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My Favorite Salad in the Dining Center

IMG_9096.jpgHey everyone! Today I will be sharing my absolute favorite, go to salad at the dining center.  There are not very many vegetarian options in the dining center, so I am typically stuck eating salads. I normally eat salads since the only other vegetarian option is cheese pizza and I’m not trying to eat cheese pizza every single day. If you want to learn how to make my favorite salad then just keep reading:

What you’ll need:

  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Edamame
  • Feta or mozzarella(depending on what they have that day)
  • Kidney beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Corn
  • Dried cranberries
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Balsamic vinaigrette

Once you have all of the ingredients, just mix them all in a bowl and you’re done! It has taken me months to figure out what I like the most from the salad bar here. This salad gives me the protein that I need from the spinach and the beans so I am getting the nutrients that I need.

I really suggest adding dried cranberries to your salads. Dried cranberries are low in calories, low in fat, and are a source of dietary fiber. They add the perfect amount of sweetness to a salad and it just takes it to a whole new level. I just tried them for the first time on salads when I came to school here and I won’t make one without them!

Coming up with different salad combinations is kind of tricky because the options are kind of limited in the dining center. I have tried pretty much everything there is to offer and nothing really stood out until I tried this one. I used to make an “Asian” themed salad but I got pretty sick of it really quick. This one however, I keep find myself making it overtime I go to eat in the dining center. Even if you’re not vegetarian it can be hard coming up with creative ways to make the food good so here are some hacks to help.

I hope you enjoyed reading!

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An Interview With an “Expert”

Hey Everyone! Today I will be sharing an interview that I had with my friend Maddy. She’s been vegetarian for quite some time now so she knows some things about vegetarian. Here’s what she said!

Me: How long have you been vegetarian?

Maddy: I’ve been vegetarian for the past 5 1/2 years

Me: Why did you become vegetarian?

Maddy: I decided to give up meat because in my 7th grade science class we watched the movie Food Inc one day and it really disturbed me seeing the way the animals were treated and slaughtered.

Me: What is your favorite source of protein?

Maddy: My favorite source of protein is usually eggs or beans.

Me: Do you think you’ll be a vegetarian for your whole life?

Maddy: For now I think that looking into the future I will stay vegetarian because it’s a diet that I’m use to, however if I need to start eating meat again for health reasons then I would.

Me: What’s your favorite thing about being vegetarian?

Maddy: My favorite thing about being vegetarian is getting to discover really amazing vegetarian foods.

Me: What’s your least favorite thing about being vegetarian?

Maddy: The downside to vegetarianism is that there aren’t always lots of vegetarian-friendly foods everywhere I go.

Maddy and I are very similar when it comes to our vegetarian lifestyles. We became vegetarian for the same reason and we both pretty much eat the same proteins. If you haven’t seen the Food Inc. documentary I would really recommend watching it. You will really learn about what really happens behind the closed doors of slaughterhouses. Here is the link if you would like to watch it. Maddy suggested that when it comes to being vegetarian, you just need to stick with it. sometimes it can get hard but just keep going and have faith in yourself that you can do it.

I hope you enjoyed!

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Here’s Maddy!

Protein Rich Peanut Butter Balls

Hey everyone! Today I will be sharing one of my favorite snacks with you: protein rich peanut butter balls. This delicious snack only need 5 ingredients and are SUPER easy to make. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (plus extra for rolling)
  • 1½ tablespoons honey (I use agave nectar)
  • 1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips (plus extra for rolling)
  • 1/4 cup flaxseeds (optional)

So here’s what you need to do:

  • Start of by combining the peanut butter, oats, honey, chocolate chips, and flaxseeds in a bowl
  • Let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
  • After it has chilled, grab about a spoonful of the mixture and roll it into a ball
  • Lay out a thin layer of oats and chocolate chips on a work surface
  • Lastly, roll the balls in extra oats and chocolate chips
  • Store these in the fridge until they are ready to be eaten.

