As a vegetarian, and one that doesn’t eat dairy but does eat eggs, I feel that it’s sometimes difficult to find options on campus or in Collegetown that are both flavorful and satisfying, so I end up cooking most of my meals. For many, cooking is seen as a hassle, but I have come to really enjoy it. I look forward to my trips to Wegmans, deciding what I want to make for the week as I browse the produce. I take it all home with the comfort of knowing that there are endless creations to be cooked up in my kitchen that I share with three friends on my floor.
By providing a two-day glimpse into my diet, I hope to inspire a little more cooking, recipe-testing or just the addition of a few extra veggies in your next meal.
I typically start off the morning with a Lavva yogurt (strawberry, vanilla, blueberry or raspberry flavor) and Paleonola granola (original or maple pancake flavor) when I’m not working out. Today I opted for a strawberry Lavva yogurt with original-flavored Paleonola. Lavva is by far the best non-dairy yogurt I’ve had, and I highly recommend it. Most non-dairy yogurts are thin, soupy, flavorless or oddly flavored, but Lavva does it right with its all-natural sweeteners (no cane sugar here!) and slightly thick texture — not Greek-yogurt thick, but thicker than any other brand I’ve tried.
Breakfast is followed by a cup of coffee that has been splashed with some milk (oat, almond or cashew) and topped with a dash of ground cinnamon. Since I already grinded the beans the night before, I simply measure them out and pour them into my French press. I often take advantage of the freedom that comes with grinding my own beans by mixing up coffee brands from time to time. Brands that I always return to are Stumptown (especially their French roast) and Forty Weight, which is local to Ithaca.
Most days I’ll cook myself lunch at home, but when I decide to spend the day on campus I head to Straight from the Market, which is in Willard Straight Hall, next to the staircase that leads you down to Okenshields. They have a rotating mix of hot entrees, as well as a few cold salads and accompaniments to choose from. Today, I make a base for my plate with their arugula beet salad, which also has some pickled onions and radishes. I add a generous serving of one of their hot specials for the day: a variety of roasted root vegetables consisting of carrots, parsnips and beets. And to top it off, I add a scoop of their homemade hummus. No matter what I put on my plate, I always use their hummus. It’s thick, creamy and not too garlicky.
When I’m feeling extra lazy and maybe don’t have many ingredients in my refrigerator, I make a chickpea pancake, also known as socca. It takes around 20 minutes to make, depending on what you decide to top it off with. Today, I decide on caramelized onions, which I’ve been throwing onto most of my meals lately. The natural sweetness from the onions amazes me, and I love watching the onions caramelize in the pan over time. To balance the natural dryness of the pancake, I spread romesco sauce from Haven’s Kitchen onto it and place the caramelized onions on top.
My day starts a little differently than usual because I just bought Birch Benders’ frozen toaster waffles to try. I’ve been waiting for them to end up in a store near me, and finally found them on Wegmans’ shelves on my latest trip. I throw a waffle in the toaster and then drizzle my favorite peanut butter on top: Smucker’s Natural Creamy, which Bon Appetit has also backed me up on. It’s creamy, perfectly salted and easy to stir given a little arm muscle. I follow with my typical cup of coffee made at home.
After a quick yoga class I head back home to Collegetown. Lunch consists of some mixed greens, iceberg lettuce, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, Ithaca Cold-Crafted Lemon Beet hummus and Siete’s Traditional Hot Sauce to serve as the dressing after a few turns of freshly ground salt and pepper. I’m feeling full and satiated, ready to take on my one class of the day.
For dinner I decide to roast up cauliflower, mixing in Frank’s RedHot before they’re almost done and put them back in the oven until they crisp up and turn golden brown. I use up the rest of the iceberg lettuce in the refrigerator, which I bought especially for this dinner and pull off the leaves to create a bed for the cauliflower in the bowl. I pull each leaf out from under the cauliflower throughout the meal, wrapping up a few florets to create my own buffalo cauliflower wrap.
What I cooked or put together over the course of these two days might sound time-consuming to some, but I promise none of these meals take too much effort. The days I spend more time than usual making my meals are my favorite. A sense of calm comes over me when I walk into the kitchen. Whether I’m stirring onions, watching them turn from opaque to translucent, checking on cauliflower in the oven or grinding up coffee beans for the next morning, each meal is all the more meaningful. While I know some might never opt to whip up their next meal, I hope that you’re able to walk away with a little more appreciation for the food on your plate.