As a vegan going to a small liberal arts college, I've quickly learned that the Freshman 15 is more of a danger when school is not in session. While my dining halls provide healthy, mainly whole-food, plant-based options, there is a shortage of comfort food for those of us who don't eat animal products.

Luckily, I got to spend my Thanksgiving break back home in Ithaca, where I reunited with many favorite vegan comfort foods.

1. Pastries and Coffee from Gimme Coffee!

coffee, cappuccino, milk, espresso, mocha, chocolate, hot chocolate
Seraphina Buckholtz

Pictured above is a chai-glazed spice bundt cake and two exquisite soy mochas from Gimme Coffee! This small café has a great atmosphere for working, a small selection of vegan pastries, and, most importantly, the best coffee in town.

The coffee itself is dark and robust, and the specialty drinks are artfully done. I always go for the soy mocha, which has a foamy texture and a rich chocolatey flavor.

2. Pumpkin Cupcake from Collegetown Bagels

cream cheese, cream, cinnamon, buttercream, pumpkin, cheese, cupcake, chocolate
Seraphina Buckholtz

When it comes to pastries, I generally prefer Collegetown Bagels to Gimme Coffee! This week I had a vegan pumpkin cupcake, but they often carry other vegan cupcakes, scones, berry bars, and/or dark-chocolate almond bars.

3. Mac and Cheese from Star Truck

slaw, pork, chicken
Seraphina Buckholtz

Star Truck is a food truck that hides in Press Bay Alley, right near the Tompkins County Public Library. It usually serves mac and cheese, veggie dogs, BBQ tacos, and chili, and often has specials as well. I opted for the mac and cheese with soy curls; I found the soy curls a bit too tangy, though the texture is quite close to real chicken. The cheese tasted different from the real thing, but the dish was steaming hot and provided a good contrast to the chilly afternoon. 

4. Cranberry Apple Pie from Greenstar Natural Foods Market

pie, blackberry, blueberry, apple
Seraphina Buckholtz

Vegan or not, it is necessary to visit Greenstar if you're heading to Ithaca. They have hot food, pastries, produce, and many local and specialty food items. I went to pick up a cranberry-apple pie for Thanksgiving, but I can also recommend the Macro Mama peanut lime noodles, the gigantic Japanese sweet potatoes, and the vegan peanut butter brownies.

5. Vegan Friendsgiving

Seraphina Buckholtz

One of the best parts of going home was realizing how many good friends I still had from high school. During break, I had a potluck with a few of my closest friends, who brought me a variety of vegan treats. Pictured above is a colorful fall salad, a fried spring roll, creamy vegan mac and cheese, and pumpkin tempeh triangles adapted from step two of this recipe.

6. Ithaca Lemon Dill Hummus and Tofu Khan

sandwich, tomato, bread, cucumber
Seraphina Buckholtz

Though it may seem simple, I needed a day to simply appreciate quality hummus and tofu. Pictured above are two toasts, one slathered in Ithaca Hummus and topped with spinach, tomato, and cucumber, and the other buttered with creamy avocado and topped with Ithaca Soy's tofu khan and tomato.

7. Vegan BAT with Thanksgiving Leftovers

cheese, bacon, cheddar
Seraphina Buckholtz

While I had access to decent avocados and soy proteins, I had to make one of my favorite toasts to date: the (tempeh) bacon, avocado, and tomato. It went perfectly with left over butternut squash and balsamic-glazed brussel sprouts.

8. Dark Chocolate Avocado Ganache Cake

chocolate, peanut, peanut butter, cake, butter
Seraphina Buckholtz

In case you couldn't tell already, I was on a mission to consume as many avocados as possible during break. One thing no one ever told me about college was the extreme lack of the buttery fruit; at one point, I got so desperate that I bought a $7 salad to have a few tablespoons of mashed avocado. Here I baked a chocolate ganache cake, which combines the flavors of dark chocolate and avocado.

9. Sweet Potato Pudding

blueberry, berry, chocolate, blackberry
Seraphina Buckholtz

Last but not least, we have a chocolate sweet potato pudding topped with blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, shredded coconut, and cashews.

To make the pudding, you simply blend sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, cocoa powder to taste, and almond milk to thin. You then cook it on the stove top, adding almond milk to prevent sticking and to expand the volume for more pudding. If oatmeal bores you, this is a perfect hot breakfast for the cold winter months.