Yes, I’m going to drop that bomb here and back away. I don’t like lasagna in its traditional form, probably because of my pickiness when it comes to the flavor, consistency and volume of tomato sauce. But drown something in alfredo or bechamel, and I’ll eat every bite.
During the car ride to the grocery store yesterday, I facetiously tweeted: “Hope they haven’t sold out of vegetables.”
And then I walked into ShopRite to find this:
It just speaks to everything I hate about New Year’s resolutions: the false urgency to end bad habits, the compulsion to stock the fridge full of healthy foods, the mad rush to the membership desk at local gyms. If you want to improve yourself, do it, but no one says you have to meet all your goals the second the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1. Do it bit by bit throughout the year. Make it manageable.
Maybe I’m just pre-emptively cranky because I know all the treadmills will be taken at Planet Fitness for the next four weeks.
If only it didn’t take so damn long to drain. I’ve found that it’s best to freeze a package, defrost the block and cut it into usable strips/portions, and then press those pieces between two cutting boards with a cloth towel on top (absorbs more liquid than paper towels.)
But once it’s dried, you’re ready to go. This time, I decided to see how tofu would do with a classic buffalo-wing sauce and blue cheese dressing. After grilling the slices, I tossed them in Frank’s Red Hot Sauce with a touch of Tabasco for some more heat.
The verdict? So-so. I do enjoy deep-fried boneless buffalo wings on occasion, and maybe this was just too healthy for me, or not crispy enough. I think I would have been better off making baked buffalo chicken tenderloins.
Nor did I love my chosen brand of “healthy” blue cheese dressing: Bolthouse Farms, with yogurt. I’m not a fan of processed salad dressings to begin with, but it just tasted odd. Another blogger suggested making your own “dressing” by blending blue cheese crumbles with nonfat Greek yogurt, and I think I would have enjoyed that quite a bit more.
I don’t have any photos to share, because I am delinquent. But we finished another semi-vegetarian week and guess what, we’re starting to like it.
Monday: I cooked this curried lentil soup with lemon from Vegetarian Times, adding handfuls of baby spinach for more leafy greens. (I absolutely love spinach in soup.) Great success; I enjoyed eating it for lunch over the next few days. I bought a big loaf of wheat bread to serve with it.
Tuesday: Black bean and butternut squash crockpot chili. I personally didn’t love it. But Rob did, so at least it got eaten. If we’re being totally honest, I’m not a chili fan to begin with, but I figured I might enjoy a version without tons of beef.
Wednesday: Margarita pizza with fresh mozzarella. Basic. Easy. And my pizza stone did not divide itself in the oven.
Thursday: Black bean burgers, again. They were a little too spicy. I need to cut back on the chipotle.
I ate meat on Wednesday (pork banh mi and rare-beef pho at Huong Viet in Hartford) and Friday (my beloved chicken korma at Pintu’s in West Springfield.) And all was fine until Saturday, when we decided to pick up some grass-fed ribeye to cook at home. First, I wasn’t thrilled with the outcome of my red-wine reduction sauce. Second, the flavor of the meat didn’t excite me nearly as much as a good steak used to. Third, I had an upset stomach for the remainder of the night. While I’m not positive the meat caused it, I suspect that it could have been a culprit.
But yesterday, all I wanted for lunch was a turkey sandwich. And so that’s what I ate, returning to vegetarianhood at dinner with handmade butternut squash ravioli and roasted Brussels sprouts.
And while I’m sure this has coincidence written all over it, this is the week where I’ve reached two major running milestones. I’ve been following the Couch to 5K training program on and off since May and began hitting a wall around week 5, where the first of three runs (alternating 5-minute runs and 3-minute walks) jumps rather inexplicably to an 8-minute run/5-minute walk interval and then to a 20-minute run with no walk breaks. I spent months stuck on the first run of that week, mastering the five-minute run and feeling too intimidated to move on.
Until last Monday, when I decided to just go for it and attempt the 8 minutes. When I finished with ease, I felt like a damn superhero. And after completing two more of those runs on Tuesday and Friday, I got on the treadmill Sunday and went for broke. I passed 8 minutes and kept going. Re-evaluated at 10; kept going. Gave Rob the thumbs-up at 11 minutes when he stopped by the water fountain. Shortly after that, I just entered a zone. At the end of the full 20 minutes, I just started dancing on the treadmill. I don’t even care who was watching.
Let me assure you, the last time I ran that far – and long – I was in training for junior varsity cheerleading during my sophomore year of high school, when I was trying to come back from a nasty knee injury. And I thought it would take me another few months to reach this goal. I believe I’ll be signing up for a 5K sometime next year for sure now.
I thought my first taste of meat after five days of vegetarian eating would be nirvana. And while I didn’t have any major cravings during our meatless week, there were a few moments where I just wanted to rip into a burger. We decided to indulge this weekend at Max Burger in West Hartford, figuring if we were going to eat beef, we’d do it right.
We committed the faux pas of ordering virtually the same meal (Kobe Fun Guy: with medium-rare Kobe beef, truffled cheese, French onion aioli and au poivre dipping sauce – hold the mushrooms for me.) And when the burgers arrived, they looked as gorgeous as they did in my dreams.
But something was off. As Rob tore into his and pronounced it the best ever, I found myself treading more lightly. Yes, it was incredible. Yes, that meat was utterly perfect, juicy and the ideal pink-red through the center. And yes, the rich aioli and earthy truffle cheese elevated the decadence factor. At the same time, it was almost a little too much for me, after a week of grains, vegetables and tofu. I ate half and brought home leftovers – something I hadn’t planned to do.
I guess I should have known what was coming when the restaurant’s “Grateful Veg” burger – with quinoa, sunflower seeds and lemon-tahini vinaigrette – looked especially good that night.
No way am I going full vegetarian, but I think we’re going to continue on this part-time meatless kick. We both agreed the experiment made us feel better; gave us more energy. (I fit in five workouts in seven days; almost unheard-of for me.) I didn’t feel sluggish in the late afternoon like I normally do.
And I had a much more successful round of tofu-cooking last night. Several people told me they’d had better results when freezing the tofu first, and they were absolutely right. It took extra time to drain it, but once it dried out, it pan-fried up beautifully. We planned to save a portion of the unmarinated slices for future meals, but we couldn’t resist – it all disappeared in a matter of minutes.
This week, I’ll be fashioning some kind of black bean and butternut squash chili, and a potential red-lentil soup. I may even make quinoa meatballs again. And there’s a lonely eggplant in my fridge, wondering when it’ll get its time to shine. Suggestions?