I personally don’t like flaxseeds so I leave them out but is completely customizable for your liking! I have seen this done with coconut flakes added in or even cranberries You could also replace the peanut butter with cashew butter, almond butter, or even sun butter. This recipe is super easy and it makes a lot so you can grab one for a snack on the go. I tend to have one or two of these with my breakfast and the definitely fill me up. These protein rich peanut butter balls are for sure a snack that I make frequently because they are so easy to make! I can throw these together in my dorm room with no hassle and my roommate loves them just as much as I do.

Here are some more vegetarians snacks that are full of protein!

I really hope you try making this snack and I bet that you will enjoy them as much as I do! See you next time!

The Cons of Being Vegetarian

Hey everybody! Today I will be talking about the cons of being vegetarian :/. I would definitely say that there are more pros than cons when it comes to being vegetarian, however there are quite a few cons.

First lets start with the biggest con of them all: sometimes it’s hard to find vegetarian options when going out to eat. I have this problem all the time. Sometimes, I don’t want to be stuck getting a salad every time I go out and it would be nice if restaurants had more vegetarian options. Some restaurants do have garden burgers, but most do not and it’s kind of annoying sometimes.

Another con would be that sometime people say stupid things when they find out you’re vegetarian. Whenever people find out that I am vegetarian they usually always say something like “you don’t know what you’re missing” or ” why would you do that?” It gets kind of annoying sometimes and people don’t realize that the questions they’re asking are kind of stupid lol.

Another con would be that sometimes, you end up eating worse than you would if you ate meat. Some places, like the dining center, have literally no vegetarian options so you just end up eating junk food to fill up. At the dining center, 99% of the time there are no vegetarian options besides the salad bar and cheese pizza and that is mostly what my diet consists of since I’ve been here.

Lastly, some of the items you think may be vegetarian are not. Some veggie soups, cheeses, tortillas, candies, and even beer (even though I don’t drink beer since I’m not 21) are not vegetarian. Some veggie soups are cooked with some sort of meat stock and some candies contain gelatin and that is not vegetarian. That one hurt me the most because gummy candy is probably my favorite thing in the world and I don’t eat it anymore. To see more foods that you thought were vegetarian but actually aren’t click here.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!

 

 

 

The Pros of Being Vegetarian

Hey everybody! This post will be all about the pros of being vegetarian. This is a two part post and my next post will be all about the cons of being vegetarian :/. To start things off, having a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is because a vegetarian diet usually consists of foods rich with antioxidants. Antioxidants can reduce the stress that is caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants. To learn more about oxidative stress click here.

Another pro would be that vegetarians usually have lower cholesterol. There is no health benefit at all to eating animal fat, yet people continue to do it and it increases you chances of having high cholesterol. Once you remove these animal fats form your diet, then you also remove the effects it will have on you later in your life. To learn more about the benefits of a vegetarian diet for high cholesterol click here.

Vegetarian diets also helps build healthy bones because they consume more calcium. Meat contains a high amount of renal acid which the body must neutralize by leaking calcium from bones. This calcium is then passed through urine and lost. Vegetarians usually eat tofu, kale, spinach and collard greens and these are all high in calcium. Without eating meat, no calcium will be lost since the renal acid won’t be there. To learn more about the importance of calcium in your diet click here.

Lastly, a vegetarian diet conserves water. It takes about 2.500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, and about 660 gallons of water to produce a bound of chicken. It only takes about 220 gallons of water to produce a pound of tofu and about 180 gallons to produce a pond of wheat flour.

