Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

This is the fastest, tastiest chilli you will ever make.  Super cheap and you can generally keep the pantry items on hand and throw this baby together last minute.  Because it's meatless, there is no meat browning, or long simmering time.  I suppose you could throw the ingredients in the slow cooker if you wanted, but there's really no need when it cooks up in about 20 minutes.

I have to credit my sister for this recipe, she really came through with this one. I've made some adjustments from her original (more garlic, more spice, extra Serrano chilis!), but not because I didn't like the original, mostly because I can't ever stick to a recipe when I'm just throwing things in a pot.

2 tbsp Veg Oil (I used canola)
1 medium yellow onion
2 peppers (red, yellow, orange, green - your choice) seeded and chopped
2 Serrano chilis (I don't seed mine, I love spice.  If you don't, seed them and cut it down to one chili)
4-6 cloves of chopped garlic
1 cup of water (veg stock can be used)
1 can of crushed or diced tomatoes (the big can)
1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can of refried beans (THIS is the secret to an incredible chilli!)
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp (or more) cayenne
Salt and Pepper

Optional finishing toppings:
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Chopped green onion
Sour cream
Chopped fresh tomato
Chopped fresh avocado

Basically this is a chop and drop recipe.  Use a large pot and add the oil.  Chop onions and sauté for about 5 min.  Add chopped garlic and stir for 2 more minutes.  Roughly chop peppers in large pieces and add once the onion and garlic have softened.  Add Serrano chilli (or Jalepenos are fine) if using.

After the peppers have had about 3 or 4 minutes to sauté, add your dry spices now.  This allows the spices to toast slightly and will give you a better flavour.  However, watch the pot carefully, it can quickly burn.  Have your liquids ready to add once you put the dried spices in the pot.  Let the spices cook for about 1 minute and add the whole can of diced tomatoes and the cup of water.  Stir well to mix in the spices with the tomatoes.

Rinse the kidney and black beans together in a colander. Some recipes suggest not to, though I read once that rinsing beans helps to remove some of their gaseous after effect.  I'm not sure if it makes a huge difference, but I figure every bit helps.  Once the beans are rinsed under water add them to the pot.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer until you're ready to eat.

With about 5 minutes before you're ready to eat add the can of refried beans.  This adds a wonderful creaminess to the chili and really brings the whole thing together.  Don't skip this step, it's incredible.

Serve the chilli over rice (I used brown basmati) and top with your choice of cheddar cheese, green onion, sour cream, fresh tomato, or avocado.  Or hey, throw 'em all in there, all of those toppings are fantastic.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

BBQ Pizza

BBQ Pizza is one of the greatest things I've started making at home.  It's easy to make and is ten times better than buying a pre made crust or ordering from a restaurant.  The key with making these pizzas is simplicity.  Choose 3-4 ingredients including the cheese and keep it basic.  That way you'll get a rustic, delicious tasting pizza that isn't soggy from too many toppings.

This is a great way to maintain the weekday vegetarian theme; however, I find it easier to do the dough ahead of time on the weekend or when you have some extra time and then roll out the pizza during the week.  The dough keeps in the fridge for a few days and even longer in the freezer.

Makes enough dough for 2 large pizzas
3 cups white flour
1/2 cup semolina flour (this can be substituted for regular flour, semolina gives it a crisper crust)
2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large pinch salt
1 tsp sugar

In a 2 cup measuring cup, or small bowl add warm water, active yeast, and sugar.  Stir and let it sit for about 5 minutes until it foams.  Before mixing with the dry ingredients add the olive oil and stir.

In a large mixing bowl add flour and salt and mix together.  When the wet ingredients are ready mix them in with the dry.  When the dough comes together slightly, flour a large cutting board or a clean countertop and turn the tough out on the floured surface.  Knead dough for approximately ten minutes, or until the dough is less sticky, elastic and smooth.  If the dough is too sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time.

When the dough is ready, pinch the edges and tuck them under the ball of dough so you get a nice round ball.   In a clean large bowl, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and roll the dough around in it. Leave the dough in the bowl and cover with a tea towel and place the bowl in a draft free place for 90 minutes and let it rise.

