Menu Planning Complete

Oddly enough, when I started eating meat this year, I got away from the whole cooking thing. All I did each week was stick a couple of chicken breasts into the oven to bake, steam some vegetables, open a can of lentils and call it a meal. 

Now that I'm vegetarian again, I'm enjoying getting back not only to cooking but to menu planning. There's something satisfying about sitting down in front of a spread of cookbooks and magazines and getting to pick and chose what yummy delicacies or hearty dishes I'll make for the week. 

I spent some time this morning sipping hot green tea and looking at menus. I've got a bunch of swiss chard in the fridge that needs to be used so that's the focus of a couple of meals for early in the week. So far, our week is looking like this:

Sunday: Garlicky Roasted Shrimp and Swiss Chard

Monday: Crustless Leek Greens & Herb Quiche

Tuesday: On our own

Wednesday: Sloppy Lentils (on sprouted hamburger buns for Blair, plain for me) and Spicy Coleslaw

Thursday: I'm out with girls which probably means cereal for Blair. 

Friday: Carbo-loading night so some form of pizza or pasta. I found a recipe for cauliflower pizza crust which I may make for me. I thought of trying to slip it by Blair but that could have ugly repurcussions. 

I still have a damn whole chicken in my freezer. Unknown what to do with that. Again, maybe I'll just make it and send it over to my mom. 

Oh! And yesterday's clothes shopping excursion for Blair yielded a really fun new kitchen tool for me from my favorite kitchen store, The Extra Ingredient. Details soon. 



Eating Meat Has Been Fun But...

You may remember the national uproar when I announced in February that, after 20+ years of being a vegetarian and being almost vegan for 3 years, I had started eating meat. While there's no denying I've enjoyed exercising my canine teeth, I believe I'm ready to return to my roots and a plant-based diet. 

Why go back? For the same reasons I decided to start eating meat again. My diet just isn't working for me. I feel like I'm betraying my values every time I sit down to a plate of chicken. I do believe we can get all the nutrients we need from plants. And, honestly, meat has stopped tasting good to me.

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And so the hypochondria begins...

It's 5 weeks until my marathon which means the hypochondria has officially set in. I can't have all this training go to waste by picking up a flu bug, so be forewarned that if you so much as sniffle or cough around me during the next 5 weeks, I will have no choice but to douse the both of us with Lysol while I freebase Vitamin C. 
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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?