So… What Do You Eat?

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Vegetarian grocery shopping day

Since becoming a vegetarian in August, I’ve had many people ask me just what, exactly, I eat. And, honestly, I have a hard time answering this question. How do you answer that? Usually I go with, “Food!” or “Everything else!” and then sort of laugh it off. But what I’ve started to realize is that even after several months of no meat, I still have a hard time thinking of a meal without it being centered around a meat dish.

As a case study, here is what I bought this week at the store. Keep in mind that my fridge was basically empty after being gone for almost an entire week for the holidays. On hand I already had oatmeal, quinoa, canned pumpkin, frozen fruit, black and red beans, and some frozen veggies.

So, what did I buy? Continue reading

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Tales of a Vegetarian in Texas

The last time I ate meat, I went all out with amazing sushi.

The last time I ate meat, I went all out with amazing sushi.

It’s been two months to the day since I stopped eating meat (with the exception of a bite of chicken salad because I swore the container said potato salad). Honestly, my life has changed very little, but the subtle changes have been phenomenally interesting (to me at least).

When I’m at home, life goes on as normal. It’s been so long since I’ve bought meat to keep at my house that I really don’t change how I shop or prepare meals.

However, when I’m not at home, everything has changed.

I learned that the broccoli cheese soup at Panera is made from chicken broth. So I ordered the black bean soup instead.

I learned that when attending a party, I should trust my instinct to take a dish that I know I’ll want to eat. Chips and dip are great, but when you’re hanging out all day, it’s not quite satisfying, especially when you add in a couple beers.

I learned that I had bent to people’s expectations about adding meat to dishes that really don’t need it to be amazing. I went to an Italian restaurant and had some great angel hair and artichoke pasta, and I was so glad that I said “neither” when the waitress asked if I wanted it with chicken or shrimp. Normally, I would have picked one just because.

I learned I don’t really miss it. When I was at that party, I wanted a burger because I was hungry. But when I took a second to think about whether or not it was worth it, the answer was obvious. I didn’t actually want to eat meat. The smell of grilling was great, but when I looked at the actual meat, I genuinely wasn’t that interested.

I learned that a lot of people think I will eat fish as a vegetarian.

I learned that a lot of people (usually not the fish people) think I won’t eat eggs or dairy. To be fair, I have started buying eggs from someone I know because I’m more comfortable knowing that her hens aren’t given weird hormones or kept in itty-bitty cages. Plus, they taste better than store-bought eggs.

I learned that a lot of people ask “why?” I find that it’s actually kind of fun to talk about. I really don’t care if everyone else eats a steak every day, but I appreciate the curiosity I’ve encountered. It’s also helped me articulate my reasons better and find common threads. For example, when I recently voiced that I feel tired and weighed down after eating meat, someone who eats meat regularly spoke up and said she feels the same way. Maybe by discussing what we eat and how it makes our bodies feel, we (collectively as humans) can pay more attention to what gives us energy and what slows us down. That’s going to be different for everyone, but by listening to my body, I can do things to feel the best I can.

I learned that a lot of people follow “Why?” with “I could never do that,” which confuses me. I think what they really mean is, “I don’t want to do that” or “That’s just not for me.” And that’s okay; I don’t mind.

Until I stopped eating meat, I didn’t understand how a limited diet related to things like choosing local or organic foods, but now I really get it. It’s not about being a health nut; it’s about asking questions and understanding how the answers impact myself and other people. I’m not perfect—did I mention the weekend I ate ice cream for breakfast out of a coffee mug with a serving spoon so that I didn’t have to do dishes?—but I’ve come to realize that changing one’s food is a

bout making choices, setting limits and seeing how those limits open you up to a million new choices.

Lazy Girl Cooks: Pumpkin Spice Muffins

IMG_7526I’ve made variations of this recipe a couple times, but recently I saw a version with spice cake, and I couldn’t resist doing a test run for a fall dessert.

What you need:

  • One box spice cake mix
  • One 15 ounce can of pumpkin

What you do:

  1. Mix them together
  2. Plop into muffin pan, bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  3. Eat.

I haven’t made them with frosting, but I think some cream cheese frosting would be a perfect touch. These taste like a little drop of fall, perfect for the beginning of September. They would also be great for Halloween and Thanksgiving (maybe a pre-dinner snack?).

