Columbia Mailman Orientation +Vegan Eats in NYC

Oy! It was orientation week. I thought I’d blog through a wee bit of the past week for ya, in case any of you are interested.

Saturday + Sunday

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I flew into NYC early Saturday morning, and got straight to apartment hunting. Apartment hunting in New York City is among the worst activities one can put oneself through on earth. Anyone who has done it can vouch – it is literally the most ridiculous, stressful, and upsetting processes of all times.

I ran around the city all day, ate a bunch of snacks (apples, bananas, nuts, nut butter packets, chocolate covered nuts, etc) and eventually grabbed Just Salads for dinner. I have a weird obsession with Just Salad.

 

Everyone I know prefers sweetgreens. But I’m a Just Salads gal FO LYFE. I got kale + romaine mixed, double roasted sweet potatoes, apples, chickpeas, organic roasted tofu, beets, and jicama, with a side of each spicy avocado dressing and agave mustard dressing. And bread, because bread.

I passed out, and did the whole damn exact same thing the next day. And repeated dinner. Good times.

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Monday

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Monday was day one of orientation. Lunch was a buffet style of yummy food. The quinoa salad had chickpeas, cranberries, herbs, and a lemony (I think?) dressing. Wrap was white bean dip and grilled veggies. P impressive.

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Swag:

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There was also a reception that night with lots of appetizers and snacks. I made a plate of fruit, crackers, nutty bread, guac, hummus, and nuts. Yum.  I was pretty impressed by the food selection at Mailman. They did a good job of providing healthy, yummy, filling options. Bravo!

I had a bad day that day for personal reasons. Really bad day. My anxiety is out of frickin’ control. I found out some icky stuff about my mom’s health issues, and was rejected from an apartment, because as a student in NYC, you need a guarantor who makes 64-80 times the annual rent to co-sign your lease. My mom was rejected, because she can’t provide proof of employment (since she doesn’t work since she is disabled). I found this frustrating; I understand that renters want to be sure rent will be paid, but I find this is also somewhat discriminatory. So if you aren’t wealthy or know someone who is, you can’t get a place? #annoying.

I ended up at my friend’s place in Brooklyn late that night, where I ate a banana with peanut butter and some of his leftover kale salad. And a bunch of chocolate. And went to bed.

Tuesday

Tuesday was day 2 of orientation. I’m bad at orientations. We got boxed lunches (I went with that day’s vegan option), and then we had a long 5 hour small group discussion thing on diversity and privilege. Tough conversations, etc. I was having another bad day with anxiety, and probably came off as emotionally unstable to other people since I was being overly emotional. Oh well. Just gotta move on and not obsess.

Bathroom signs at Mailman:

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For dinner, I stopped at Whole Foods out of fatigue and convenience. I got a salad with roasted sweet potatoes, lemon roasted tofu, and some vegan dumplings. I also got a ‘power’ bagel (whole wheat with cranberries and seeds) on the side because my body wanted CARBS baby. Eaten with a vegan cookie. Noms.

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Wednesday

Wednesday was another day of orientation. I had some errands to run in the morning, then headed up to Mailman. I had a hummus wrap and grapes and chips for lunch, but didn’t snap a photo. After orientation, my friend Raag made us some yummy Indian food for dinner.

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He also taught me some cooking tips. Apparently, many Indian dishes are prepared by first browning onions and tomatoes together. This was new to me. Usually, I add tomatoes much later. This was a fun new tip! He also taught me I should rinse my rice before I cook it. I was happy to learn his tips. He’s so kind, and an awesome cook!

Thursday

Thursday I ran some errands around the city and sat around like a crazy anxious person waiting to hear back about an apartment and catastrophizing my life in every way imaginable. At some point, I stopped and enjoyed an organic peach in Bryant Park.

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I swear my anxiety has been peaking this week. I have really been struggling to get through normal daily activities. I know I have to get it under control, but this week has been so busy I haven’t had time to deal with myself. I am VERY thankful to my supportive friends and aunt for being there for me this week.

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A bit later I once hit up Whole Foods for lunch. I got a Justin’s almond butter packet (on sale for $0.50 WHAT UP), another bagel (because I really enjoyed the last one, and for $1.00, it’s a lot of filling carby goodness), a banana, and some salad and hummus from the salad bar. I think the cashier rang up my order wrong, because this lunch ended up costing me $2.77 which I didn’t even notice until I looked at the receipt while eating? Okay. I’ll take it.

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My friend Caty let me come over and sit on her bed and watch dumb videos on my laptop while she went on a run with a friend. I had been pinning out at coffee shops all day but needed to like, not be sitting in real pants around humans. THANK U CATY.

We grabbed a late dinner at Peacefood, which is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC/the world. We split the Asian greens salad (with greens, jicama, tempeh, carrots, and a yummy spicy peanut dressing), and the vegan cheeseburger. Pardon the crapy pics; that place has dim *~*trendy romantic*~* lighting.

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This cheeseburger. You guys. It is my FAVORITE vegan cheeseburger on earth (and I’ve had a lot of veggie burgers in my 17+ meat-free years). It’s a house-made vegan patty with cheese, guac, pickled peppers, caramelized onions, and some sauce or something on homemade focaccia. It is messy and hearty and flavorful and delicious. LOVE.

After dinner, the Van Leeuwen truck was parked right by Peacefood. Van Leeuwen makes the most delicious, rich craft ice cream I have ever had. Their vegan base is a blend of coconut, cocoa butter, cashews, and extra virgin coconut oil. It is OUTSTANDING.

