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Heirloom tomatoes from Eating Well magazine
While giving up meat entirely might be challenging, I am more and more inclined to vegetarian cooking of late. This lifestyle has many health and economic benefits. It is much more fun and delicious to put together this kind of meal as well. It is true that fresh produce is more expensive than it was a few years ago; but then so are meat and fish. I also like knowing where my food comes from, and I believe it is easier to track fruit, vegetables, and whole grains than to know the origins and handling of meat and fish. These are the reasons I am pursuing vegetarianism.
I recently subscribed to Vegetarian Times, and while I am not a paid spokesperson, I do endorse this magazine for many reasons. Not only do its beautiful pages grace my coffee table, but I can access it on my Nook. The recipes are beautifully presented, and so far have turned out to be delicious and easy to make. Articles on healthy eating and lifestyle also appear in every issue. When trying new recipes, I often must add ingredients to my pantry or freezer, such as beans, quinoa, and additional spices.
Ready made vegetarian meals from the supermarket can be either too costly or disappointing. Take the veggie burger – the kind that comes from the freezer aisle and is always disappointing.  As many times as I have tried to like them, proper texture and flavor are missing. The July/August 2014 issue arrived this week, and the burger recipe is so very appealing that I decided to try it right away. It takes more time and effort to put together but is very satisfying in flavor, texture, and moisture content. It also pleases me that I am consuming more high quality vegetables than if I just grilled up a beef burger and didn’t bother with any accompaniments, which has often been the case.The burger contained quinoa, sweet potatoes, garbanzos, zucchini, and bright spices. I didn’t really need another vegetable to round out the meal but added a Greek pasta salad I got from the deli counter. I used a whole wheat bun, but it would have been fine without any. I made up half the recipe, which made four, and put the remaining three in the freezer. The extra effort of making this now will save time later.
My venture into this lifestyle has so far been satisfying, and I feel very good – no gut problems, if you’ll pardon the expression. When taking inventory of my freezer, I found some chicken and shrimp, which I will eat sometime in the next couple of weeks. I don’t want to ever waste food. I also found several kinds of beans that will make tasty salads in this hot weather. I bought fresh corn yesterday and will grill that and add to a mixed vegetable salad for today and into the weekend.
When going vegetarian, you need to be mindful of the protein content, but I daresay there is ample protein in a variety of vegetables if you put them together thoughtfully. One thing I am also mindful of is that I may not be successful in going completely vegetarian. I may want a burger or grilled chicken now and then or be in circumstances where I must cheat a little. That is okay. No one is making me do this, and I can do it any way that is convenient for me. In other words, I’m giving myself some slack. We all need to do that.
Today it will be the bean and corn salad, with grape tomatoes, red onion, olive oil and lime, and a grilled cheese sandwich on the side. The goals are to be healthy, avoid additives, and save money. We shall see how it goes.
Images from my garden:

spring mint


Flat leaf Italian parsley