Author Archives: jtbear

Where to Get Food

By David Mattson

The places that sell food in State College make a ruthless play for students’ money. Take a walk down College Avenue and there are a few stores that sell food, but only Mc Lanahans and the Krishnan Indian Grocery Store will sell a variety of fresh produce. Their offerings are usually limited and overpriced when compared with supermarkets which face competition. As is, they are the only brick and mortar stores within a walking distance acceptable to most students and can thus charge a premium. For those who own a car or are willing to ride the bus, the more reasonable Giant, Walmart, and Wegmans are in reach. These large retailers have almost every food item necessary for cooking the basics while keeping low costs due to their sizes. The amount in a supermarket may be a disadvantage to a student trying to keep a healthy diet as it’s far too easy to walk in and then proceed to empty the chips aisle into your cart. Instead, I would augment or even circumvent the supermarket with this two-pronged alternative.

Bears. Another disadvantage of the grocery store.

State College Farmer’s Market


The farmers market in State College provides fresh, locally grown produce at prices frequently lower than that of the supermarkets. The advantages of a farmers market are many. The farmers can make larger revenues by selling directly to consumers, the environmental cost of moving produce is cut by large amounts, and more money is kept within the local area. I would suggest picking up fruits, vegetables, and meat for the week at the market from one of the 21 vendors. Unfortunately, it’s only open on Tuesdays and Fridays in May-November. This means that you’re out of luck for the Spring semester and will have to shop at a supermarket for these things. While there’s nothing wrong with buying from a supermarket, if a farmer’s market is available, less expensive, and more convenient then it should be the first choice.

State College Farmers Market

Tuesdays & Fridays 11:30am to 5:30pm

Locust Lane

State College, PA 16823

May – November

There is also a Market on North Atherton which may be harder to get to for many students: The Market is open every Saturday at the Home Depot parking lot from 10am-2pm. May-November.


The Internet is hugely useful for the communication of millions of people with each other and as consumers, we can use it to our advantage as a place where direct competition happens in real time. What this means is that I can order a box of 36 Pop-Tarts for $6.53 and have it delivered for free within two business days instead of paying $10.47 and gas money to get the same thing at Giant.


The only light in the room is beaming into your face as you try to decide between cinnamon and strawberry Pop-Tarts. Shit just got real

Amazon gives students free two-day shipping on most of the items in its catalog via Amazon Prime and combined with the savings over supermarket prices, there isn’t much of a reason not to buy packaged food anywhere else. For more balanced choices, here are a selection:


Raisin Bran



(If you combine these with fruit, you’ll be sexy all day)


Macaroni and Cheese

Ramen (Maybe not that healthy, but I was inspired)

Rice and Beans





Lots of the Amazon choices can be put on a recurring schedule, so it will automatically reorder the item for you if you can’t be bothered with such things. If you get too trigger happy, you may want to start hiding from the UPS deliveryman/person. 4 packs of muesli and cases of noodles start to add up.

Categories: Healthful Eating | Leave a comment

Six Simple Tips for a More Healthful Diet

By Victor Cotton

Devising a plan for eating healthfully and keeping on that path is not a task easily accomplished. So instead of planning an entire diet, try making small, healthful switches in your existing one. I’ve searched the internet for diet advice, and have compiled some of the reoccurring ideas here in a single post for your convenience.

1. Eat whole grains

The next time you find yourself perusing the isles of the grocery store, buy whole-wheat bread, not white bread. Eating whole grains that come from whole-wheat bread provides several benefits. Firstly, whole grains are full of “good carbs,” which are digested more slowly than the “bad carbs” contained in white bread. This slow digestion of whole wheat bread gives you a steady, long lasting supply of energy, as opposed to white bread, whose quick digestion leads to an excess of energy and subsequent fat buildup. Whole grains benefit in the long run as well.  Experiments have indicated that consistent consumption of whole grains can reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes. A full list of whole grain foods can be found here

2. Switch soda with water

College students drink a very large amount of soda. In fact, soda is easily the most popular drink at McLanahan’s Student Store, according to Grace Mehalick, the manager. Despite its popularity, soda is obviously an unhealthful drink. By switching it with water, you can eliminate all of the unnecessary sodium, sugar, and empty calories, while still maintaining the hydrating benefit.

