Smiling Moose Deli | sandwiches + soup + studying

Last December, I adopted College Park’s Smiling Moose Deli as my study abode for an afternoon. At first, I came to grab food, but when I realized that they had free wifi and outlets available, I set up my materials and wrote my final paper there. The place offered a nice, warm atmosphere for studying and several vegan options to choose from. I ended up ordering a few dishes to keep myself satiated while working.

This place is very clear about labels and friendly about answering questions. Any of the vegetarian dishes can be ordered vegan if you ask them to hold the dairy products. Here’s my full review, originally published on The Shorthorn, UT Arlington’s student news website, published on October 2, 2013.

Before closing, they offered me free coffee (plus soymilk!) since it was the end of the day. Sweet. I had other study plans that night, so the caffeine came in handy.

Pictured above: Build-Your-Own salad, the Veggie Mo, and Vegan Vegetable Soup. The soup was hearty, and the sandwich was filling, but it was not my favorite. I loved the salad I had a few weeks ago–I tend not to order salads, but I was really craving fresh veggies and this hit the spot. I loaded it with all the toppings I could think of (they do not charge extra for extra toppings). College Park has several other vegan options too–check out my reviews here.

Good luck with finals! Load up on healthy snacks! 😉

7 Tasty Tips for a Solo Thanksgiving

The premise of Thanksgiving is not something I personally celebrate, and I definitely don’t eat turkey (here’s 50 million reasons why), but I am always grateful to have time off from school to spend time with loved ones. And it’s a time for students like me to catch up on studying, of course. Some break!

Quite a few of my friends at UT Arlington are international students, so they will not be attending large family Thanksgiving dinner parties. This is a post dedicated to them. If you’re having a quiet holiday this year and are unsure of what to make, here are a few yummy suggestions for a solitary, vegan Thanksgiving celebration. You don’t necessarily have to cook for hours and most of the dishes can be also be made gluten-free.

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Hot Chocolate

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Did you know that hot chocolate and hot cocoa are two different things? Check out my hot chocolate recipe post on The Shorthorn’s site to listen to learn more about the art of hot chocolate. The photos and following post were originally published on The Shorthorn, UT Arlington’s student news website, on November 20, 2013.

Hot cocoa is for drinking by the mug-full. Hot chocolate is for slow, indulgent sipping. Both will make you feel warm and toasty.

I came up with the idea of writing about hot chocolate last week, when it was freezing outside. Although this week’s forecast looks pretty warm, I’m going to post this in anticipation for future cold weather.

This is probably my favorite post I’ve ever done for work. Everything was too much fun! If you try the recipe, let me know how it goes!

Veggie Victories at UTA

photo 1 (2)Vegan brownies at UT Arlington! This is a big deal for UTA vegans. Yes, they are real.

Last week, my friend tipped me off about these vegan brownies on campus, so I decided to have lunch at UTA’s Connection Cafe.

I was excited to find Thai coconut curry noodles in the international line, with a clear “vegan” label. Also, I have since learned that any desserts placed at the vegetarian line will be vegan from now on. Yay!

While there is always room for improvement, I have been previously impressed with the increased availability of vegan options at UTA, thanks to the Vegan Club‘s work with Student Congress and the cooking staff’s cooperation and hospitality. A vegan line has been in place for about a year, but this semester it changed to a vegetarian line. Some vegetarian dishes are veganizeable if students ask for no cheese. Vegan desserts, plus a completely vegan entree in a non-vegan line, were not going to on my list of expectations for a while, but I was pleasantly surprised during this visit.

It’s exciting to have an increase in vegan options all around, even if it doesn’t seem like a lot, it means a great deal to students who rely on the meal plans.

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While UTA is surely improving, UNT’s vegan dining hall is a truly dream come true–UTA’s Vegan Club and I paid them a visit recently, to meet up with UNT’s vegan group. It was a worthwhile trek for good company and good food. We were met with more than enough vegan options to choose from, including fresh focaccia bread sandwiches, tostadas, soft serve ice cream and adorable tapioca pudding shots.

