Last year, sort of a new year’s resolution, I chose to become a vegetarian. It really wasn’t going to be that hard of a transition since I really like whole grains, beans and most every vegetable. I even like tofu for crying out loud. I figured it was time to give my body a healthy change and see what happened.
Since it was winter in Colorado I quickly became an expert soup maker. Black bean stoup, Moroccan chick pea, split pea sans the ham, and lentil. I even skipped the crock pot and made each soup from scratch stove top. Then I would have food for the week. While the soup was simmering I would often put out of cutting board of fresh peppers, whole grain breads, olive oil for dipping and hummus. Much to my surprise my children started trying all sorts of new foods. They discovered they really liked hummus, but preferred sour dough or white breads. They almost always tried each of my new soup recipes. They liked most of them enough for a second spoonful – except the Moroccan chick pea. I think too many strange, non soup flavors in that one. I really liked it! So as we say often here, “more for me!”
I also discovered two out of three of my children liked tofu as well. My oldest even asked if I would make it. We fried it, baked it, cubed it and tossed it. It really is quite the chameleon of bean cakes.
What I really discovered during my five months as a vegetarian was that the rest of the world makes it very hard to eat healthy. I recall going to our local mall food court and discovering there was really nowhere I could eat. Too much salt, too much fried meat, too much crap in general. How had I never seen this before? It’s really no wonder so many Americans fail at diets. There is no “fast fix" when it comes to eating good healthy, whole foods.
Next we went to a family chain restaurant and I discovered more of the same – just dressed up a little nicer on real plates. I ended up ordering a house salad because that was the ONLY vegetarian item on the menu. I expected maybe a soup, maybe a pasta – no luck! No chicken on the side thank you. No shrimp on the side thank you. I think the waiter just thought I was cheap.
I discovered it was so much easier to just eat at home. Although I can also say the grocery store works really hard to keep you away from whole foods too. Aisles filled with processed fast food loaded with sodium and who knows what. I literally stopped buying anything in a box. Why is it there are only coupons for processed food? So the crazy soup lady continued experimenting with different legumes, vegetable broth and handfuls of spinach.
I’m not sure why I fell off the vegetarian wagon. I think one day I just felt a little tired and craved some chicken. My body was telling me it needed a little animal protein. Balance is important too! Of course I had one bite and felt really weird.
Now I follow a vegetarian diet with some meat thrown in for good measure. I still would always rather have a big bowl of roasted veggies and beans with a chunky piece of whole grain bread on the side. It’s like heaven to me. Yes, I know I'm weird -- my children remind me every day.
As winter approaches my beautiful state of Colorado I’m thinking perhaps it’s time to bring the soup lady, hummus and roasted veggies back! I am, of course, forever grateful wine is not a meat product. Why not try some real, whole foods today... see what happens!
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