4 Vegetarian Meals Ranked By My Bacon-Loving Dad

4 Vegetarian Meals Ranked By My Bacon-Loving Dad

“If I don’t like it, I will make myself some bacon.”- My Dad

When I told my parents that I had decided to go vegetarian, they were supportive... yet slightly puzzled. My parents couldn’t imagine not eating meat, especially since my dad’s favorite breakfast food is bacon and as my mom said, “I couldn’t do that… I like my hamburgers too much.” When I came home for winter break, I was excited to cook my parents my favorite vegetarian meals in an attempt to prove to them that it really is not that difficult and still very appetizing! I think they mostly just enjoyed having someone cook them dinner regardless if it contained meat or not.

Also, when I told my mom and dad that I was writing this article they took it very seriously. My mom made sure I displayed my meals neatly on the nice china plates and my dad (and my mom) gave relatively serious feedback. In the end my dad ranked the order from his least to most appetizing meals. Bon Appétit!

4. Tofu and Mushroom Pasta

This meal consisted of wheat spaghetti noodles topped with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and tofu and drizzled with olive oil. The last rank came at no surprise considering I don’t think my dad has ever seen tofu before, let alone tried it. My mom made spaghetti sauce loaded with sausage as a backup… which my dad did end up eating. I will give him credit though, he ate at least four solid fork-fulls of my tofu pasta before switching to the spaghetti sauce. He declared, “I would eat it… but not when there is something else to eat….” On a happy note, my mom loved it!

3. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Lettuce Wraps

Out of all the meals, this one is the easiest one to make. It is cooked cubed sweet potatoes and sautéed black beans and onions on a lettuce wrap (and I also would recommend adding sliced avocados and feta cheese). My dad’s plate started with three full pieces of lettuce as the base and ended with two and a half pieces of lettuce. His excuse was, “I am really not that big of a lettuce fan in the first place…”, thus placing it at number three.

2. Classic Black Bean Burger

I make my black bean burgers with black beans, carrots, an egg, bread crumbs, and various seasonings and use lettuce as a substitute bun. Again, the lettuce bun lasted one bite before switching to a nice fluffy bread bun. While I used avocadoes and tomatoes as toppings my Dad would recommend dipping in hot sauce and possibly using it as a taco filling… along with beef.

1. Zucchini Pizza Wraps with Pesto and Mushroom Flatbread

The winner is baked zucchini that is wrapped around mushrooms, tomatoes and onions topped with pizza sauce and cheese! And on the side, is simple flatbread with pesto and sautéed mushrooms and onions. I asked my dad the last time he had zucchini and in deep thought he replied, “Two years ago… your mom and I went to somebody’s house and they were making something or another with zucchini… I don’t know, I went for the beer.” We later confirmed it had been last year when my aunt made zucchini brownies. Nevertheless, my dad decided that it would taste even better if I had added pizza sausage.

Cover Image Credit: Original Photo by Karlee Onstad

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A Few Minutes Of My Life At Panera Bread

This is what I usually order and I had to share the deliciousness!

Panera Bread wasn't a restaurant I really ever thought about. Of course I'd see its chains around my town but I never made the decision to check out the restaurant. During my first year in college, a few friends of mine began talking about how good their food is. I couldn't participate in the conversation because I didn't know how good anything of theirs was. I stuck out like a sore thumb when I said, "I've never been to Panera." My friends were shocked and said that they needed to take me there. Fast forward two years later and here I am writing an article about a day in my life at Panera. Funny how I basically went from "I don't know that place" (Mariah Carey voice) to "I love that place!" Below I specify my usual, customized order at Panera!

The first thing I do is go to the computer ordering station; I find it much easier than bothering the employees with my very specific order. Any who, I then go to the "sandwich" option and choose "Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt." If you go on their website, you'll see what the sandwich looks like. I click "customize" and then I begin my order.

I switch the black pepper focaccia bread for a hoagie roll. I keep the smoked pulled chicken and gouda cheese but remove the avocado and cilantro. For the peppadew peppers, I choose "light" instead of regular. The other day, for the first time, I added red onions and tomatoes (chose "light" for both) and I must say that they were good additions. For the condiments, I remove the "Chipotle Mayonnaise" but I don't replace it with anything. I know, I completely demolished the original order but I promise my version is delicious as well! For my free side, my junk food loving self chooses the chips.

