One-Dish Vegetarian Meals

I was watching an episode of The Biggest Loser and one of the trainers was showing the contestants how to make a simple quinoa dish. I was thrilled. Finally, mainstream TV is catching up to my way of eating. Then the trainer said, "This makes a wonderful side dish to any meal."

Wha--? The dish had quinoa, veggies, and beans, a complete meal in and of itself. Do we have to stick in a side of chicken with that?

I think, however, the one-dish meal is a big adjustment for anyone looking to switch over to a vegetarian lifestyle. My mom mentioned the other day that while she enjoys many of the meals I make, she misses having several things on her plate to choose from -- green beans at two o'clock, mashed potatoes at four, salad, meat, etc. 

I hadn't thought about it, but it's true. Most of what I make are one-dish meals. The vegetarian recipes I use usually contain beans, greens, and a grain so it doesn't seem worth it to--I don't know--dump a can of corn or some other vegetable on the plate as a side. Not that I couldn't; it just never occurs to me to do so. 

It's not always that way. This week for example we had veggie burgers with a side of roasted brussel sprouts. But last night I made a big spinach salad and after carmelizing the onions, toasting the walnuts, and broiling my own homemade bread crumbs, hell if I was going to put any effort into making a side dish. 

How do you eat at home? Vegetarian or not, do you prepare a main course and side dishes for each meal or do you trend, as I do, toward more one-dish wonders?



Does Running A Marathon Give You An Edge Up On Life?

Any Biggest Loser fans out there? How amazing was it when Daris finished his marathon in 4:02? I know I was bouncing on the edge of my seat, screaming in joy at the TV as he crossed the finish line. A few weeks earlier I had doubted whether he'd really run a 5K in just over 21 minutes. No more doubt. That boy is a runner through and through.

What interests me when someone completes a marathon for the first time is how often they talk about how now that they've completed a marathon, they know they can tackle anything in life. In the pages of Runner's World magazine or on blogs, runners talk about pulling strength and conviction from having survived what is quite often a grueling race and translating that into a can-do attitude for their home, family, and career.

I'm envious. I'm enormously proud of being a marathon runner but, for me, having completed a marathon means that I know I am capable of completing a marathon. I don't suddenly feel more confident as a writer, friend, or wife. I don't hold a quiet inner certainty that I can now handle whatever life throws at me. On the contrary, I like running because, unlike life, I feel it's something [somewhat] within my control. Give me 26.2 miles and I know I can get the job done. Tell me to sit down and write a novel and the panic sets in. 

I admire people who can translate accomplishments in one area of their life over to give them strength in another. Seems healthy. Me, I'm a bit too compartmentalized for that. Running is running, writing is writing, marriage is marriage... you get the idea. 

Still, I wouldn't trade the satisfaction I've felt at finishing all my marathons (even the horrible awful super-painful one) for anything. I feel good about myself for having set a goal and achieved it. Maybe that's the satisfaction runners are referring to. 

What about all of you? Have you accomplished something in one area of life that you feel has given you confidence in other areas?