I hope from what you’ve learned today it will make you consider changing your diet! see you next time!  :,)

 

Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Tacos Recipe

Hey everyone! This post is going to be all about my favorite food of ALL time: tacos. Now I know this may sound crazy, but I’m going to be telling you how to do it with a spaghetti squash. This vegetable is a complete substitute for the meat and personally it tastes wayyyy better. Here’s how to do it!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash, halved and seeded 
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package dry taco seasoning mix
  • small onion, diced
  • jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 pinch salt, to taste
  • 12 crisp taco shells

Now here’s what to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place the 2 halves of the spaghetti squash face down in a baking dish
  2. Bake the squash for about 30 to 40 minutes
  3. Using a fork, shred the spaghetti squash from the rind. This is really easy because the squash is super tender. When it’s done it the squash should resemble spaghetti noodles (hence the name haha)
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet to medium heat and cook the onion and jalapeño pepper until they become browned. This should take about 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. Combine the shredded spaghetti squash and taco seasoning to the onion and jalapeño mixture and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. If needed, season the mixture with salt
  6. Stuff and garnish the tacos to your liking! (Personally, I like to add avocado, cheese, hot sauce, and sour cream to mine but these tacos are totally customizable to your liking so top them with whatever you like!)
  7. Enjoy!

And thats it! These tacos are soon good and I 10/10 recommend. I was really skeptical about putting spaghetti squash into a taco since i had only ever had it as spaghetti before but I definitely was pleasantly surprised. If you wanted, you could even add some tempeh or tofu to these tacos but I definitely think that the spaghetti squash is enough on its own but again it is totally up to you! Thank you so much for reading and if you do try out these tacos I really hope that you enjoy them!

How to Deal with Meat Cravings

Hey everyone! Today’s topic is how to handle meat cravings. When you’re a new vegetarian it isn’t uncommon to start to crave meat at certain times. Hopefully after reading this post, the tips I give will be able to help you manage those cravings.

Personally I have not had any cravings for meat but I have talked to several other vegetarians and they have given me some tips on what to do with the cravings in a meatless way. My first tip is to eat meat substitutes. Some brands have tofu based foods that have a meat like taste and texture and this can really help to minimize those cravings. One brand that I have tried that is pretty good is Gardein. This brand makes so many types of meatless food that actually tastes really good. My favorite food item from this brand would have to be the Barbecue Chickn Wings. These wings taste very similar to actual chicken and i ate them years ago when I wasn’t even vegetarian. I definitely recommend this brand. Here’s a link to their website.

Another tip would be to use the same spices that you would use on meat on vegetables. This way you can still get a similar taste to the meat you were eating previously, but without the meat. You could put these spices on “meatier” vegetables like portobello mushrooms and eggplant. When putting these spices on the meatier vegetables can give you the feeling that you’re eating meat, even though you aren’t.

Lastly, remind yourself why you chose to be vegetarian. If it was for the rights of animals, then picture meat with a face. If you chose to be vegetarian because you didn’t like the taste of meat, then remember that you don’t like meat and that you don’t need it. Don’t let these cravings change the way you eat, just try to focus on why you chose this diet in the first place and this should make the cravings go away or at least minimize them.

I hope that these tips can help you maintain or minimize your meat cravings. Vegetarianism can be hard, but as long as you focus on the bigger picture and why you chose this diet, then the cravings should begin to subside. Here’s a video on dealing with cravings.

I hope you enjoyed and I’ll see you next time!

The Best Protein Substitutes

Hi everyone! Today I will be writing about the best protein substitutes for meat. When transitioning to this diet style, it was a big concern of mine that I wouldn’t be able to find any good sources of protein and I wouldn’t be getting the right amounts of it that I needed. Luckily I had the help of vegetarian friends and the internet to help me find my answers and now I am here to hopefully help you! I am going to list my favorite foods in order so you know which ones I personally find the best tasting.

The first protein substitute is quinoa. Quinoa looks very similar to cous cous but it has a bigger nutritional value. Quinoa is full of protein! In about 1 cup of quinoa there are about 8 grams of protein. This super food is not just full of protein, but it also contains manganese, iron, and fiber. You can substitute quinoa for rice so that way you are getting the right amount of protein that you need.