This recipe made about 18, perfect to eat and share!

Lazy Girl Cooks: The Best Sautéed Carrots You Will Ever Eat. Seriously.

Ruining the nutritional value of carrots is the best way to go!

Ruining the nutritional value of carrots is the best way to go!

Since my sister gave me this recipe a few months ago, I make it just about once a week, it’s that good.

To be fair, this is not really a vegetable. No, this is butter and sugar disguised with a hit of something that was once healthy, so don’t think this is some health nut thing. This is desert. I usually eat the whole mess in one sitting and call it dinner.

Here’s what you need: Continue reading

Lazy Girl Cooks: Green Smoothies

I’ve been on a bit of a green smoothie kick lately. A few years ago, my sister introduced me to the concept, and although I enjoyed them while I was at her house, I never really committed to figuring out how to make them for myself. It sounded complicated and like a lot of work.

It turns out they fit perfectly into my complete lack of cooking skills because they require no cooking.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Get out your blender.
  2. Pour in a splash of water or orange juice.
  3. Dump in a little fruit like some berries or half a banana.
  4. Add a handful, or two or three, of spinach.
  5. Put the rest of the fruit you want on top (maybe half an orange, a few chunks of pineapple and half an avocado).
  6. Secure lid of blender.
  7. Blend.
  8. Add a few chunks of ice if none of your ingredients were frozen and blend a bit more to make it nice and cold.
  9. Place goop in container that you can’t see the contents if it’s a gross color.
  10. Enjoy through a big milkshake straw.

Benefits:

  • You get a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables easily.
  • It’s easy to drink in the car, at the office or while you are doing chores around the house.
  • Really, blenders are not that hard to clean.
  • You can experiment with any combination. Last week I added a few baby carrots, and it was amazing! Or half an apple (too much apple or pear, I have found, will make it foamy).
  • Put the finished product in the fridge and save it for an afternoon snack
  • You can do most of the prep work the night before–cut things into chunks, wash the greens, whatever won’t go bad overnight.
  • Everyone will look at you funny when you tell them what’s in your drink.

Lazy Girl Cooks: Magaricz

Magaricz is great on bread, pita, tortillas and chips.

When a friend gave me some eggplant, I decided I wasn’t up for making eggplant pamasen. A quick Google search landed me at a recipe for magaricz, which I had never heard up. Apparently, it’s a Russian dip and very yummy.

Here’s what you do:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 cup coarsely shredded carrot
  • salt to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste

1. place eggplant in colander, lightly salt, leave to drain for 45 minutes

2. heat oil over medium/high heat, add veggies and stir. Reduce heat to low for 40 minutes until it looks like jam, season to taste.

3. cover and chill for 1 hour, serve as dip with chips or bread

This was so delicious and so easy to make, but the next time I make it, I’m going to make a few adjustments.

First, draining the eggplant seemed to do absolutely nothing.

Also, I might try to cut up all the veggies beforehand to save some time.

I didn’t actually use it as dip, but if I was going to, I would dice the peppers instead of slicing them. Instead, I made up some burritos. With the leftovers, I topped a baked potato, which was delicious.

What qualifies this as a lazy girl recipe: despite the prep and cook time, it’s very easy; just put it in the pan and basically forget it for 40 minutes.

Also, the ingredients are simple to pick out—there’s no trick to these veggies.

Finally, the ingredients are readily available and inexpensive. With buying everything plus tortillas but not the eggplant, I spent about $5 and got about 4 meals.

Lazy Girl Cooks: Fried Egg and Toast

When I opened my refrigerator this evening and found this…

Ah, the joys of the Night Before Payday. It’s like the Night Before Christmas, only with slightly different plans for the next day.

…I decided it was time for another installment of Lazy Girl Cooks.

So let’s take a quick inventory here: bread (thankfully not moldy), butter, Alfredo sauce, blackberry jam, eggs and (behind the eggs) something that helped me make a soup once and I’m not sure what it is… maybe chicken bullion? Add in some Ranch dressing, pancake syrup and just enough milk for my breakfast cereal on the door. Oh, and some peanut butter and just enough cereal to go with my morning milk.

What do you get?

The easiest, yummiest dinner ever: Fried Egg and Toast Continue reading