Admittedly, I am a bit of a hermit in the wintertime. And that’s actually one of the top reasons that winter is my favorite season- it’s the perfect excuse for me to stay inside and cook some of my favorite comfort food dishes! Lately I’ve been on a bit of an Italian food kick, so a lot of my favorites this season is are pasta and cheesy dishes that cook quickly in the oven. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do! All of the recipe links will be included at the bottom of the page.
First and foremost, my absolute FAVORITE new recipe is this vegan stuffed shell dish by Nora Cooks. In my personal experience, a lot of vegan dishes struggle to replicate cheese, but this one actually does a really fantastic job. That’s mostly attributed to the use of nutritional yeast, which has a naturally cheesy taste. Nutritional yeast is also an excellent source of B12, which is crucial for a vegan diet in order to stay healthy. On top of being nutritious and authentic, this recipe is also simply delicious and very filling. I’ve already made it twice in the course of a month, and I don’t see an end in sight.
If you’re looking for a fatty, salty, carbolicious way to fill the void in your heart this winter, I highly recommend you dedicate an entire evening to making a garbage plate. What is a garbage plate, you ask? It’s a beautiful yet disturbing concoction of macaroni salad, breakfast potatoes, spicy chili meat sauce, and two hamburgers slapped on top. Oh, and then you smother it in mustard and ketchup and mix it up. I came across this recipe by watching a Jenna Marbles video, who also happened to prepare her garbage plate vegan. Making a garbage plate is extremely time-consuming, especially since most of what I prepared was made from scratch, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. And the entire plate ends up being HUGE, so you have enough leftovers to ask you the rest of the week. I think the perfect way to spend a snowy night would be to throw a garbage plate party, so call up your friends and get one started asap.
This is (kind of) connected to the garbage plate, because this recipe is a component of the garbage plate, but I wanted to include it separately nonetheless. For all my southern hemisphere babes who are living up the summer, you’ll love this vegan macaroni salad recipe. I like to think that it’s somewhat healthier than regular macaroni salad, because it uses apple cider vinegar instead of real mayo, but I swear it tastes exactly the same. In fact, I would argue it tastes better- it has a light, delicate smell that won’t stink up your kitchen or your fridge. I was never a fan of macaroni salad before, but after trying this recipe, I’m officially hooked. The recipe I’ve linked below isn’t vegan itself, but you can just opt out the eggs and use a vegan mayo instead of regular mayo if you want to prepare it vegan. This macaroni salad is really good on burgers- I highly suggest you try it yourself.
Besides those three recipes, I mostly just ate fruits, veggies, and tons of soup this winter. That being said, the season isn’t over, so let me know some other vegan recipes you’d like me to try! I’m always open to trying new recipes as the seasons change.
I attend college in the Boston area, but not smack-dab in the middle of the city itself. Personally, it’s both a blessing and a curse for me, as I’m able to explore the exotic flavors of Boston without having to choke down the smells every time I step outside. Taking the train into Boston isn’t an everyday occurance to me; instead, it’s an occasional treat I allow myself to embark on. I am a relatively picky eater, admittedly, so I tend to stick with the same 3-5 restaurants. But trust me, these restaurants have earned their spot on my list. Especially #2- I’ve probably spent $60 on Uber Eats alone for that company.
1- In the heart of Faneuil Hall, meat-eaters and vegans alike can find a delicious meal at Wagamama. Wagamama primarily serves Japanese-style cuisine, like ramen and fresh juices, and their vegan menu is one of the more impressive ones I’ve come across. The dumpling-like yasai gyoza make for an excellent appetizer, and paired with the tofu ramen, it’s a match made in heaven. The tofu tastes silky without being mushy, and packs a punch of flavor that you normally don’t find in vegan tofu options. It’s also surprisingly filling, considering it’s mostly just a bowl of noodles and vegetables.
