Susan’s Blog: Her 3rd Week of Vegetarian; Evolution of a Foodie

“I had a bad experience with some veggie burgers I bought this week- the consistency was just simply WRONG and I felt like I was trying to swallow a mouthful of gummy maggots- no joke.”

With sentences like that, this post needs little intro. Let’s just say she loved some foods, and hated others, but she’s moving forward and lost her cravings for junk. She’s realizing even a foodie can love vegetables :-)  I love the pics of her meals below, including Elizabeth’s Kale and Mango Salad!    Club members click on it for the recipe.  Read on…

Elizabeth's Kale and Mango Salad, Click for Recipe

Susan:

OK, so… last week I promised to entertain you with future blogs all about the exploits of a fat, unhealthy, stressed out, carnivorous, chain smoker attempting to become a mellow, uber-healthy, smoke free, vegan. I am sure some of you are still shaking your heads in disbelief.  Oh ye of little faith; take heart.  I am happy to say that I have survived the 3rd week of my new regime, and I have a few “war stories” and tips to share with you all.  Actually, it’s hard to know where to even begin.

I am a “foodie” at heart.  What does that term mean exactly? I love to peruse the grocery aisles looking for cool new things to try.  I love leafing through cook books finding delicious recipes. Put me in front of a TV tuned to the Food Network and I am transfixed for hours.  I have a blast trashing my kitchen and experimenting when I cook- it often looks like a hurricane has blown through when I have spent the day messing around,  using almost all of  my kitchen gadgets and pots and pans.  The sink may be piled high with dirty dishes, but it’s usually safe to assume that whatever I have created tastes amazing.  I love eating out.  I know the best little “hole-in-the-wall” dives and restaurants that serve up the greatest “whatever-it-is” you’re looking for. My partner Craig is Irish guy, and no offense to all you Mc’s out there, but he eats like one.  He likes his food plain, simple, bland and hearty.  As for variety, well…frankly, he could care less.  When he is in serious training mode leading up to his marathons and watching his diet, he could eat plain chicken breast, brown rice, and steamed broccoli every night for a month- scratch that, for a year- and never get sick of it… EVER.  His dinners boggle my mind, and quite frankly, just picturing his standard menu of choice makes me want to dry heave. I can’t eat like him, I just can’t.

To me, variety is the spice of life; I can’t eat the same boring food day in and day out without losing my mind. When I started watching my weight and restricting myself to roughly 1400 calories a day- I became obsessed with making the most out of those scant calories.  Peter and all the experts remind us “porkers” that we shouldn’t live to eat, but eat to live.  Food should be thought of as fuel; not as a culinary extravaganza, and a meal shouldn’t be a reward or the highlight of our day.  I don’t know about the rest of you, though the advice is sound; that is one bitter pill for a “foodie” to swallow. I wasn’t happy about it, but I eventually accepted the truth of those phrases and managed to re-think the way I eat.  I lost 80 lbs by abandoning regular supermarkets chocked full of traditional “crap” and started doing the bulk of my shopping at Trader Joe’s, where healthier versions of my favorite things were easy to find.  But as I have written, for the last 6 months or so, I have been spinning my wheels, gaining and losing the same 20 pounds over and over again, with no real progress; my “vision” and goals completely distorted and out of sync with my behaviors.  Just when I thought my frustrations had reached their peak, I got “whammied” with a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. Here is the thing; I know how to eat like total crap, and I know how to eat in a manner that I find satisfying while sticking to 1400 calories a day.  What I am absolutely “deer-in-the headlights” clueless about, is how to eat like a diabetic, or a vegetarian for that matter. Veggies?  Not so fond of half of the varieties out there.  Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta?  HATE them, despise them even.  In the past, I have managed to squeeze in the minimum amount of tolerable veggies that I had to, and as for pasta and rice- I just didn’t eat them anymore.  If I couldn’t have the traditional pasta or basmati rice that I truly loved, I’d just rather skip it, act like a martyr, and avoid the icky brown stuff all together.

