My Meatless Day

For some time now I have been meaning to do a day where my diet contained no meat.  With the Lenten Season upon us, I decided that now was just a good a time as any and selected Friday as my meatless day.  To be clear, I am not doing this for reasons of faith, but I do intend on exploring how those who do reflect upon “the passion” during this time, but that is for another post, another day.

The primary reason for wanting to do a day without meat is rooted in a revived interest in improving my general wellness.  Sure weight loss is a factor, but I want to be sure that I am living lifestyle that I can do (and tweak) over time. For some, removing meat for their entire diet has yielded great success in loosing weight, as well as a decrease in factors leading to heart disease, and such.  For instance, after a quadruple heart bypass former President Bill Clinton adopted a vegan lifestyle.  He dropped 20 pounds and claims to be in the best health of his life. While this lifestyle has worked for him, I have no intention of totally giving up meat, nor am I to go totally vegan on my day off from meat.

Grass Fed Beef on the New York Hillsidek via http://www.flickr.com/photos/supak/

A secondary reason is environmental.  In short, it takes a lot of resources to make meat.  I have made some attempt to minimize my environmental impact of my meat purchases.  For instance, I pretty much only buy grass fed beef. However, the purchase of any meat product has inherent impact upon the environment. So, reducing my consumption of meat, even for only one day, should provide a positive net impact to the environment.

So, here I am a dedicated, one day a week vegetarian.  Where to begin? Breakfast I guess!  My usual morning meal is a granola/protein bar or a homemade english muffin with egg and turkey sausage.  So, remove the meat and substitute the turkey sausage for a slice of cheese.  For lunch I had a fairly normal lunch at one of my favorite fish restaurants, no problem here. (Update: I have been made aware that this technically makes me a “pescatarian”, but I am counting it just the same.)  Even managed to work in a soy latte in the afternoon.

Then there was dinner.  After my day of withholding meat from my diet, I found myself craving the leftover bierocks at home.  On my way home, it dawned on my that this would violate my self imposed diet for the day.  For years I had heard my catholic friends mention having an “oops” moment from time to time during lent.  I can now empathize.

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So, I scrounged around the kitchen to piece together a meal. I ended up thawing out some cocktail shrimp and whipping up a tomato bisque that was so flavorful that I did not give those bierocks in the fridge a second thought.  The best part was that my calorie deficient meal had left me room in my diet to accept an impromptu invitation for cocktails.

The next day. I was seriously feeling why the catholics consider a meatless day a day of fasting and the following weigh-in day (Tuesday) I found myself 1/2 pound lighter.  This was a big deal since I had literally been on a weight plateau for 3 weeks.  So, it was a small change and only for one day, but I can see how this might translate into being a difference maker in my quest for better health.

So, are you a full time or part time vegetarian? (update: vegans and pescatarians may apply) Help a guy out!  How do you cope in a world of carnivores and omnivores?  Got any yummy vegetarian recipes?  I’d love to hear what you do or what you think! 

Make canned soup taste like something from a restaurant

On a cold, winter day nothing hits the spot like a warm bowl of soup.  If you are like me, you have a cupboard full of canned soup that you bought at the store either when it was last on sale or simply with good intentions of packing it in a sack lunch or as part of a lovely,  evening meal at home.   The only problem is that store bought, canned soup can get a little old after a while.

Now, in this same pantry (or in close proximity) you have a spice rack.  You know, it is that thing that you got as a graduation, wedding or other occasion present months to years ago.  It contains a plethora of dried spices that are begging for re-hydration.  If you know how to use a salt or pepper shaker, you can cook with spices, just add to taste! Just be sure to stir and taste often and to cook over a low to medium heat.

Not sure what spice(s) to use?  Then try the spice advice chart.  It provides a quick, simple chart of spice to food pairings (including soup) that will make anyone into a spice conusor.   We keep a copy posted on or near the fridge at all times.

Have your own cooking, quick fix or tip? Have a favorite soup/spice pairing?  Post them in the comments below.