2- I’m not rating this list in order from favorite to least favorite, but if I did, Los Amigos Taqueria would hands-down be my number one. I came across them one night as I scoured Uber Eats for a quick dinner, and have been absolutely hooked on it since. This burrito joint isn’t specifically aimed for vegans, but it’s fairly easy to customize to your liking. I personally always order the same thing: an extra-large bean burrito with pico de gallo, spanish rice, and lettuce. That’s really all I need to take my tastebuds to heaven. There’s something about the quality of the ingredients that always taste extremely fresh and vibrant, and I never get tired of ordering my favorite comfort-food burrito. Los Amigos Taqueria has locations in Newtonville, Brighton Center, Coolidge Corner, and West Roxbury, so there’s no excuse not to give it a try if you’re in the area.
3- Speaking of Uber Eats favorite, I’m also a verybig fan of Energize, which is located in Brighton. Energize is one of the very few vegan-targeted cafes in my delivery area, so I certainly take advantage of their smoothie bowls and beverages. Similarly with Los Amigos Taqueria, I do have a favorite meal from Energize. The Cashew Cheesecake smoothie bowl is the perfect sweet-tooth fix for everything from movie night to date night, and is so darned filling, you won’t be hungry again for hours. Some people might not be a fan of the bowl’s overwhelming sweetness, but for me, I think it’s absolutely addicting. If smoothie bowls aren’t your thing, you’re bound to find a match with one of their signature colorful salads.
4- Are you a vegan who misses the cholesterol-boosting, greasy joy of digging into Chinese food? Grasshopper may (and undeniably will) be the answer to your food prayers. Grasshopper, which is located in Allston, specializes in vegan American-style chinese food. You heard me- do you want those fat chicken fingers with the sweet dipping sauce? Grasshopper has a vegan version. A slice of vegan strawberry cheesecake? Grasshopper has you covered. AN ENTIRE vegan strawberry cheesecake? You got it. The veggie lo-mein is also highly addicting, and may pair nicely with the battered tofu nuggets. And by may, I mean it undeniably will.
5- The Friendly Toast will forever hold a soft spot in my heart. My high school friends and I always used to frequent the Portsmouth location after our most memorable milestones, like Junior prom and graduation. It’s a place, to me, that holds so many fond memories, and also has a warm, welcoming energy. The aesthetic of the restaurant is fabulously retro and almost Bowie-like, decorated with strange artwork and its famous slime-green painted walls. There’s something on the menu for meat-eaters and vegans alike, including a variety of breakfast food, diner food, tex-mex food, and salads. Some of my personal favorites are the vegan mac and cheese, nachos, breakfast burrito, and oatmeal bread, which you can buy in loaves from the restaurant. The Friendly Toast has locations in Back Bay, Cambridge, Portsmouth, Burlington, MA, and Burlington, VT, so I highly recommend checking it out if you ever get the opportunity. I promise your taste buds will not be disappointed.
If you’re interested in finding more vegan restaurants in your own area, I highly recommend purchasing the app Happy Cow. It uses your location to notify you of vegan restaurants and options in your area, along with how highly rated they are by other vegan users. It has been extremely useful for me on vacations away from home!
All images are taken directly from the restaurant’s websites, minus the burrito.
First and foremost, I understand that veganism is a PRIVILEGE. In some parts of the world, and even for the poorest of families in the United States, living off a vegan diet can be extremely difficult (if not impossible). I don’t judge anybody on their dietary choices- after all, you never know what health conditions someone may have that make consuming animal products indisputable in their specific case (allergies, etc.) This article is not intended to shame or belittle anyone who doesn’t have the opportunity to utilize a vegan diet- it’s simply me expressing my opinions about the benefits of veganism and why it can be successful for many people, including myself. Go into it with an open mind, and if it’s not for you, then who am I to judge?
I have been vegetarian for about a full year, and vegan for about six months. Admittedly, I was pretty turned off to the idea of veganism for a long time, and there were a handful of (ignorant) reasons I felt that way. After all, vegans only eat carrots and celery, right? Vegans don’t get to enjoy gooey, hot meals and comfort food fixes. Or so I thought.
One of the first reasons I considered going vegan was because of my love for animals. Of course, you can still love animals and not follow a vegan diet, but for me, I couldn’t bear the thought of an animal suffering at my dietary expense. I think of cows the same way I think of puppies- innocent, vulnerable creatures that are capable of love but unable to speak for themselves. I decided that if I had the option and privilege to abstain from animal products, I would do so. And here I am, six months later, feeling happier and healthier than ever.
