Posted tagged ‘vegetarian’

Bye-bye, Vegan… Bye-bye.

February 29, 2012

5 months.  Not too bad for an experiment that was supposed to last 21 days.  But, ultimately, veganism and I  parted ways on Valentine’s Day 2012.

Many, many good things came out of my being vegan for a bit…. not the least of which is my newfound ability to mix in a salad now and then.  I eat much better than I used to.  I realize that the food choices I make have an impact on animals and on the environment.  I am simply more aware.

But I missed the social aspects of eating.  I already don’t drink (which is a wise, wise choice on my part…), and cutting out another social outlet (like gathering for a meal) felt really isolating.  In all of Tampa, there was one restaurant where I could get brunch… and they serve vegan brunch once a month.  If we lived in a bigger place, with more vegan options, I know I could have made it work.  But we don’t, and ultimately I decided that, for this girl, being a vegetarian who enjoys vegan food now and again is enough.  And, boy, does being a vegetarian seem super easy now!  The freedom!  The choices! Whoa!

But I do miss the vegan community.  And to celebrate them, tonight I will enjoy a vegan oatmeal raisin cookie from Whole Foods.  Everyone, raise your almond milk!  (No, for real.  I love almond milk)



Chana Masala (Yowza!)

January 26, 2012

Indian food feels comforting.  The aromatic spices seem warm, alluring.  And, Indian food offers quite a few vegan options.  So, as I shuffled through some recipe options online, this recipe for Chana Masala popped out at me.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, and the recipe seemed easy enough for a week night.  Yeah, my algorithm for dinner selection isn’t too complicated…

I breezed through the recipe.  After mincing onions and garlic and grating the ginger (which is by far the hardest part), the recipe comes together in about 15 minutes.  Rad.

But… YOWZA!  This Chana Masala really packs some heat!  I like spicy.  Really, I do.  But dang this was hot!  What’s more, I felt like it was hot without the heat really enriching the flavors.  Maybe my cayenne is too hot (I put 1/4 teaspoon instead of 1/2, and it was still way too hot).  AND, I left out the green chili because I couldn’t figure out exactly which pepper I needed at Publix.  Yeah, I also have no qualms about dropping seemingly superfluous ingredients out of recipes… don’t ask me how that usually works out for me.  But still… so hot.

Amy didn’t eat it at all.  Jane (our almost one year old) ate quite a few bites before she opted for the palate cooling pear & mango baby food instead.  I ate a whole bowl, but I had to have two pieces of buttered bread to help me along.  I was bummed this was so hot; I really liked the flavors.  Unfortunately, Amy didn’t like the flavors either, so this is the last time Chana Masala will make an appearance in this house.  (Sad trombone)

I say totally give this recipe a try… but start out with a pinch of cayenne.   Otherwise… FIRE! FIRE!

So What? I’m Still a Rock Star

January 12, 2012

Amy and I got a hall pass for the night.

We haven’t been out together without Monkeybutt in months.  It sucks to ask someone to babysit in the evenings.  Jane goes to bed at 6:30.  So, basically, we are asking someone to come over and sit in our house while the baby sleeps.  And we don’t even have cable.

But tonight, a friend launched his magazine The Local Dirt.  We decided to go out and support his endeavors to raise awareness about local and sustainable foods in the Tampa area.  Amy’s folks came over to sit in our house, not play with Jane and not watch cable.  And Amy and I headed out to party it up in Ybor City.

Okay, okay.  Partying it up for me means seeing a few old friends, drinking some icy ice water and taste testing the salsa from our friend’s new salsa company.  By the way, the Mango Habanero had a lovely smoky and spicy taste.  Definitely my favorite of his offerings.

Anyway, after the par-tay, I was starving.  Just like old times leaving Ybor, except I wasn’t drunk, I wasn’t climbing into a cab, and I still remembered my home address.  But I was hungry, so we headed for the Taco Bus.  I am embarrassed to say that, after 8 years of living in Tampa, this was my first trip to the Taco Bus.  How could I have waited so long?!  It is a BUS, out of which they serve TACOS!  Brilliant!  And so very delicious.  They offer multiple vegetarian options… and they had vegan steak strips!  I ordered the tacos (flour) with vegan steak strips and all the taco veggies.  I got two.  I would happily have put back four; they were that good.  And the green salsa on the table, go for it!  It is hot, but so very tasty.

Thank goodness Amy and I got out tonight.  Turns out we both remember how to socialize a bit.  And we both still know how to scarf down food at the end of the night.  We are rock stars!   (Not really at all)


Parenting, Running & Pizza–This Post Has It ALL!

December 2, 2011

Three tidbits for your reading pleasure:

1) In a lame parenting moment, I told Amy to mix some brown rice from the refrigerator into Jane’s tomato & carrot baby food.  Neither one of us could figure out Jane’s lackluster response to dinner, even though she usually practically makes out with the tomato & carrot combo.  As I was cleaning up after dinner, I realized that the rice was hard as a rock.  Seems as though you have to actually warm up cold rice for it to be edible.  Poor monkey.  She got a consolation dinner of plain yogurt.  This development pleased her.

