By Christie Melhorn, October 18 2016 —
It’s that point of the semester where autumn sweets stare you down from every display case and menu you encounter. In the thick of midterm season, lack of sleep, stress, an intensive study schedule and excessive doses of pumpkin spice flavoured everything is a recipe for burnout. As counter-productive as it may seem, taking some time away from the flurry of flashcards and paper writing to whip up a healthy snack and sneak in a workout can help make study time really count.
Sitting for hours hunched over your textbooks or computer can be equally taxing on your body and mind. You’ve probably experienced those awful pinches in your back or felt like your head was going to roll off after a night of vicious cramming.
For days at home, a great way to refresh yourself is preparing a meal from scratch and getting in some workout time while it’s heating. That way, you can meet two needs simultaneously and not worry that you are taking too much time away from studying. On top of that, preparing your own food ignites your senses and gives your mind a break from rigorous reading or calculations.
A tasty and nutritious dish that I like to make is an apple crumble recipe by Krista Stryker, a personal trainer certified by the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NSCA) and founder of 12minuteathelete.com. While I don’t follow her exact recipe, it shows how to eliminate unnecessary calories from a dessert without losing the deliciousness.
Before you begin making it, make sure you’re not hungry. Keeping fueled will prevent you from eating the entire dish before it’s in the oven and maximize your workout while it’s baking.
Once you’re ready, here’s where to start:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Chop two or three large granny smith apples into thin slices. Any apple will also work. I also like to toss the slices into a medium sized bowl as I go so my cutting board isn’t cluttered.
- Coat the slices with 15 ml (one tbsp) of ground cinnamon and one ml (1/4 tsp) of nutmeg. Get in there with your hands to make sure they’re all covered for maximum flavour.
- Place the apple slices in a nine by nine inch baking dish.
For the crumble, I use the same bowl for the apples. This saves on dishes and soaks up the leftover cinnamon sitting at the bottom. So, in that cinnamon-y bowl, mix:
- 237 ml (one cup) of oats
- 118 ml (1/2 cup) of flour of choice
- 5 ml (one tsp) of cinnamon
- 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) of nutmeg
- 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) of salt. or one ml (1/4 tsp) of sea salt
- 30–60 ml (two to four tbsp) of honey
- 30–45 ml (two to three tbsp) of almond milk
- 30 ml (two tbsp) melted coconut oil — the exact same amount of butter works well too
Now for the really fun part. Toss in anything that you want. I like to add raisins, pecans or chocolate chips. This is a good chance to use up the bottom-of-the bag cereal lingering in your cupboard. Stir the ingredients together evenly into a bowl of oaty goodness and distribute over the apples. I also like to sprinkle a modest amount of brown sugar over the whole thing before putting it in the oven for around 40 minutes.
As the crumble is cooking, I often visit the account workoutprograms on Instagram for some effective and efficient workout ideas. Their feed consists of high-intensity interval training workouts and the occasional cat meme.
A great workout I pulled from the workoutprograms page is a full-body circuit threateningly called “Killer Thursday.” Each exercise is performed for 30–45 seconds with minimal rest in between and a minute of rest between rounds. The
workoutprograms post recommends doing seven rounds of the exercise and this catches up to you fast. If you are just starting out, try it about three to four times and build up from there. If you complete your workout before the crumble is done, do another round of your workout or stretch.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Plank Jump-Ins
- Mountain climbers
- Jump squats
Remember to stay hydrated and listen to your body throughout the workout. There is a difference between feeling a good muscle burn and hurting yourself — don’t ignore any strange discomforts and pains impeding you.
When the apples are soft and the crumble is nicely browned, but not burned, remove the pan from the oven and enjoy the scents of cinnamon and nutmeg that will envelop your kitchen as you do so. Let it cool off for about 15 minutes.
Take this time to let yourself cool down with some stretching. My ultimate study stretch is downward facing dog — it unravels the spine and loosens the hamstrings nicely.
When you’re ready to eat, hopefully you will feel extra rewarded for your hard work. Making your own food with wholesome ingredients is easier on your body than processed and sugary packaged foods. This can prevent you from feeling sluggish and moody while studying.
After at least an hour and a half of baking and exercise, you will most likely return to your studying with a less angry spine, a content stomach and a clearer mind.