This brings me to my first point, which is animal cruelty in the food industry (among other industries). We like to think of animal agriculture as something quaint and ethical, like a farmer going out in the morning to gather his eggs milk the cows. While that may be the case for some animals, it’s certainly not the case for the majority in the food industry. On a mainstream scale, most animals are being brutally tortured, forcibly impregnated, ripped from their babies, destined to die a gruesome, painful death. The sad truth is, because animals cannot speak up for themselves, they are too easy to be taken advantage of and tortured for our own selfish pleasure. You can choose to turn a blind eye to it, but the reality is, it is happening all around you. An adult pig is just as intelligent and aware as a two year-old child. All you have to do is spend five minutes on YouTube to see the reality of the unnecessary torture that animals are subjected to. It may not bother some people, but like I said, a cow or a chicken is like a kitten to me. The thought of ever putting an animal through such despicable cruelty is enough to make me lose sleep at night.
Not only does a vegan diet protest animal cruelty, but it’s also considerably better for our environment. It would be one thing if there were only 500 people on planet Earth, and we all needed to survive by utilizing farming and killing animals on our own property in a humane way. The reality is, however, there are almost 8 billion people on planet Earth today. Animal consumption is vastly different than it was a thousand years ago, and frankly, that’s just the nature of life. As our planet becomes more and more populated, ethical farming is too “slow” to keep up with our vastly changing planet. If we want to stay as ethical as possible as the planet continues to rapidly grow, one of our options is to utilize veganism. By choosing veganism, you are cutting greenhouse gas emissions in our planet. It’s no secret that meat production requires vast amounts of energy and the burning of fossil fuels (for the raising, transporting, and slaughtering of animals). A study by Cornell University found that producing one calorie of food energy from beef requires 40 calories of fossil fuel energy, whilst producing one calorie of human-edible grain takes only 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy. Furthermore, eating meat requires three times more land than is needed for a vegan diet. By choosing plant protein over meat, you are lessening the heavy burden we have placed on Earth to meet our agriculture needs. Like I said, farmers in the year 500 B.C. may not have had a choice in this matter, but in 2018, we do have this choice and this privilege.
Consuming animals and animal products is also a leading factor in animal extinction. Slowly but surely, poorly managed animal waste products are actually destroying animal habitats and polluting the environment. There are quite a few interesting stats on this subject that I found on Ombar.com, which I will be sure to link at the bottom. For example, did you know that many pollutant waste products get washed into our water systems, causing algae to grow on the water and starve the fish of oxygen? I didn’t either, until recently. Veganism extends far beyond the impact it has on farm animals; there is also a notable impact on other species directly affected by the consumption of animals.
Another reason you may consider utilizing veganism is for the health benefits it provides. Obviously, if you are going to start a vegan diet, it’s important to take supplements and vitamins (b-complex, iron, etc.) to give yourself the nutrients you may otherwise be missing out on. There are several scientifically-proven benefits of eating a vegan diet, including lowering blood sugar levels and improving kidney function. It can also be used, in a healthy way, as a weight loss tool. One of the most impactful ways I “cleaned up” my diet was by eliminating dairy products and pushing myself to eat more fruits and vegetables instead. Becoming vegan has increased my energy levels, strengthened my hair and nails, and even brightened up my skin. A vegan diet may also even protect against some types of cancers. Research is still ongoing, but it is believed that vegans may benefit from a 15% lower risk of developing cancer. Also, veganism is linked to a lower risk of heart disease. The bottom line is this: veganism does come with responsibility on your part to make sure you are getting the correct supplements, but ultimately, its benefits have been shown to make you feel your very best, inside and out.
