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Vegetarian for a week

Vegetarian

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#61 Fat Guy

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 12:03 PM

Breakfast today was yogurt and fruit.

For lunch I made a "vegetarian but not locavore" platter: Israeli pickles, Greek olives, Australian cheddar, French mustard and French Culinary Institute sourdough bread (the one locally produced item, albeit made from flour that was surely produced elsewhere).

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I'm hoping it cools down enough this evening for me to do some real cooking.

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#62 Jenni

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 12:28 PM

Dumb question: Is your glass pink or is your drink pink? Or both?!

#63 Fat Guy

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 12:32 PM

That's the color of the glass, which is made of plastic. Inside is just water.

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#64 Jenni

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 12:44 PM

In my imagination your drink is also pink :)

#65 Fat Guy

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 03:53 PM

I've started two pots of beans: kidney and cannellini. I plan to make a vegetarian chili with kidney beans and tofu, and a white bean and escarole soup. I might also make some lentils into an approximation of daal with Indian-type spices. The beans should be ready for use in a couple of hours.

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#66 Fat Guy

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 07:51 PM

Tonight I did a bunch of cooking. I started by making beans according to the Russ Parsons no-soak procedure I outlined here a few years ago.

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Here's my mise en place for the three items I planned to cook: vegetarian chili with kidney beans and tofu, white bean and escarole soup, and Indian-spiced lentils.

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Each of the three dishes started out the same: onions, carrots, celery and garlic, with salt, cooked to develop flavor.

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At this point the preparations diverge: first when adding the different seasoning mixtures, then when adding beans or lentils (the lentils were not pre-cooked, because they cook so quickly anyway) and finally with the addition of chopped tomatoes to the white beans and the chili (not the lentils).

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After giving the flavors time to blend, I added escarole to the white beans and tofu to the chili (there was nothing added to the lentils).

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As the dishes neared completion, I adjusted seasoning. In all cases, more salt. In the case of the lentils, I added some paprika too, and more pepper.

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Once they're cool enough, I'll pack these in containers -- some in the refrigerator and some in the freezer -- for use throughout the coming week.

For my own dinner, I made a Swiss-cheese omelet and some toasted French Culinary Institute bread.

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#67 Katie Meadow

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 08:36 PM

Steven I admire your ambition--and your ability to keep the ingredients straight for three types of legumes and three pots at one time. Your omelet looks yummy. I've been thinking I should probably get more protein, since most of my veg meals have had little cheese, and no eggs. Being a dedicated vegetarian would be very hard for me, since cholesterol is something I have to limit. Some of my husband's family are diehard vegetarians and they eat mountains of cheesy entrees. I have to admit, I am starting to look forward to some shrimp in a couple of days.

Today's lunch was an avocado salad with red onions and a peach smoothie.

This evening we made mint juleps for the first time. Really tasty, but they made me wish I had some cheese straws to go with. That bottle of Bulleit Bourbon is disappearing quickly. The rest of the meal was sort of southern too, but only if you mean southern Europe. As you noted Greek and middle eastern food lends itself to a vegetarian diet. I grilled eggplants on the barbie and made Baba Ghanouj. I love it when it's still warm. Along with that we devoured most of a baguette, Greek salads and some surprisingly flavorful blue lake beans from the farmers' market, dressed only with a squeeze of lemon, olive oil and salt. My husband is chowing down on the leftover rice pudding, but I'm too full.

Edited by Katie Meadow, 08 July 2011 - 08:38 PM.


#68 Fat Guy

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 08:41 PM

I've been surprised at how much dairy protein I've been eating on this vegetarian regimen: yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, butter. I want to try to reduce those a bit, to get more in the spirit. That's part of what motivated me to lay in a supply of vegetarian -- vegan, actually -- entree items that can form a complete meal when served with rice or whatever.

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#69 djyee100

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 09:21 PM

I've been surprised at how much dairy protein I've been eating on this vegetarian regimen: yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, butter. I want to try to reduce those a bit, to get more in the spirit...


People tend to miss the luxurious mouth-feel of fats when eating vegetarian dishes. Vegetables may be starchy, but they are also "lean." That's why the craving for dairy and eggs. Also, veggies have an earthy, bitter edge to them, even the sweet veggies like carrots. Dairy distracts from and ameliorates the bitterness. All this is a complicated way to say, I think you're normal.