Once the dough has risen punch it down and knead for about 1 minute.  Separate dough ball into 2 smaller dough balls.  Flour your surface and roll out the first dough ball into an 8" round pizza.  Using a rolling pin works best, although I have also done this with a clean glass bottle, or stretched it by hand (it's difficult for it to stay round by stretching unless you're experienced -- I'm not).   Cover the underside of a cookie sheet, or the top side of a cookie sheet without a lip or side, with semolina or corn meal.  This acts as the "wheels" to slide your dough off the cookie sheet and onto the BBQ grill.

In a preheated 400 degree BBQ, transfer the dough to the cookie sheet and slide it directly on to the grill.  Close the lid and cook for 1 minute.  Take the dough off the grill and flip it over.  Add your toppings to the "cooked" side of the pizza.  Slide the pizza back onto the grill to finish cooking, this time for three minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

This, I guarantee you, will be the best pizza you've ever made and likely ever had.  It's so fresh and crispy and delicious.

Some of my favourite topping combinations are: fresh tomato sauce (tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil, simmered for about 10 minutes on low) with caramelized onions and fresh mozzarella (Costco has great fresh mozza available for a really reasonable price); for a meat version try ground lamb, feta cheese and fresh arugula (add arugula after the pizza has been cooked); roasted red peppers, caramelized onions and white cheddar.

*Optionally this pizza can be made in the oven on a similar heat.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Red Lentil Dal

The word Dal means "to split" in Sanskrit, which refers to the style of lentils that are used in this dish. Red lentils are split and stripped of their outer hulls and cook quicker than whole, green lentils do. This dish is an excellent source of protein, especially when combined with basmati rice and will fulfill your daily protein needs without meat.

I had been dying to try a dal recipe for quite a while, as I have been exploring vegetarian cooking through Indian cuisine, especially since I received a copy of Vij's At Home for my birthday a few months back.  I've also been working at a school where Indian/Pakistani food is what is eaten most by staff and students, so it's influenced my choices lately.  Indian food is really easy to make and quite inexpensive with a well stocked spice cupboard.  I recommend hitting up the bulk section at the grocery store and stocking up, dried spices cost next to nothing.

Yesterday morning I was checking one of my favourite recipe sites, Simply Recipes, and I noticed a Red Lentil Dal was posted.  I was stoked and tried it tonight for dinner.  This recipe was incredibly easy and really inexpensive and cooked up in about 20 minutes.  I adapted some of the ingredients from the original for ease and efficiency, as well as using what I had on hand rather than buying too many ingredients.  It's an incredibly satisfying stick to your ribs type of recipe.

Serves 4
1 cup split red lentils
3 cups water
3 plum tomatoes, diced (or 2 regular tomatoes)
2 tsp canola oil
1 medium white onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic very finely chopped (a micro plane grater would work well)
1/2 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (cumin powder will also work)
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (whole)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp turmeric
1 lime including zest
1 bunch cilantro
Salt and Pepper
Cooked basmati rice (I used brown basmati)

Rinse red lentils and place into a medium sized pot.  Cover with 3 cups of water bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes on medium low until lentils are soft. Not all of the water will be absorbed.

While you're cooking the lentils, in a medium saucepan sauté the onions on medium heat in the canola oil until soft.  Add grated or finely minced garlic and cook for another minute being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the sesame seeds, cumin, fennel and mustard seeds and stir until you hear the mustard seeds "popping." Stir in the turmeric and add the bay leaf.

To the spice mixture add the lentils including the water they are sitting in and stir the mixture together.  Season with salt and pepper and add tomatoes cooking for another 10 minutes.  When you are ready to serve add finely chopped cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice.

Serve over basmati rice and garnish with any leftover cilantro.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Fresh Summer Garden Pasta

I made note of an Ina Garten pasta sauce recipe in my first blog entry and, while I linked directly to her Food Network recipe, I thought I would extrapolate and give my take on a cheap, easy, and VERY delicious pasta.  Even for people who can't cook, you can make this and look like a champ!