Lastly, if you’re fearful of giving up your favorite comfort foods, there are tons of vegan replacements for everything you can imagine. You can be a vegan and still enjoy dishes like cupcakes, macaroni and cheese, ice cream, burgers- whatever it is you enjoy. The key is to find a vegan replacement that works for your taste buds. Some things will take getting used to, like the taste of vegan cheese. Ultimately, however, you can make any and all of your favorite dishes with a little bit of practice and versatility in your kitchen. Restaurants as well are also starting to extend their vegan menus, and fast food joints have some notable vegan choices as well (order anything “fresco” from Taco Bell and they’ll hold the cheese and sour cream). I am a vegan, but I still love making myself “meat”ball subs and brownies. I still know how to make a diggity bomb grilled cheese sandwich. And, of course, I’m still a gal who loves her veggies.
Admittedly, tea was an acquired taste for me. The first sixteen years of my life were spent trying to avoid the earthy leaf water my mother and friends so often drank, so when I did discover I had a liking for it, I was rightfully shocked.
That being said, the only tea I would bring myself to drink at first was an iced chai with cinnamon and nutmeg. If you too find yourself struggling to acquire a taste for tea, chai is a great place to start. A good chai latte tastes rich and sweet, and reminiscent of a vanilla-flavored coffee. From there, I extended my liking of tea to a variety of herbal teas, bought myself a teapot, and invested in a ridiculous collection of mugs.
To this day, I’m still a bit picky about what teas I enjoy drinking. The less the tea tastes like murky groundwater, the better, so I like to stick with fruity-flavors. Here are some of my favorites that I’ve picked up over time, and which health benefits they pack. Both my mother and I’s favorite brand for tea is Pukka, so you’ll be seeing that name quite a bit.
Chai tea, as I’ve said before, is a great place to start if you’re struggling to get on the tea bandwagon. The taste of chai is very uniquely different from other teas: it’s naturally very creamy and sweet, with a little hint of spice in it. Chai is one of the most popular types of tea found in cafes and restaurants, and I think it tastes equally delicious both iced and hot. If you’re looking for a perfect holiday drink to slide into the new year with, consider whipping up a chai latte with cinnamon and nutmeg. Not only does chai taste delicious, but it also has a wide array of health benefits. Chai tea has been proven to wake you up more, alleviate nausea, improve digestion, and support your immune system.
Peppermint tea is another one of my favorite naturally sweet teas. Crisp and clean in both smell and taste, peppermint tea is an excellent way to fight sinus infections and bad breath. Peppermint tea has also been proven to treat menstrual cramps, reduce stress and anxiety, and prevent headaches. For those reasons, if you find yourself struggling both physically and emotionally during your period, peppermint tea could be the perfect hot beverage for you! Three Mint tea by Pukka is my favorite- it contains a lovely blend of spearmint, fieldmint, and peppermint. However, if you are pregnant, doctors agree it is best to stay away from this tea, as consuming it can lead to miscarriages in very extreme cases.
Here’s a little fun fact about Earl Gray tea- it is actually named after former British Prime Minister Earl Charles Gray. Loved for its soothing taste, Earl Gray is actually a blend of various Chinese teas. Well-known for its healthy reputation, the benefits of this tea include increased energy, enhanced digestion, and even dental aid. Fluoride occurs naturally in Earl Gray, so you can take pride in the fact that you are fighting cavities with every cup of tea. Although I myself am a coffee-crazy fanatic, Earl Gray is a much healthier alternative due to its non-dehydrating ingredients.
Cinnamon is widely cherished as powerful healing substance, so it comes as no surprise that the tea form is just as fabulous for you. In fact, evidence of cinnamon healing properties dates all the way back to ancient Egypt. Today, cinnamon is recognized for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects and prevention of heart disease. Similarly to chai, cinnamon has warm, sweet-n-spicy taste that many novice tea-lovers can enjoy this holiday season. The lovely kosher Three Cinnamon tea by Pukka is a lovely mix of cinnamon from Indonesia, Vietnam, and India.
Even if you’ve never tried it, I’m sure you’re familiar with green tea. This tea originates from China, but over time, its production and manufacture has spread to many other countries. Studies have shown that drinking green tea can improve brain function and mental performance, burn fat, lower your risk of type II diabetes, and even lower your risk of various types of cancers. Supreme Matcha Green by Pukka is a delicious matcha powder combined with green tea leaves, packed with antioxidants in every sip. Although green tea can certainly be an acquired taste, there are many ways to slowly ease yourself into it. Starbucks also makes a delicious Matcha green tea frappe, so you can always consider starting there. And that, my friends, is the tea for today!
