Students Learn How to Make Healthy Food in Residence Halls

Oct. 11, 2012

Students tasting food served as a residence hall cooking demonstration

Students attended a recent cooking demonstration with Kacey Sebeniecher (right) who is a wellness coordinator.

Senior psychology major Caroline Lee says a few easy recipes would have changed her diet for the better last year when she was a peer advisor living in the Residence Halls. 

She was among those attending a recent cooking demonstration by the Student Wellness Center, which taught students to prepare easy, healthy snacks and meals in their rooms. Though Lee now lives in University Village and has a kitchen, she was interested in the tips.

It takes some creativity to create tasty food without a hot plate or a toaster, which are both prohibited in residence halls. But it can be done, Lee discovered.

“The recipes and tips broadened my scope on cooking,” she said. “If you're a resourceful college student who wants to eat healthy, you can do a lot with a microwave and a refrigerator.”

Instructor Kacey Sebeniecher, a wellness coordinator, said she came up with the cooking demonstrations because she remembers what it was like to live in a college residence hall room. 

Wellness Center Recipes


Pizza Roll-Ups

  • 1 8-inch whole wheat flour tortilla
  • 2 Tbsp. pizza sauce
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup baby spinach

Spread sauce on tortilla evenly. Place spinach and cheese on top. Microwave for 15-30 seconds until the cheese is slightly melted. Remove from microwave and roll up the tortilla. Cut into bite-sized pieces.



  • 1 whole wheat English muffin
  • ¼ cup refried beans
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese

Cut English muffin in half. Spread beans on one half of the muffin. Top the beans with salsa, followed by cheese. Microwave for 15-30 seconds or until cheese is melted.


Chocolate-Dipped Fruit

  • 1 banana or 5-6 strawberries
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup milk chocolate chips
  • Toothpicks
  • Wax paper

Cut the fruit and place it in a sealed bag in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Combine the dark and milk chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the chips in 10-second intervals, stirring in between. Continue until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove fruit from freezer and use the toothpicks to dip the fruit in chocolate. Place on a sheet of wax paper and let cool for a few minutes.

“I ate fast food every day,” she recalled. “So this does hit close to home.”

Sebeniecher’s recipes are fool-proof enough for the most novice cook. And her cooking demonstrations give plenty of techniques, tips and encouragement.

Her boss calls it “Cooking with Kacey.”

“This is something that’s fun, but educational,” said Amanda Smith, assistant director of the Student Wellness Center. “Their excuse is always that it’s too hard to cook in their room. So we give them healthy options.”

At the first demonstration at Residence Hall West, about 30 “super-interested” students showed up to watch and another 20 or so gathered around to try the finished products. Among the samples were pizza rolls, made with whole wheat tortillas, spinach, cheese and pizza sauce.

“It’s vegetarian, it uses all the food groups and students liked it,” Sebeniecher said.

Their favorite, however, was the “Mexi-Melt,” made with an English muffin, refried beans, salsa and shredded cheese.

For dessert, students can melt dark chocolate in the microwave and dip sliced fruit in it.

Sebeniecher is following up on student requests for drink recipes, including smoothies. And she’s concocting some healthy recipes using the noodles from Ramen soup packages.

As for Lee, she learned how to cook eggs in the microwave, which comes in handy for egg sandwiches. A friend of hers who attended the cooking demonstration with her now makes a spinach-cheese wrap in the microwave nearly every day.

“The best thing these cooking demonstrations give students is the idea that if you put your mind to it, it’s possible to be healthy, despite lack of money, time and even a kitchen,” Lee said.

The next cooking demonstration will be from 7-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 in the lobby of Residence Hall North. For more information, call the Student Wellness Center at 972-883-4275.

Media Contact: Robin Russell, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].
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June 25, 2018