While Ina Garten uses cherry tomatoes, and they are most certainly the best choice for this pasta hands down, regular tomatoes can also be used, but try to use the on the vine tomatoes, or tomatoes that are as fresh as possible.  It really makes a difference with the flavour.  Also, don't store the tomatoes in the fridge, it makes them have less taste.  Instead, keep them in a bowl on the counter or in a cupboard uncovered.  This goes for onions as well, storing them in the fridge makes them much less potent and they lose a lot of their flavour.  Regular tomatoes on the vine cost much less than cherry tomatoes, so if you don't have access to them, or want to keep your meal even cheaper, regular tomatoes are fine here.  Although do be sure that you treat yourself to the cherry tomato version sometime, just slice each one in half and use as I do with regular tomatoes in this recipe.

I was fortunate enough to be able to pick fresh basil and as many cherry tomatoes as were ripe from my mom's garden, which made for a very fresh tasting pasta sauce.  Did I mention that this sauce is NO COOK, again, ridiculously easy.  Because this recipe is no cook, do not try to substitute for dried basil, it will not taste good.  Make this only when you can find the fresh stuff.

Serves 4
6 on the vine tomatoes diced (or 2 pints of halved cherry tomatoes)
1/3 cup olive oil
6 cloves of finely chopped garlic
A large bunch of basil (About 10 leaves, sliced)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 lb of dried pasta (use spaghetti, linguini, or angel hair - something long and thin)
1 cup of grated cheese (parmesan would work, so would any other hard cheese - even white cheddar would be good.  Don't use orange cheddar, that just seems like an unnatural combination)
1 cup of cooked pasta water
Salt and pepper

In a large heatproof bowl, dice tomatoes, mince garlic, and slice basil.  Add to the bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of olive oil, a large pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Stir the ingredients together and let them sit in the bowl on the counter at room temperature.  Cover with plastic wrap.  This recipe works best if you can let it sit for a couple of hours (4max), however, it is still tasty if you just prepare it and eat it right away, but give it about 10-15 min to sit so that the salt draws out some of the moisture in the tomatoes and the flavours can meld.

Cook the entire package of pasta in boiling water according to package directions.  Before draining reserve about a cup of the water that it cooked in.  Drain pasta and add noodles directly to the large bowl containing the tomato basil mixture and toss.  Add in 1/2 cup of the pasta water and see if you need more to stretch the sauce at all.  If so, use the full cup.  Sprinkle in most of the cheese (reserve some for topping the individual bowls) and toss to melt.

When serving add the noodles to the bowls and then scoop out extra tomato basil mixture and some of the sauce and pour over noodles.  Top with the leftover cheese.

This recipe is so fast and easy, you'll love it and it's quite easy on the wallet too.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Broccoli Cheese Flatbread

Tonight I was heavily tempted by my husband who, after coming home from a three day work trip, suggested we go out for wings and beer for Wing Wednesday at the pub near our house.  I'm a sucker for both wings AND beer, but I gave up beer 2 months ago and meat two weeks ago for our weekday vegetarian challenge (I know, what's the point in eating or drinking at all without meat and beer? But hey if I can do it, anyone can).  While tempting, I instead drove to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for our broccoli cheese flatbread, a recipe I adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook which is an excellent vegetarian food resource. If you don't own a Moosewood cookbook and are trying to eat vegetarian, one of these books is a must!  As for the beer that I passed up, there was no substitution, except water. Less exciting, I know, but I'm on a roll here and gotta keep it going.

This dish is creamy and rich, yet fresh and crispy.  There are three types of cheese included and any of them could be substituted for what you have on hand or for a cheese you more regularly use. I have used flatbread and served it open faced; however, it would work with regular tortilla shells wrapped up and would be much more portable that way, especially if you're taking it for lunch at work.

