A Student’s Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Chef at the Ram Café


Add chickpeas to a bed of arugula at the Ram Café salad bar for a meal packed with calcium and protein. (Rex Sakamoto/The Observer)


In its 2013 school rankings, the Princeton Review rated Fordham’s food as the worst in the country. This news has students worrying more than ever about how to make healthful and tasty meals out of the Ram Café’s offerings.

Add chickpeas to a bed of arugula at the Ram Café salad bar for a meal packed with calcium and protein. (Rex Sakamoto/The Observer)

I don’t feel like I could have a healthy diet by eating solely at the cafeteria. The options for vegetarian and vegan students, however, are even more limited. As Marie Geramanis, a vegan, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’15, said, “In terms of a balanced diet, there really isn’t a way you could sustain a healthy way of eating … there are a few nuts and every now and then they have spinach which is a good protein option, but it’s rare and it’s also not very well kept.”

So whether you’re a vegan or simply a hungry student, it’s not always easy to find meals from the cafeteria that satisfy both your taste buds and your body’s nutritional needs. Fortunately, there are some strategies that Fordham students can use to punch up the flavor and avoid food-related health issues.

Build Your Own Breakfast

To say that our cafeteria lacks decent food would be a lie, but to eat healthily, you need to avoid the fatty and sugary temptations. In the morning, you should avoid the donuts, muffins and other danishes and focus on the fresh cut fruits, granola and yogurts. Red Mango offers a decent range of healthy smoothies and yogurt-based food with enough variety to keep it interesting. My favorite breakfast recipe is to cube some fresh fruit— a peach or a banana for example— and mix it with plain yogurt. This easy and cheap breakfast packs a healthy amount of nutrients and is not too heavy. Add a cup of coffee, tea or a fruit juice and your day will be off to a good start.

Don’t Skimp on Salad

During lunch, the food offered under the “grill” section of the menu might look delicious, but it’s certainly not the most healthful. The daily entrees are more nutritious and varied, but the most wholesome food in our cafeteria is at the salad bar. The 12 salad toppings are fresh and allow you to create a new salad every day. Soups are usually a good option as well, especially since they offer a vegetarian option. I personally find the pasta options a bit boring, but the salad bar and the grill offer ingredients aplenty to add to the boring pasta dishes. For example, adding cherry tomatoes and some arugula to regular penne makes a surprisingly good combination.

Assert Your Culinary Creativity

Another option is to get creative with what the salad bar offers. With a little craft and some extra ingredients, boring salads can become delicious. My favorite create-your-own-salad is a Caesar salad. First ask for a grilled chicken from the counter. Then dice it up and toss it together with the arugula mix, tomatoes, olives and croutons. Lastly top it off with some house dresing.Another option is to get some feta cheese or tofu and mix it with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and olives creating a Greek salad. Though you won’t find tofu and cheese in the cafeteria, both are available at Whole Foods, Western Beef, Morton Williams and Trader Joe’s.

In the future, I sincerely hope that our cafeteria will provide students with healthier options and add new foods. I also hope that United Student Government will continue to work in this direction before we all graduate. To all those who eat at the cafeteria regularly and the new freshmen stuck with the mandatory meal plan, my advice would be to be creative with the available options and to try new dishes. Being in college should not mean that we have to pass on one of life’s greatest pleasures: good food.