Thursday, October 10, 2013

Going Veg: The First 30 Days

I promised a more comprehensive post in my September wrap-up about going vegetarian and how it's working out for me. So far? I'm loving it.

Dinner the other night: Matt grilled a steak for himself and a bunch of fresh veggies for us both. We ate them with crusty French bread.

What am I eating?
I started looking up veggie recipes almost immediately. (I have never been the type of girl for whom a salad counts as a full meal.) And what I found kind of scared me: it seemed like almost every vegetarian recipe contained cheese. And I don't like cheese. (Okay, I did discover that I kind of really like gruyere, but that's the most expensive cheese my grocery store carries, go figure.) I'm working on convincing myself that other cheeses are tolerable.

I'm enjoying cooking vegetarian (much more than I did cooking vegan!). I've tried a few really good recipes that deserve a mention:
• Caramelized Onion and Mushroom White Pizza. Both Matt and I really liked this, and he doesn't even like mushrooms. Plus the crust dough is really simple and versatile; I'd like to throw some dried rosemary or basil or parmesan into it next time for a little different flavor.
• Creamy Lemon Fettuccine with Peas and Broccoli. This was delicious. Matt had thirds. It would probably have lent itself well to grilled chicken or crumbled bacon too, if you're carnivorous.
• Fiesta Lime Rice. I could have probably eaten the whole bowl in one sitting. But instead, I stuffed a bunch of this into some red bell peppers and tossed 'em into my Crock Pot for a few hours. (Keep it on low and add a little bit of water to the bottom of the crock so the peppers soften instead of getting shrivel-y.) First time I've ever willingly eaten bell peppers!
Spinach Lasagna Rolls. Can I just say I have the best friends ever? We went to a football watch party, and my friend Jess made these amazing lasagna rolls, one pan with chicken and one pan without any meat. It was really sweet of her, and I had to ask for the recipe so I can make them again soon.
Vegetarian Sweet & Sour "Meatballs." I was originally going to serve these over pasta, but since they're made of eggs, cheese and breadcrumbs, we figured they were carb-heavy enough on their own. They were pretty filling. I halved the amount of breadcrumbs in the recipe though, based on the reviews, and also because I don't like them.
I've also been experimenting a lot more with vegetarian Crock Pot recipes, which has been interesting and tasty. (I had previously cooked mainly meat in my slow cooker.) More about that in a future post. :)

I still eat dessert when it's available to me, but I haven't really been craving it every day like usual. We don't finish every meal with "What's for dessert?" anymore. Weird.

Do I miss meat?
So far, I don't miss meat at all. I've had a few moments where I've realized that I can't eat things that I used to love (like Whataburgers and barbecue), but other than that initial pang of OH NOOOO, I don't actually miss those items. Though occasionally I do miss the idea of meals having a "main component."

I was a little worried about getting enough protein when I started (and therefore I ate a lot of peanut butter and eggs and beans), but then I read this blog post (about how protein is in basically everything anyway) and stopped worrying so much.

How am I feeling?
When I was 16, I was diagnosed with some stomach problems that are best left off the Internet. Suffice it to say that I know certain foods can leave me feeling crummy for days and I will usually try to avoid those. Sometimes I feel icky if food contains too much oil or grease. Sometimes I just don't feel like eating, and sometimes I feel awful for no good reason at all. I take meds and most of the time I don't have to worry too much. So I really didn't know what to expect, especially since I felt crummy more often than is normal when doing the vegan thing.

But so far, I feel fine. No crummies to report here. Thank goodness, I don't know if I could deal with three months of feeling terrible all the time. I think it also helps that most of the food I've been making has been fresh and I haven't eaten too much processed stuff. (I haven't even tried any meat substitutes yet, because I haven't felt like I needed anything meat-like. And also because I can't find them at the grocery store.)

How is Matt taking it?
When I made my kitchen confession after the Cornish Game Hen Incident, Matt said he didn't mind if I started cooking vegetarian. Is he eating his words?
"Sometimes I crave a hamburger. But I like that we're eating a lot of healthy food, and you do a good job of making yummy food. BOOM." That's a direct quote from Matt.
He had a doctor's appointment a few weeks ago, and his doctor told him that not only has he lost a little bit of weight, but his blood sugar levels are also the best they've ever been. Score one for vegetarianism!

That said, I have bought bacon for him to crumble onto otherwise-vegetarian soups or to cook when he makes brenner. He also still gets meat when he goes out to lunch or stops for fast food, or when it's on sale and I buy it for him to cook.

What have I learned?
I'm going to be honest here. I want to make sure I'm making good decisions for my body. And there is one habit I've discovered that I need to address.

I have never worried much about portion control or desserts or snacking or dieting. I've always generally eaten three small-to-average-sized meals and two snacks every day. I'm hungry a lot, but because I eat those snacks around the same time every day, I often snack because I feel like eating, or because it's "snack time," and not necessarily because I'm hungry.

But the thing with this new lifestyle is that in addition to my normal snacks and meal times, I sometimes find myself hungry again an hour or two after dinner since the meals I'm making are not generally as heavy/filling as before. While I'm not counting calories or anything, I honestly believe that I'm overeating. I need to start recognizing when my body is hungry and when it's not, and take better care to not eat just because I feel like it, or because I'm bored or upset.

Anything you're curious about that I didn't cover?


  1. Earlier this year we did no meat for three weeks and I also felt hungrier more often, so I had to keep up on the snacks. But I also felt great--I don't think my husband would appreciate me cooking vegetarian long-term, though. After a 12 hour shift, he always says he craves meat. Sometimes I convince him that eggs or beans really are meat but that doesn't work that often!

  2. Good for you! Nuts really help keep you full. And there are lots of low-cal, low-fat snacks that helped me when I was on my awful diet. Mostly almonds and celery with lime juice on top.

    1. Yeah, I need to buy nuts more often. I wish they weren't so expensive! I like yogurt and popcorn a lot for snacks. I don't like buying products that are labeled "low fat" because it usually means they're more heavily processed than their full-fat counterparts, and I feel like that's almost worse for you? I dunno. I try to make healthy choices as best I can. I wish I liked celery!

  3. What a great post! I'm so glad to hear that you're doing so well with it, and quite honestly, it makes me admire you even more. I simply cannot imagine. But when it comes to food, I am very weak. I have no willpower whatsoever. And I sincerely wish that this were not the case. You seem to have it all together! Kudos!

    1. I definitely don't have it all together, and when it comes to desserts, I generally have no willpower either — that's why I try not to keep any of it in the house! If it's here, I'll eat it. And I'm very adept at sneaking desserts since I work from home. :)

  4. I'm glad to hear it's going so well, those recipes sounds delicious! I'm interested to see if you like any meat substitutes. Can you eat tofu? I love it and it always fills me up, but I know some people can't handle all the soy.

    1. I HAVE eaten tofu before, just not in the last month. :) The last time I tried to make it, it turned out really mushy so I've been a little scared to try again!

  5. This is an amazing recap, I need to try all of those recipes! I was vegetarian for many years and I am slowly becoming a vegetarian again. (I eat meat a couple days a week, but I honestly wouldn't miss it.) I'm glad to hear it's going well for you!!