Thursday, February 11, 2010
I'm horrible at math, but I believe 57,600 minutes is how long I will have to go without eating a speck of meat. No, I'm not a vegetarian, and likely never will be, but I have decided to give up meat for Lent. I will allow myself to eat fish (it aligns with the church) and eggs but that's it. I'm not going to go vegan or take it that far, but giving up meat for 40 days is no small deal for a guy as obsessed with food as I am.
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have always dreaded Fridays during Lent because good Catholics (which I am, obviously ;-) abstain from meat. It used to be a big deal to me, but after expanding my culinary horizons, I was able to find ways that made the experience more enjoyable. Make no mistake about it though, I am doing this because I think it is a good sacrifice and reflects well on the season and what it means to us. I think it also represents a great opportunity to further expand my recipe base and cooking skills. I know I will get very tired of this at some point along the 40 days (Day 2?), but I'm committed to getting through it. I felt the same way when I gave up soda and sweets, and I made it through just fine and actually consume far less of each category for having done this. However, I can promise you there's no way I'm going to abandon my precious proteins forever. There's just no way.
My survival strategy is to make sure I'm eating the right foods, but balancing the diet to offset the difference from my regular diet:
1.) LOTS of fruit and veggies - I'll need the extra fiber and natural sugar to feel full and for energy
2.) Beans and legumes - a good source of protein (needed since I'm a beanpole) and a key component of my usual diet. I think they offer one of the better bastions for variety and take on flavors well.
3.) Whole grains - I need to get back to baking my own bread on a regular basis and eating filling grains lower on the glycemic index such as couscous, brown rice, whole grain pasta and quinoa
4.) Soup - I'm a huge soup buff this time of year and will need to hit the stock pot on Sundays so I have plenty of meals ready to go. That way I don't even need to think about what I'm missing out on
5.) Salads - offer the perfect vehicle for lean protein (tuna, salmon, eggs) as well as fiber rich veggies
6.) Whey Protein - I think I'll need to mix in smoothies with berries and peanut butter to help keep some weight on
The above will help offset cravings for pizza pasta and an entire ball of whole milk mozzarella, while keeping my diet not only diverse, but healthy. I'll be taking pics and writing posts about my experience to keep you informed but could really use some help on the following:
1.) Any vegetarian recipes that you really cherish/celebrate - I'd sure appreciate it
2.) A few good tips for restaurants that offer some good veggie options, but also offer a full menu for my companions
3.) Most importantly, a great spot for me to grab dinner on Fat Tuesday - I might as well go out in a protein-rich blaze of glory. I'm thinking 112 Eatery, Saffron and Sapor Cafe as of right now
More to come and happy Eating,