Olive Oil
1 medium chopped onion
3-4 cups chopped broccoli (4 small crowns)
4-5 cloves chopped garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup feta cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pkg greek style pita bread (naan bread would also work)

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and add onions and 1/2 tsp of salt. Cook until softened for about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the chopped broccoli, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook until the broccoli is bright green and tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the three cheeses.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Toast the pita bread in the toaster or in a dry skillet on high heat for about 30 seconds per side.  Place the pita on a plate and top with the broccoli cheese mixture and serve.

If you're using a pita you'll need a fork and knife, while a tortilla is more of a wrap and go format.  Either way this dish is cheesy and delicious and will definitely satisfy you...even on a day when you're offered hot wings and beer!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Kimchi Stew

Kimchi Jiggae (aka stew) is a popular Korean dish.  I ate this stew nearly daily when I lived in Seoul and it is honestly one of the only dishes on earth I could eat everyday for the rest of my life.  It's hot, spicy, and comforting, usually served with white rice and a variety of side dishes.

Because I am attempting a meat free Monday I will be skipping the pork or tuna options that are typically prepared.  My favourite way to do this was always with a full can of tuna stirred in known as Cham Chee Kimchi Jiggae.

Kimchi stew is best prepared with older, "ripe" kimchi.  Perfect for using up the rest of the jar that's been sitting in your fridge.  However, it's fine to make with fresh kimchi as well and won't make a huge difference to how it turns out.

2-3 cups kimchi (pickled spicy napa cabbage)
1tbsp sugar
1tsp korean hot pepper flakes (optional)
1tbsp hot pepper paste (gochujang) (optional)
1/2  package of medium firm tofu cut in cubes
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
5 cloves of chopped garlic
Drizzle of sesame oil
Salt and Pepper

Put the kimchi in a medium sized pot and cut with kitchen scissors into bite sized pieces.  Alternatively, chop the kimchi before adding to the pot. Fill pot with water, approximately 6 cups.  Add onion and garlic and bring to a boil.  Cook stew for about 20 minutes, adding tofu, sugar, and hot pepper flakes and paste if using. This is also where I would normally add a can of tuna, so if you are eating fish or it's the weekend and you're a weekday vegetarian  Continue cooking for 5 more minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and add chopped green pepper for garnish.  Just before serving drizzle with a small amount of sesame oil and stir in.

Serve with steamed rice. White, short grained rice works best here, but brown short grain is a fine substitute.  I really enjoy eating this with a package of toasted seaweed, wrapping the seaweed around the rice as a nice salty, crunchy addition.

This meal is incredibly cheap.  The kimchi is probably the most expensive thing on the ingredients list, but it lasts FOREVER.  It doesn't go bad, but will sit in the back of your fridge and ripen until you're ready to make the next batch.

I have enjoyed my weekday vegetarianism.  I have had moments of disappointment during the week, particularly at work when I was offered some Pakistani Palau (Spiced Chicken and Rice) on Friday and was starving, but decided to eat around the chicken and leave the chicken-ey rice bits for Saturday afternoon. Other than moments such as these, I'm feeling happier and much less sleepy-full when my meals are finished.  I actually have the energy to go out and do things and have been biking, swimming, and heading the the beach as these summer days dwindle. I really do enjoy the challenge of finding really good tasting food that's not trying to be meat (read: no veggie patties or meatless chicken bits) and making it taste incredible.  I can only imagine that my cooking will get better with time and I'm really enjoying saving money on not buying meat and eating at restaurants during the week.

Life, simplified.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Lentil Coconut Curry

Today was a day I was excited to be eating vegetarian.  Last night I did a quick grocery shop for the week, stopping mostly in the bulk section for things like lentils, spices, and grains and I was surprised at how cheap it was.  I had no real plan for my week's meals, I had intended to do some planning, but with the increased work this week I ran out of steam.

I had intended to make a Korean meal tonight because I had all of the supplies, but I wasn't feeling like it after last night's kimchi stew (recipe to come at a later date).  Instead I figured that I had to be able to do something Indian inspired with what I had on hand: green lentils, a large can of diced tomatoes, and some coconut milk.  It turned out to be really satisfying and quite easy to make, not to mention inexpensive.  I likely cooked a meal for six for about a total of $6, which otherwise is almost impossible to do.  I highly recommend this for budget conscious weekday vegetarians.