#70 Mjx

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 12:17 AM

I've been surprised at how much dairy protein I've been eating on this vegetarian regimen: yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, butter. I want to try to reduce those a bit, to get more in the spirit. That's part of what motivated me to lay in a supply of vegetarian -- vegan, actually -- entree items that can form a complete meal when served with rice or whatever.


Have you experimented with using small amounts of avocado (about 17% fat, according to USDA stats) to give a richer mouth feel to foods? It's surprisingly neutral tasting (McGee even recommends it as an addition to sorbets, in The Curious Cook), and does the job extremely well.

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#71 Fat Guy

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 05:39 AM

Were I to eat vegan, I'd probably rely on avocado a lot.

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#72 weinoo

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 06:25 AM

In salads, I often just use avocado as the "oil." In other words, as I toss the salad with my "impeccably clean hands," I smash up the avo and it becomes the dressing, along with perhaps some freshly squeezed lemon juice or other acid...even the tomatoes, if they're good, can become the acidic component.

I know that the Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines have been mentioned a lot as being great for vegetarians. I haven't yet seen dishes that require very little cooking, like tabbouleh or cacik (cucumber-yogurt soup) or the great bean salads, using canned beans.

Of course, when I go "vegetarian," which tends to last for a meal or so, I love thinking Italian. Caprese, of course, but pasta e fagioli is great too. The vegetable/pasta dishes of southern Italy are satisfying and healthy as well, and just a little grating of a fine Parmesan of Pecorino goes a long way to boost flavor.
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#73 Dejah

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 07:21 AM

Your three pots, three dishes definitely shows off multi-tasking. :smile:
Here are some of my fav, vegetarian dishes:

Fish-Fragrant Eggplant
Meatless Ma-po Tofu
Meatless Singapore Rice noodles
Moosewood's Hungarian Mushroom Soup - substitute chicken stock with veg stock
Vospapur - Armenian Lentil Spinach Soup - again with veg stock
Vegetarian Lasagna from Loony Spoons - my daughter's fav.
Egg Fo Young with bean sprouts, mushrooms, onion, celery, cabbage
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#74 Fat Guy

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 07:36 AM

Vegetable stock. I need to make some of that. I better start a topic.

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#75 Fat Guy

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 07:37 AM

(There are already a few. Going to read now.)

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#76 Katie Meadow

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 10:34 AM

People tend to miss the luxurious mouth-feel of fats when eating vegetarian dishes. Vegetables may be starchy, but they are also "lean." That's why the craving for dairy and eggs. Also, veggies have an earthy, bitter edge to them, even the sweet veggies like carrots. Dairy distracts from and ameliorates the bitterness. All this is a complicated way to say, I think you're normal.


I would expect that a vegan diet is lacking the mouthfeel of fats, but most vegetarians I know eat plenty of omelets, brie, ice cream and chocolate. Dairy and eggs is a way of getting protein on a vegetarian diet. Although most whole grains and legumes have some protein, vegans need to work hard to find sources of protein beyond tofu. And, among many of the people I know who are past 50 and who have been strict vegetarians, many are now eating fish and chicken, because they just find their bodies need it.

As for very little cooking, one of my all-time favorites is uncooked tomatoes on pasta. If you cut them up and add salt and basil and let it sit for half an hour, then dump it with added butter or olive oil onto a plate of hot pasta, sprinkle with some pecorino or whatever, it's awfully satisfying. Of course the tomatoes have to be great to begin with, or it's ho-hum.

#77 gpark

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 11:01 AM

My incursions into vegetarian eating is when I get together with one of my daughters. She and her husband have been eating vegetarian for a long time. It has been interesting and educational to spend time with them and focus on cooking vegetarian specifically because we are with them. So it is a little like Fat Guy's week of vegeterian eating. For me, some stuff doesn't work at all. But, mostly we have great meals together because we are both creative and adventurous cooks and eaters

#78 Will

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 11:21 AM

I would expect that a vegan diet is lacking the mouthfeel of fats, but most vegetarians I know eat plenty of omelets, brie, ice cream and chocolate. Dairy and eggs is a way of getting protein on a vegetarian diet. Although most whole grains and legumes have some protein, vegans need to work hard to find sources of protein beyond tofu.

As mentioned earlier in this thread, protein is not actually something that's difficult to get enough of in a vegan diet. But eating a lacto-ovo diet can make it too easy to rely on the crutch of over-using milk / eggs (and of course, chocolate doesn't have to contain dairy).

