vegansaurus!

10/07/2011

Guest post: Dorm-friendly vegan options!  »


Living in a dorm comes with the convenience of making friends with your neighbors and beginning to forge a more independent life. But being away from home often means reliance on school-designed meal plans that don’t always suit everyone’s dietary needs, such as vegans. You may have to learn how to cook, or improve skills you developed before you met your new roommate. Cooking in a dorm room can be pretty simple, especially if you have a microwave, mini-fridge, or toaster oven. Snacks from vending machines are good for treats and staving off late-night hunger, but it’s also important for busy students to have some options for meals.

Though many universities are listening to students’ needs and beginning to offer a wider selection of foods on menus, including vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options, you’ll still want a few items that you can prepare in your dorm room. Meal halls have set hours with which your hunger might not comply. Here are some ideas for quick foods you can make in your room.

If you have a mini-fridge
Try mini pizzas. Use Ritz crackers, a dollop of pizza sauce, and a few chopped vegetables like green bell pepper or mushroom. Combine and sprinkle with nutritional yeast for a taste similar to Parmesan cheese. Enjoy with a spinach salad. (Annie’s Naturals has a nice selection of vegan salad dressings.)

If you have a microwave
For a nice treat in the evening, try microwaving fruit (any kind of fruit you like, from sliced bananas to diced peaches) and top it with a couple tablespoons of granola (which can be dressed up with any number of vegan-friendly ingredients, like dried fruit). It’s a little like eating a decadent cobbler without the calories, the mess, or the need for an oven. Best of all, it only takes a minute or so to make. If you have a mini-fridge with a freezer, pick up some vegan ice cream (Rice Dream has a variety of flavors) and add a couple spoonfuls to your quick dessert.

If you have a toaster oven
Roasted soy nuts are a healthy and delicious snack that you can make as an appetizer or snack. Pick up soybeans at any health food store, rinse to clean, and soak them for at least eight hours. Drain, line the toaster oven tray with foil, and spread the soybeans out in one layer. Stir the soybeans around after about 15 minutes and monitor for the next 15. (Total roasting time should be about 30 minutes.) Cool and garnish with a sprinkle of sea salt, cumin and chili powder, or just some black pepper. Store in a plastic bag and you’ll have it with you to snack on between classes.

Planning vegan meals and snacks takes a little planning and the willingness to pick up a few necessary ingredients from a grocery store or farmers’ market, but the effort will be worth it. Supplement that meal plan fare with your own choice of foods that are sure to please even the pickiest vegan palate.

Danielle is a hippie at heart who strives to consider Mama Earth in all decisions. Read her blog about healthy living, active lifestyles, and sustainability on Eat Breathe Blog.

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