1 cup dried green lentils (use these or mung beans, but not split red lentils or the texture will differ)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp tumeric
2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp cayanne
2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger (or dried may be substituted here)
2 tbsp chopped garlic 6 medium cloves
1 small diced onion
1 large can of diced or pureed tomatoes
1 can of reduced fat coconut milk
2 tsp salt
4 cups water
2 cups uncooked basmati rice and 4 cups water

Heat oil in a large saucepan on high heat for about a minute. Add ground cumin and ground ginger if not using fresh. Add chopped garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. It should brown lightly, but not burn. Add diced onions and sautee for about 1 minute stirring frequently.  Stir in the full can of tomatoes, fresh ginger (if not using dry), tumeric, coriander, and salt and cayanne pepper.  Cook, stirring occassionally for approximately five minutes.  Oil will become shiny and mixed thoroughly.   Add water and green lentils.  Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for about 40 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare basmati rice, either white or brown would work well. Stir the lentil mixture occasionally throughout the cooking process.  Taste lentils to make sure that they are cooked, they should be soft but not mushy. Stir in coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve over basmati.  Optionally top with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.

This is great, healthy and an incredibly easy one pot meal.  Give it a try!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Weekend Indulgences

We made it!  Not entirely a huge accomplishment, but we ate well as vegetarians this week and were rewarded with some burgers and bbq this weekend at a friend's.  It was a nice treat.  When we returned Sunday night we realized meat was still on the menu if we chose so I went with a pasta with chicken brown butter sage cream sauce.  The recipe came right out of my very own brain and it was completely delicious!

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp olive oil
4-5 torn sage leaves
4 bone in chicken thighs
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
6 chopped mushrooms (brown or white)
3/4 cups milk (1%)
3/4 cup chopped zucchini (I used patty pans)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup pecorino romano (or any hard cheese)
Salt and pepper
Enough pasta for 4 people. I used spaghetti.

Sautee onions in 1 tbsp of olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add chopped mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add whole bone-in chicken thighs and lower the heat.  Cook chicken thighs for about 7 minutes per side.  Meanwhile in another small pot melt butter on medium heat.  Once the butter is melted it will begin to brown, watch it carefully and as soon as it turns brown add torn sage leaves and fry for about 30 seconds.  Add the flour and cook for about 1 minute before whisking in milk.  Simmer milk and add chopped garlic cloves to the milk mixture.  Cook the milk mixture until thick and then add it to the pan with the chicken, onions and mushrooms.  Add red pepper flakes and zucchini to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste.

While sauce is simmering with the chicken boil a pot of water for the pasta and cook until al dente.  Save about 1 cup of the cooked pasta water.  Drain the pasta and add the reserved cup of pasta water to the white sauce pan.  Mix well before adding the noodles to the pan.  Once everything is together in one pan, mix together well and cook for about 2 minutes so that the pasta can absorb all of the flavours.  Add the grated pecorino romano cheese and serve.

The sauce is creamy without being heavy and is a beautiful light brown colour.  This was a fantastic quick meal that I made with what I had on hand.  It was satisfying to eat such a great meal after traveling home from our weekend away and easy enough that I didn't feel like it was too much work.

This week it's back to school starting Tuesday and with 2 teachers in the house it should be a challenge to eat vegetarian only for school lunches and quick dinners.  I'll take today to brainstorm some fast and easy ideas.  Something tells me that with the enormous tub of kimchi in my fridge that it's going to be a Korean week.  Looking forward to it.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Southwestern Rice and Bean Salad

Tonight I was NOT inspired to eat vegetarian.  I've done four days of totally veg eating and was feeling kinda lazy in the cooking department.  Especially with last night's home made fresh pasta undertaking.  Delicious, but a ton of work.  So tonight I was hoping for something easy.  When I started to think of easy ideas the first ones were "meat, a veg, and some potatoes." Yikes, this is the first challenge I've really faced so far with going weekday vegetarian so I was faced with actually putting some thought into what I was going to have for dinner on a night that I didn't feel like it.