I think that you do have to work hard to make vegan food which satisfies some of these other cravings for fatty, savory, and satisfying foods, and there's no question that it can be labor intensive. Nuts, oils, roux based sauces, blended tofu, coconut milk, emulsions and dressings are all ways of adding fat content or smooth texture to food. There are plenty of things you can use to add a savory component (mushrooms (and mushroom soaking liquid or ground dried porcini), tomato paste, nutritional yeast).

Fat Guy - in terms of stocks, I like the roasted veg stock from the big yellow 'Gourmet' cookbook. The recipe is online in a few spots. I put one or two suggestions for packaged stock also, if you want to "cheat" a little. In addition to the Kitchen Basics brand I mentioned, for soups, the Imagine "no chicken" stock is all right. Though I encourage you to make (and reduce / freeze) your own, buying some of the stuff in aseptic packaging is good for "emergencies".

#79 Jenni

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 05:28 PM

I am lacto-veggie but don't eat that much dairy. Mostly yoghurt, a small bit of milk (in tea) and very little cheese at all, mostly paneer. Ok, so I cook almost exclusively with ghee too but that is in small quantities and is more of a fat than a dairy product!

I would encourage you to try using more pulses and less dairy. Have you ever cooked dal before? For this you need any kind of dal, which is a split bean or lentil. Common dals are moong, chana, toor, urad and masoor. These are respectively split moong beans, split kala chana (a small, dark Indian chickpea), split pigeon peas, split urad beans and split red lentils. Masoor dal is also sometimes called "Egyptian lentils" and seems to be commonly available even in areas without speciality Indian foods. These dals are usually skinless, but moong and urad dal are also used in their split but skin still on form.

The advantage of dals are that they are quicker to cook than whole beans and easy to digest. Don't always need to soak either, unless you want a certain texture. You can also be very creative with them. Soak the dal for some time and cook with a minimum of water to make a dal dish where the individual grains are dry and retain their shape. Or just bung the dal in a pan and cook with lots of water to make a soupy dish. Use less water and get a creamy, comforting mash. You can add vegetables to dal or keep it plain.

And seasoning possibilites are endless! Just cumin and hing alone (in a ghee or oil tadka) makes a very simple seasoning. But then you can use a complicated seasoning involving many ground spices and serveral tadkas of wet and dry seasonings (onions, ginger, garlic, turmeric, chilli powder, fresh chillies, garam masala, mustard, curry leaves, panch pooran, fennel, fenugreek, amchoor....I can go on and on!). Most dals do use either turmeric, ginger or hing, or a combination of two or more of these, because of their digestive properties.

Of course, dals are used in lots of other dishes too. One of the most interesting uses comes from South Indian cuisines. Many different regions in South India use a tsp or two of urad or channa dal fried in oil along with other spices (as in a tadka, though obviously every region in India has a different name for this technique depending on the local language) and then added to the dish. This adds a nice crunch and a nutty flavour.

Other uses of dals are pancake-type things, breads, fried or steamed dumplings, various desserts, no-cook salads (the dals are soaked to make them softer and more digestable) and so on. Really beans and lentils are so underused in the West!

Edited by Jenni, 09 July 2011 - 05:29 PM.


#80 Fat Guy

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 07:33 PM

I fell off the wagon tonight.

I went with a friend to check out Zero Otto Nove, a brick-oven-pizza place on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. I didn't have the heart to make him order vegetarian, and since we were sharing everything I couldn't help myself. At first I told myself I'd just have a taste, professionally, of each thing. But as soon as I tasted animal flesh I consumed more with gusto.

We had:

Polpettine, Polenta & Caprino (small meatballs, spicy tomato sauce, polenta & goat cheese)

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Pizza La San Matteo (fresh mozzarella, sausage & broccoli rabe)

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Pizza Diavola (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil& spicy sopressata)

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Pizza Margherita (tomato sauce, parmigiano, fresh mozzarella & basil)

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I'm going to need to set the clock back to zero, and do a full vegetarian week starting tomorrow. I've got my three bean/lentil dishes laid in, and I think I can do it this time around without so much dairy stuff.

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#81 heidih

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 07:48 PM

Do you enjoy baked firm tofu? I have had it thinly sliced along with egg in a Pad Thai rendition at a local place and found it delightful and satisfying.