As I mentioned, I have just finished off Week 3 of my new eating regime.  1400 calories a day comprised of 70% carbs, 20% fat, and 10% protein- all food consumed almost exclusively plant based items, with only 3 animal products allowed per week.  I equate this process to moving to Mars and trying to figure out which bits of rock and gravel are edible in order to survive- as in, “I have to eat WHAT???”  After the 1st week, I knew I couldn’t continue to exist forever on just Cannellini Beans and Hummus as sources of protein; I was going to have to expand my repertoire to make this plan work for me. Last week, my big find was the “Poo” (Vegetarian  “Chopped Liver”) from Whole Foods) which to my dismay, is no longer available in the store.  As “Murphy’s Law” would have it, I fell in love with a product that is a seasonal item and just around for the Jewish Holidays in the early part of autumn.  I did some digging and found a few copy-cat recipes for it online, I may get brave and try to create a homemade version of it myself; if I ever manage to make a tasty knock off, I’ll be sure to pass the recipe on.

 

So, what am I doing to make this whole Vegetarian thing work for me?  For starters, I avoid regular supermarkets- the scant amount of vegetarian fare leaves much to be desired, and 80% of what they carry is off limits to me.  Trader Joe’s- I still love the store and can grab a few old favorites from there, but again, a lot of what they stock is taboo for me now, and their produce section has always been poor.  It has become my habit to head over to Whole Foods in Ridgewood every Sunday morning after Peter’s group workout session and do my grocery shopping there- it is definitely Vegetarian friendly and has the best selection of all the types of items I need.  Organic versus regular items and produce; I used to try to buy Organic when possible, but I didn’t get too worked up about the pros and cons of either.  Now that my diet is almost exclusive Vegetarian, it is very important for me to buy Organic; I am eating way too many fruits and veggies not to be concerned about all those pesticides and chemicals that end up on traditional produce etc…  Each shopping trip continues to be an adventure; I have no clue what I am buying half the time or if I will even like it.  Most of the time I am pleasantly surprised, as with the “Poo,” however, I had a bad experience with some veggie burgers I bought this week- the consistency was just simply WRONG and I felt like I was trying to swallow a mouthful of gummy maggots- no joke. On a brighter note, I found a little store not far from my house that had a huge variety of Kind Bars.  The woman who owns the place gave me a great discount for buying in bulk, so I stocked up on 25 of them at one time and saved a nice chunk of cash- they have become my go-to breakfast while on the run along with a piece of fruit.

Another highlight, I tried some new recipes this week and they were awesome.  I have sent Peter some pictures of the new foods I prepared; two recipes in particular came from Peter’s online recipe collection.  I made Elizabeth’s Mango and Kale Summer Salad which was delicious and a huge hit with the little guys I take care of.  I had to fend them off in order to get my own portion, they were simply devouring it.  I never thought little kids would willingly plow through fresh, uncooked Kale- who knew??

Another surprising new veggie recipe for me was Peter’s version of “Horta” aka Dandelion Greens.  I was a little skeptical about the thought of eating “weeds” and I think I slightly over cooked them, but they were still amazingly good; I liked them even better than sautéed spinach which is a favorite of mine.

"Horta" Dandelion Greens- Click for Recipe

I find it challenging to get protein in my meals when I am not eating meat, fish, eggs or cheese- I found that lentil soup was a good option for me.  In addition to the yellow lentils, I added tomatoes, green chilies, garlic, onion, veggie stock and several Indian spices.  Super delicious and very filling, I was a happy camper.

Susan Lentil Soup

I finally, finally, FINALLY found a brand of whole wheat pasta I can live with.  It may be that I have been eating so many veggies that ANY pasta would taste good at this point, but I don’t think so.  This brand didn’t feel as chewy as others I have tried in the past, and didn’t leave that funny after taste behind.

Susan's New Favorite Pasta

I followed Peter’s guidelines for pasta serving sizes and weighed the uncooked pasta on my scale prior to cooking.  I looked at the tiny amount shown and thought that I would still be hungry afterwards but was pleasantly surprised.  I added some sautéed broccolini and fresh asparagus to the pasta and found that I was too full to finish the food in my bowl.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Broccolini and Asparagus

Three weeks down and I see some definite progress; cravings for junk have all but disappeared again- the elusive “zone” is within my grasp.  I am back on the scale every morning and see the pounds beginning to come off again.  Smoking continues to be a challenge for me- I lasted 4 days without a cigarette before caving in one night after a very stressful day.  I bought a pack, smoked 2 of them, and then tossed the rest away. It has now been 2 day since my last cigarette. Exercise is still not my favorite thing, but I am working on it; more on that topic next week…

 

1 comment for this entry:

  • elizabeth

    Hi Susan, You are an inspiration! I am so glad that you liked the kale salad? Have you tried making kale chips? My kids love them. Will you share your recipe for Lentil Soup? Thanks Elizabeth