3. Drink skim milk

Milk is an excellent source of calcium and protein. However, a single cup of whole milk contains five grams of saturated fat—that’s almost twenty-five percent of the recommended daily intake. Whole milk also contains a large amount of cholesterol. High fat and high cholesterol diets are known to lead to heart disease, let alone the negative impacts on physique.  Skim milk, on the other hand, has little to no fat or cholesterol content and still maintains the protein, calcium, and vitamin content of whole milk. In fact, the USDA recommends consuming solely skim milk. Thus, simply switching your milk type can positively impact your diet.

4. Vary protein intake

Protein is essential to any diet, especially for those of you out there trying to bulk up. However, eating one type of protein will not work. Different proteins sources hold different benefits, so focus on varying the types of protein consumed each day. This includes chicken, pork, beef, fish, eggs, milk, and others. In an effort to help incorporate all of these, try making sandwiches with different types of meat, or eating a different type of meat each day of the week. Sandwich meats can be purchased at McLanahan’s and tuna can be bought in cans, both for a reasonable price.

5. Chew your food

Many guys (including myself) eat too quickly, especially when they are hungry. This may not seem harmful, but recent scientific literature indicates that it may cause overeating. Hendrik Jan Smit and his team have recently proven that chewing each mouthful a greater number of times reduces food intake. According to these investigators, extra chewing lowers the rate at which food is consumed. This allows satiety hormone levels to rise at an earlier stage in the meal, which makes the subject stop eating. Obviously, by stopping earlier in the meal reduces consumption. The bottom line is that overeating can be combated with proper chewing. Another, more well known benefit of thorough chewing is that it ensures proper digestion. The mechanical action of your teeth mashing the food combined with the enzymatic activity of your saliva aids the body in extracting every nutrient it needs from the food that you eat. Combine correct portions with good digestion and you have a healthful diet. So chew your food.

6. Mix fruit and vegetables with other foods

Fruits and vegetables are an essential component of a healthful diet, but many guys don’t eat enough of them. Even if you hate vegetables, you need to find ways to eat them. For example, the next time you make a sandwich (with your whole-wheat bread of course), add some lettuce and tomato. The next time you watch a football game, make some salsa and have chips with it. Not only does salsa taste great, but it is full of fruit and vegetables and making it at home is cheap. If you don’t like eating fruit and vegetables alone, mix them with something that you do like eating. It is a great way to consume the nutrients that you need.

Categories: Healthful Eating | Leave a comment

A Meal to Impress Your Lady Friend(s)

By David Mattson

So you’ve decided it’d be a good idea to find yourself a lady friend. Although we know that guys and girls can’t be just friends, you think you know the perfect way to make yourself the man of her dreams: Bring her out on the town. Either this plan leaves you with said lady and a few pennies to your name or self-destructs after the third time around at Taco Bell. There’s another way. If you can throw together a homemade meal, she’ll appreciate your efforts and you’ll still be able to pay the electric bill.


One of the mainstays for lunch and dinners in the western hemisphere, you can’t go wrong with spaghetti. It can be dressed up with dim lights and mood music or kept casual as a quick meal before the night begins. While the noodles are basic, the sauce that accompanies them can make you legendary. Here’s what you’ll need:

Spaghetti: $0.80 / 16oz box  (This box will make enough for at least 4 meals)

If you haven’t cleaned for a while, you may want to try it before continuing.

