Being a vegetarian is one of my favorite, yet most difficult aspects of my life. Needless to say, living on a college campus as a vegetarian comes with its hardships. As a freshman, I definitely struggled to find nutritious and delicious meals courtesy of Sodexo in any of the dining halls or the Marketplace. However, as a sophomore, I can confidently say I have now discovered substantial, quality meals all over campus that I plan to share with my fellow Bing vegetarians (or any Bing student interested in new and exciting Sodexo meals). Here are some of my favorite and relatively healthy vegetarian meals I have learned to love throughout my 2+ semesters at Binghamton.
1. C4 Sandwich
Freshman year I often got frustrated because the C4 sandwiches looked incredible, but they were filled with meat. After about 3 months of frustration, one day I decided to be bold and take my C4 adventures to the sandwich line.
The first item to order at the sandwich station is bread. I ordered whole wheat ciabatta. Now, don't get me wrong, white ciabatta is great, but avoiding the freshman 15 is even better. Next up was the dressing or sauce. I was really surprised to see that C4 offered pesto. Pesto is one of my favorite sauces so I knew that would add to the quality of my first C4 sandwich. To my amazement, C4 also had fresh mozzarella (no I don't mean the shredded cheese that is at every salad bar on campus). In addition to the bread, sauce, and cheese, you have the option to add a variety of vegetables onto your sandwich to truly create a masterpiece.
Make sure you ask for your sandwich to be toasted because there's nothing like melted cheese mixed in with other flavorful ingredients. This sandwich is my favorite and most filling Sodexo meal I have ever experienced living on campus.
What to get: whole wheat ciabatta, pesto sauce, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, tomato, and spinach
2. The Marketplace Salad
Don't even get me started on C4, Hinman, or CIW salads. The lack of toppings and protein available makes for a boring and not filling meal. I recommend splurging on your meal plan and getting a Marketplace salad. There are always three types of lettuce (I tend to go for the spinach or spring mix), and several toppings.
This year, Sodexo improved its tofu quality by seasoning it with sesame dressing to create a better flavor. Whenever I get this tofu on my salad, I am not only eating protein, which we all know is hard to find as vegetarians at Bing, but I am also eating fresh vegetables, which add a nice crunch and satisfaction to my tastebuds. While the Marketplace can be expensive, using your meal plan once a week to get a flavorful and nutritious salad is for sure worth it.
What to get: spinach or spring mix, cucumbers, peppers, chick peas, edamame, feta cheese, tofu, and a side of balsamic vinegar
3. Einstein's Power Protein Spread
As a Long Islander, I was very hesitant to try Einstein's since I am for sure spoiled with bagels at home. While the bagels themselves are not nearly as big and amazing as Long Island bagels are, ordering the Power Protein Spread is definitely a great option that is tasty and meatless. I am a peanut butter enthusiast so this Einstein's order is something I get every Friday after I finish my classes.
In addition to peanut butter, this spread comes with honey and banana. The sweetness of the honey and banana perfectly complement the saltiness of the peanut butter so this bagel spread will for sure satisfy any cravings you may be having. My advice: eat this about an hour before going to the gym. The combination of the protein from the peanut butter and the sugar from the honey and banana boosts your energy so by the time you take the hike to the East Gym, you're ready to go and have a productive workout.
What to get: whole wheat bagel, peanut butter, honey, and banana
4. C4's Grilled Cheese
This comfort food is perfect for any occasion, especially after a stressful week full of exams, papers, and quizzes. While C4 is notoriously known for being the worst dining hall on campus, Expeditions is surprisingly on point sometimes. Once again, I go for the whole wheat bread since it's the healthiest option. There are about five different cheeses to choose from, but my personal favorite is cheddar or pepper jack. Add some tomato and spinach to your sandwich and you're good to go.
Even without the bacon or turkey that fellow students would never even think to skip, this vegetarian grilled cheese is a great option before heading over to State Street on a Friday or Saturday night to fill you up.
What to get: whole wheat bread, cheddar cheese or pepper jack cheese, spinach, and tomato
5. App Salad
While dining hall salads get old and boring very quickly, App offers so many toppings C4, CIW, and Hinman do not. Even though Mountainview's Appalachian Dining Hall is a far walk for those of you living in Newing or Dickinson, this salad is for sure worth it.
My favorite part about App is the Mediterranean station. There's hummus, feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and on occasion if you're lucky, grilled vegetables. Add this to your usual lettuce, cucumber, and pepper salad, and you suddenly have an exciting dining hall salad that is still Sodexo. My advice: buy an avocado from the dining hall to truly create the perfect salad.
What to get: spinach, cucumber, pepper, hummus, feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, grilled vegetables, seasoned tofu, chick peas, quinoa, red wine vinaigrette
Here are five of my favorite vegetarian options that are bound to change the way you view Sodexo. While living on campus comes with mediocre food and a trial-and-error period to discover what your taste buds truly desire, I figured it out so you certainly can too. Being a vegetarian is not always the easiest lifestyle, but the satisfaction of finding healthy, filling, and tasty meals makes the hard work worth it for sure.