The dining hall can be an intimidating and emotional place for anyone who doesn’t know how to navigate it properly. Appalachian has a ton of healthy meal options; you just have to know where to look. If you have special dietary needs or just want to know more about the food at our school, you can always check out the menus. Try these 7 healthy dining hall meals during your next health kick.

1. Park Place: Asian Bar

dining hall

Photo by Nancy Chen

This is always my go-to meal when I’m at Trivette. Start with your choice of chicken or organic tofu and load up on the veggies. My favorites are broccoli and carrots, but you can choose up to four. Ask for soy sauce if you want to minimize calories, but choose sesame if you are worried about sodium.

I always choose steamed rice over fried. You’re saving calories, and there is plenty of sauce in the stir fry to give the rice flavor. #SpoonTip: Ask them to go easy on the sauce to save a few extra calories.

2. Rivers Street Cafe: Healthy Select

dining hall

Photo by Jennifer Stevenson

Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, you’ll love the delicious entrees this place has to offer. From Caribbean rice and beans to veggie pot pies, Healthy Select has a wide variety of options that change daily. But beware: vegetarian and vegan options aren’t always healthier than their meat-filled counterparts. Always choose meals that feature a protein rather than all carbs.

If you don’t see anything you like that day, they always have black bean burgers available. Get one with a slice of cheese, lettuce, and tomato for extra flavor. Don’t forget about the condiment station for some honey mustard or barbecue sauce. #SpoonTip: Go for a bun-less burger and add a colorful side salad from the salad bar.

3. Rivers Street Cafe: Noodle Works

dining hall

Photo by Jennifer Stevenson

Despite the name, you don’t have to have a pasta-party on your plate at this station. You can substitute the pasta for extra helpings of veggies. Choose as many as you want, and ask for them to be stir-fried in a little bit of garlic and olive oil.

My favorite combination: broccoli, carrots, spinach, tomato, and zucchini. #SpoonTip: Add a piece of chicken for an awesome protein boost.

4. Sanford Commons: Mountaineer Grille

dining hall

Photo by Jennifer Stevenson

Okay, so this isn’t the best dining option when you’re on that health kick. But if you end up here, you do have options, even if they’re limited. I recommend a grilled chicken sandwich (bonus: the chicken is local). Add a colorful side salad or a sweet potato from the salad bar and you’re all set. #SpoonTip: Up the ante by ditching the bun, slicing up that grilled chicken, and adding it to a big salad.

5. Cascades Café: Wich Way Deli

dining hall

Photo by Kali Wolin

Ah, sandwiches, my one true love. This is a super convenient option when you’re studying in the Student Union or you’re just on East campus and don’t want to walk all the way to Central. Keep your sandwich in check by choosing a wheat hoagie. Add some mustard, turkey, provolone, and the veggies that your heart desires. #SpoonTip: Sliced wheat is an even healthier option, albeit slightly less tasty.

6. McAlister’s Deli

dining hall

Photo by Abby Humphries

Although arguably the best place to eat on campus, you’re in for a splurge if you choose to dine here. Your best option is to go for the “Choose 2”. The half portion of the garden salad with olive oil & balsamic vinaigrette dressing will run you a little less than 200 calories. You can then either choose the soup of the day or a sandwich.

The Veggie, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Chicken Caesar Wrap, and Turkey Melt sandwiches are great options. #SpoonTip: Avoid the super creamy soups- they are packed with unnecessary calories.

7. Anywhere: Salad Bar

dining hall

Photo by Darya Silchenko

A giant salad is a great choice because you can get creative and always mix up the taste. Start with a base of greens, preferably spinach or romaine. Add a ton of veggies and either a dairy or protein item (or both). Top it off with a little bit of dressing and be on your way.

Here’s my favorite entrée salad: A ton of spinach, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, and fat free Italian dressing. #SpoonTip: Avoid these salad bar monsters: Iceberg lettuce, croutons, and creamy or full-fat dressings.