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College Kitchen: brain food

Fuel up for finals.
A sweet and salty mix, perfect for a study break snack during finals week.
Image by Bridget Bennett
A sweet and salty mix, perfect for a study break snack during finals week.


Bodies are hardworking machines. Like all gas-guzzling automobiles, they need to be fueled. Lucky for us human-bots, our power source comes in scrumptious bundles of snacks and meals — not from a dirty nozzle.

Some foods are premium and others low-grade unleaded. This is especially important for the hardest working muscle — the brain. After a junk-food bender, simple math seems impossible, and you can forget about that pile of class readings.

Set aside queso dip and Mars bars, and feed your brain with all the foods it loves to keep it running like the fact-master, concept-crusher, solution-seeker it is.

Pythagorean Theorem Fish Fillets

If you can remember A squared plus B squared equals C squared, this simple sear technique should be a breeze. For a five-minute dinner before hitting the library, pack your cranium full of fishy’s healthy oils.


1 small fillet white cod

1 lemon






Heat a small, nonstick skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, add a small knob of butter. Let the butter get hot and sizzle, then add the fish, skin side down.  Add salt, pepper and paprika. When the fish has cooked about half way through, add some fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Flip the fillet only once. When the fillet is firm but not tough to the touch, it is done. Serve skin side down.

Pavlov’s Hot Dogs

As you memorize concepts for your psych final, there’s no need for you to go hungry. This grab ‘n’ go dinner will get you salivating without any ringing bells. The omega-3s in the avocado will keep you spitting those theories out at full speed.


1 hot (or veggie) dog

1 avocado

4-5 pitted olives

1 handful shredded pepper-jack cheese

1 whole-wheat hot dog bun


Cook your hotdog using your preferred method. Toast the bun. Finely dice the olives. In a small bowl, mash the avocado. Mix in the olive chunks. Spread the mixture onto the bun. Add the cooked dog, and sprinkle with cheese for a salty, melty treat.

Donner Party Trail Mix

Historical dates and facts are a lot easier to file away in your mental library when you’re well-fed. To avoid cannibalism and keep morale high during long cramming sessions, keep a stash of this sweet and salty nut mixture on hand.


1 cup walnuts

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon


3/4 cup Craisins

1/2 cup salted almonds


In a small pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. As the sugar begins to melt, toss the walnuts in the pan. Coat them with the sweet mixture. When they are evenly coated, let the nuts cool on a sheet of parchment paper. After they are cool, mix them with the Craisins and almonds in a large bowl. Portion out the mix into small plastic baggies to get you through every day of finals.


Final exams are creeping closer, like a huge slinking tiger nearing its prey. As they pounce, the unsuspecting lemur, or in this case student, is left in a frenzy. Don’t get caught with bare cupboards and an empty stomach. Eat up to ace the last days of the semester.

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