Common theory is that college students will gain the most weight during their freshman year. The dreaded freshman 15 has turned into the stuff of legend. What most people don’t realize is that studying abroad is an even more prime time to gain weight. Due to the delicious food, lack of exercise and often increased alcohol consumption (we are of legal drinking age after all), it should not be surprising to gain extra pounds.
The typical Argentine diet has not done me any favors. It is rich in meat, cheese, and french fries, which are all delicious, but high in fat. Dessert is huge as well. Argentines love Alfajores (sugar cookies with dulce de leche and coconut flakes) and Chocotorta (layered cookies and dulce de leche). Predictably, my sugar and fat consumption has increased. I justified this by walking a lot. However, I got to a point where I had less energy and just felt gross. I started eating fruit for breakfast and some form of vegetable for lunch and dinner. My host family has been great about including vegetables in our meals.
Ironically, the times I ate the healthiest was when I traveled. My friends and I all craved vegetables, so we sought out places where this was possible. We had the best food when we cooked ourselves. One night, we ate spinach gnocchi with homemade tomato sauce, spinach and asparagus. Another night, we made falafel with Israeli salad. The final night, we made veggie burgers with charred cauliflower. This was probably the most delicious. I have included the recipe below.
Diet is difficult to navigate abroad. You want to try everything, but at the same time, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet. I personally think it’s important and okay to cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to occasionally indulge.
- 2 cans of garbanzo beans
- 1 can of lentils
- 1 onion
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice
- Cumin/curry powder
- 1 cup of oats
- Boil garbanzo bean and lentils until soft. Drain and mash immediately. Burgers will stick better.
- Chop the onion and garlic and then sauté them. Add to the bean and lentil mixture.
- Add the lemon juice, parsley, cumin or curry powder, salt, and pepper. Quantity is based on preference, so taste the mixture as you go.
- Add the oats. It helps the mixture stay together. Add more oats if necessary.
- Make the patties (makes 4 large patties or 6-8 smaller ones).
- Freeze for 30 mins or until desired cooking time.