Sometimes I get iced coffee, but now I usually choose an item from the bakery. For so long, I got the candy cookie. However one day, I experienced the oatmeal raisin with berries cookie and let me tell you: it's one of the BEST cookies I've ever tasted by far. I love it so much to the point where I looked online for a copycat recipe. I still have yet to try it out.

Usually, I hungrily wait for my order and internally jump for joy when it's ready. If you ever try my customized order from Panera, let me know!

"Food is not just eating energy. It's an experience." - Guy Fieri
Cover Image Credit: ppcorn.com

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Quitting Veganism Is Going To Be The Best Decision For Me

Sometimes we have to do what's best for us.

About a year ago, I made the decision to go vegan. I had spent the majority of my first year of college experimenting with pescatarianism, vegetarianism, etc. and I was ready to take the plunge into veganism once and for all. So, on my last day of school, I began to do just that.

Over the Summer, my family and I tried a bunch of new recipes and vegan restaurants in the area. I was seriously enjoying this plant-based lifestyle and everything it had to offer me.

In late August, I returned back to school, excited to live in a dorm with a kitchen so I could continue to make my favorite meals throughout the year. I brought along tons of kitchen equipment with me; pots, pans, spatulas, and more.

I was thought I was entirely ready to be a "vegan college student."

However, throughout the year, I noticed that it was becoming difficult for me. Like most students, I live on a seriously tight budget throughout the school year.

Although it is much cheaper to grocery shop when your list consists of primarily fruits and vegetables, it became a constant routine of having to take the shuttle to the grocery store almost every week. With the extremely limited options available in the cafeteria, unless I want to eat salad for every single meal, I was faced with having to make my own meals most of the time.

This brings me back to the kitchen situation. Yes, there was a kitchen in my dorm, however, it was a floor up from my room, which meant I had to lug all of my pots and pans up and down the stairs each time I wanted to cook. Not to mention that the kitchen was almost constantly in use by other students, making the space crowded and stressful.

So, in this case, I decided that the kitchen wasn't really going to work out in my favor like I had anticipated at the beginning of the year. So my only other option was to eat what my school had to offer, which was literally only salad or try to put a balanced meal together with the random snacks I had in my room.

Not to mention, this constant intake of high-fiber foods (like vegetables) every single day was taking a serious toll on my stomach, causing me to feel sick most of the time.

I don't have to tell you that college food is not the most enjoyable stuff in the world. Each time I went to the cafeteria, the vegan option was either not appetizing, or suffered some type of cooking error (under-cooked rice, I'm looking at you).

Therefore, pretty much every meal I eat at school is salad. I try to throw what I can on top, but the options are super inconsistent, constantly lacking in vegan protein sources which is honestly annoying.

As I was faced with these constant trials in my life as a vegan student, I began to reconsider why I really wanted to live this lifestyle. I watched all the documentaries, read the articles, and followed the influential vegans on social media.

But when I really thought about it, I know that a part of me only wanted to be vegan for reasons unrelated to animal rights.

I struggled with an eating disorder during the last year of high school and throughout much of my freshman year of college. In fact, I still struggle with it now, as recovery is a long, strenuous process.

So, when a vulnerable, struggling girl discovered a new "diet" where she could have a reason to say no to any meat and dairy products, it was like a miracle.

Of course, I did my own research on the topic and found out just how terrible the meat and dairy industry are for both the environment as well as the animals' well-being.

While I am passionate about animals and how they are treated, I had to give myself a huge reality check and recognize that, although I do care, I'm not doing this for all of the right reasons.

At this point in my life, veganism is not sustainable in order for me to be healthy and fully recover from my eating disorder.

On May 11, it will be officially one entire year since I went vegan. But after many long, honest conversations with friends and family, I've decided that it's not a lifestyle I can continue to pursue at this point in my life. I'm devoted to being vegetarian for the rest of my life, as I've always found meat a bit repulsive, to be honest.

Perhaps one day in the future, when I'm out of school and have a grip on my mental and physical health, I will consider veganism again.

But I think it's really important to think about the reasoning behind our dietary decisions. If you're eating a certain way that does not feel sustainable to you, it might be time to think about making a change.

If you can see yourself eating a certain way, and enjoying it, for the rest of your life, by all means - do it! But if you're not 100% enjoying it, and it feels more like something you have to rather than what you want to do, don't feel embarrassed to admit that you'd like to try something different.

Nobody should feel like they are required to eat a certain way. In my opinion, life is so short, so we should eat what makes us happy and what makes us feel good.

Cover Image Credit: AF Mil

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