Moving off-campus, out of a dorm and into a house meant one thing for me: I would finally have a kitchen again. Gone would be the days of bland dining hall food and microwavable meals. Instead, I’d finally be able to cook for myself.

Now, I’m by no means an expert chef, [I’m still learning a LOT], but I have enjoyed being in the kitchen for years [even if it was doing something as simple as following a recipe]. When I moved into my first house, I was so excited to finally get to experiment more and try out new recipes. Starting this new ~adult~ phase of my life also offered the perfect opportunity to try something that I’ve been contemplating for a while: practicing a more vegetarian-style diet. 

I haven’t fully made the transition to vegetarianism [yet], but the past couple of months that I’ve been on campus, I’ve tried to be more conscious of my meat consumption. In my plant bio class last spring, I learned just how bad eating meat is for the environment [not to mention the animals]. So, I wanted to try to make small changes to reduce my footprint in this area. My solution was to focus on eating a plant-based diet Monday through Friday. 

This change simultaneously introduced me to recipes I had never tried before, most of which were absolutely delicious! Here are my top three favorite meatless meals.

Nourish Bowl

My absolute favorite meal out of these three is undoubtedly, nourish bowls. These bowls are SUPER easy to make, taste so good, keep me full and are LOADED with plant-based protein. In this specific bowl, sauteed spinach and roasted chickpeas [baked in salt and garlic powder!] sit atop a fluffy quinoa base with lemon juice drizzled over it. This flavorful dish has definitely become a staple in my recipe book, but one of its most appealing aspects is its versatility. Nourish bowls can consist of any of your favorite ingredients! Another favorite of mine is the “Mediterranean” style bowl: quinoa, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and lemon juice.   

Cauliflower Fried Rice

I’ll admit, Chinese take-out is 100% my guilty pleasure. However, it can be high in calories. Cauliflower fried rice offers a healthier take on one of my favorite dishes. If you don’t have a food processor [like me] cauliflower rice can be found pre-cut in frozen bags [this will help it last longer, too!]. Simply saute the rice in soy sauce and add in veggies of your choice. I also like to add egg to my rice to make it more filling. If you still want a bit more protein, try adding Morning Star Farm’s plant-based chick’n strips! 

Baked Cauliflower

This baked cauliflower originally started out as cauliflower wings, but because I forgot to buy the sauce ingredients, I had to adapt — and it turned out just as delicious! After chopping up some fresh cauliflower, I coated each piece in a batter of flour, soy sauce and garlic powder and then covered them in bread crumbs. The pieces were baked in just 20 minutes and served with a side of sauteed zucchini and a bit of ranch dressing for dipping. I couldn’t help but go back for seconds! 

Share your favorite vegetarian-friendly dishes with us on Instagram!

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