Trick Your Mind: Same Taste, Sneaky Change

by Courtney Pelot, Lifestyle Writer


Learn how to up the nutritional value on your favorite dishes!


There are many foods out there that we love to eat, but some aren’t necessarily the healthiest for our bodies or the nicest to our wallets. Fortunately, it’s relatively simple (and cost effective) to recreate these dishes at home. By switching up a few ingredients, you can create a different dish that’s packed with healthy, wholesome vegetables, grains and protein. These recipes will trick your brain into thinking you’re really eating spaghetti, pizza bagels and Chipotle.



While it’s important to get whole grains in your diet each day, chowing down on pasta every single night is not the answer. Instead of your basic noodles, switch it up and try zoodles—zucchini in pasta form! All you need is a nifty tool, a spiralizer, to cut your zucchini into string-like, “spaghetti” pieces.



  • Zucchini
  • Pasta sauce
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Sautéed vegetables

1. Using your sprializer, cut your zucchini in pasta-like strings.

2. In a large pan over medium heat, sauté your zoodles in a bit of olive oil. Sauté until your zoodles until tender and they resemble the texture of pasta.

3. You can top your zoodles with pasta sauce, a bit of Parmesan cheese and maybe even some other sautéed veggies (mushrooms or tomatoes would be great addition).


While this dish tastes exactly like your basic spaghetti with marinara sauce, it has far fewer calories, and it is a great way to get your daily dose of vegetables!


If you’re in need of a spiralizer, I’m a huge fan of this easy use, easy clean option from Williams-Sonoma




Bye-Bye Pizza Bagels, Hello Veggie Bites

Pizza, whether you like it with pepperoni, ham and pineapple or just cheese, is a food we all know and love. Another pizza item we’ve all enjoyed at one time or another are pizza bagels. Unfortunately, these bite sized eats are processed, full of preservatives and don’t pack a lot of nutrients. You can easily make your own “pizza bagels” with the help of another vegetable, like eggplant, squash or zucchini.



  • Vegetable (eggplant, squash or zucchini would all work!)
  • Marinara sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Italian spices


1. Slice your zucchini up into circular pieces.

2. Lay them down on a pan, scoop a dollop of marinara sauce on each one and top with mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of Italian spices.

3. Stick them in the oven until the zucchini is tender and the cheese is melted.

4. Arrange this finger food on a plate and enjoy!


You can also make your own “personal pizzas” by using large portabella mushroom caps.


Bargain Burrito Bowl

There aren’t many (actually any) college students I know who don’t enjoy a trip to either Q’doba or Chipotle for quick Mexican food. Unfortunately, one trip can cost you an average of $7 – $9—not cheap! I’m a huge fan of their naked burritos, or burrito bowls. You can easily trick your brain into thinking you’re enjoying a tasty evening of Chipotle, when actually, you’re enjoying a tasting evening with your own cooking. All you have to do is buy your favorite burrito bowl mix-ins and create your own. This is a great opportunity to pile on your favorite veggies!



  • A grain (brown rice or quinoa)
  • Beans (black or pinto)
  • Protein (ground beef, diced chicken or grilled tofu)
  • Sautéed vegetables
  • Extras (think salsa, avocado, cheese—whatever you like!)

1. Combine your grain, beans, protein and veggies together in a bowl.

2. Top with extras, like salsa, chopped avocado or guacamole, cheese and lettuce.

3. If you want a crunchy topping, slice whole grain tortillas and toss in a pan with coarse salt over medium heat until crispy.

With all of your favorite ingredients, you’ll be able to make burrito bowls for the whole week! It’s always a great thing to have dinner already ready to go when you come home after a long day!



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