Return to the Hop

Sorry for having been so inactive recently. I moved back to Baltimore just a few days ago and getting situated has been a process. But now my room is set up, my friends have returned, and the frat hopping is in full swing. But more importantly the challenge of being a vegan collegiate is on.

Like most college students I have a meal plan set up through the university. I have 500 dining dollars I can spend around campus as well as 7 meal swipes per week. Eating through university dining is actually the least difficult way to go. They have a new system in all the dining centers where the food tag also states whether the meal is vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free. This is makes it incredibly easy to find food.

However, the big issue I have to overcome is eating in my room. I am trying to eat breakfast and lunch in my room, utilizing the tiny kitchenette we have. At the moment it includes two minute stove tops, a toaster oven, and an electric kettle. This does not make it the best place to try out recipes and make vegan deliciousness.

So I will keep a constant update as to what I have found to be the best things to have in the room. At the moment having tea, soy milk, and soup are all necessities. I tried to have fresh fruit but unfortunately with the unpredictability of my schedule they go bad very quickly. So now I’m keeping frozen veggies (carrots, broccoli, and edamame) for quick lunches. Just pop them in a saute pan with a little bit of water, warm them through and throw on a condiment to make them more interesting. I’m addicted to hot sauce so Tobasco is my go-to.

However, in all the chaos that is my kitchen I was able to make raw zucchini pasta for about eight people on my floor, including a veggie tomato sauce. And everyone loved it! Score for a low carb, vegan diet.

More to come soon on my trials and tribulations with college dining.

Advertisements

Tofu: A Semi-Love Story

Whenever I first tell people that I’m vegan the first question they ask is usually, “What do you eat?!” I always answer about the same, and the list never includes tofu. I just have to admit it. I don’t like it. I don’t like the texture, I don’t like the taste. However, I do like the lo-cal way to get great protein. So begins my semi-love of tofu. On this blog I will chronicle my journey through this relationship, hopefully ending up on the other side with a true, undying appreciation of the soybean product. But for now I have other plans.

I have begun to mask tofu into my palate. It all started yesterday when I used Happy Herbivore’s tofu parmesan recipe. I knew if I pressed the shit out of the tofu, baked it to a crisp, and slathered it in marinar sauce, there was no way I’d be forced to taste the slimy, blandness of it. And I was right! Once the tofu was stuffed into a pita wrap with the sauce, I could only taste the seasonings and the sauce. A perfect vegan alternative to chicken parmesan, while also helping me with my daily protein intake. And thus begins the tofu rendezvous.

Just as a little sunshine at the end of my post, I included a picture of the kale salad I had for lunch. I was craving salad, but also something warm. So I sauteed some peppers, onions, carrots, pineapples and cherry tomatos in water, squeezed in lemon juice and honey, and mixed it all with the kale. Incredibly delicious.

Getting Started

In reality the name of this post should be Getting Started: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. Of course that isn’t a very positive outlook on my rapid transition to veganism. It actually started last year when I had been in college for about a month when suddenly all my friends’ parents went vegan back at home. All did it for health reasons, yet if you had met the group you would’ve been shocked. One father was, and still is, an avid hunter. But the group had come to the realization that their diets heavy in animal byproducts was increasing their chances for heart attack exponentially. It was when my own father decided to try the vegan fad that I also converted too.

Of course, the adult group lasted about a month but even in that short amount of time the change was incredible. Their cholesterol plummeted, they all lost significant weight, and each felt healthier than they had in a long time. I managed to stick with it for about two months, long enough to experience a vegan Thanksgiving, but once Christmas break rolled around I had called it quits as well.

Looking back I’m still not sure why I stopped. It may have been the stress of coming home to a completely carnivorous home or my cravings for Nutella had just become too strong. Yet I do realize I was in a completely different mindset back then as opposed to now. Last year I had gone vegan mostly as a weight loss plan (although to be clear it did not help me lose weight), and I saw it as a passing diet, not a life change. This time I decided to go vegan for life. Getting rid of a deadline makes it that much easier to maintain this lifestyle.