Another good protein substitute is obviously soy. There are about 10 grams of protein in half a cup of firm tofu and about 15 grams of protein in a half cup serving of tempeh. Soy products are actually pretty good even though a lot of people are weirded out by them. Soy is actually a complete protein which explains why it is pretty much the go to meat substitute in many vegetarians diets. My favorite way to eat soy products is in a quesadilla. I add tempeh, rice, beans, cheese, and guacamole to a whole wheat tortilla and it’s the bomb.

Lastly, a great protein substitute is ezekiel bread. This bread is made from lentils, wheat, barley, beans, spelt, and millet. It kind of looks a little funky, but it tastes pretty good! In 2 slices of ezekiel bread there are 8 grams of protein. My favorite way to eat this bread is with some chunky salsa, half an avocado, and cheese on top. This is one of my go to breakfasts and I definitely recommend. For another avocado toast recipe click here.

To see more protein substitutes click here.

I hope you try some of these tasty protein substitutes and enjoy them!

My Favorite Vegetarian Chili

img_9065Hi Everyone! Today I will be sharing my absolute favorite vegetarian chili recipe. When I transitioned to vegetarianism I was kind of worried about not finding a good chili recipe since it’s probably one of my favorite foods ever. I searched high and low and tried so many different recipes and I believe I have found the best one. If you want to learn how to make it then just keep reading!

You don’t really need any special ingredients for this recipe, so it is relatively easy to make. Here is a list of the items you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) or 2 small cans (15 ounces each) diced tomatoes*, with their juices
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained (personally I like kidney beans but you do you)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnishing
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar or lime juice, to taste
  • Garnishes: chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, tortilla chips, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, etc.
Once you have the ingredients you’re ready to get started! Here are the steps on how to prepare everything.
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, chopped carrot, onion, bell pepper,  celery, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook these ingredients by stirring these ingredients occasionally for about 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika and oregano to the vegetable mixture and continue to occasionally stir it for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the diced tomato and the juice, the drained pinto (or kidney) and black beans, the vegetable broth, and 1 bay leaf. Combine all of these ingredients with the vegetable mixture and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. You might need to lower the heat occasionally to make sure you maintain a simmer and not a full on boil.
  4. Next, this may seem a little weird but it really helps with the texture of everything. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of the chilly mixture to a blender and blend it until smooth.
  5. Lastly, garnish it to your pleasing! I like to add cheese, cilantro, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips. You could even make a cornbread to go along with this recipe because it really goes with it well.

And thats it! I really enjoy this recipe and I hope you do too.

How and Why I Transitioned to Vegetarianism

I had wanted to become vegetarian since I was eleven years old but I was never allowed too. Being a huge animal rights activist and just an overall animal lover, I never thought it was right that we killed animals for our food. Also, I just didn’t really care for the taste of meat and I knew I could live without it. I was constantly bugging my mom to let me make the change in my diet but it never worked. She felt that I was too young to be vegetarian because I needed a lot of protein. I kept bugging her as I got older and the answer changed to “It’s too expensive. You can be vegetarian when you buy your own food” and thats what I did.

Finally I was living alone in college and I decided to take this plunge. Back at home, I knew I was going to do this because I knew the dining center would have vegetarian options so I figured it was a perfect opportunity to change my diet. As time grew closer to me leaving for college, I began to eat less and less meat and was substituting it for different protein rich foods like quinoa (I’m not going to give too much away because I’m going to have a whole blog post on protein rich meat substitutions). Here’s a website that gives some tips on transitioning.

In the beginning I was only allowing myself to have meat maybe five times a week, and as time grew closer to me leaving I kept cutting down that number. When I came to Chico, I was only allowing meat in my diet once a week and when I was fully moved in and went to the dining center I became full on vegetarian and I didn’t even look back. This is by far one of the best decisions I have made and I definitely recommend making the change. Here are some reasons to go vegetarian.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!