Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vegetarian Cooking For Dummies

I was leaning toward talking about walking a mile in the shoes of a hippie, but they often do not wear them, so we will stick with the title I have.  Yesterday was the first Monday in my new Meatless Mondays program.  I did alright, even well.  I was smart and made sure to have things I knew I liked around.  I also had a little bit of an indulgence on hand in case I really felt deprived.  I saved so many calories on my meals that I felt completely okay having a little bit of dark chocolate.  My lunch was pretty basic, and mostly stuff I already had to hand.  Some hummus and pita chips, a selection of cheeses, grapes, and a small salad.

You may be saying, "Chase, cheese is not the best choice when on a diet."  You may be right, whoever you are, but cheese is maybe my favorite food ever.  It is magical and wonderful and a gift from God.  Those three small pieces you see, altogether less than 3 oz., may look the same, but they were varied and delicious.  I will never ever give up cheese and I am happy to work a little bit harder to keep enjoying it in moderation.  It was a balanced and delicious meal, and definitely something I could get used to.

Dinner took a bit more planning.  One vegetarian option I knew I would enjoy in lieu of meat as an entree was mushrooms.  Portabella mushrooms are large, meaty, and when prepared correctly almost like steak.  I started by marinating the mushrooms briefly in some Worcestershire Sauce and an ingredient new to my kitchen, Ponzu.  Ponzu sauce, or Shoyu Ponzu, is soy sauce mixed with citrus flavors.  the sodium is much less than straight soy and it has a little sweetness that is very pleasant.  It is the sweeter soy sauce you get when visiting nicer sushi restaurants and they present you with several sauces.

I sauteed the mushrooms so that they were firm, but nice and hot.  The rest of the meal was simple.  I broiled some asparagus for a filling side dish and rounded out the meal with a side salad.  Here is the completed plate.

As you can see this is a lot of food, and altogether it was less than 300 calories.  Even prepared lean and mean a meal with that much chicken would have been around 500 calories.  The meal really stayed with me as well, which surprised me.  I was worried that the meal would prove less substantial and that I would get hungry again before bed.  This was not the case at all.  Marinating the mushrooms gave me a great flavor and texture, and I didn't miss meat at all, plus the food is less calorie dense than meat, allowing me to make a large plate.  I was plenty satisfied and pleasantly surprised.  I won't be able to do the same dish every Monday, so I am looking for suggestions that will fill up this omnivore, but now I am sure that I can survive and enjoy a day as a vegetarian.

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