5 Simple, Affordable, and Sustainable Recipes for Students (and non-students)

The simple act of cooking your meals using organic ingredients may not feel like a big deal, but it is a powerful silent activism. Global water scarcity impacts 1 billion people, and counting and boils down to two causes: supply and quality. Food, the largest user (70%) and polluter of water are where the solution to global water shortages is found predicted to worsen.

An extreme example of how food impacts water quality is the popular additive found in many savory prepackaged foods- MSG. MSG factories are one of the largest polluters of rivers in China, the largest producer of the popular additive in ramen noodles. If more of us choose to skip foods with the additive, collectively we can be a powerful force of positive change for the people who live downstream from the MSG factories. Check out this image of untreated wastewater from an MSG factory.

Central Valley, California exports food grown with groundwater around the world. A study released this year found the groundwater level is dropping as much as a foot and a half annually. Water is excavated from the ground at higher rates than replenished leading to dry wells and sink holes.


Organic Ramen Soup with vegetable (no MSG)

  • Servings: one big bowl
  • Difficulty: easy
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While the college campus experience has changed by leaps and bounds since my college days (high-speed internet, smartphones, and touchscreen tablets) one thing remains the same– a heavy ramen diet. But students can slurp those tasty ramen noodles outside the styrofoam cup container and skip the MSG seasoning packet.
With a a few more added ingredients you can turn your basic ramen soup into something even more flavor and healthier for you and the planet. The veggies below are only ideas. There are plenty more vegetables you can use to change things up (bok choy, Asian cabbage, snow peas, corn…).


  • 1  organic ramen package that includes a non-MSG seasoning pack
  • 1 tablespoon organic siracha
  • 3-4 ounces organic baby corn (about 4 corns)
  • 1 handful of shredded organic carrots
  • 1-2 green onions chopped
  • handful of peanuts or watercress for added crunch
  • juice from half an organic lime


  1. In a soup bowl add one package of ramen seasoning with organic siracha.
  2. Place the dried ramen noodles on top
  3. Chop and add your choice of fresh vegetable and/or shredded carrots
  4. Drain and add any canned vegetables
  5. Pour boiling water until all ingredients are fully submerged. After three minutes  mix the ingredients and sprinkle peanuts (or watercress) and the juice from half a lime


Pole and Line or Troll-Caught Tuna and Organic Gorgonzola Quesadillas

  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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This recipe was given to me by fisherman and owner of Sacred Sea Tuna, Rick Goeche and is printed at the end of the Seafood and Water chapter of Eat Less Water. Rick’s youngest daughter created this recipe and insisted her reluctant father try it. The tuna quesadillas were so tasty Rick’s son built two successful food carts in the Portland area selling them. What will make or break the flavor of these quesadillas is the quality of tuna. Look for “pole and line” or “troll caught” packed in its own fish oil. It will indicate on the label.


  • 4 organic flour tortillas (seek out a brand without palm oil)
  • 1 cup (1⁄4 cup for each quesadilla) shredded or sliced organic Gorgonzola cheese or your favorite organic cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack)
  • A pat of organic butter or tablespoon of organic oil for the pan
  • 1 can of Sacred Sea tuna or similar brand
  • 2–3 tablespoons organic mayonnaise
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon organic cumin
  • Capers (optional)
  • A capful of organic hickory smoke sauce of your choice (optional)


  1. Mix together the tuna salad ingredients. Remember DO NOT drain the fish oil if using Sacred Sea or a brand packed in fish oil.
  2. On a medium flame, heat an oiled pan large enough to accommodate an open flour tortilla.
  3. Smear a generous helping of tuna salad on one-half of the tortilla and sprinkle cheese on the other half. Fold the tortilla in half.
  4. Fry the quesadilla slightly until the cheese melts and the tortilla gets a little crispy on both sides.



Plant-Based Tostadas

  • Servings: 3-4 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Bean tostadas are my default lunch or dinner because its simple, nutritious and satisfying. With a can of organic beans, some lettuce, tomato, avocado, shredded cheese, and salsa you can have a meal in minutes.  I always have a bag of tostada shells in the pantry because they last for weeks. Unfortunately, I have not found an organic, or even non-GMO labeled tostada shell on the market, for that you need to fry or bake your own. BUT because GMO corn is banned in Mexico corn products from Mexico are non-GMO by default, it’s not the best alternative but it’s better.

I was recently introduced to ceviche tostadas made from hearts of palm by Chef Jocelyn at Todo Verde based out of LA. Chef Jocelyn served the plant-based ceviche on blue corn tortilla chips. This recipe requires more ingredients and chopping than a bean tostada but it makes enough to eat over two or three meals.


  • 1 14 oz. can of organic hearts of palm
  • 21 medium organic tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 of a small organic red onion
  • 21 organic jalepeños deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1/4 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 avocado (optional)
  • juice of 2 organic limes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • non-GMO tostadas or organic tortilla chips


  1. Drain the water from the hearts of palm and chop it into large chunks. In a medium bowl combine the hearts of palm with the chopped remaining ingredients.
  2. If using  avocados, deseed and slice into large chunks. Stir the avocado into the hearts of palm ceviche.
  3. Serve on a tostada shell or on tortilla chips.



No-Bake Organic Peanut Butter & Fair-Trade Chocolate Chip Bites

  • Servings: two dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
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These oat, flax, peanut butter, and chocolate bites are great for a breakfast-on-the-go, a between class snack, or dessert. One recipe makes about two dozen worth. If you think you won’t eat that many in a week, freeze a dozen or cut the recipe in half.

The recipe suggests you use fair-trade organic chocolate. It is pricier than the conventional bag by about .50 per ounce, put the impact is felt in rivers, forests, and the families of cacao farmers across the globe.


  • 1 cup (dry) organic oats
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup organic nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)
  • 1/2 cup ground organic ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup semisweet fair-trade chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup local honey or organic agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract


  1. Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl until combined
  2. Cover and chill for 30 minutes
  3. Roll into one inch balls once chilled and place in an airtight container.
  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week






A Bowl, a Tea Kettle, and 3 minutes: Organic Oatmeal with walnuts and dried berries

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Breakfast has the most health benefits of our daily meals yet it’s skipped by 25% of Americans daily according to a recent study. This recipe is so easy, takes no time, requires only three ingredients (four if you count the water) and can be made without a kitchen if you have a plug-in tea kettle. No more excuses. Start the day off with fiber, protein, antioxidants, and skip the chemicals.


  • 1 packet organic oats (or 1/3 cup dry oats)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 small handful organic walnuts (chopped or whole)
  • 1 small handful dried or fresh organic berries
  • Organic honey or agave to taste (optional)


  1. Turn the tea kettle on to boil water.
  2. Pour the contents of the oatmeal packet into a bowl.
  3. Add 1/2 cup water or as advised on the packet directions.
  4. After the water is absorbed into the oatmeal (about three minutes) toss the berries and walnuts on top. Drizzle organic honey or agave.


Every person deserves access to clean, freshwater. It is a fundamental right we can protect together in the kitchen.

There is power in the collective!

Eat less water at the kitchen table.

Be well,


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