I have always loved a good dictionary, and once I learned what one was and how to use it, I love a thesaurus. The love affair has only been enhanced since such tools became available online, so much more portable than even the paperback versions I carried around with me in my first attempts at college.
It crosses my mind frequently because I like to ensure I am using words and terms correctly. Plus I strangely have no shame admitting if I am unfamiliar with a word and looking it up to ensure I understand its context. And anymore, with autocorrect, sometimes things that come across text make no sense when autocorrect has had its way with the communication. On top of which, so many words and phrases become bastardized in common use, and the older I get the more confusing slang may become. Fortunately I work and am around a fair number of younger, hipper folks, so I learn a lot about pop culture that way. I would much rather get my doses of modern language that way than have to watch trash TV or read even more crap on the internet.
Last week, M and I had the pleasure of hosting 5 young men for several days. They were vegetarian (4 of them) and a lone vegan, so I figured our days with them would be mostly meatless, because I strive to be a good hostess and let my guests run wild in the kitchen preparing their own special meals. M still ate meat, because when he is in heavy training that is his fuel of choice. But we were both game to try new things.
What I learned:
- Cauliflower, kale, carrots, and sweet potatoes are yuck no matter how prepared.
- I believe I may have a racial bias against orange vegetables.
- While I love garlic, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
- Roasted garlic … OMG I cannot believe we do not have this every week. Probably it’s the crackers and bread we eat it with that keeps it off the menu.
- Roasted vegetables on the smoker come out delicious, assuming they are not cauliflower, kale, carrots, or sweet potatoes.
- Cheese is still a great equalizer on questionable taste and textures.
- Beans/legumes must be thoroughly cooked, period. The rinsing and soaking happened, but the cooking was a little questionable. I am not a big fan in the first place, but after a horrible stomach ache from what seemed to me like mildly crunchy, undercooked beans, never again.
- I do not seem to tire of salad greens and balsamic vinaigrettes.
- Faux meat (Boca burgers, Morningstar meatless things, Dr. Praeger – seems we tried them all last week) are
mostlynot my cup of tea, as in I think they taste like crap.
This summer thus far I have eaten more tofu and non-white rice than the rest of my life combined. I have tried all sorts of different things – from pseudo-mashed potatoes (only without the potato) made with cauliflower to a layered vegetarian pizza with corn tortilla as the crust and some mishmash of beans and tomatoes and a very spare amount of cheese. Much of the vegetarian food made with actual, real vegetables was tolerable, some was really, really good (loved the spiraled zucchini with avocado oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese) and not so good (cauliflower, orange vegetable anything – nuff said).
The meatless meat substitutes, as noted above, taste worse than what I imagine spiced cardboard tastes like. Maybe it’s the texture? Or the spices utilized to give them flavor? Whatever, I still stick with my occasional cheeseburger, maybe even with a couple of slices of bacon if I’m feeling truly indulgent. I rarely eat sausage or chicken nuggets, but occasionally have some of that Aidell’s chicken sausage with M or nuggets from any number of fast food places (Wendy’s version is probably my favorite) if I am starving and desperate. The little fake sausage and chicken nuggets are not for me. Like so many things, if I can no longer enjoy the real thing I may as well just find something else to eat, because I genuinely dislike the alternatives.
I am a picky eater, but this year I was willing to at least taste just about everything. I admit the first bites/tastes were always small, because in past experiments there has been a fair amount of chewing twice and swallowing the rest whole. My vegetable repertoire is expanding, and there are even a few that I don’t mind that M absolutely hates (spinach, beets, tomatoes). I never used to be a big fan of cooked tomatoes, but there is something to be said for roasting and pureeing them for marinara sauce. Learned about eggplant – preparation is probably important with that.
I’m grateful, so grateful to RD for coaxing me into giving a more plant-based food diet a try. He has the patience of a saint as I have moaned about the texture of some things, told him how much I despised the taste of others, and very grudgingly agreed to at least try a broader range of foods. In the last few months I have been through various brands and kinds of protein powder and dutifully reported back how many of them tasted as if they were grass-clippings based. I am sort of grudgingly finishing a bottle of the vega brand, but I’m not certain I will buy it again. Since I have given up cereal and therefore do not drink milk anymore, given up most cheese because I am not eating sandwiches or pizza, and I do not find M’s nachos all that enticing (with the guacamole and salsa he so loves), I am feeling perfectly okay with the whey protein powder in the morning. Syntha 6 has a new product out (Syntha 6 edge) that is slightly higher in protein, but lower in calories, fat, sugar, and carbs. By itself it’s just okay, but mixed with the amino energy powder tastes delightful.
My week as a vegetarian test driver also reminded me that many different beans and legumes (from a can, not soaked and cooked from scratch) are not bad to delicious in salads and mixed with other things. I still love sunflower seeds and other nuts and have found various uses for them, everything from salads to oatmeal and tossed in stir-frys. Meat-avoiding runner friends have been great about sharing their thoughts and ideas, and of course trainer J, who through his own experiments and adventures this year in vegetarian and vegan eating always provides plenty of thoughtful ideas.
At the end of this little adventure, I find green salads remain the most interesting and best part of vegetarian eating, especially when topped with hard boiled eggs and chicken. But the vegetable choices on my plate have expanded considerably, as good a diet win as any I have experienced thus far.