Tomatoes: $9.80 / 20 Plum Roma Tomatoes

Olive Oil: $4.00 / 2 tablespoons + 2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Basil: $3.35 / 8 + 10 fresh basil leaves

Unsalted Butter: $0.25 / 2 Tablespoons

Salt, Black Pepper: You’ll probably already have this. If not, ask the neighbors

Cheese: $0.65 / ½ cup Parmesan cheese

Garlic: $.50 / head (about 8 cloves)


$19.35 for 4 servings (All prices were taken from the Giant  supermarket price catalog)

To make the spaghetti, follow the directions on the box or take a look here (the actual cooking doesn’t take place until after the sauce has started.)

For the topping, I’ve adapted an adaption of a recipe used by Scarpetta in NYC for its spaghetti. The sauce can be made ahead of time and either refrigerated if you expect to use it within a few days or frozen.

Serves 4

20 ripe tomatoes (preferably plum tomatoes)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 ounce ground Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)

6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, well washed and dried, stacked and rolled into a cylinder and sliced thinly crosswise into a chiffonade

1 pound spaghetti

For the Basil-Garlic Oil:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6-8 whole cloves garlic

10 whole fresh basil leaves

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease the tomatoes (one at a time) into the pot and boil for about 15 seconds, then promptly move them to the waiting ice water. Pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. If the skin sticks, try a vegetable peeler using a gentle sawing motion. Cut the tomatoes in half and use a finger to flick out the seeds.

2. In a wide pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until quite hot. Add the tomatoes and season lightly with the salt and pepper. (Not too much all at once.) Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften. Then, using a potato masher, chop the tomatoes finely. Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender and the sauce has thickened.

3. While the tomatoes are cooking, make the basil-garlic oil. Heat a small saucepan over low heat with 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic cloves, and basil leaves. Keep the heat on low to allow the ingredients to warm slowly and release their flavors. When the garlic is lightly browned, turn heat off and let cool for 10 minutes. The longer you let the oil sit, the more infused the oil. Strain the oil, discarding the solids.

4. To cook the spaghetti, bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente and drain, reserve a little of the pasta cooking water.











About this vigorously. Also, don’t smile. It makes you unattractive

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement (you can even shake the pan) until the pasta is just tender and the sauce looks cohesive. Remove the pan from the heat and toss the butter, basil and cheese with the pasta in the same manner (the pasta should take on an orange hue). Drizzle with just a bit of the basil-garlic oil on each plate.

How could you resist a chance at this? Mind, you might look just as disheveled after doing battle with the kitchen.

In just under 30 minutes (about the same amount of time it takes for you to get to a sit down restaurant and receive the entrée, you can have a meal made with your own hand. In addition, you’ll be on more comfortable turf and will have more fun.

Categories: Recipes | Leave a comment

Snacking: A Successful Approach to Healthful Eating

By Ryan Henrici

As a US National swimmer and triathlete, I understand the annoyance of having to eat a lot of food—it takes a lot of time and can be costly. The fact is that both recreational and high intensity athletes often do not eat as much as they need to, and, as a result, struggle with maintaining body weight and staving off hunger pangs, both of which are an integral part of successful training.

I found out that I was eating an inadequate diet only suffering from fatigue in the training pool and weight loss. At one of the Triathlon Team meetings in October, a nutritionist came to speak. She talked about the importance of maintaining energy levels through a balanced diet in order to train at a high level. At the conclusion of her talk, she mentioned a revolutionary technology available to almost all club and varsity athletes here at Penn State: The Bod Pod. The Bod Pod is a machine that analyzes an athlete’s body and produces a report on a series biometrics including body fat percentage, metabolic rate, and caloric needs. I decided to give it a try and scheduled an appointment. Not only did the nutrition team at Rec Hall conduct the Bod Pod analysis, but they also helped me create a dietary plan to ensure I get the right amounts of the right foods.

