are you a vegetarian?

January 15, 2010

It must be the dreadlocks that prompt this question. In the last few weeks, my answer has been, “Yes, for now.” When I wrote my resolutions, I didn’t write a lot about food, but I knew I wanted to go into 2010 eating differently.

I started with a 3-day fast. The Lord clearly spoke to me about direction for the coming year. After, I decided that until January 21st (the day before my birthday), I was going to cut out meats, sweets, and caffeine. These last 15 days have been a huge success!

To be successful as a vegetarian (or as a person), variety is essential. I knew that if I cut sweets especially, I needed a strategy that included eating some things I liked. Three staples that have helped me immensely are 1) decaf tea & coffee, 2) wraps, and 3) smoothies.

Going from having caffeine everyday to not at all was a particular challenge, but necessary. Caffeine tends to make me hungry and jittery. I also heard that it can alter your hormones. Towards the end of 2009, my sleeping patterns were also more erratic as a result of some afternoon coffees with friends. However, I LOVE the taste of coffee and the culture of going to coffee shops to hang out and talk. Hot drinks are especially inviting during cold winters. Fortunately, I had accidentally bought some decaf chai tea at the end of last year, and a friend of mine had given me some roastaroma tea made by celestial seasonings that tastes a lot like coffee. These drinks with a bit of soy milk have been my staples for these 15 mornings. For those afternoon chats, almost every coffee shop I adore makes decaf lattes (my favorite!) that taste every bit as good as the original.

Cutting out sugar from breakfast involved a simple deduction of honey from my oatmeal. I had already cut it out of my caffeinated drinks in favor of either vanilla soy milk or now, just plain soy milk. I have found that cinnamon really helps with sweet cravings and is a great topping for oatmeal. I have also kept a supply of dried cranberries to add in. These, frozen blueberries, or chopped apples have all been delicious and enough of a variety to keep me interested in breakfast. I pair my breakfast with a half of grapefruit on some mornings when I’m feeling hungrier. I really also want to try cheddar on my oatmeal in the near future since vegetarianism (for me) has also been a rediscovery of dairy!

For lunch, I usually have soup or a wrap. My soups of choice are either split pea, tomato-basil, or my roommate’s white-bean chili. I haven’t yet made my butternut squash/sweet potato/chard soup for this season, but I know it’s coming!

Wraps bring immense variety into a diet. And once you get started with materials, they don’t take that long to make (I have lots of little tupperware containers in my fridge). My favorite filling is sweet potato, which has much nutritional value and satisfies a sweet tooth. Sweet Potatoes are very easy to heat in the microwave (for about 10-15 minutes wrapped in a wet paper towel), but I usually bake them in the oven. One sweet potato can make at least 4 or 5 wraps, which is sufficient for one week. I also include black beans, salsa, leafy greens, cheddar cheese, and whatever color bell pepper I have at the moment. All these are stuffed inside a wheat wrap. The picture on the left features a wrap with egg, spinach, salsa, hummus, yellow pepper, and cheddar cheese. Eggs are a great source of protein, which is something you miss not eating meat. Spinach provides iron, which usually comes from red meat.

It took me until now to discover that my roommate had a blender! Mine broke last year, so smoothies were definitely missed. When I cut out sweets for six months in 2006, I ate flavored yogurt to replace dessert. Because I now know that flavored yogurt has artificial sweeteners and really isn’t as good for you as plain, I decided that smoothies would be necessary to survive.

When I visited New York this past fall, I went into a very natural smoothie shop and had a spinach smoothie that was fantastic. Shockingly, for as much as Dr. Oz promotes spinach smoothies, he does not have one recipe on his website. I’m still working on mine, but I have two suggestions so far: 1) don’t add too much spinach, and 2) don’t add blueberries. The color just isn’t as pleasing and blueberries and spinach seem not to taste as well together.

Here are the ingredients from a smoothie I made today:

1 banana, 1 handful of spinach, 5 chunks of frozen mango (I definitely buy organic frozen fruit: it tastes SO much better!), a handful of frozen strawberries, soy milk (any type of juice will do), plain yogurt, and half a lime with peel. You don’t need ice when you use frozen fruit.

I got the idea to include citrus fruit peel from foster’s market in Durham. They have a delightful smoothie called blue heaven, which includes blueberries, honey, and an entire lemon. Lime tastes great with strawberry and spinach and pretty much everything else in the world. Think of all the good nutrients you’re getting! Color often indicates vitamins, so I’ve had mine for today. I even swirl some yogurt on top to give the illusion of whipped cream, which I love.

If you’re interested in more about food, you should check out my sister’s blog. Also, stay tuned for my next post, vegetarian adventures in dinner when I talk about eating with others and being vegetarian.

One Response to “are you a vegetarian?”

  1. Valerie said

    Yay this is great. I love reading about food. I got the “Are you a vegetarian” question a lot too in college since I ate veggie burgers and hummus wraps a lot. I took a challenge to be vegetarian for a week one time, and it really wasn’t too hard for me since I’m not a big meat eater. Maybe I’ll try it for a longer time sometime.

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