So in the last nine months, I have taken to a seriously vegetarian lean in my diet. It’s been great! I never would have believed that I could love zucchini. I never would have believed that a person could feel so much satisfaction from a great meal of vegetables, beans, and quinoa. I also never thought that taking more time to prepare a meal might actually be good for my well being. I had no idea I would fall in love with chickpeas. So here are a few links to chickpea salad recipes, because my yammering is NOT going to convince you. These recipes will do the work for me. The first one is my favorite go-to for vegetarian delights, Forks Over Knives. More about them in a minute.
There are plenty of other varieties as well. Whether you want a bowl of salad or something to roll into a wrap, these work well. They are light, easy, healthy, flexible, cheap recipes. Just recently while making the first one on the list, I replaced the crunchy onions and celery with zucchini and summer squash. I also wanted a little more creaminess, so I added some ranch dressing. Then I threw in some sweet peppers and garlic. Then I absolutely shredded my pocket bread trying to get it open in order to stuff it with my cool original meal. I ended up tearing up the bread and serving myself a bowl of salad with bits of pita all over it. Under it. The bread made a bottom layer. Which it should have done as a sandwich, but oh well.
Forks Over Knives, for whatever reason, has become my main resource for vegetarian eating. I love the recipes, I have learned how to adapt them to my po’ man, lazy butt, attitude- filled perspective on cooking. I like washing dishes, but I often have this innate resistance to cooking with them in the first place, probably because I hate feeling chained to a hot stove, the inability to hold a book and stir at the same time, that whole cry-of-“Freeeee-dom!” thing. So prepping a chickpea salad sandwich and taking it out to my desk just makes me happy on a lot of levels. And Forks Over Knives, who now that I think of it came to me by word of mouth from a friend who faithfully prepared me for this change for a few years before I was finally forced to step into the vegetarian abyss due to health reasons (HT: Teri!), has seduced me with their astounding photographic attention to the beauty and joy of a well prepared dish. Why does that matter? It matters because I have learned to take better care of myself. It matters because I take time for myself. It matters because I spend less time in virtual shades-of-reality and more time feeling the crunch of a carrot as I make fun ribbons out of it with my mandolin, or smelling the crisp seedy smell of zucchini, or listen to steam frying chickpeas turning golden, crunchy, and delicious with no fats or oils added to the pan.
I recently received the latest FOK magazine from same said friend. I probably spent as much time hovering over that magazine as I would a good short novel. I adored the photos, absorbed the personal stories, and highlighted the recipes that most appealed to me. I have since made all of the ones I highlighted! It’s been fun, not too hard, and never did I feel chained to a hot appliance of any sort. Every page of that magazine had been written and photographed for me, personally. That was an enriching feeling.
I have had to adjust in two ways as I learned vegetarian living: first, learning to make recipes that are often longer or have more steps than I was used to. I still balk at this, but I have also found ways around some steps and I completely ignore ingredients I don’t feel like buying. These recipes are flexible above all. They have to be, to be so forgiving of my cooking, er, strategies, heh heh.
Secondly, I also have learned to rethink nutrition, portions, and my perception of hunger. Hunger, it turns out, can be good for you in healthy amounts. Whodathunk? It clears the palate, resets internal metabolic drives, and whets the appetite. Hunger is no bad thing anymore than water is. I mean, both can kill you. But both can save you, as well. Try a little hunger, and see what it can do for you. I started out hungry all the time when I first began making vegetarian meals for myself. Portions shrank, familiar foods dropped from my menu, timing became essential. Now I only experience it at certain times of day, and it does what it’s supposed to do: it reminds me that I’m hungry. No more of this ‘Oh dear, I haven’t eaten in two hours’. That wasn’t hunger, that was fearfulness. Also gluttony.
Vegetarian diet takes some planning, even more when you’re not used to it. This serves to make life a more mindful kind of living, adds sensory detail to routines like washing, cutting, and arranging vegetables, and clears out the body from fatty deposits and many toxins that interfere with energy, emotions, immunity system, and the whole body/spirit connection. Yeah, I just said all that. I tell you, I never would have believed that a year ago. That was for other folks. That was not bacon. That sounded so involved. Heck, yeah, I am now involved in my health! Think about it! Then try it. Once a week, or a chickpea salad for those hot summer days, or a greater appreciation for portions and self control. Do yourself the favor.