More of my favorite teas by Pukka are Revitalise, Womankind, and Night Time.
Despite what you may have heard in the past, it isn’t difficult to maintain a vegan diet. Even for myself, a full-time college student in the Boston area, eating vegan is something I have adapted to and taken on quite easily. Admittedly, I was a little fearful that maintaining my diet would become difficult once I got to campus. And surely, there are plenty of tips and tricks to learn when you’re trying to eat vegan on a college campus. If you’re interested in exploring that, I’ll include the link to that article here: https://diplomatsdigest.wordpress.com/2018/10/29/vegan-college-dining-hall-hacks/
Anyhow, I’m so excited to share a week in my life as a nineteen year-old busy student. Please let me know if you try any of these meals; I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Day One: On the mornings when I have some time to spare, and (hopefully) an accessible kitchen, I like to treat myself to a savory, mouth-watering breakfast sandwich. This particular sandwich is just as delicious and simple to make as a conventional “sausage egg and cheese”- we’re just subbing out all three of those things with vegan alternatives. For the “eggs,” I cut slices of extra firm tofu, coat it with turmeric and pepper, and fry it as you would for any egg. The “sausage” I use is from the brand Lightlife, and “cheese” is a cheddar-style slice by Daiya. Combined together, they make for an incredibly tasty and filling breakfast. I recommend serving it up with tator tots or crispy crowns.
Day Two: Although I’m not the biggest fan of spinach, I don’t mind it at all in the form of this tofu scramble breakfast burrito. These microwavable burritos by Amy’s Kitchen come in a variety of delicious vegan and gluten-free flavors, and are super quick to whip up if you’re short on time. They also pack 11g of protein per serving, which is crucial to keep you energized and sustained throughout the day. Did I mention that Amy’s also makes a variety of other comfort-food frozen dinners and snacks? Bring on the mac and cheese.
Day Three: If I have an early class, or if I simply don’t wake up feeling hungry, I coax my stomach awake with a warm bowl of oatmeal. I feel like oatmeal is extremely underrated- have you guys ever tried dousing it with brown sugar and raspberries? The results are a truly sweet and delicious breakfast, packed with fiber and antioxidants. It’s not hard to make a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast feel like a nice, warm, dessert.
Day Four: If you have a little extra time to spare, this delicious smoothie bowl is yet another one of my sweet-tooth favorites. Smoothie bowls are extremely customizable, but I frequently enjoy using açai as my base and then packing on peanut butter and bananas. Cacao nibs, also known as “nature’s chocolate chips,” make for yet another delicious addition to a smoothie bowl. Not only do these bowls taste delicious, but they also photograph amazingly! Your friends and family will be impressed by your seemingly incredible talent for dressing foods.
Day Five: For all of my vegan + gluten free babes out there, these are the waffles for you. Van’s Foods is one of my favorite breakfast staples, and their waffles taste no different than your favorite Eggo’s growing up. Not only are they quick and easy to make, but they also have 75% less fat than the leading frozen waffle (cough, cough.) That being said, I’m sure Eleven and the rest of the Stranger Things cast would approve of this tasty breakfast treat.
Day Six: As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, I’m a big fan of peanut butter and bananas. In fact, I’d go as far to say it’s one of my favorite food combos, right behind chocolate and peanut butter. That being said, I couldn’t leave out peanut butter banana toast, could I? It’s been one of my favorite snacks since high school, and is easy to make in both your personal kitchen and your college dining hall. If you really want to amp things up, I recommend frying the bread in vegetable oil. It makes for a greasy and satisfying late-night snack!
Day Seven: If you really feel like stepping up your breakfast game and indulging yourself, give these vegan pancakes by Tasty a whirl. They are made using kitchen staples you probably already have in your pantry, and they’re extremely customizable as well. I don’t have time to make them often, but when I do, I always make sure Duke is treated to a tiny pup-cake as well!