2) Jane and I did some speed work on our run today.  Earlier in the week, I had to deal with some frustration in trying to get a midfoot strike going.  After watching a couple videos, I could finally visualize what I needed to do.  So, armed with my new knowledge (and with a much more successful run on Wednesday buoying my confidence), I decided to work on my speed.  I have never done speed work before.  My running has always been about making sure I could cover the distance.  My time just naturally improved with practice.  But, since I want to be more serious about my training, speed work seemed in order.  I did the first 2K at a very easy pace.  I went all out for 1K.  Went to an easy run for 1K, and finished out with an all out for the last 1K.  Then I took my time with the last two miles.  All in all, pretty successful.  Jane slept through the whole thing.

3) Our new favorite pizza:  wheat crust from Whole Foods, pizza sauce from Publix, Gimme Lean veggie sausage, mushrooms and green olives.  Amy’s half is missing the sausage but has cheese.  This pizza is for real good.  Every time we make it, I find that my half just doesn’t seem like enough.  It is that delicious.  Good thing for Ames her half has cheese; otherwise, I couldn’t make any promises….

You are WHAT? You have got to be kidding me…

November 1, 2011

For the past 17 years, what I am eating (or not eating, as the case may be) has been a topic of conversation among my family, friends and sometimes complete strangers.  It all started, as did some other rather life changing events, when I was 19…

The first girl I fell in love with (and oh my LORD was I in love) was a vegetarian.  So, of course, I decided I couldn’t possibly consume another chicken wing, in the name of love & all.  In the four years we were together, I eschewed most meat… except fish.  

Uh oh.  Danger.  This is where I began to notice that other folks were profoundly interested in my dietary choices.  See, you can’t say you are a vegetarian, if you eat fish.  Other real vegetarians will be peeved.  But to my mother, who was mighty put out by my refusal to eat beef stroganoff (and about the lesbian thing, too), I was a vegetarian, for sure.  And there was much sighing and many noisy ingredient subsitutions on her part.  So, I just said I was a vegetarian, opting to explain apologetically my consumption of our fish friends when I encountered a real vegetarian.  They were fewer in number than regular folks and easier to deal with than my mother.

I bounced in and out of vegetarianism for the next 5 years or so.  The first love & I split up (out! Yay, chicken wings!).  I declared myself a buddhist (in! Must not eat sentient beings!).  And, finally in 2007, I gave up meat (except not fish!) for Lent (oops!  I had also reacquainted myself with the Methodist church… but that is another story), and I just never started eating meat again after Lent was over.  I found that being a vegetarian (of sorts) forced me to examine my food choices.  Fast food wasn’t really an option any more.  I started packing my lunches.  I lost 10 pounds.  And I was comfortable with my choice.

My mother and mother-in-law–not as happy with my choice.  For almost two years, every time I ate at my mother-in-law’s house, I only ate sides.  And a salad.  And I would leave STARVING.  My mom, well she bemoaned all the things I couldn’t eat… And all the ways they would need to accomodate me on holidays.  The message was clear:  my eating habits were annoying, and while they would be tolerated, I would certainly have to pay a price for my finickiness.  I hated being the center of that kind of negative attention.  I mean, who wants to have any choice they make dissected repeatedly by the entire family?  

Folks outside the family often seemed perplexed by my food choices.  “What do you EAT?”  Or, my favorite, “I am a vegetarian, but I eat poultry.”  I know, I know… I was a seafood-eating vegetarian; but I was pushing the limits of the definition of vegetarianism to its boundaries.  People who eat chicken are definitely NOT vegetarians.  Sheesh.  And, God forbid someone else have to order food for me at a work or social event… Somehow, it almost always came off as if they were doing me a big favor by accomodating my needs.  All I wanted was to be able to choose what I put in my body without it being a big production.  

Well, if I thought the vegetarian issue was pushing the bounds of people’s capacity for tolerance, I had another thing coming.  When I decided I was going to give veganism a whirl, my food choices became (apparently) really threatening to other people.  Look, I just wanted to do the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart.  I thought the three weeks would probably suck, but I would be forced to eat more fruits and veggies (since my 9 month old daughter is clamoring to get her hands on whatever I am eating, that seemed like a laudable goal).  

But, it didn’t suck… And, I was learning to cook!  And, I had lots of energy!  And then I watched Forks Over Knives.  And being vegan began to seem like the only logical choice for me.  And that is the key:  for ME.  I don’t want to prostelytize veganism (although I do think everyone should watch Forks Over Knives).  I don’t really care what anyone else eats.  But I do care what I eat. And it is my choice to head in the vegan direction.  

Yes, veganism and all its oddities has been a topic of conversation among family and friends.  Yeah, I am having to listen to some rather confrontational critiques of my choices.  But what really gets me is that some other vegans won’t find me vegan enough because I eat honey (lots of honey.  For reals).  And I refuse to grill wait staff about what is in the food… I avoid items that obviously have eggs or dairy; I will ask about vegan items, but I do not insist on a complete ingredients list.  So, again, I am in the somewhat odd situation of being too much of something for the majority of the popluation and not enough of that very same thing for the little subset that I belong to.  

Here’s my bottom line:  I make choices about food thoughtfully.  My choices are not better than your choices.   But they are mine.  I do not want to defend them (to the vegans or the carnivores).  I find food deeply personal, and lately I am finding it deeply delicious.  That journey into truly amazing vegan food is part of what I am hoping to share here.