Recipe First Impression: Stuffed Acorn Squash

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I recently moved in to my first apartment, giving me the opportunity to try lots of new vegan recipes. So to share my culinary experiments with you, I thought I would create a series of “Recipe First Impressions.” In these posts, I will share a recipe I have never made before, recreate it, and share my finished product and opinion about it.

The first new recipe I am tackling is Stuffed Acorn Squash, using this recipe from The Roasted Root. I decided to veer away from the recipe by filling the squashes with wild rice, cranberries, apples,  pecans, and a drizzle of maple syrup. When I first picked up the acorn squashes, I was a bit nervous about how this meal would turn out, since they are a bit strange looking! But I found that they were very easy to cut open and cook. The wild rice filling was lovely and fragrant, too.

I enjoyed the combination of the buttery, nutty taste of the squash with the tart cranberries and apples. The pecans also added a nice texture. The only drawback was that I overcooked the squashes! 35 minutes as recommended in the recipe was not long enough, but the 55 minutes I cooked them for was too long. Next time, I will try cooking them for around 40 minutes.

Overall, I really liked this recipe. It was easy to make, delicious, satisfying, and healthy. It makes a festive and pretty autumn meal, and would be perfect for the holidays. I would make this recipe again, and I would recommend it to anyone interested. Below is a picture of how my stuffed squash turned out:

acorn squashhh

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any recommendations for what I should make next, please let me know!

Best,

Leila

Vegan in College

An excuse to not go vegan I hear frequently is that it is too difficult in a university setting. However, I find eating in the dining hall manageable. It can be a bit annoying on days when vegan options are scant, but with a bit of planning and creativity, you can always make something to eat. At each station in my dining hall, there is a sign with symbols such as a red V for vegan, a carrot for vegetarian, etc. In addition, you can check the dining hall menu online to plan your meals in advance.

So here was my dinner for Friday evening:

First, I ate this vegan pot pie. I wouldn’t exactly call it a pie. It was just the filling with this little bread wedge. But it was super cute, and very delicious too.

pot pie

Then, I had this miso and rice noodle soup with shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and tofu.

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To finish, I had some steamed vegetables, pineapple, and watermelon. Yes, I eat a lot of fruit, please don’t judge me… 😛

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On days when the vegan entrees are lacking, I resort to the salad bar, sandwich making station, or a tried and true plate of hummus and veggies. For snacking between meals, I keep fruit, granola bars, soy yogurt, and other goodies in my room.  A mini fridge and microwave can be a vegan student’s best friends!

As you can see, being vegan in college is not difficult at all! Since vegan foods such as breads, vegetables, fruits, rice, and grains are a staple in all diets, you can eat vegan almost anywhere.

And if you need even more inspiration, PETA published a cookbook with hundreds of dorm-friendly vegan recipes that can all be made in the microwave:

vegan cookbook

Being vegan in college is easier than ever now! If you are a student considering going vegetarian or vegan, I hope this helps you to take the leap and give it a try.  It is easier than you think!

And as always, leave me any and all of your questions and concerns. I would be happy to help you as best I can! 🙂 ❤

Best,

Leila

Tofu Vegetable Chow Mein Bowl

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Tonight, my friend and I did not feel like eating at the dining hall, and because we’re broke college students, going out for dinner was out of our budget. So instead, we decided to use some of the dining dollars that came with our meal plans at our campus Panda Express!

The only vegan options Panda Express carries are white rice, chow mein, and a tofu eggplant dish. (Their steamed vegetables contain milk. Why!?) Unfortunately, our Panda Express did not carry the tofu, so I just picked up some of the chow mein. To jazz it up a bit, I heated up some frozen veggies, edamame, and baked tofu in the microwave and mixed them in with the noodles. This dish would be even more incredible topped with crushed peanuts or sesame seeds.

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As you can see, being vegan can be convenient and affordable! Most chain restaurants, like Panda Express, have the allergen information for all of their menu items listed online, so you can plan your meal in advance. The size small chow mein cost $2.50, and I only used about half of the container for one meal. Frozen veggies are typically around $3 or less per package, and one bag tends to last for 2-3 meals. Tofu, depending on the type, size, and brand, typically costs around $3-$5 and lasts for 3 or more meals.

So there goes your last excuse! Being vegan is easy, delicious, and cheap. It just takes some creativity! 🙂

Best,

Leila

Vegan Food Diary

After a long afternoon of driving, we made it to my college campus! We are staying overnight in a hotel, and tomorrow I move in. So as a last dinner with my family, we ate at a local vegan restaurant called Jazzy Veggie. I will admit that the super cute name drew me in! The atmosphere was relaxing and welcoming. If the weather had been drier, it would have been very pleasant to eat at the street side seating. Maybe next time! Best of all, the entire menu is vegan, which feels like a luxury!

My sister and I shared this bottle of delicious Pineapple Peach Limeade. It was sweet and tangy. The lime gave it a very flavorful twist.

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My family and I shared a plate of veggie pot stickers as an appetizer. They came covered with a sweet and spicy chili sauce, which was delicious! We ended up also eating the lettuce the pot stickers came on with this sauce like a salad!

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For my entree, I enjoyed a bowl of pasta with pesto, cashew cheese, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke. I ordered this dish because I was interested in trying cashew cheese. The sauce was very smooth, creamy, and flavorful. I had never tried artichoke before. It was rather tasteless with a soft texture. Overall an amazing pasta dish!

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While walking around town later during the evening, we spotted a frozen yogurt shop conveniently displaying this sign in the window.

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Need I say more?

The only vegan option they carried was coconut. It was very thick and creamy. Not at all watery! It also had a rich coconut flavor. I topped mine with strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, mango, and almonds. Yummy! 🙂

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That was my evening! Definitely a very delicious one!  It was nice spending some last moments with my family while unwinding from the long drive. Why am I going to college so far away? But I am in love with my college town. So many fun places to explore! And lots of food to eat, as you can see… 😛 Yum yum!

Best,

Leila

Garnished Pita Bread

IMG_1416As our summer days begin to dwindle, it is time to savor our last warm evenings before fall sneaks in. This garnished pita bread is the perfect dinner to enjoy on a summer night. It is crispy, flavorful, and vegan, of course! Best of all, it is extremely easy to prepare, and way healthier than delivery or frozen pizzas!

Ingredients:

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1. Pita bread

2. Vegan butter spread (I am using coconut spread). Feel free to substitute a sauce, such as marinara.

3. Vegetables of choice (I am using broccoli, green pepper, onion, and corn)

4. Vegan cheese shreds

5. Faux sausage

6. Spices of choice (I am using pepper, onion powder, and parsley flakes)

Steps:

From here, it is very easy to assemble your delicious pita bread.

1. Spread vegan butter alternative (or sauce) all over pita.

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2. Chop up vegetables and faux sausage to desired size.

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3. Garnish with faux meat and vegetables. Sprinkle cheese shreds and spices on top.

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4. Bake at 430 degrees Fahrenheit until crispy.

5. Cut into quarters and serve.

???????????????????????????????That’s it! These garnished pita breads are seriously so delicious. My whole family loves them! Feel free to experiment with different sauces and vegetables. And if you give this recipe a try, I would love to know how it turns out!

Best,

Leila