In case you hadn’t already noticed, I’m an avid lover of makeup and beauty products. I also happen to be a lover of animals, so I always prioritize purchasing cruelty-free (and if possible) vegan makeup items. Did you know the FDA does not regulate cruelty-free labeling, so any company can essentially lie about it? I, too, was shook to discover this.
Although proper research can be difficult to navigate at first, it’s not impossible to find high-quality cruelty-free brands at a reasonable price. In fact, you’d be surprised how many of them line the shelves of stores such as Ulta and Sephora. My point here is, there really isn’t an excuse not to buy cruelty-free makeup if you live in the United States. Even drugstore brands like E.L.F fall under the cruelty-free category.
Another thing to keep in mind is the sad truth that any brand selling to China is required by law to test on animals. That means brands such as Nars, Maybelline, and Estee Lauder are unfortunately not as ethical as they may claim to be.
Without further adieu, here are some fabulous cruelty-free brands you might want to utilize instead!
Anastasia Beverly Hills has been one of my top go-to brands since middle school. The brow pomades in particular are spectacular- I’ve been using the same one for three years. Like, the same exact bottle. The company is also known for their highly-pigmented eyeshadow palettes, such as the adored Modern Renaissance palette. Though they may be a bit pricey, I adore ABH for their unbeatable quality and longevity.
Urban Decay’s Naked palettes are at the very top of my list of staples. I, like many others, went through my angsty high school years with the Naked mini palette on hand at all times. Remember those days of trying to pack the black powder into your outer corner until you looked like a deranged raccoon? The pan sizes of the eyeshadows themselves are very generous, which I consider to be a definite plus, and the quality is also fabulous. The company also has a successful collection of high-coverage foundation, which I have purchased in the past.
Too Faced is perhaps best known for their adorable tin eyeshadow palettes and *allegedly* “better-than-sex” mascara. I personally love them for their loose and translucent powders- it’s the only product I can rely on to keep my makeup in place for 10-12 hours. I admire the brand for its cutesy, girly personality, and the fact that many palettes come scented is an added bonus. My sweet peach palette still smells like heaven years later, which makes me inclined to reach for it several times per week.
It Cosmetics, hands-down, makes some of the best brushes I’ve ever used. I received a package of five for Christmas about a year ago, and still use almost all the brushes on a daily basis. The blending brushes and blush brush in particular are amazing and unparalleled, though a bit pricier than other brushes. If you have some extra cash to throw around, I would recommend these beauties to anybody.
Pacifica is both cruelty-free and vegan, made right here in the USA. I absolutely love their kale micellar water for removing makeup- it’s gentle, non-drying, and it smells amazing. Pacifica also makes a variety of delicious-smelling lotions, perfumes, and even some sugary lip scrubs for the days that you really feel like pampering yourself. The micellar water and kale wash also happens to smell amazing, like a fresh fruit smoothie.
Lush, of course, is the epitome of fluffy, glittery beauty and bath products. The company is 100% vegetarian, and has a gigantic heart for stopping animal cruelty in the beauty industry. While I mostly stick to bath bombs and face masks, I do know that Lush also has a line of versatile cosmetic colors. Because there are so, so many products to try, your skincare routine will always be fresh and changing. Some of my favorite Lush face masks include Cup o’ Coffee, Mask of Magnaminty, and Catastrophe Cosmetic.
Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer holds a very special place in my heart. Seriously, I don’t think I truly understood the magic of under-eye concealer until I opened my first bottle of Shape Tape. Giant blackheads popping up all over your nose? Shape Tape. Heavy bags after a night of excessive studying? Shape Tape. Trying to cover up all your haters? Dab over them with a bottle of Shape Tape. The bottle contains a very generous amount- one tube lasted me almost three months of daily use.
I have only used one palette by BH Cosmetics (The Carli Bybel Palette), but I loved it enough to include it on the list. For only twenty bucks, the palette comes with fifteen shadows, two highlighters, two darker contour colors, a blush, and a bronzer. What more could a makeup fanatic ask for? Not only is the quality of the product creamy and easy to work with, it also packs a serious punch of pigment. No eyeshadow primer needed for these babies.
