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[whitespace] Zachary's
Photograph by George Sakkestad

Meal Deal: At Zachary's, Mike's Mess is the one meal that lasts all day.

Get Healthy

Good nutrition doesn't have to break the bank

By Marlow de Ville

CHEAP AND HEALTHY. Yeah, that sounds like a lot of people in Santa Cruz, but we're actually talking about food here. On the subject of dorm food, be afraid. Be very afraid. We've all heard the horror stories about how you can gain 40 pounds a week on all that soft, white stuff they serve in the college cafeteria. White stuff with cheese on top and chips on the side. Don't go there. Your face, hips and sex life will thank you for it. But where does that leave you? Hungry. Here are some tips on how to feed your face without murdering either the environment or your credit card balance.

Even if you're only studying to be a rocket scientist and don't have a clue about life in the real world, you can find a way to get to the Certified Farmers' Market in the parking lot at Cedar and Lincoln streets in Santa Cruz every Wednesday afternoon. The scene is very social, but the real deal is fresh, locally grown veggies, fruits, even gorgeous and affordable bouquets of fresh flowers--all year long. The market also offers sourdough bread, berries, lettuces, beans, onions and garlic, and the flavors of everything from tomatoes to potatoes are at their peak. A baked potato topped with plain yogurt makes an easy meal, especially if you add tempeh or a grilled chicken breast for protein. If you're a vegetarian or want to support organic growers, the market needs to be part of your game plan.

If you eat only one meal a day, you can survive well on Mike's Mess at Zachary's (819 Pacific Ave., SC)--an avalanche of eggs, potatoes, salsa, avocado and other high-energy fuel for life. And almost anything you order at Dharma's Restaurant (Capitola) will be enough for you and your roommate.

My favorite trick for eating well and almost for free is to head for the local full-service supermarket and start cruising. Load up on the house brand of yogurt--to which you can add granola for tasty carbo-loading. Pick up one of those trays of freshly made sushi for an instant designer lunch that's long on flavor, short on crap. You can also grab a jar of Muir Glen's organic pasta sauce (one jar feeds four people or two large males) and throw some spaghetti into a pot of boiling water. Homemade and filling for a buck a serving.

Whatever you do, resist the temptation to take the big easy and head for McDonald's, KFC or Taco Bell. Think of them as training schools for obesity, heartburn and the worst case of gas either Beavis or Butthead could imagine.

Let's review: You have very little money and you can't cook. So you focus on fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt and granola --vary this diet with the occasional plate of pasta, fresh grilled fish, and yes, even a good, solid burger occasionally (we like the ones you can find at either The Whale in Davenport or Seabright Brewery). You can beat the dorm food syndrome and survive without robbing a bank. Concentrate on fresh stuff, rather than processed or frozen dinners. If you must have a frozen enchilada dinner, make it one of Amy's (a great brand of nonprocessed, delicious foods)--available at New Leaf and Staff of Life. In a pinch, a large bag of microwave popcorn will sustain life for at least two hours.

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From the September 13-20, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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