Making Breakfast at the Dining Hall Healthy and Not-So-Dull
I've had had two problems with breakfast in college: 1) Breakfast at the dining hall can get pretty repetitive—pretty much the same food is served every day, and 2) I was never sure what was healthy to eat for breakfast. However, these factors have allowed me to foster creativity with breakfast, and have encouraged me to read up on what makes a healthy breakfast. Below are some ideas that have worked well for me.
1. Yoghurt Parfait
Put some plain yoghurt into a cup (you don't want the added syrups and sugars from sweetened yoghurt). Grab a banana (or any other fruit that's available) and chop it up, put them on the yoghurt, top with some granola and a teaspoon of honey—done! You'll get energy for your morning from the simple carbohydrates from the fruit and satisfaction from the protein in the yoghurt.
2. Avocado Toast
I guess this is kind of cheating since avocados aren't available at the dining hall, but they're the only outside ingredient that you'll need. Toast a slice of bread, and top it with some egg and cracked pepper, and add your avocado.
3. Spice up your oatmeal
Oatmeal is something that's reliably at the dining hall every morning. The good thing about it is that you can change up your toppings and get creative. One thing I like to do when I get tired of the toppings offered at the dining hall is to use the contents of the individual packs of trail mix at Trader Joe's (especially the ones with dark chocolate in them) as toppings for oatmeal. Also, I prefer to use fresh berries over dried fruit on my oatmeal, so I often get that on my own as well.
4. Unconventional Bagel Toppings
It's better to use peanut butter and other natural butters instead of butter, margarine, cream cheese, or other kinds of oils high in saturated fats. I've grown quite fond of sunflower butter--it's satisfactorily savory and easy to spread. Luckily, the dining halls at Stanford don't tend to serve nut butters with extra added oils and sugars.
5. Personalized juice/smoothie
A lot of the dining halls have juice makers or smoothie blenders--a perfect platform for experimentation and creativity. I recommend orange juice or grapefruit juice in the mornings, because citruses have natural ingredients to wake you up in the morning.
One non-specific tip is to go try different dining halls for breakfast. What different food items you find may surprise you! In the end, I learned that the answer to my second problem is that the most important thing is to find whatever gives you long-term energy for the day, and not what gives you short-term energy that will cause you to crash later on. Lastly, props to you for being part of the fraction of the university population that actually eats breakfast!