So one day in June I decided it was time to try again. One day I was eating anything I wanted, the next day I had made a vegan bread pudding for my parent’s anniversary. I don’t believe that anyone else could have as easy as a transition as I did. My parents were supportive and put up with my random requests for groceries, most of which are still sitting in my pantry (but more on that in a later post). But back to what I first said about the title of this post. My friends and extended family really struggled with my change. It was almost as if I was asking them to do the same, yet I told everyone up front that I felt no disgust towards people who weren’t vegan and I didn’t expect anyone to do it with me. But nevertheless people seemed to get frustrated just in the fact that I had to ask the waitress if there was dairy in the salad dressings.

All I can say on this is that people will eventually get used to it. You might become the “vegan friend” but as long as you make it clear that whatever burden they believe being vegan is, you carry yourself alone, people begin to feel less upset about it. The best advice I can give is to just stick with it no matter what. Inevitably people will get used to it, begin to support you, and I’ve found now people actually want to try my vegan food.

Just last night my friend tried a vegan Italian sausage, which did not go over so well with her. But she also had the banana bread and loved it. Patience is and always will be a virtue.

Vegan Banana Bread

I am not one to follow directions well when I cook, usually replacing ingredients with others that have none of the same effect. However, I have quickly realized with baking it is almost always best to follow exactly the recipe exactly. As an amateur chef in every since, this is a recipe I used from Lindsay¬†Nixon’s The Happy Herbivore. I’ve also included a picture that is almost as amateur as my cooking, but what can really be expected from a poor college student who can only afford a iPhone camera.

As a side note to the recipe, you should definitely leave the bread in for the full 45 minutes, unlike my impatient self who had to take it out after about 35 minutes. As delicious as it was, the middle sank after it cooled and it was a bit mushy. I believe if I had actually let it use the full amount of time suggested the whole thing would have been fluffy and perfect.

I consider this recipe to be a total success. It usually takes me a couple of tries to get something right but other than the undercooked part this came out wonderfully. Even my non vegan friend couldn’t stop eating it and between the two of us the thing was gone in an hour. Not working out so well for my back to school diet…

Just a few more notes on the recipe: I mashed the bananas using a fork rather than the suggested spatula because I found it mushed the bananas into perfect small pieces without them being completely pureed. Also, because my mother refuses to buy real sugar anymore, I used a sugar substitute for the white sugar and it came out fine. And finally, it wouldn’t be one of my creations if something wasn’t subbed in. I used light brown sugar rather than dark, and it still came out fine. Next time I’ll make a solid effort to get dark brown just to see if there is a difference.

Image

“The Happy Herbivore” Banana Bread

1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp lemon juice
4-5 spotted or browning bananas
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pure maple syrup (I omitted, and it was still plenty sweet!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease loaf pan. Whisk together milk and lemon juice and set aside. Cream bananas with sugars by hand and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk spices, flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Add milk-lemon juice and banana mixtures, as well as all remaining ingredients, to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into loaf pan and smooth out top. Make a tent over the pan with a large piece of aluminum foil and bake 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Vegan

Hello all! I know, many of you saw the title of this blog and immediately thought… oh no here is another hippie college student who is trying to convert the world to veganism. In fact I am none of those things, except a college student of course. I am a rising sophomore at the Johns Hopkins University, a horseback rider, a sorority member, a writer, and of course, a vegan. This blog is dedicated to my attempt at survival through college, dealing with vegan road bumps and other obstacles.

Now let’s be honest – being vegan is hard. No matter how many vegan blogs I follow or how many recipes I try to get through, it doesn’t get easier. And as a side note I am no chef. But I believe practice makes perfect, and this blog will chronicle my success but also my failures in the vegan kitchen.

So what can you plan to find on this blog? A simplified vegan. I don’t want to spend hours searching for random ingredients in far off whole food stores. I want easy, fast recipes that are low fat, delicious, and include ingredients that I can find at the local Giant supermarket. I’ll also include product reviews and other anecdotes about my college experience.

Just to be clear, very few of the recipes I feature on this blog will be my own original. But I will be sure to always properly credit those who came up with them, while highlighting any changes I have made. I also find it important to point out that I am vegan only in the food I eat. I am not going to lecture on living a minimalist lifestyle, or why the treatment of animals in the food industry is horribly fucked up. This is just a little insight into the life of a Vegan Collegiate.