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As I approach the point of being ¾ done with freshman year of college, I feel like I have finally overcome some of the challenges that accompany transitioning to college––making friends, figuring out how to do laundry without destroying all of my clothes, and finding activities to get involved in are all things I feel I have at least mostly conquered.

Yet, there is one struggle that still persistently nags at me. Figuring out what to major in and what to do with my life, you might guess? Well, yes, but I’d rather focus on the questions that don’t make me want to call my mom panicking at 3 a.m. So, for now, the troubling question I face as I enter the spring of my freshman year is this: how do I get myself to eat enough vegetables when I’m constantly faced with the choice between a depressingly boring, unchanging salad bar and a multitude of cheesy, greasy, and carb-y options, which are perpetually calling to me with the impossibly delicious smells of saturated fat and high sodium content? It seems that the best solution to this problem is to be resourceful. The salad bar doesn’t have to be unbearably bland, it just needs a little bit of creativity to make it exciting. For anyone who also feels tired of the same old dining hall salad station, I’ve come up with a few slightly more interesting vegetable concoctions.

The Sweet Salad
For those who find themselves craving warm Scripps cookies but feeling guilty when they know they haven’t ingested a single vegetable all day, this salad can help. Start with both spinach and the dark lettuce mix, add cranberries and sesame seeds. You can add mandarin oranges, or, if you have the foresight to do so, you can bring some strawberries from Collins breakfast back to your room and later take them to dinner to put on this salad. Most 5C dining halls have some sort of raspberry vinaigrette or other sweet dressing, which is the perfect thing to top this salad.

The Watermelon Salad
This one likely isn’t for everybody, but for those who like to experiment a bit, I would suggest starting with arugula and adding watermelon cubes. You can play around with whichever additional mixings are your favorites, but I would suggest drizzling a bit of olive oil and an even smaller amount of vinegar on top.

The Quasi-Southwest Salad
This salad works best at Collins on days when the vegetarian station is serving black beans (which is most days). Start with beans and the light green lettuce mix, and add some of the corn from the salad bar. I would suggest adding cherry tomatoes and the mini grated carrots. For more flavor you can tear up slices of pepper jack or cheddar cheese from the sandwich bar into little pieces and mix them in with the other ingredients. Include some tortilla chips on the side, and you have yourself an almost-passable Southwest style salad!

The Big Ol’ Mushpot of Vegetables
This dining hall dish is particularly suited for people with a lot of love for ranch dressing and those who would like to consume a very large volume of vegetables in one sitting. The idea is simple: fill your plate with cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and whatever else you can find. Then dump a whole lot of ranch dressing on top! I never said this would be a low-fat option, just that it would help you trick your inner six-year-old into consuming quite a large serving of vegetables.

Happy eating, and I hope these ideas will help you come up with a whole lot more salad creations! Or, you could simply do what I do when I’m stress-eating, and convince yourself that the tomatoes on top of your pizza definitely count as your daily serving of vegetables.