Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Healthy, Low-cost Meals

Here are some of the recipes students prepared for the “Food Access Chef Showdown” that was part of Professor Molly Jensen’s First-Year Seminar on “Seeds of Change.”

Students were challenged to prepare healthy, low-cost dishes with the amount of money that a family on Food Stamps might have to prepare one meal ($4.50, including tax). A panel of six judges rated the dishes on taste, originality, budget, nutrition, ease of obtaining the ingredients, and sustainability.

Quasi-Revolutionary Burritos

½ cup dry organic black beans

½ cup brown rice (dry)

2/3 cup plantains, sliced

2/3 cup sweet potato, diced

2/3 cup red onion, diced

Olive oil to taste

Honey to taste

4 wheat tortillas  

Cook beans and rice according to instructions on package. Cook sweet potato in a skillet with olive oil for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from skillet. Add plaintains and cook until soft. Divide ingredients among the tortillas and drizzle with honey. Roll that burrito and feel good about yourself!  

Tomato and Spinach Soup  

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano (do not drain)

1 bunch spinach

1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup cream or half and half

½ cup chicken broth

Fresh basil for garnish  

Bring broth, tomatoes and mushrooms to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook 2 minutes. Add cream and cook 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil.          

Ramen Salad  

1 pkg. beef or pork Ramen noodles

12-16 oz. bag of coleslaw or broccoli coleslaw

¼ cup salted sunflower seeds

2 green onions, chopped  


½ cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup cider vinegar

¼ cup sugar

Seasoning packet from noodles  

Break noodles into small pieces. Toss with coleslaw mix; add green onions and sunflower seeds. Toss. Whisk together the dressing ingredients; pour over salad.  

Bean Enchiladas  

1 can black beans, drained

1 T chili powder

1 can corn or hominy

Reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese

10 six-inch corn tortillas


1. Place beans in a large bowl and mash coarsely with a fork or potato masher; stir in chili powder.  

2. Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, or until tortillas are soft and warm.

3. Divide bean mixture and corn among tortillas and spread down center of tortilla. Sprinkle cheese on bean mixture.

4. Roll tortillas to enclose mixture.

5. Spray a 9”x13” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

6. Place enchiladas, seam side down, into baking dish.

7. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through.

8. Serve warm with salsa.      

Chili with Rice   

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

6 oz. can tomato paste

1 can of chili beans

16 oz. white rice

½ lb. ground beef

2 T chili powder

1 t salt

1 t sugar

1 cup shredded cheese  

Brown ground beef in a large sauce pan. In a separate pan, add rice to 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cooked rice and the remaining ingredients to the pan with the browned beef. Stir for 10 minutes, then turn heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.