According to the nutrition team, I need to consume between 5600-6000 calories along with 170 grams of protein a day in order to maintain my body weight. I was shocked. How can I possibly eat that much a day? Actually, it’s not as hard as I thought it would be. With the help of the professionals, I was able to find the weak points in my diet and replace them with healthful, energy-packed foods. Further, they helped me start to create a plan for how to maintain my new diet when I move off campus next fall. My primary concern was how to fund eating that much a day.

The key for athletes, recreational weight lifters, and all individuals alike is to spread your eating out over the course of the entire day rather than concentrating it at two or three big meals. Not only is this unhealthy because it allows your body to store the excess glucose as fat, it can actually make you spend more money. The best way to do this is to snack healthily and often between meals. This way, at meal times you don’t need to put away four lunch trays worth of food. Additionally, by eating often during the day, you are less susceptible to succumbing to the afternoon drag because your glycogen (energy) stores are constantly being replenished. Listed below are a few cheap, healthful snacks that are easy to take on the go during the day (The bold-faced suggestions are what I consider to be power snacks and are the healthiest with the most protein):

Trail Mix (you can make your own with peanuts, almonds, raisins, m&m’s and whatever else you want!)


Granola Bars

– Yogurt (try Greek yogurt if you are looking for more protein)

– Banana Chips (not as nasty as it sounds trust me)

– Pumpkin Seeds (3/4 cup contains 19 grams of protein)

– Energy Bars (pre-workout, do not use if not working out)

Here’s a link to a very thorough snacking plan for each time during the day including pre and post workout (guys don’t be deterred by the fact that it’s from Oxygen Magazine. The advice is solid):

Interestingly, snacking works both for athletes looking to meet their caloric requirements and people trying to lose weight. This works in just the same way because it prevents the tendency to gorge at mealtime by keeping your metabolism going at a steady rate all day. High protein and calorie snacks will help the individual to sustain body weight and build muscle when consumed in conjunction with exercise. Foods rich in fiber and low in calories help in the weight loss process because fiber slows digestion promotes feeling “full.” Listed below are a few examples of low calorie, high fiber food groups that can help with losing weight:

– Raw vegetables and fruits (1 cup of grapes has 104 calories)

– Whole grains

– Lentil soup

– Whole-wheat pasta

On the economic front, these snacks are cheap. My personal favorite is the homemade trail mix with Kashi Whole Grain Cereal. This variation is full of protein from the pumpkin seeds and nuts and the whole grain is another healthful filler. If you buy in bulk and make a large ziplock bag full, it lasts for weeks and only costs me about $15.

With some careful planning and strategic snacking, getting the necessary amount of calories and protein can be accomplished without spending an exorbitant amount of money. Granted, high intensity athletes will end up spending more than the average student on food, but by following the tips above, you can beat cost of your freshman meal plan and still stay on top of your game.

NOTE: The Bod Pod is a free service available to most club and varsity athletes. To inquire further contact Dr. Kristine Clark and the Department of Kinesiology located in Rec Hall.

Categories: Healthful Eating | Leave a comment

Korean-Style Peppered Chicken

By Ryan Henrici

There is a key difference between fast food and food fast. Both are prepared quickly, but the latter can be healthful and filling. No, I’m not talking about Hungry Man meals that you can throw in the microwave and eat in less than 5 minutes because, let’s face it, there’s not a whole lot of nutritional value there(see below). And no guys, I’m not suggesting throwing together some greens and calling it our meal—we need more than that.

Men’s Health Magazine has 6 protein-packed recipes that can be easily adapted for college guys looking to eat cheap, healthful, and fast—not to mention while applying minimal effort. Boasting the tagline “If you have 15 minutes, you have time to make a healthful dinner,” it is definitely a resource to take advantage of. Don’t let the word recipe dissuade you from giving these dishes a try: they are designed for the culinarily challenged among us. “Dump all the ingredients into a large ziplock plastic bag [and shake].” It really doesn’t get much easier than that.