I freaking love fall. And I don’t care what Jim Gaffigan says about it not being a competition, IT IS. Who’s going to make the best fall dessert? Who’s going to execute the most aesthetically pleasing fall activities? Decisions, decisions.
Okay, maybe that’s a tad over-the-top, but I stand by my statement that I absolutely adore the fall season. November especially is when those chilly vibes are here to stay- no more awkward occasional days of warmness dotted about. That nostalgic (and nearly impossible to describe) smell of autumn begins to fill your nose as you head outside and step over a patch of crunchy leaves. And, of course, fall becomes the perfect opportunity for introverts such as I to shut ourselves up in the house and bake happily for hours on end.
So what’s in season for the month of November? You may be surprised to find there are quite a few things.
Would it really be the perfect fall without some apple picking? To my knowledge, I’ve already made three apple desserts so far since October. Loaded with antioxidants and dietary fibers, consuming apples can actually reduce the risk of cancer. The versatility of this fruit means you can incorporate it into a variety of incredible dishes, especially for vegans like me. It’s surprisingly not difficult to turn apple pie vegan- just sub out the butter for vegan margarine and verify that your sugar is vegan as well. I love this vegan apple crisp from The Minimal Baker, so be sure to check it out! https://minimalistbaker.com/the-best-vegan-apple-crisp/
Cranberries, in my opinion, have earned a bad rep for being too tart and hard. I myself was hesitant to give in- until I tried cranberries coated in sugar (and once I did, there was no turning back!). Cranberries can be bought frozen year-round, but the week before thanksgiving is when you’ll start to see them pop up fresh. Cranberries become sweet once simmered in water, and from there, the possibilities are endless. Being extremely low in calories and high in vitamin c, cranberries make a lovely guilt-free holiday snack. Here’s a vegan cranberry cheesecake recipe you’ll be dying to try: https://cookinglsl.com/raw-vegan-cranberry-cheesecake-bars-recipe/
Oranges, though able to be purchased year-round, taste best in their natural harvest season of November to March. Oranges are loaded with vitamins and minerals, and can even lower the risk of strokes in women. We all know oranges with chocolate is absolutely to DIE for, but have you ever tried orange cranberry muffins? Try this delicious vegan holiday recipe by The Veg Life here: https://theveglife.com/cranberry-orange-muffins-vegan/
I’ll admit, I tend to be a little picky with my vegetables- especially the texture change they go through once cooked. Squash is something I’ll happily make an exception for- it remains buttery and delicious no matter how you cook it. There seems to be a misconception that squash can’t be good for you because it tastes to heavenly, but that couldn’t be more incorrect. Squash is loaded with vitamin a, which supports a healthy immune system and boosts your bone health. Next time you need something to do on a chilly November night, try out this delicious butternut squash soup by The Simple Veganista: https://simple-veganista.com/2012/11/roasted-butternut-squash-soup.html
Finally, how could I not include gourds and pumpkins? Not only are they an adorable autumn decoration, but they also make for some of the most classic fall-themed recipes. Pumpkins also have a low calorie count and promote weight loss, so you can feel a little less guilt the next time you dig into a big ‘ole slice of pumpkin pie this holiday season. Speaking of, here’s a vegan AND gluten free pumpkin pie you can impress your family with this Thanksgiving: https://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-gluten-free-pumpkin-pie/
No matter who you are or what your diet consists of, trying to find satisfying meals on a college campus can be tricky. Being a vegan (which I recognize is a privilege that comes with given challenges,) I have struggled myself to eat fulfilling meals consistently on campus. Sure, my college can claim we have a “tasteful and diverse” vegan subdivision, but let’s face it- undercooked tofu and mushy greens only go so far. After a few weeks of that, well, even a bowl of croutons seems like a more appealing meal. Trust me, I’ve been there and done that.
