I Am That Girl Now

Friday, February 24, 2006

Vegetarian testing... testing... 1 2 3

So, I talked to my Hub, and he's cool with the idea of me going vegetarian. Like everything else, we'll be working it out as we go along.

Today, just for the hell of it, I figured I'd try out a meatless day. Breakfast: granola with yogurt. Lunch: sushi, salad, pear and yogurt. (It was delayed, and I was hungry.) Dinner: broiled whitefish, steamed asparagus with lemon, and baked pears with strawberry sauce (recipe to follow later, because YUM).

I'm actually really pleased. I don't know when my head started equating this sort of eating with elegance and luxury, but simple, produce-full foods like this give me a kind of happy comfort. The closest I can come to explaining it is that I feel like I'm eating like a rich person. Everything I ate all day was just so damn pretty, and simple and filling and lovely.

Hell, that's huge. Closing in on two and a half years of healthy living, and I seem at least to have transformed my idea of the good life. It is, it seems, possible to become That Girl after all.

So, that's one day. What plan I have thus far is to shoot for three days of vegetarian eating per week, and then move up to a goal of five per week, and then eventually flip over so that I only eat meat on rare occasions. Slooow transition period.

I stocked up on bulk TVP (textured vegetable protein) granules at Whole Foods. Generally I don't buy a lot at Whole Foods, since there's the dual problem of things being more expensive and things being so damn cool and prettily displayed, which makes me want to buy everything. However, they've got bulk grains and whatnot, and bulk TVP, which is significantly cheaper than the kind in the small bags. (Mental note: also bulk rolled oats and steel-cut oats, the prices of both of which appear to be a nice bit less per pound than buying boxes of the stuff.) TVP is already cheaper than ground beef: current prices for the cheapest ground beef at PeaPod is $3.29/pound, and I bought bulk TVP for $1.69/pound. Half the price already-- and that's with the TVP still dry. Calculating generously so as not to overly offend the beef, that's going to end up with the TVP at a quarter of the price of the ground beef. It's half the protein content of ground beef, but on the other hand, pretty well fat free. What the hell, I'll take it.

Also, I've had TVP in dishes that my Hub ate in the past, and he never seemed to mind. This is promising.

I promised my baked pear recipe, and here it is-- seriously, you must try this.

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Take 4 ripe pears, peel them and core them and slice them up into eighths. In a small baking dish, whisk together 1/2 cup water, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, a small pinch of salt, a small splash of vanilla extract, and a bit of ground cloves (mine's fairly freshly ground, which I recommend). Put the pears in, and arrange them so that as many as possible have one side sitting on the bottom of the dish. Bake for 20 minutes, turning the pears over once if you like. (I forgot to turn mine, and they turned out just fine.)

In the meantime, grab some frozen strawberries. Nuke them for a few minutes in a microwave-safe bowl, and they'll disintegrate. Add a splash of red wine and a pinch of sugar, and then smoosh it up with a fork or (my proud method tonight) using a stick blender. Voila: strawberry sauce.

Serve the pears with a nice drizzle of the strawberry sauce over them. The pears are sweet, the strawberry sauce is tart, and it has all sorts of fragrance from the vanilla and cloves and fruit. Very yummy. So yummy, in fact, that my Hub, who has a tub of Ben & Jerry's tucked away in the freezer, completely forgot that he had the option of ice cream. Hooray!


  • I'm a smalltown midwesterner who has been pretty much vegetarian since I lived in Japan (where there isn't much room for cows or chickens or pigs, so if you want to eat them, expect to pay) and later married a dude from a Mediteranean ("we eat meat, but only the kind that takes 90 hours or an expensive pressure cooker to prepare") country.

    When we eat red meat, we go all out and spend lots of money on it and really enjoy it.

    I have never really gotten over the "guilt" of it. I think because the meat/potatoes/bread diet was such a staple of my working class childhood, I come to see anything else as an indulgence. But you're right, it does feel like pampering in a way...And I still feel that way almost six years later.

    By Blogger portuguesa nova, at 3:36 PM  

  • Maybe it's a former-small-town-Midwestern-girl thing. I think maybe that it's a change in the culture, too; it used to be that eating vegetarian was a sign of being all counter-culture (my Hub, in line with that thinking, has dubbed me the Stealth Hippie), but these days it has more of an aura of upper-class, urban people who either lavish a lot of time or a lot of money (or both) on their own care and feeding. Small servings are in line with the portion size at fancy restaurants.

    So odd. It's such simple food, and done a certain way it can manage to be cheap, but it smacks of rich folk cuisine. When I tell my parents about what we ate for dinner, they're always mildly astonished that we have things in our refrigerator like fresh ginger and goat cheese and a block of parmesan, that we've got crazy ingredients like bulgur wheat (and, now, the TVP), that we use freshly ground spices and fresh herbs... and, you know, it's a hell of a thing, but we've actually got used to it, and this sort of thing is pretty much normal now. (And lord, the guilt I just felt in typing that was amazing. I feel like I'm bragging or something. ACK.)

    By Blogger Meg, at 4:55 PM  

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