesadillas are tempting, but again they lack in nutritious value.

  4. The most important meal of the day is breakfast. The omelet station is great, but there are tricks to create a more nutritious omelet.

    – First, even before they start your order, nicely request for the cook to use olive oil. Olive oil is a heart healthy substitute which includes monounsaturated fats (good fats!) along with vitamin E & K.

    – Politely ask for them to make your omelet with whole eggs. If you want a big omelet, maybe try asking for 2 whole eggs and some egg whites as well to keep down your intake of yolks.

    – Skip the cheese. If you can’t eat eggs without cheese, ask for no cheese and then sprinkle some on your eggs yourself afterwards. The cooks are usually overly generous with the amount of cheese they put on.

    – Fill up your omelet with vegetables to make it a meal that fulfills a part of your daily recommended vegetable servings.

  5. Don’t fall into the myth that cereals are healthy. They aren’t. Can Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Puffs really be as nutritional as the commercials say they are? No, they’re loaded with sugar and lack nutritious content. Try PLAIN yogurt with some fruit, honey, nuts, and some cinnamon. Top it off with some granola, but remember moderation is key. Although granola is a whole grain, it tends to be high in sugar and fat. An average cup of granola has approximately 600 calories! So be sure to use it only as a topping.

  6. Utilize the spice rack! I cannot stress this enough. Do you often find your food lacking in flavor? Do you find yourself reaching for the salt, or adding on blobs of dressing, sour cream, butter, cream cheese or whatever else we college students find to enhance the taste? That’s the problem. Spice up your steamed vegetables, salad, grilled chicken, or soup with the numerous bottles of spices Trop Café offers. My personal favorites are oregano, basil and, in the mornings, cinnamon. These are natural flavor enhancements that you’ll never have to feel guilty about.

    Eating healthy may be difficult in a cafeteria when there are unhealthy options in front of you that are hard to resist, but it is not impossible. Make some goals, commit to slight changes, do some of your own research and stay focused. It’s truly not that bad once you get going. Trust me, I had to start from the bottom and build up. And remember, that Tropicana Del Norte’s fitness center is open til midnight every day for you to further your goals. A 10 minute workout is better than 10 minutes of sitting on your couch watching TV, eating Cup Noodles and chips!

Treat Yourself to a Post-Midterm Break

Now that UCSB midterm season is done, take the opportunity to relax for a couple days, before finals come around the corner. School can be such a stressful thing, but remember, it will end eventually. That’s why you need to make most of your time here and just enjoy the little things while you can. For example, if you have a whole lot of work to do but you just can’t pull yourself together to do it, take a break. There is no harm of using an hour or two to grab a bite to eat or chat with your friends. However, the hardest part about taking a break is to remember to get back to work afterwards! I know that when I see my friends, I just want to hang out with them and catch up on the great things in life – the things that don’t stress you out.

To make sure that you won’t explode under the soon-to-be craziness of finals, here are a couple places I enjoy walking to for a treat when I need to relieve my stress.

  • Starbucks – It is literally right down the street from Tropicana on Embarcadero del Norte and the service is nice and usually quick. It’s a great place to get in and out, plus enjoy a refreshing drink.

  • Equilibrium Cafe – This is a wonderful crepe place. I would eat here every single day if the Freshman 15 was not a factor. They have great homemade crepes and a nice selection of ice cream flavors. If you’re craving something sweet or savory, don’t hesitate. The price is great. Equilibrium is located on Pardall Road.

  • Hana Kitchen – I love this new restaurant! They have really delicious boba drinks, slushies, and lunch bowls. If you never had boba before, this is a great place to go to try the Asian drink with tapioca “pearls.” I kinda want to go and get some right now! It’s also located on Pardall.

  • Bagel Café – I can’t stop thinking about which delicious bagel to order the next time I go. This is a small shop on Trigo Road, but hard to miss. It’s always filled with people. I suggest you try all the flavors on the menu, just not all at one time! There’s even a nice little park next to it, so you can sit and enjoy your Hannah Bananah or Irish Special bagel in the sun.

I hope that you will take a break from all your studying, just for a couple hours. School is definitely important and I want you to succeed, but to succeed you need to learn to balance your own well-being. By taking a nice breather and relaxing a bit, I promise you will be more level-headed and ready to finish your tasks.

Enjoy Spring Quarter at UCSB

When I first came to UC Santa Barbara, I was amazed by everything that surrounded me, especially the beach. I never knew how I’d have enough time to discover all that is Isla Vista; it just seemed like there was so much to do. But lately, I’ve found myself spending more and more time sitting in my room and watching old episodes of Gossip Girl.

I’m sure that everyone will agree that now that we’ve settled into our new Santa Barbara lives, we’ve stopped adventuring because Santa Barbara is no longer a “new place.” But I think everyone should take advantage of the beautiful sunshine that comes with Spring Quarter and get out and make some memories. Here are a few suggestions:

  • The beach is a seven minute walk or a three minute run away and never ceases to take my breath away, especially around sunset, and is the perfect study break to bring back your focus.

  • On a Thursday or Sunday, head over to the Farmer’s Market that takes place on Market Place Drive. It’s only a ten minute bike ride.