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I ended up with “one scoop” of vegan strawberry jam, and one scoop of vegan cookie dough.

One scoop ended up being more like a pint. And I ate it all because it was FRICKIN’ delicious. I was really glad I sampled the strawberry jam, because it was honestly one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had! And not something I would normally think to order (I tend to be a chocolate/nut ice cream over fruit kinda gal).

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But it had a rich base with swirls of housemate strawberry jam and pieces of biscuit that were like crunchy and sort of soft simultaneously. And the vegan cookie dough was obviously amazing, with big chunks of vegan cookie dough. My fav flavor there is vegan banana nut, which tastes likes straight up banana bread, but they didn’t have it at the truck. Which probably turned out for the better, since I tried the strawberry!

We ate in Union Square Park, then headed back to BK. I went to bed at my friend’s apartment, and she went out with some friends.

Regarding the large amount of ice cream…I DEFINITELY ate past the point of fullness. In fact, I felt a little TOO full about 30 minutes later. I inhaled it because I think I really needed a good meal after so much walking the previous few days, but the stuff is soooo rich I think I overate beyond my needs. Yes, I was a bit uncomfortably full. But you know what? You live and you learn. Yup, I probably inhaled like, a day’s worth of calories in the form of vegan ice cream in like, 2 minutes, but it is NOT worth obsessing over. I went to bed with a very full tummy and decided to slow down on my ice cream inhalation next time (also, usually they don’t give me THAT much, even when I order two scoops instead of one…I think the guy just was feeling generous).

Friday

Friday I woke up early, went on a run (hadn’t exercised besides walking all week and figured it may do my anxiety some good), showered, and got brunch with Caty and one of her friends.


She called me around 10:40am asking if I wanted to go to Champs, which is a vegan diner. I was bummed I had LITERALLY just finished a bagel with nut butter and banana and wasn’t super hungry but decided to go anyway. I’m glad I did.

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Since I wasn’t super hungry I got a pancake with berries. And syrup. Champs was fun. It’s like an old school diner with classic diner entrees, but all vegan. And with fun art.

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The pancake was yummy. Tasted like a straight up diner pancake, if that makes sense. Like that unique, griddle-cooked taste.

After that, I spontaneously booked a plane ticket for that night and decided to head home for the long weekend, since I learned the apartment I was approved for wouldn’t let me move in until Thursday, and I was quite frankly in need of some real sleep on a bed (not a couch) and some alone time.

I’m quite the introvert, and not having any personal space, especially during an orientation week, makes me feel anxious and overwhelmed. I literally often feel like I need to be alone and calm down to get back to baseline when I’m overwhelmed with anxiety, and having no place to just sit and be by myself has increased my stress, anxiety, and panic.

Also, I MISSED MY FRICKIN’ DOG who has been in Wisconsin until I’m settled with a place.

Thanks for reading! Sorry I’ve been absent this week. Haven’t been in the headspace to blog. But feel much calmer home and with my doggo and with a good night’s sleep in me.

Can any introverts out there relate to feeling super overwhelmed when you don’t have your own space? Any tips for crippling anxiety? Let me know and stay #blessed!

Vegan Watermelon Feta Balsamic Salad With Tofu Feta + Mint

Watermelon goes surprisingly well in salads. I still remember the first time I had watermelon in a lettuce salad. It was at LPQ right when I moved to NYC to start at NYU. It was served with arugula + feta + mint and seriously good balsamic.

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My mom and I adored this meal. To us, the flavor combo was new. Now, you see this stuff all over. But at the time, it seemed like a fun, wild treat to us. Something I totally would have Insta’d. But that was an age where people didn’t Insta their food. Strange to think about, I know.

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Anyways, when watermelon is in season, I have thrown it into salads ever since that day. I love it.

Now I’m plant-based mostly, and rarely have feta around. Even when I wasn’t plant-based, I rarely bought cheese because it was rare I’d use cheese for more than just a garnish. I was never a huge cheese eater.

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But it adds such a nice a lovely saltiness and a bit of staying power to the salad. So here we are. I used this homemade tofu feta, but you can totally use conventional feta or purchase a plant-based feta at the store.

Arugula provides a nice peppery green, but you can also use baby kale or whatever green you want.go together surprisingly well together. I also often add avocado to this salad. Because avocado. Duh.

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Also, it’s essential to use a good balsamic. I mean, really you don’t have to, but it will truly kick it up a notch. And if you haven’t experienced a really good balsamic yet in your life, you should. They are sweet and sticky and wonderful.

I used this one from Trader Joe’s, which I’d highly reccomend.

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Speaking of Trader Joe’s, I need to hit it up tomorrow. This week has been crazy busy. I started 2 new jobs, did a lot of freelance, and took a day trip to Chicago, which I’ll be sharing soon.

Stay tuned!

Tofu Feta

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Servings: 1 as entree or 2 as side, easily doubled or tripled

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups arugula, baby kale, or spinach
  • 1 cup watermelon, cubed
  • 3/4 cup tofu feta or conventional feta, or plant-based store-bought feta
  • 1/2 large avocado, sliced (optional)
  • roughly 1/4th cup fresh mint
  • 4 tablespoons high quality balsamic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Assemble greens, avocado, watermelon, mint and tofu feta in a bowl. Drizzle with desired amount of balsamic and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy.