Hungry? Satisfy Your Snack Cravings With Healthy Fare at Nrich
When an afternoon snack attack hits, it can be tempting to leave your desk and grab a sweet treat from the nearest vending machine or coffee cart. But for those looking for a healthier way to satisfy those 3 o'clock munchies, there's a new option on campus.
Nrich Urban Market opened this month on the main level of the Student Union Memorial Center, in the former Pinkberry location.
The market offers a wide variety of healthy grab-and-go snacks – from trail mix to granola bars to fruit-infused waters – as well as fresh produce, hummus, packaged salads and other meal items for those on the go.
You can also head to the counter to order from a menu (PDF) that includes fresh blended juices, botanicals and teas, high-probiotic frozen yogurt, sorbet, and nut butters with fruits and veggies or a pita for dipping.
Most items in the market cost less than $5.
Nrich was designed to meet UA students' and employees' consistent requests for affordable, healthy food options on campus, said Christine Carlson, a registered dietitian and assistant director of nutrition for Arizona Student Unions.
The market is the physical manifestation of the unions' existing nutrition philosophy, which focuses on offering a variety of healthy, tasty options that meet diners' individual dietary needs and restrictions, while being transparent about nutrition facts and the ingredients used in each dish.
While healthy options can be found in many campus restaurants, Nrich is the "crown jewel" of the nutrition philosophy, said Todd Millay, director of Arizona Student Unions.
Carlson worked with Student Union Senior Executive Chef Michael Omo to develop the market's menu, with a focus on healthy options that also appeal to the taste buds.
"No matter how nutritious something is, if it doesn't taste good it doesn't matter," Carlson said.
Some of the fresh ingredients used in the markets' fare are showcased right in the store, where a variety of herbs and lettuces grow in a vibrant vertical garden.
"You can actually see and smell the ingredients right there," Carlson said.
Nrich has become a popular stop for those looking to grab a quick lunch or substantial snack, or even do some light grocery shopping.
Justin Archer, who works nearby as marketing and communications manager for the UA BookStores, was drawn to the market for its rotating selection of seasonal teas. He also recently enjoyed a made-to-order all-veggie juice to help him with his goal of adding more vegetables to his diet.
Archer, who eats at the Union two to three times a week, says he's happy to have such a convenient, healthy option just steps from his office.
"I think it will be easier for me to go there instead of a fast food place," he said. "And it's quick. A lot of times healthy food takes time, but it's very quick there."
Nrich is one of a number of initiatives launched by Arizona Student Unions to help campus diners meet their healthy eating goals.
Union staff will use the market to promote other programs and offerings, including nutrition workshops, cooking demonstrations and private consultations with Carlson.
In addition, Union regulars can take advantage of an online nutrition calculator, also available as a mobile app, that lets diners track the nutrition facts of menu items at various Union restaurants. The program currently includes information from nine campus eateries, with a complete list expected later this year.
As part of a two-week grand opening celebration for Nrich, visitors to the market this Friday will be able to purchase a special meal-prep package for a pasta dinner for two. For $6.99, you get a bag that includes whole-grain pasta, sauce ingredients, a recipe card and nutrition facts.
Nrich Urban Market – along with the Campus Pantry and several other campus programs – is among the beneficiaries of this year's Spring Fling student–run carnival, which takes place April 7–9 on the UA Mall.
Nrich Urban Market is open from 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekends.