Easy vegetarian dining hall hacks

Simple ways to make your on-campus vegetarian entrees protein-packed

“Don’t you miss meat?” “Would you like any meat on that?” “You don’t get enough protein.” “Is that the same thing as a vegan?”

If you’re a vegetarian like me, you’ve heard these questions or statements more times than you want to hear and can count. 

Despite popular belief, not all vegetarians are vegan, and we surprisingly eat more than just lettuce. 

I’m here to set the record straight and give you three examples of vegetarian meals you can make here on campus in the CNU dining halls.

Deconstructed Poke bowl

I know what you’re thinking. Poke? At a CNU Dining hall? No way. But it’s more likely than you think.

If you grab one of the black salad bowls and take it the Mongolian Grill, ask for a few scoops of steamed white rice. Sometimes the Healthy Heaven line may even have brown rice if you prefer. 

Once you have your rice, you can go back to the salad bar line and add some of the fresh vegetables on top of the rice. Whether you are feeling carrots, cucumbers, corn or any other vegetables the line has to offer, pile up the veggies. Sometimes the dining hall even has fresh fruit like peaches, mandrin oranges or mangos you can also add on top to add even more color and flavor to the poke bowl.

Although this is not a traditional poke bowl and may not be quite as fresh, it is pretty darn close and gets the job done. Although there may not be yum yum sauce available, the CNU Dining Halls do offer duck sauce and soy sauce to drizzle on top of your creation.

The Staples: Rice and beans 

I may be slightly biased because I am a well-known rice aficionado or connoisseur, which ever you prefer, but nothing beats a good rice dish.

If you want my opinion, plain rice is fantastic by itself, but evidently, it does not have a whole lot of protein. So, here’s a way to amp up you rice to pack it full of more protein.

There is almost always some sort of rice at one of the dining halls. The easiest way to add protein is to mix different kinds of beans into the rice. The salad bar always has black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans or all three. Grab a large, steaming bowl of rice and watch your mouth begin to water as you stir your favorite kind of beans into it.

To incorporate even more protein in this dish, mix in shredded cheddar or shredded mozzarella cheese from the salad bar. I promise you will not regret the melted, stringy, cheesy deliciousness that ensues from this addition.

Open-faced bagel

Who doesn’t like bagels? Seriously. What beats bread in donut form.

An open-faced bagel seems simple in theory and is just as straightforward in the actual construction/execution. 

Grab your favorite flavor bagel – personally I am an advocate of the asiago cheese bagel – and toast it to golden perfection or burn it to a crisp, whichever you prefer.

Then, it is pretty uncomplicated: add spinach, cheese, onions, peppers or any other topping that tickles your fancy on top of the bagel.  You can either keep it plain Jane with a few simple garnishes or go the whole nine yards and pile as many toppings you can physically fit onto the bagel. Whatever you do, make it your own.

So, there you have it. Vegetarians can come up with creative ways to incorporate more protein into their diet. Who would have thought? 

And here’s the crazy thing: you don’t have to be a vegetarian to try these ideas. Whether you are a meat-loving carnivore or a plant-based herbivore, these tips can help add more color, flavor and protein into your daily diet.

~Emma Dixon, CNUTV Managing Editor~

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