Just to keep everyone updated, my food diary entries for today include:
- Peach yogurt with peach pieces
- Peanut butter and Jelly sandwich
- Fettuccine alfredo
- Edamame lo mein with carrots and red peppers
- Brown rice
- Veggie patty on a bun
- Rice Dream vanilla rice milk
- Spinach mushroom pesto calzone
- Passion orange guava juice
Today I discovered the gem of on-campus vegetarian dining: Shaw Hall’s Captain Pea Pod’s Veggie-torium. Odd name, but great food. Captain Pea Pod’s offers a variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free culinary delights. There are even cook-to-order options such as vegetarian stir fry. While I first stumbled upon the existence of this Shaw Hall dining option halfway through last semester, I never thought to try the food it offered. I’m glad I did today. If you want to check out the times when Captain Pea Pod’s is open and get a sneak peek of this week’s menu, go to http://www.hfs.msu.edu/uh/campus/dining/shaw/ .
Today I ate food I had never tried before. I loaded my tray with edamame lo mein, brown rice, a veggie burger and rice milk, and was amazed by how good everything tasted and how full I felt after eating it all. I cheated on my best food friend, white rice, with its exotic cousin, brown rice. I even tried rice milk for the first time and loved it. Today was a day of firsts for me.
Being partially of Middle Eastern descent, I have grown up eating white rice on a daily basis. While I’ve eaten brown rice before and enjoyed it, I should add a disclaimer: Brown rice shouldn’t be considered a substitute for white rice in terms of taste. Brown rice tastes distinctly nuttier, richer and earthier compared to its pale counterpart. Brown rice is not a requirement for a vegetarian diet, but if you’d like to try it for its higher nutrient content (in comparison to white rice), some recipes can be found at www.vegweb.com.
I was also skeptical of rice milk, a drink made from, you guessed it, rice. Yet I discovered rice milk is not only delicious, but it’s enriched with vitamins A, D, B12 and calcium with the bonus of being vegan-friendly (dairy-free), gluten-free (for those with gluten allergies) and lactose-free. When eating a plant-based diet, it’s essential to take in as many nutrients as possible form varied sources, and rice milk can be one of those sources.
The moral of today’s blog is that there are hidden vegetarian treasures on campus that take persistence and a dose of curiosity to find. Don’t be afraid to ask the food service personnel; they’re happy to help you. I would never have found Captain Pea Pod’s without asking. In my opinion, every dining hall on campus should have a separate vegetarian-friendly dining option like Shaw Hall, but until that happens, it’s up to you to find the prize.