When I was a child dinner was always served with the same concepts. There was a meat main dish, some potatoes, pasta or rice, some sort of veggie, usually frozen and then often a salad. Sometimes we would add canned fruit cocktail or dinner rolls. My mother was not the greatest cook. Her menu was limited in creativity. One thing that always happened was that we always, without fail, ate at the table. Almost always as a family.
When I became a vegetarian, it was mostly due to financial constraints. I did practice the same concepts that my mother did. A fake meat, a veggie, a pasta rice or potato, and salads. The basic concept was there. Only now the fake meat was the centerpiece. That was 10 years ago, and my cooking ability and styles have changed. Instead of fake meats, I use beans and other protein sources. Even after all these years, people still ask me if I miss meat. Bacon comes up a lot. I do not actually miss meat. If I did I would not be a vegetarian.
The key is that I focus on what I do get to eat as opposed to what I am deprived of. Same concept of most weight loss programs. I mean seriously there are decent fake meats out there if I truly wanted them. At this stage, not only is it cheaper to avoid meat and fake meat products, it is also healthier. I have become very creative in my meals.
Today for example was a total prep in the kitchen kind of day. I have a wonderful cookbook from Cafe Flora. I love it, but I have not made many of the recipes, these require tons of prep time and the ingredients are often numerous and can add up. This cookbook is my treat cookbook, save for the curried quinoa patties, which I make in a big batch and freeze.
Tonight we had Portobello french dips. This included a fresh herb butter and some au jus made from criminis. It took half the day to prep for this. I even made some yam fries, and the meal was quite nice and met with Richard’s approval. I have also slaved to make the Portobello Wellington before, which he also loved.
Being broke and a vegetarian enlists a creative aspect. I have certain staples in my fridge and pantry at all times. So when I know that I have to tighten up the moneybelt, I investigate and plan. This weeks menu includes more of those french dips, since I can make at least two more, a quinoa and baked tofu salad, a barley and kale creation, and some kind of risotto with criminis. I actually spend less than $100 every two weeks on groceries and I am satisfied that I eat fairly well.
Every week, I look forward to planning my meals. This may seem daunting but I love to grocery shop and discover new ideas for foods and try new foods. I love to knowing that most of the time my lunch is one of the best ones in the lunchroom. It is not often that I bring some kind of prepackaged foods in. I am guilty of that often overly convenient ramen on the run. Usually I like to at least have a salad with it. Or add some sautéed veggies for a healthier spin.
I never look at my fridge and cringe. There is usually some kind of meal stuffed in there. I am an avid fan of plain greek yogurt and pomegranates. I love the tart of both and I feel as if I get a special treat. I also juice many of my fruit and veggie ends or cores. Today I pressed grapefruit juice for breakfast, tomorrow I will put the remains of the pulp minus the skin into my juicer, add some carrot tops, ginger and whatever else I find in the fridge that will mildly enhance the flavor. This is efficiently using everything, yet not depriving of anything. I am certain that even though I am very poor, I eat like a queen.
The benefit here is that my blood sugar is very stable and my cholesterol is too low. Seems I need to add some flax seeds, avocados and some nuts and seeds into my diet. These are things I actually have around the apartment and just overlook. I will see how my next blood tests go, but I am confident that I am in no danger.
Now if only I could drop some serious weight, well-being broke means no alcohol. That is a big step.