With the many different activities college students are involved in, it is no surprise many do not have the time or energy to cook healthy meals each and every night of the week.
When going out to eat, there are a variety of healthy restaurants fit for the college students’ palette as well as wallet.
Lauren Matthews, a kinesiology junior and member of H.E.A.T (Health Enrichment Action Team) with P.U.L.S.E (Peers Understanding Listening Speaking Educating) at the Cal Poly Health Center, said there are a few restaurants in San Luis Obispo that serve nutritious, fresh meals, including The Natural Café.
“They have a lot of different things for you to choose from,” Matthews said. “They don’t really use a lot of extra stuff to flavor the food.”
Renee Hamilton, a history sophomore and member of the Cal Poly triathlon team, said she goes to The Natural Café for healthy options.
“Working out like I do (for the Tri-team), I do my best to eat healthy, and Natural Café has really good food that you can tell is prepared better and is better for you,” Hamilton said. “The chicken enchiladas there are really good and are healthier than most that you could find elsewhere.”
The Natural Café boasts a diverse menu featuring poultry, fish, vegetarian and vegan choices. According to its website, the soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees are prepared fresh every day with good health and taste in mind.
Shannon Murray, a nutrition junior, said The Natural Café is also a great place to eat at because the food is mostly organic.
“(Natural Café) prepares the food differently than other places, like by baking the shells for tostadas,” Murray said. “They also serve things on whole wheat bread.”
Matthews said another great place to eat is Vraja’s Kitchen.
“Vraja’s is a vegan restaurant downtown that specializes in international and Brazilian foods and soups,” Matthews said. “Everything is vegan and there are also gluten-free options.”
According to the restaurant’s website, Vraja’s Kitchen is San Luis Obispo’s first vegan take-out. Also, they claim to use the best local, organic ingredients.
“It is a good place to eat because they use organic ingredients, good oils and overall good quality ingredients,” Matthews said.
Murray and Matthews both recommended Big Sky Cafe as another place students can get healthy food options.
“Big Sky has a really good turkey burger and basically a little bit of everything,” Murray said. “They use local foods that are fairly fresh which makes all of the things they offer that much better for you.”
Matthews said one of her favorite things about Big Sky Cafe is that they use local ingredients and are all about sustainability.
However, sometimes circumstances occur when students cannot eat at one of these healthier, organic restaurants. When this happens, Murray said it is all about making the right choices.
“You can go to a restaurant like Subway where the food can be healthy, but if you decide to get a meatball sub, that’s not going to be very healthy for you,” Murray said.
Murray also stressed the importance of moderation when eating out.
Doing things like eating half of a tri-tip sandwich at Firestone Grill or splitting a pizza and salad with a friend at Pizza Solo are all different ways to avoid extra calories and save money.
“If you’re going to eat out, just do your best to avoid fried food or anything that is super oily and greasy,” Matthews said. “Excessive meat and cheese should be avoided and try to look for things like fresh fruit and vegetables to add to the meal.”
Hamilton also said avoiding fast food is key.
“It doesn’t cost that much more to get quality food,” she said. “And you can even bike downtown to all of the restaurants so you can possibly consume a few more calories.”
Matthews encourages students to save leftovers and eat them at a later date.
“Instead of trying to eat it all, go get a to-go box at the beginning of the meal and place a portion to take home inside of it,” Matthews said. “That way you have a meal for days to come which is an economical way to eat out.”