I was talking to my sister about a recipe she got from the cookbook Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood and I decided to make it.  Although I didn't feel like buying quinoa when I had a huge bag of brown basmati rice to use up, so I decided to substitute brown rice for quinoa because I figured that rice + beans = protein, which is really what I wanted to eat anyway.

I didn't follow a recipe, only listened to my sister explain the recipe to me once.  It turned out fantastic and I didn't miss the meat, nor did I find it laborious or taxing.  Just as easy, if not easier than prepping a meat, a veg, and potatoes.

1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
1 diced red pepper
1 diced red onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 diced roma tomatoes
1 can rinsed chick peas
1 can rinsed black beans
1 bunch chopped cilantro
1 minced serrano pepper
1 tbsp red chilli flakes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (or red wine)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook basmati rice according to package directions. When cooked transfer to a large mixing bowl and add garlic to hot rice. Stir in all other ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Season to taste and serve at room temperature.

The longer this sits and marinates, the better the flavour will be.  This dish worked well as a main and I served it with warm bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip it in.  Another wonderful addition to this salad may have been fresh corn on the cob.  It's in season right now and would really add a nice flavour to the dish.  Alternatively flat leaf Italian parsley could be used to substitute for the cilantro, as some people don't enjoy the taste.

This dish should keep well and we'll be taking the leftovers on a road trip with us.  This salad should most certainly be a go to meal if you're in a bit of a salad rut and want something more substantial.

Why Weekday Veg?

So I've decided to give it a shot and see what it's like to be a weekday vegetarian.  I am a food lover of all sorts: meat, vegetables, etc., so it's difficult for me to "give up" any sort of food because deep down I feel like limiting myself is taking away from things that are great about the world. Cooking being at the forefront.  No, I'm not a chef or currently working in the restaurant business, but someone who finds the act of cooking and feeding others, watching the enjoyment on their faces as they eat what I've prepared to be an utterly peaceful, joyful, and relaxing experience.

So why weekday vegetarian? I grew up essentially vegetarian.  My sister became a vegetarian at 8 years old (mainly because I teased her about which animals she was eating WHILE she was eating them).  She has remained vegetarian well into adulthood and struggled with ideas for cooking for her largely meat eating husband.

I've always loved vegetables and never missed meat when I've had meals without it.  It didn't seem like a huge step to go from everyday meat to meat on weekends.  This solution is environmentally conscious (something I've considered myself to be), economically conscious (saving huge amounts of money on grocery bills), and conscious of the treatment of animals consumed for food.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for eating animals as food.  I will never vow to be a vegan, nor will I likely give up all meat forever. I don't want to put myself in a box, I just want to be conscious of my surroundings on all levels and since I care about food, I care about what goes on to my plate daily as I plan grocery lists, weekly meals, and try out new recipes with enthusiasm. I figured it makes sense to be totally aware of what I'm eating and how much everyday.

Now to people, like my own mother, who have been eating this way for years and not calling themselves vegetarian, this will seem like incredibly old news and potentially annoying that I've come up with this "new" idea for myself.  Regardless, I feel like it's something that I need to test the waters with and I'm pretty excited at the prospect of a lifestyle change.  My husband and I have vowed to be "Weekday Vegetarians" until Thanksgiving.  We are allowing ourselves to eat meat at other peoples houses if we are invited for dinner (no one likes the annoying dinner guests who are testing out new diets and can't eat anything), and we are also allowed to choose meat at restaurants if we so desire.  We will reevaluate in mid-October to see how we feel about our new choices and decide whether or not it's working for us.  Personally, I can see this extending well in to 2012, if not being permanent.

I will post about my experiences, choices, and, of course, new and delicious recipes that I've tried that work for the regular meat xanthan gum, or nutritional yeast, or many ingredients that you are required to seek out at health food stores.  Just delicious food that you want to eat without missing the meat.

I've been at this since Sunday and we've already enjoyed BBQ roasted vegetable pizza, fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic, and an excellent lime glazed tofu stir fry.

See Graham Hill's short speech on TED Talks for more information.