Bakery items at Libe Cafe on February 7th, 2019. (Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor)

December 6, 2019

Dining Department’s Food Hacks for Finals Season

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As finals season looms ever closer and students turn to caffeine and (questionably healthy) snacks to keep them fueled on their midday-turned-midnight study grinds, The Sun’s dining department writers have compiled some of their favorite snacks and hacks to help you stay alert and still somewhat healthy through whatever final may come your way. Good luck Cornellians!

Ideal study snack? Without a doubt peanut — M&Ms. You can mindlessly stick your hand in the bag as you write your essays, and finish them all before you even write your thesis statement. Or if you practice (slightly) more self-control than I do, you can use them as a reward system. For every question that you finish in your problem set, you get an M&M; for every module you get through in your textbook, eat an M&M. There’s no better time or place to eat your weight in peanut M&Ms than finals week.

— Sarah Austin ’23


For a meal (or snack) that requires minimal cooking and warms my heart, I turn to oats. Old-fashioned rolled oats are cheap and can be found pretty much anywhere. My latest hack has been grabbing an apple from the dining hall and chopping about half of it into a bowl of cooked oats. Then, I add some almond butter, ancient grain granola, chia seeds and cinnamon. If you’re in the mood for dessert, add dark chocolate chips. It is filling, fairly cheap and perfect for a cold day.

— Catherine Ryberg ’21


In the beverage aisle, between Red Bull and Monster, sits the forgotten hero of studying — Guayaki’s Yerba Mate. Why drink coffee, with its meager 95 mg of caffeine, when Yerba Mate offers 150 mg per can? And, with 120 calories and 28 grams of sugar,  I use the drink to get an extra boost when long hours in Olin Library wear me out. My favorite flavors are Enlighten Mint, which has very subtle hints of peppermint, and Passion Terre, which reminds me of a lightly sweetened iced tea. Pair the drink with dark chocolate square (at least 70% cacao) or two, and you’ll be ready to study all night long.

— Peter Kaplinsky ’22


Need something to stimulate your tired and overworked brain during finals season? A bottle of GT’s refreshingly cool and tartly sweet Mango Kombucha does wonders in not only waking up your brain, but your taste buds as well. As I flip through my incredibly dense, dry and torturous multivariable calculus textbook, a sip from the glass bottle in between pages helps keep my two remaining brain cells from jumping ship. What’s even better is drinking kombucha comes guilt-free as it’s filled with oodles of good bacteria that work hard to improve your health by absorbing nutrients and battling the bad stuff. Who knew bacteria could taste so good?

— Isha Vaish ’22


A classic grind-time go-to is caffeine. Personally speaking, even just the smell of hot coffee awakens and inspires me. But not everyone relishes in coffee’s bitter goodness. I turn to Awake Bars to nourish the rare moods in which I do not crave the drink. I discovered these chocolate goodies at RPCC’s Bear Necessities one day, and I am glad I did. These chocolate bars contain caffeine levels described in comparison to a cup of coffee. I notice that even just the bite-sized chocolates, which carry the least amount of caffeine, have the power to pep me up if I find myself losing energy and motivation. However, I am unsure whether this effect is actually that of a physical energy boost or mental like that of a placebo — or a combination of the two — but I recommend the bar for late-night studiers who crave a simple snack to give them the fire necessary to ace that test.

— Julia Lescht ’23


With the cold season approaching, a nice hot beverage will always do the trick. My drink of choice is a hometown favorite named Horlicks, a Southeast Asian malted milk-based drink. Coming in a powdered form in a metal tin, you simply add hot water to the mixture to create the drink. One of the reasons why Horlicks tastes so good in the Northeast is due to the excellent milk quality around our area. My suggestion for all is to add hot milk to the beverage and enjoy with a hint of honey. To make the drink into a snack or breakfast option, serve with a slice of peanut butter toast with condensed milk drizzled on top, Hong Kong style.

— Dominic Law ’22


A constant in my study-grind session is caffeine. During midday, I turn to my trusted coffee-maker and brew a cup of Starbucks’ Holiday Blend. When caffeine needs to be maximized, I turn to Starbucks’ nitro cold brew. Starbucks doesn’t let you order a venti due to the high caffeine content, so I tend to order two grandes — one for midday and one for late in the night. A word of caution, this should only be done during desperate times (which in most cases it tends to be). The perfect study-session snack is popcorn. I prefer the brand Boom Chicka Pop. It’s a snack that you will not feel too guilty eating. It is the perfect snack if you are in the mood for something sweet or salty and the perfect snack to keep you company during your study grind.

— Meridien Mach ‘22