It was heavenly, and my first time having tapioca pudding! Special thanks to Ken Botts, the special projects manager for UNT’s Dining Services, for welcoming us so warmly, and for giving us advice on how to improve vegan options at UTA!

For those who may not know, the vegan cafeteria at UNT inspired UTA students to push for more vegan options on our own campus. We probably won’t have an all vegan cafeteria at UTA, but we appreciate the progress and we are grateful for the cooking staff’s efforts here.

What vegan things have you tried at UTA’s Connection Cafe? Have you been to UNT’s vegan cafeteria? If so, what elements would you like UTA to incorporate from UNT’s practices? Please share your experiences with me below, and feel free to contact UTA’s Dining Services to let them know what you think.

‘Blackfish’ Documentary | My Personal Thoughts + UTA Students Weigh In

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If you haven’t seen Blackfish yet, you need to check it out. The documentary about SeaWorld has been making waves, and not just among animal activist groups. I got to interview some UT Arlington students about the film for work.

An excerpt from my article, originally published on The Shorthorn, UT Arlington’s student news website, on October 23, 2013:

A killer whale named Tilikum killed Dawn Brancheau, one of the most experienced trainers at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 24, 2010. This was the third time the whale was involved in an incident resulting in a human death.

“Why is SeaWorld surprised that a wild animal did this?” university studies senior Tania Rodriguez said. “You isolate them from their natural environment and put them in a tub, and then you wonder why this happened?”

Rodriguez, who is a member of the Mavs Marine Biology club, says she recently viewed an online trailer for the documentary Blackfish. It spiked her interest, because she recalled Brancheau’s incident from 2010.

The film made its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in January and has been well received by critics, receiving a 98 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes. It has also made an impact on pop culture — after seeing the documentary, the directors of Finding Dory made the decision to modify their animated movie’s depiction of a marine animal park. CNN will broadcast Blackfish 8 p.m. Thursday.

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My Weekend | Geocaching + The Texas State Fair

This weekend, I went to a geocaching event and the Texas State Fair (for the first time)!

I first went geocaching a couple of months ago when I was assigned a story about it for The Shorthorn.

Geocaching is a global activity that can take place anywhere at any time. Participants of this outdoor hobby follow GPS coordinates to find destinations that hold geocaches, also known as caches, which are found all over the world.

Geocaching is a unique adventure because it often directs the searcher to places they would not have known about otherwise. Students who want to know the campus better can go on a geocache hunt to find out what they could be missing.

Originally published on The Shorthorn, UT Arlington’s student news website, on October 16, 2013. 

This Saturday, I had the chance to go geocaching again, while helping the environment. A few Environmental Society members and I volunteered with the Southwest Arlington Geocachers group at their “Cache In, Trash Out” event. Participants of event cleaned up litter along two miles of Cooper street, with geocaching as a bonus activity.

My friends and I did some geocaching, while being attacked by giant mosquitoes, but we were more focused on picking up trash. After the event, my friend Jenny and I went thrifting and relaxed with lunch at Loving Hut. They brought back the nachos from their old menu! I’m so excited. They’re actually bringing back a lot of old menu items lately.

The Cache In, Trash Out event was productive, and The Environmental Society is definitely considering volunteering more at these kinds of activities in the future. Join their Facebook to stay updated!

VEGAN STATE FAIR FOOD (6)On Sunday, I went to the Texas State Fair with my friend Camille and her dad. Normally I wouldn’t go to the State Fair, but we wanted to check out the vegan options–we were pleasantly surprised, to say the least. I tried a corn dog and a burger, among other things. I’m working on a more detailed blog post about that, so come back on Tuesday to read more about it!

What did you do this weekend? Vegans, would you go to the State Fair if you knew there were good quality vegan options?

This week is going to be busy for me, with work, projects and a midterm. I hope it all
goes by quickly so we can get to the weekend–I’m particularly excited about going to the Veggie State Fair! The Vegan Club is carpooling to the event, so if any UTA students are interested in joining us, please contact us on Facebook.

Hope everyone has a great week!