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Maple’s dining hall is vegan-friendly and full of healthier options, but here’s what you need to try

Maple’s dining hall is vegan-friendly and full of healthier options, but here’s what you need to try

Maple’s dining hall is vegan-friendly and full of healthier options, but here’s what you need to try
October 26
10:30 2018

With an A+ rating from PETA, around the clock staff and delicious food choices, Maple’s all-vegan dining hall definitely means business. As of late, I have been attempting to avoid the dreaded “freshman 15,” so when it comes to my preferred dining hall, I always eat at the Mean Greens cafeteria.

Even though I am not vegan, vegetarian or lactose intolerant, I still love the benefits of Maple’s food offerings — you can be a carnivore, omnivore or herbivore and still enjoy the delicious food of Maple’s cafeteria. Since I eat there regularly, I have picked up many habits to create the tastiest meal combinations.

Cup of almond Joe 

I visit Maple every morning at roughly 7 a.m., which means I’m a zombie during the first half of breakfast. Basically, I need coffee to even order food. However, because Maple is an all-vegan dining hall, they don’t offer 2 percent milk or creamer needed to make coffee bearable. But have no fear, there is a solution: The cafeteria does have two dispensers of sweetened or unsweetened  soy and almond milk. These are great as coffee flavoring and act as an equal substitute to vanilla coffee creamer. My personal favorite coffee combo is a half-and-half ratio of coffee and sweetened soy milk. It tastes just as creamy as any normal brew and knocks out both creamer and sweetener in one fell swoop.

Decorate your oatmeal

Maple’s steel cut oatmeal may perhaps be the best staple breakfast item on the menu. Mixed into the oats are nuts, strawberries and occasionally golden raisins. The oatmeal is perfectly good on its own, but a smart way to spice up your breakfast is to grab a handful of their fresh berries and sprinkle them on top. You can even throw in a scoop of brown sugar for good measure. Blueberries and strawberries with oatmeal is a satisfying breakfast and can help keep you content for early morning classes. The fruit makes it all taste so lively and exciting, making this item my personal favorite breakfast option.

Substitute jam for syrup 

Syrup and waffles is a coveted combination almost anyone would prefer to eat for breakfast every day. However, having a big plate of carbs and sugar so frequently is not great for your health — not to mention your energy. When you decide to treat yourself with waffles or pancakes, try switching out the saccharine-sweet corn syrup for one of the tasty spreads located at the salad bar. Mean Greens dining hall offers a large vat of orange, grape and strawberry flavored jellies. Take a scoop from here and evenly spread it across your waffles or pancakes for a fruity change of pace. My personal favorite is the strawberry, but make sure to try out marmalade and blackberry. All three flavors are just as nectarous and satisfying as the syrup, and I would argue they taste even better.

Utilize the grill bar

My second favorite meal to eat at Maple is lunch, mainly because of the variety and color of the options. One trick to spice up your daily veggie intake is to take them grilled. Stop by the grill bar on the far right line and choose between a selection of mushrooms, pineapple, asparagus, squash and onions. Another good idea is to mix it with pasta or rice, such as asparagus paired with pasta or grilled mushrooms on top of basmati rice. But if veggies are not on your menu, grab a few slices of the seared pineapple — it is sweet enough that I have made it a dessert substitute on more than one occasion. In addition to the tasty food, the grill bar also adds a flair of excitement to the cafeteria, giving off vibes of a trendy restaurant.

Create your own veggie masterpiece

If you are in a rush but do not want to wait in those specialized food lines, don’t be afraid to utilize the salad bar. Salad has become a terrifying word when it comes to clean eating, but if you get the right ingredients, salads can be surprisingly enjoyable to make. Mean Greens has an exclusive salad bar with three different types of leafy greens, tofu and chickpeas, three zesty fruits options, two delicious dressings and a plethora of vegetables to liven up any boring salad. Grab a bowl and play a game to see just how many colorful items you can toss into your salad. By the end it will be a bonafide work of art. The salad bar is one area of expertise that Maple is vastly superior to in comparison to other halls. If you have an adventurous spirit and a need for artistic expression, come try out the salad bar and see for yourself.

Infused waters 

In addition to soy milk, almond milk and lemonade, Maple also offers great-tasting infused waters. If I am not feeling like plain water that day, I will fill up a glass of one of the infused water options and hydrate with style. Mean Greens offer various types of flavors, including citrus, berry and agua fresca. I love the cucumber infusions, but don’t forget to try the cranberry and mint flavors. New flavors are rotated nearly every day, giving students and staff an opportunity to try different types of infusions. My all-time favorite is the Mexican cinnamon horchata, which tastes like rice pudding and chocolate milk tied into one delicious drink. These only appear on Friday, so keep a look out! The infused waters are perfect for tying together a great meal combination or for trying something new. Got a plate stocked with fruits? Try the mixed berry and mint. Decided to grab a salad chock full of veggies? The agua fresca flavors will do that salad justice.

Apples, spice and everything nice

Ah yes, dessert — the perpetual struggle. Despite being all-vegan, Maple offers many different options for fellow sweets lovers. The dessert lines have three flavors of cake, chocolate chip and raisin cookies and non-dairy fudge brownies. These items are always delicious but can be a bit filling, not to mention extremely rich. A great way to circumnavigate a potential carb crash is to replace the richer options with forms of fruit. If cakes and cookies are a no-go, grab some spiced apples instead. The slices are seasoned with cinnamon and taste like fresh apple pie, minus the crust and calories. They are so sweet and tasty that I have found myself looking forward to it like a regular dessert. Another good substitute for cake is the blueberry bake or fruit cobbler, which successfully curbs the sugar craving. This trick has helped me skip the cake countless times, and I highly recommend you give all three of them a taste. (Of course, not at the same time.)

For your first visit to Mean Greens, the most important thing is to be fun and stay open-minded. Be adventurous with your food choices, and don’t worry if you will like it or not. Vegan eating has the connotation of being boring and foreign, but I completely disagree. Eating vegan can be tasteful if you have the right methods, and Maple provides all the needed resources. If you’re trying to lessen the consequences of the “freshman 15” or are simply looking for healthy alternatives, eating at Mean Greens is a must-try.

Featured Image: Mean Greens dining hall offers a variety of fruit, pastries and oatmeal for breakfast. To sweeten a bowl of oatmeal, top it with some berries. Abby Sweatt

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Abby Sweatt

Abby Sweatt

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