Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 8: The "Challenge" is a challenge...

One week is over and I’ve got to admit, I’m skeptical.  I’d like to say this diet, or should I say “Lifestyle” has been a breeze, but the truth is it’s hard.  In general, I love the focus on healthy grains, veggies and fruits and have found an entire world of fresh produce that I didn’t know existed or at least would have never considered buying.  Before last week, I had never tried kale or bok choy and it turns out they are good!  Consumption of plant-based foods has helped me to branch out to new foods I wouldn’t have tried and also made me more aware of how often I skipped the veggie part of a meal and stuck to meats and grains.  So, from that aspect, I’m loving the diet and my increased consumption of greens. 

Surprisingly, I haven’t missed meat and dairy at all and I find cooking much more enjoyable when I’m not worried about cleaning and prepping meat.  Although, I will definitely always choose goat yogurt over coconut yogurt which lacks yogurt’s characteristic tanginess.  So, why the skeptics then?  I miss oil!  Now that I’m looking, oil is in everything.  How do you make popcorn without oil and are there any oil-free tortilla chips out there?  Tortilla chips were my go-to dinner option when I was strapped for time.  Pared with corn, black beans, spinach and avocado, it made a filling and fast dinner.  I’ve substituted spinach and quinoa for the chips, turning the dish into more of a healthy burrito bowl, but there’s really no comparison to the salty goodness of tortilla chips.  And I’m not even going to mention the struggle I’ve been having with Angie’s Kettle Corn except to say that I bought it at Costco yesterday and started eating it before I left the store…  There are so few food items that I can truly enjoy without worrying about some sort of reaction or sensitivity and these corn-based items were two of my favorite indulgences.  When I’ve given up so much, why should I give this up too?

And what about when I go to a friend’s for dinner or a wedding?  My diet is already so limited due to medical factors, why should I make it even harder by choice?  The gluten and dairy free option at events is almost always meat.  And, I hate to admit it, but when I go to my friend’s wedding next week and they tell me the only gluten-free option is a chicken breast, I know I will eat it.  I will most likely feel intense guilt about this choice and who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky with some gluten free quinoa pasta, but I’m being realistic here.  Food already consumes so much of my life and my family’s life.  With so many restrictions, I feel guilty adding another one and expecting my family and friends to accommodate me.  In the past, when I’ve been worried about what I’ll be able to eat at an event, I’ve always held faith that, no matter what, there would be a plain piece of meat I could eat.  I don’t miss meat in my at-home life and think I might keep this veggie lifestyle at home even after the 28 days are over, but when I go out, that meat option has always been there for me and I don’t know if I can let that go.

So, I’ve had a few discouraging thoughts this week and a few slip ups.  I couldn’t stop myself from eating tortilla chips or kettle corn (both really good and both containing oil).  But, all in all, I feel great about eating more fruits and veggies and am surprised to see that in my daily life, a meat-free existence hasn’t been too painful. 

I promised I would spend this past weekend brainstorming new and more inventive menu options, so for the next month, I will post a new recipe idea every Friday.   For today, I will post my favorite lentil recipe which is fast and easy.  Not exactly inventive, but sometimes flavor and time are more important.

Quick and Easy Lentils:
1 cup lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 cup chopped mushrooms
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring vegetable broth and lentils to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 20 minutes, until soft.  While lentils cook, saute onion and garlic until soft.  When lentils have cooked for 20 minutes, add onion, garlic, mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes, or until all broth has been absorbed.

See you Friday for Vegetable Coconut Curry.

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