I’ve spent too much time in self-isolation this year. I’ve traveled home from college and had to quarantine in my childhood bedroom. I’ve had a roommate catch a fever and had to isolate in my cramped apartment. I’ve had to quarantine during the September wildfires, when the smoke was so thick my apartment’s windows couldn’t keep it out of the bedrooms. My roommates and I were forced to live out our isolation in our one-room kitchen and living room- sleeping on the couch, studying at our dining room table, and taking turns cooking vegan comfort recipes. I wouldn't be lying if I said there were days where the only reason I got up was to eat.

Self-isolation is emotionally exhausting. It’s lonely, it’s monotonous, and it's boring. But during a global pandemic that’s infecting tens of millions in America alone, it’s our unfortunate reality. To deal with the loneliness and stress of being stuck inside, try cooking yourself meals that will not only nourish you, but give you a reason to get out of bed in the first place. Here are the vegan comfort recipes that have helped me survive self-isolation. They’re comforting, delicious, and will definitely help boost your mood. 

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

During my stint in one-room isolation during the wildfires, I was lucky enough to be trapped inside with a roommate who would bake us this incredible Vegan Banana Bread with dark chocolate chips. The smell alone was enough to pull me from the couch each morning. This bread, somehow both moist and fluffy, is a sweet and luscious breakfast for those quarantine mornings when it’s hard to get out of bed (so, basically every morning). 

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Black Pepper Chickpeas

This Roasted Red Pepper Pasta is one of those meals that I make for people who say that vegan food is boring. It’s so good that I used to make it for Thanksgiving dinner just so I could smugly watch my vegan-skeptic relatives come back for seconds. The sauce is creamy and slightly sweet from the red peppers, and topped with fresh basil and savory pan-crisped chickpeas seasoned with rosemary, thyme, sage and black pepper. It’s warm and inviting—the perfect meal for staying inside and catching up on Netflix instead of lectures. 

Dal Khichdi

Lentils are my ultimate comfort food. They’re warm, filling, and soak up flavors to produce the most delicious and nourishing meals. Not to mention, your kitchen will smell incredible for the rest of the day after cooking. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve cooked this Dal Khichdi in the past year, but every time it’s brought me immeasurable comfort, and I can always count on it to make me feel better. Turmeric, cumin, garlic and chili stand out in this savory and hearty meal that tastes how getting wrapped in a warm blanket feels. 

Vegan Caesar Salad

What is it about staying inside all day that makes you so tired? I can sleep for twelve hours and still lack the energy to do more than the bare minimum when I’m trapped in my apartment. This Vegan Caesar Salad is bright and energizing, and takes the smallest amount of effort possible considering how delicious the payout is. Salty, savory chickpeas and homemade croutons perfectly complement a tangy and umami dressing over this crisp salad, creating a refreshing but somehow still super comforting meal. 

Black Bean Soup

Sometimes you need something comforting, but not so heavy it puts you into a full daze after eating it. This Black Bean Soup is a copycat recipe of Panera’s black bean soup, and it’s every bit as warming and flavorful as the original. If you want something zesty and spicy to warm you up but you aren't looking to pass out on the couch directly after, this soup is incredible. 

Staying inside every day gets boring fast, but that doesn’t mean your meals have to be boring too. Cooking is my favorite way to calm down whenever I’m overwhelmed with stress or loneliness during quarantine. Not to mention, a good meal can always make a bad situation better. If you're lucky enough to be isolating somewhere with a kitchen, try out some of these vegan comfort recipes to boost your mood and make isolation a little bit more bearable.