  • If you want to take a day of escape, there’s always a bus going to State Street and, as UCSB students, we are eligible to ride the bus for free with a sticker on our ID from the Associated Students office.

  • Round up a group of friends and drive to Inspiration Point or one of the many other hiking locations located in Santa Barbara.

  • Maybe you just need to remind yourself why you really chose to go to UCSB. Simply step in the elevator at the library, ride up to the eighth floor, and take a look out of any window. Take a breath and realize all that UCSB has to offer.

Take it all in, fellow Gauchos, and go make some memories!

Got Free Time on Your Hands?

As a UCSB student, I wish I could say that I had free time on my hands. It would be just great to relax the day away and just enjoy the warm sun. However, it’s hard! Especially when classes are rolling and we all have our things to do.

If you do find time to just lounge around, here are some things you can definitely say were worth it. Okay, I can’t promise you that one hundred percent, but they are really good suggestions, IMHO.

  1. Hit the gym. Yeah, you heard me. Nothing feels better than going to the fitness center at Del Norte and working on your body for a bit. That feeling of self-improvement will last all day. Then you won’t feel as bad to have that ice cream cone at the i.v. drip. (YUM!)

  2. Take a nice nap. Believe it or not, even though naps may seem useless when you’re bouncing around all day – just take them. If you have time in between classes, it’s less likely that you’ll fall asleep in your chair while your teacher lectures in class. Beware! Only take naps 12-25 minutes long. There are studies that have been done that say those times are the best. I honestly don’t know what studies specifically, but a quick Google search or exploration on Wikipedia will show you the results!

  3. De-stress with music. Sometimes you can feel as if life may be too quiet. Just stick in those ear buds and drown out the silence around you. This can clear your mind and prepare you for whatever is coming. Try not to listen to music too loud or you may blow your eardrums out! It’s nice to lie in bed and just enjoy the tunes. I believe that it will set your mind straight and put your moods in order. You know how we can all get moody.

  4. Take a walk with whoever else has free time to grab a bite. Yeah, I know that Tropicana Del Norte has a meal plan that allows you to eat as much as you like! However, you don’t want to forget to enjoy the little things in life, like going out for a bite on occasion. It may make a little impact on your wallet, but seriously, it will be worth it. Plus, you go out to enjoy the company as well.

  5. Play some games. If you really just want to enjoy the company around home, play some pool or ping-pong, or even take a swim. The Tropicana Del Norte front desk also has board games available to borrow, so take a stab at Taboo, Pictionary or chess. It’s always nice to have a little competition in your life.

  6. Go to the hot tub on campus. Last, but not least, go and melt your troubles away as you slowly enjoy the steamy waters of the hot tub at the UCSB Rec Cen. It is amazing to just relax all those muscles you’ve been using while walking, biking, or even standing while bussing to class. The hot tub is definitely the way to go. I wish I had one in my room!

There are many ways to use your free time, and these are are just a couple of ways to relax and enjoy yourself. I know you all need your alone time, and when you do get it – make the most of it!

The Joys of College Studies: A Late Night Rambling from a UCSB Student

My English professor emailed us a really funny joke:

Knock Knock

Who’s there?



I was giggling really hard until I saw under the joke, she attached additional reading on top of our already ginormous pile of reading, and had added the joke to lighten the mood before torturing us. That’s college…There’s just too much to do here.

There’s schoolwork, hanging out with friends, acknowledging the beach’s existence every once in a while, job interviews, volunteering, eating ALL THE TIME and more I can’t even think of right now. Life is so distracting here, but I can’t believe the fun I’m having!

It’s like a party in my living room every night, because everyone comes over to do homework and we always have 10 people give or take, scattered around, making a mess, talking and pretending to study. Okay, we actually watch a lot of Youtube videos and look at the UCSB memes, and it’s ridiculously entertaining. JUST KIDDING.

Next weekend, my friend and I are going to go and study at the beach. Only in Santa Barbara, juh! Y’know, and San Diego and LA. Probably Santa Cruz, too, on nice days. I’d write more but seem to be currently only capable of gibberish, so I’m going to go read now.

A UCSB Senior’s Reflection on Her Freshman Year

Josephine (center) and her fellow dance girls.

Now that freshman year at UCSB is long past, I think I can finally talk about it and not feel embarrassed. Let me just say then that it was…amazing! Sure, I’ll admit that I was super shy and not so willing to try new things. I’m pretty sure everyone that lived on the same floor in my residence hall thought I was a pretty “keep to herself” kind of girl. But hey, I got past that and it all worked out for the better. Now I want to do anything and everything I can before I leave beautiful Santa Barbara. I believe that I finally broke from my shell after being part of Vietnamese Culture Night at school. I signed myself up to be a part of the All Girls Traditional Dance.

Sure, practices got really intense and stressful but I got through them. After all, the show must go on! After four months of practicing, the moment that I had been waiting for came—it was finally my time to get up on that huge stage in Campbell Hall. Even though the dance was only 5 minutes, I had 100 adrenaline rushes. It will be forever be an unforgettable experience. Thus, freshman year was pretty…amazing! Don’t you agree?