The trick is to spend some time getting to know your dining hall and what resources you can utilize to make your own favorite meals. For example, my college has a gluten-free zone that also carries a lot of vegan products (waffles, vegan cream cheese, etc.) And, more importantly over everything, don’t be afraid to ask your school for accomodations if you really feel like you’re struggling to eat well on a daily basis. I know more than anybody that confrontation can be really awkward (I literally cried from embarrassment asking the dining hall staff to make a pizza without cheese.) Thankfully, if you’re patient and overall friendly about it, you’ll receive assistance in return. For instance, the pizza fiasco ended with the staff very kindly making me my own vegan pizza that night vegan cream cheese, which surprisingly wasn’t too bad. Because guess what? It’s their job to make sure you’re getting what you pay for.
Anyhow, I’m going to reveal to you some of my favorite meals to make on campus, ranging from breakfast to dinner, and even some dessert hacks you can make in your dorm if it comes equipped with a stove.
Breakfast: Most mornings, I don’t have much time for a sit-down breakfast in my dining hall. I ALWAYS make a point of grabbing a coffee, even if I have to do without sugar or creamer. If you can afford it, I would strongly suggest buying a small Keurig or coffee maker to keep in your room, along with your favorite dairy-less creamer if you have a small fridge. That way, you can always have coffee on hand, just the way you prefer it!
My favorite simple go-to breakfast is two slices of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and bananas. It touches everything on my vegan meal checklist: high in protein, filling, and most importantly, delicious. It’s also highly customizable. You want to switch it up and add strawberries instead? Go for it. Feeling like sprinkling on some chia seeds? The possibilities are endless.
Really, the key to a flavorful vegan breakfast is fresh fruit. Oatmeal, though usually vegan, is a pretty blah breakfast on its own. I always add in a generous amount of raspberries and strawberries when I have oatmeal, along with totally outrageous amounts of brown sugar.
For some campus dining services (such as Chartwells), you can find the daily menus posted online your school’s website. I check our school’s menu at least four times a week to see what the vegan options are, and what I should plan ahead for. Some menus are even designated with symbols to show you which food items are safe for vegans, which can make your eating experience waaaay easier to plan for. The day I found out our tator tots were vegan was a huge game changer in my breakfast routine on campus.
Lunch: As a vegan, it is my responsibility to ensure that I am constantly getting enough protein throughout the day. Bottled fruit smoothies and protein bars (especially Clif bars) make for a great filling snack when I don’t have time for a sit-down lunch. If you do have time to spare, however, wraps and sandwiches are going to be your new best friend.
Because my campus is relatively close to a supermarket, I heavily take advantage of buying my own food staples. For example, if you are unsatisfied with your dining hall meatless protein options, consider paying a visit to a local grocery store. Even just a once-a-week stop can give you enough time to stock up on vegan protein options, like meatless turkey and ham. Lightlife is my absolutely favorite brand for these substitutes, and I’ve thankfully had luck finding their products at several different grocery chains. From there, you can customize your own wraps and sandwiches just as anybody else would in the dining hall. Sure, it’s a little annoying that we have to go out on an extra limb to eat the same food quality as everyone else, but it’s the burden we’ve basically chosen to take.
Dinner: I’m a food slut for two specific dishes: stir fry and burritos. Luckily, both of which are incredibly easy to veganize! Rice is a great staple for any vegan diet, and is indisputably something you can find in any basic dining hall. Take a flour tortilla, some lettuce, a scoop of rice and beans, and boom, you’ve got yourself the perfect dinner. Stir fry is another great way to get in some veggies if your school offers it, and if not, it could be something to advocate for.
Desserts: My dining hall struggles enough to make regular vegan options steadily available, forget about dessert. However, fear not- all it takes is a communal oven and a couple basic kitchen staples to make your own desserts yourself. In my closet-turned-pantry, I constantly have cooking oil, bottles of unsweetened applesauce, and cake mixes stocked. And really, that’s all you need to make a fluffy vegan cake or brownie batch on a whim. As long as the mix you are using is free of milk traces, you can substitute eggs for the applesauce and still make a fantastic cake. So good, in fact, you might just have to eat it out of the pan…
Thank you so much for reading this far, if you’ve made it. I look forward to hearing your own favorite vegan meals to cook on campus!