The first recipe, Korean-style Pepper Steak, takes only 5 minutes to prepare and has over 30 grams of protein and almost 75% less sodium than the Hungry Man. This recipe could be easily adapted to be more economically centered by replacing the sirloin with chicken breast. Not only will this lower the cost of your meal, but it will also increase the total protein value. Additionally, you could make some extra and save it for a hearty chicken sandwich the next day.


Korean-Style Peppered Chicken



1 8 oz chicken breast

1 c bite-size bits of red or green bell pepper (or split between the two)

2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

Plus: 1 tsp sugar; 1 1/2 tsp olive oil; 1 tsp red-pepper flakes

Steps to a Satisfying Meal:


1.      Grill or microwave (warning: microwaving chicken will make it tougher) the chicken breast to about three-quarters cooked (still raw throughout the middle)

2.      Cut the chicken up into bite-sized strips

3.      Combine the chicken and all the other ingredients into a large ziplock bag. Shake vigorously to mix to ensure the flavors have permeated the meat.

4.      Pour everything in the bag into a medium-hot skillet, stir frequently to prevent burning and sticking.

5.      Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly and the vegetables begin to lose their water (2-3 minutes), serve over rice and enjoy!


Total Cost: ~ $8


Recipe adapted from Men’s Health Magazine

Categories: Recipes | Leave a comment

Bar Bleu: Quality Meets Affordability

By Jake Bear

Downtown State College provides its students with a cornucopia of restaurants with varying foods and atmospheres.  One of the most popular combinations, and in my opinion as a student the best, is the traditional sports bar and grill.  A recent destination I attended during a football weekend was Happy Valley’s Bar Bleu, which is located just off of College Avenue– an easy walk from anywhere on campus.

Upon entering the bar I was pleasantly surprised to encounter not just a few large-screen TVs as is the norm for most sports bars, but in fact 22 flat-screens, each one displaying a popular game on that day.  If the media streaming throughout the bar isn’t enough for satisfying the most avid fan, then the menu’s certainly capable of filling the void: wings, chips and dip, burgers, ribs, essentially every food needed to pacify a ravenous appetite.  Probably the most impressive area of the menu is the prices, which for a downtown restaurant are very reasonable.

The only negative aspect of my meal there was the service, which is unfortunate because that can make or break a restaurant.  After being seated I sat for about 15 minutes before my waitress approached the table with tablet in hand; however, after this initial slip-up, the rest of the meal went along smoothly with her checking back occasionally, assuring my satisfaction.

As for my meal I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of fries, a traditional bar staple.  The fries that accompanied the sandwich were not anything special, but not at all offensive either, simply serving as filler after consuming the main dish.  I don’t consider myself a connoisseur of barbeque, but on the other hand I have had quite a few in my day, and I must say this one was superb.  The pulled pork was just cool enough to eat right out of the kitchen.  It sat piled high atop the bottom of its brioche roll, the top lying flipped beside, inviting its consumer to dress it with one of the six additional sauces provided at the table—ranging from mild to spicy with varying ratios of vinegar and tomato—in my case the original, which had an equal balance of sweet and tangy with a little less vinegar bite.  For those unfamiliar with brioche rolls, as I was prior to the occasion, it has a stiff outer crust and airy, dry interior; one that self-destructs upon first bite and relies on the full use of hands for structural integrity.  Past its sloppy exterior, the taste buds are flooded with the combination of spices from the sauce, as well as the succulent pork itself; totaling at six dollars, it is a meal compatible with any student’s wallet.

Bar Bleu provides its customers with a comfortable spot to enjoy some sports, good food, and good friends.  While the sports bar theme has been done time and time again, Bar Bleu will surely not disappoint.


