Friday, January 13, 2012

What's for dinner, Veg Head?

As a vegetarian, I get a lot of questions about what I eat, how do I get protein/calcium/B12, you name it.  Now, really, I don't mind the questions at all.  I am not defensive about the way I eat, and I welcome the chance to educate people - to play ambassador, if you will.

The part I don't like about it, however, is that whenever someone asks me the question What do you eat?, I invariably draw a big, fat blank.  It's like I all of a sudden can't remember what I had for dinner the night before.  In my defense, though, how many other people actually file away their menu plans in their head, ready and willing and able to serve them up to those unexpected individuals hungering for knowledge at a moment's notice?  I would guess not too many.

Usually, my answer comes out in a stumbling, tumbling, bumbling flow starting with, Oh, you know.  The usual stuff, I guess.

The truth is that the family and I get in cooking ruts the same as anyone else.  Some weeks are more exciting than others.  And, while I could probably write a whole blog on my food choices alone, I won't bore you with the details.  Suffice it to say that we eat for health.  We're vegetarian by choice.  We are not vegan, although the Hubby and I lean that way more than the kids.  We try to make healthful meals that support our active, running lifestyles.  It's become harder with the kids, who claim their three favorite foods are shell mac and cheese, pizza, and the "other type of mac and cheese."  But, despite their preferences, I don't play short-order cook to the little people in the family; they eat what we eat.  On the other hand, I don't go out of my way to make the spice-filled, full-flavored food I used to make either.

Occasionally, I do try to make something that allows us to meet somewhere in the middle.  Last night's dinner is a good example.  So, to partially answer the question "What do you eat?," I present Last Night's Dinner.

Last night, I pulled out an old favorite that I used to make all the time.  This is adapted from the Jambalaya recipe found in a little cookbook called Good Time Eatin' in Cajun Country: Cajun Vegetarian Cooking by Donna Simรณn, which I picked up in New Orleans years ago - back when we were still living in the Deep South.  I love this cookbook and this recipe in particular.  I have modified it somewhat from the original over the years, so here's the gist.

To start out, I rehydrate some TVP (textured vegetable protein).  This is actually a food product that we don't use very often anymore, since we're trying to stay away from processed foods.  But, occasionally, it finds its way back into the pantry.  It's loaded with protein and fiber and is rather chewy.  It looks a bit like chicken, doesn't it?  I'd say it tastes like it, too, but it's been so long since I've had chicken, I really wouldn't know.

Add the holy trinity of vegetables to the saute.

Add some other stuff, including the secret spices.

Add brown rice, and voila!  Dinner is served.

Now, I wouldn't say this was a real crowd pleaser in our house.  Even given the dumbed down version (i.e., it wasn't spicy), the kids looked upon it with suspicion.  But, they did eat it in the end.  I am working on expanding their culinary horizons slowly, so each bite taken is considered a small victory.

At some point, I will wow the blogging world with my breakfast oatmeal recipe.  In the meantime, happy eating, happy running, and keep any questions coming!

I'm always looking for tips and new recipes, so I want to know what do you eat to support your running?  Please leave a comment!

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