#82 Katie Meadow

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 08:13 PM

The funniest part of this whole experiment is that my husband hasn't noticed yet. Typically we go two or three days without animal protein at dinner, but this is day five. Our lunches are often haphazard, so he's had a couple of turkey sandwiches, but hasn't said a word about the fact that dinners have been strictly veg.

Lunch today for me was leftovers from the fridge: green beans and babaganouj with crackers. Dinner was a nostalgia casserole of rice, zucchini, tomato with fresh basil and Mexican oregano, and a very modest amount of cheese mixed in; a holdover from seventies cooking. On the side was some delicious burrata, a fennel and radish salad, and a taste of pickled mustard greens which I made from a recipe my brother uses for his homegrown greens. A bit strange all together, but no one could say it wasn't healthy.

#83 Fat Guy

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 04:34 PM

I haven't had an actual meal today. Just cherries, watermelon, some nuts and some tortilla chips. I ate enough last night for two days so I'm detoxing today. I'm sure I'll have more snacks later tonight but between yesterday's intake and today's heat I'm just not all that hungry.

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#84 thock

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 06:14 PM

I'd join in, but my partner insists on meat for the two meals he consumes every day (he doesn't do breakfast). He also refuses to eat eggs or legumes, so I'm kind of restricted.

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#85 Katie Meadow

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 07:38 PM

Okay, day six. By the time we finished breakfast (toast and marmalade as usual) it was late morning, so today was clearly shaping up as a linner day. Around 1pm I was staring at a picture in the SF Chron food section of a peach with caramel sauce, so I had exactly that for a snack, with a little salt sprinkled on. Excellent.

By the time we got a meal together it was almost 5pm. We had more burrata (I bought two of them, and splitting one works well per meal) and one of my favorite grain salads: bulgur wheat, blanched chopped swiss chard, chopped olives, a little tomato if we have some, shallots, parsley and cilantro, garnished with toasted pine nuts. Dressing is simply lemon and a little olive oil. I've determined that what I don't like about most deli grain salads is that there is often too much dressing; that ends up being wet and usually too vinegary. Less is better, for me. Great with the burrata on the side. My husband also finished up what remained of the babaganouj and we had a fresh baguette as well. I suspect he has in mind a late mint julep (what else can be done with a pint of mint simple syrup?) and a bowl of popcorn.

What's the takeaway for me? I'm thinking four or five days is about my comfort level for a vegetarian diet; I'm happy enough, but after that my body wants a real hit of animal protein. Tomorrow I have plans to make red beans 'n' rice, but I can't see making it without the ham stock that's calling to me from the freezer. So, legitimately I can't claim to have eaten strictly veg for a week, but I can claim not have had any actual chunks of meat or fish. It's hard for me to imagine life without chicken stock, at least. When it comes to food, I'm very much in favor of moderation in all things.

On Tuesday two of my favorite 20-somethings are coming over for dinner and I'm working up an appetite for grilled shrimp. Two more appreciative guests I've never encountered; they eat a ton and they appear to like just about everything that walks or grows. I like a challenge cooking for picky eaters or people with food issues, but these omnivores are a kick to cook for.

#86 Fat Guy

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 08:04 PM

Trying to reduce my reliance on dairy, for a light dinner I had avocado and hummus on the French Culinary Institute's whole-wheat sourdough...

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#87 Mjx

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 11:32 PM

I haven't had an actual meal today. Just cherries, watermelon, some nuts and some tortilla chips. I ate enough last night for two days so I'm detoxing today. I'm sure I'll have more snacks later tonight but between yesterday's intake and today's heat I'm just not all that hungry.


Curious, here: How do you feel, physically? Anything different? Growing up vegetarian was a problem for me, because my parents relied heavily on wheat-based products (which I don't handle well), but several of my friends mention feeling significantly better when they remove meat from their diets.

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#88 Fat Guy

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 04:19 AM

In my imagination your drink is also pink :)


Not quite pink, but the herbal iced tea I made myself last night has a hint of red.

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#89 Fat Guy

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 04:20 AM

Curious, here: How do you feel, physically?


I haven't noticed any change, but then again I've only eaten vegetarian for a few days and on one of those days I ate meat.

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#90 teagal

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 03:46 PM

Day six for me too! I notice an increase in energy and no heavy feeling after meals. Its been pretty easy too-even if I have to cook meat for my husband. Will definitely eat like this more often. Surprised myself not cheating-didn't think I'd have the willpower.
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