Categories: Restaurant Reviews | Leave a comment

Game Day Favorite: Buffalo Chicken Dip

By Jake Bear

There are many opportunities for enjoying delectable game day delicacies, but no area proves more bountiful than tailgates.  They can range from the typical burgers and dogs, to the more sophisticated rarities like steak and bacon-wrapped scallops.  Tailgates are popular for a multitude of reasons, but one of the main attractions for students is that they are for the most part very cheap.  Each person attending the tailgate usually brings only one dish and spends very little money for preparation, yet no one leaves for the game hungry; whether they just bring a small homemade dish, or pick up a 2-liter on the way, everyone leaves satisfied in the end.  However, while the tailgates are typically rather light on the wallet, they can be pretty heavy on the waistline.  Most dishes consist of mainly cheese and meat, which are most certainly delicious, but those searching for healthier options may find minimal-calorie foods difficult to procure.

While I do my best during the week to find healthful options in the face of limited dining hall menus, I easily succumb to indulgence come Saturday.  Greasy burgers, bags of chips accompanying salsa, and pretty much anything with cheese on it, it’s a safe bet I’m sampling it all.  Yet I do realize that some are not as careless as I when it comes to weekend dining, so I too see the need for healthier options at the majority of tailgates.  This being said I am usually the guy to cop out and just bring a bag of chips to the party—because no one else could have possibly thought of that right?  However, during this past break as my girlfriend and I prepared to attend a party we decided that instead of bringing what would likely be the fifth bag of Doritos, we would mix things up a little bit.  Recalling my previous tailgating experiences I remembered a dish that had stuck in my mind as one of my all-time favorites: Buffalo Chicken Dip.  Fortunately, the recipe is all but fail-proof, and with some minor tweaking can be  made with health conscious attendees in mind.

Probably the best part about this recipe is that it only takes about an hour from start to finish and can even be used by those who prefer delaying preparation till last minute.  Also, for those out there lacking cooking experience do not fret because I dare not attempt anything past the highly technical grilled cheese on most occasions and was capable of cooking this without issue.   We chose to prepare a batch and a half of the original recipe because it was expected that about 15 people would be at the party, and it was good that we did because even with only 8 people showing up there was barely enough for everyone to get their fill.  If you’re looking for a recipe to satisfy everyone at the party, as well as make an earnest attempt at considering your calorie-cutting counterparts, look no further; just don’t forget to set aside a bowl when you’re done or you may find yourself out of luck after everyone else has gotten their share.

The recipe is adapted from Mike Fullers “The Best Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe


The recipe takes about an hour total time to prepare after pre-heating the oven to 350°


–         1 to ½ lbs of skinless, boneless, chicken breast (about two large chicken breasts)

–         1 ½ cups of light or fat-free ranch dressing

–         1 ½ cups of Frank’s Original Red Hot sauce (substitution is not recommended)

–         12 oz of light cream cheese

–         3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

–         Green onions or other garnish (optional)

–         A couple bags of tortilla chips to go along


  1. Place the chicken breasts whole into an appropriately sized pot of boiling water and cook for about 30-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked entirely
  2. While the chicken is boiling begin preparing the rest of the dish by first cutting the cream cheese into approximately 2’’ cubes and place equally into a 11.5’’ x 8’’ x 2’’ (or something of similar size) Pyrex style backing dish coated with butter spray
  3. Then cover the entire area of the dish with the shredded cheddar, ranch, hot sauce, mix slightly, and place in the oven for 10 minutes uncovered
  4. Remove the dish after 10 minutes, stir the dip to mix all of the ingredients thoroughly and place back in the oven uncovered for another 10 minutes
  5. While the dish is cooking the chicken should be done cooking and allowed to cool slightly, place the chicken breast on a cutting board and use a couple forks to pull the chicken to form thin shredded pieces exactly as you would in the process of making pulled pork
  6. After 10 minutes has passed remove the dish from the oven and mix in the chicken thoroughly making sure no “pockets” of hot sauce remain in the dish as they will likely form
  7. Following mixing cover the dish with aluminum foil or its respective lid and place back in the oven for about another 25 minutes
  8. After the 25 minutes pass remove the dish mixing one last time and if you desire transfer the dip to a more attractive bowl and garnish before serving with chips

Categories: Recipes | Leave a comment