Trouble With Toast

Adventures in pescetarianism | March 7, 2007

It’s been just over two weeks since I began my journey into quasi-vegetarianism. Specifically, I’m not allowed to have any meat (besides fish–I can’t give up sushi) during the week, but I can eat whatever I want on the weekend.

So far, I haven’t had any Monday through Friday slips. As for my Saturday and Sunday meat consumption, here’s what I’ve tallied: tapas at Jaleo (which included small servings of sausage, bacon, and oxtail) and pepperoni pizza during weekend number one, and turkey bacon (on my reduced-fat Starbucks breakfast sandwich) during weekend number two.

I feel healthier and more energetic, but I can’t take all of the credit—part of the reason it’s been fairly easy to wean myself off the animal products has been the wide variety of meatless options I’ve found in the local groceries and restaurants. Here is a sample of some of my favorite “veggie-fied” eats from the past couple of weeks:

* Portobello mushroom and roasted red pepper pizza from Busboys & Poets—While it’s fairly easy to avoid meat on pizza by simply loading up on the vegetable toppings, this pie was superb because of its flavorful pesto topping and light, crunchy crust. They didn’t skimp on the Portobello mushrooms, either, which meant that I stayed satisfied longer.

* Eggs—I don’t eat them every day (gotta watch that cholesterol), but one of my go-to dinners lately has been “throw some produce and some eggs and some cheese in an omelet pan and see how it turns out.” My favorite combination is mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes.

* Morningstar Farms veggie sausage patties—I’m a Southern girl, so of course I’m a big fan of the sausage biscuit. Instead of pork breakfast meat and buttery pastries, though, I’ve been heating up some tasty (they’re spiced just like traditional sausage) soy-based patties and placing them between light English muffins. Paired with a banana or some fresh cantaloupe, it’s a very hearty way to start the day.

* Black beans—I was never a fan of beans until I lived in Spain and my “mom” cooked them for me all the time. Now I love to eat them over saffron rice. Or, as I did last night, I can toss them into a wheat tortilla with some sautéed zucchini and red bell peppers, brown rice, shredded cheese, and chipotle salsa.

* Wild mushroom bisque from Au Bon Pain—Yum! This soup is one of the best I’ve ever had. Sure, it’s high in sodium (like most soups), but it’s also chock full of flavor, and it’s quite filling, especially when paired with a small green salad or a whole grain breadstick. Plus, mushrooms are low in fat and loaded with vitamins and minerals—and nothing beats a steaming bowl of bisque on a cold, windy DC afternoon.

* Falafel—I’ve always enjoyed this little fried treat, but it holds an even more special place in my heart right now. Shockingly, I really like the version at my restaurant—the tahini sauce has a great kick to it.

* Hummus and fresh vegetable sandwich from Cosi—While I wouldn’t necessarily eat Cosi’s hummus by itself (it’s a little grainy for that, in my opinion), it is delicious when it shares the spotlight with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and basil. Even though the whole sandwich weighs in under 500 calories, it’s relatively high in fiber and protein, so it keeps you going for a while. If I’m really hungry and it’s the right day, I also order a side of the vegetable and mushroom soup (which is not quite as good as the aforementioned bisque, but still darn tasty).

Of course, I’ve also cooked some pasta with meatless sauce and created a couple of spectacular salads with my weekly produce delivery. The bottom line is that I’m enjoying how I feel, and I’m having fun taste-testing all of the options available to me.

Does anyone out there have a favorite meatless recipe? A preferred brand of prepared/frozen vegetarian food? A local restaurant that offers something besides a tired pasta primavera? Let me know!

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