Tag Archives: vegetarian

Why I ate turkey: How celiac disease drove me to give up vegetarianism

This picture of me shocked my friends and family. That food on my fork? That’s turkey. Not tofurkey, but real, bonafide animal meat.

The shocking part? I haven’t eaten meat in over seven years.

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So why start eating it again now? Because I reached my breaking point.

I reached a point where my moral stance against the meat industry and overall disinterest in eating meat filled with hormones and other nasty things was outweighed by my frustration with celiac disease. There were so many times when I would go to a restaurant or party and think, “If I only ate meat my life would be so much simpler right now.” I never actually had the urge to eat it because the thought grossed me out, but I sure thought about it. I made the decision to start eating seafood when I was diagnosed because I felt like I couldn’t anything at all (plus I love the taste of seafood and have fewer qualms with eating it). 

However, lately I’ve been thinking about eating meat more and more. Thinking that a little bit of organic, humanely-treated turkey or chicken every once in awhile isn’t going to kill me. It actually could make me feel better and more satisfied with my diet. It could simplify my life and take some of the pressure off of me when dining with others. And it’s probably healthier than eating so many soy protein-based foods (which I’ve tried to cut down on).

So, I used Thanksgiving as a test run and had a little turkey with my meal. I’ll admit, the first bite was kind of hard to get down because I wasn’t used to the texture. But after that initial few chews, I was fine. Since then I’ve had a couple of bites of turkey in a salad and on a sandwich, and it’s been…nice. It fills me up, and I don’t mind the taste.

Now, I don’t plan on becoming a huge carnivore, or eating pigs and cows any time in the foreseeable future. But I’ve realized that eating a little white meat every so often doesn’t diminish my beliefs about vegetarianism. It’s just helping keep me sane! Voluntarily limiting my options in my gluten-free diet was always a struggle, so now I’ll have a few more things I will eat.

I’ll make it a point to get quality meat, so I feel good about my decision each time I cross the aisle to the carnivore side, but I’m loving the feeling of having more options open to me.

What do you think? Have you ever tried something new or something you didn’t think you like in order to expand your palette on a gluten free diet? 

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Polish Kapusta

The second there’s a chill in the air, all I want to eat are piping bowls of X, Y, or Z. Oatmeal, soup, chili, thai food, you name it. Last night I had a pregnant-lady strength craving for kapusta.

Kapusta is a traditional Polish dish that my grandma used to make. It’s kind of like golabki (stuffed cabbage), only without the meat. Plus you don’t have to do any of the work of stuffing and rolling the cabbage, it’s a one pot meal. Well, meal for me, probably more of a side dish for others.

There are a ton of different versions of kapusta – some are sauerkraut-based, some have mushrooms, and some have salt pork. Our family’s version is more tomato based, with tons of onions and cabbage.

Polish Kapusta

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, cut into chunks
  • Some kind of tomatoes (you could use diced, fresh, stewed, anything but sauce)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  •  1-2 T. sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 T. butter + 1 T. oil
  • 1 c. water
  1. Saute onion and garlic in butter/oil until transparent
  2. Add in cabbage, water, and tomatoes. Liquid should just about cover the cabbage.
  3. Turn the heat on low, let simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add in sugar, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Let simmer for another hour or so (until the cabbage is tender and the liquid has thickened)


I served mine with greek yogurt (usually it’s served with kielbasa and sour cream). And I ate about four bowls. And it was amazing. Such a simple recipe, but it’s one of my favorites.

 
The best part about kapusta is that it stays good for at least a few days to a week, and it’s like chili in that it just gets better after sitting in the fridge.

Na zdrowie!

DC Veg Fest

This Saturday was DC Veg Fest, on the campus of George Washington University. Usually vegetarian/vegan events are gluten free-friendly, plus I love vegetables, so I was pumped.

Right away the tent for Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant caught my eye.

They had spring rolls and tiramisu that were marked gluten free. Unfortunately, by the time I walked around and got back to their tent, they were out of tiramisu. So sad.

Next logical choice? Mung bean pancake from Cafe Green. Just kidding, it was no tiramisu, but it was fine. I wasn’t really expecting mung beans to blow my mind.

Now, not to be a hater, but there were a few things about the VegFest that irked me.

  1. There were hardly any vegetables. There were cupcakes, Indian food, mac and cheese, and nachos. I swear if someone was selling cups of cut up vegetables they would have sold like hot cakes. As my friend Kaitlin says, there’s a difference between vegetarians and people who love vegetables.
  2. Equating vegetarianism with animal-loving. I mean, who doesn’t love animals? But it’s not the sole reason why people are vegetarians. And I wouldn’t really call myself an animal lover – they can do their own animal thing, and I’ll do my human thing, and if we happen to be together we’ll have a good ole time. At one point a speaker said that vegetarians are the “kindest people in the world”. Really? I know many a bitchy vegetarian that would prove otherwise.
  3. No balloon animals or games. It’s a festival people! Aside from one guy dressed up like a giant carrot, it was kind of a serious festival. We missed the cupcake eating contest, but if I’m going to a festival I’m expecting there to be a bean bag toss, or a magician or something. (Also, isn’t a vegan cupcake eating contest a total oxymoron?)

And that concludes my VegFest rant. I think I should stick with my gluten free peeps from now on.

 

Cookshop: NYC

One night in NYC, my boss took our team out to dinner at Cookshop in west Chelsea. Their menu looked great online, but I was even more impressed that they had a Meatless Monday special! Even though that menu wasn’t gluten free, I still appreciate the effort. I wish someone would start a Gluten-less Sunday or something.

I split the vegetable salad with my manager (sweet corn, cauliflower, fennel, carrots, radish, cucumber,lemon,mint). I don’t know what those little green things were on top, but I loved them.

The scallops seemed to be the favorite choice for an entree, so I went with them. Long Island sweet corn pudding, cherry tomatoes & arugula salad.

I love that restaurants in NYC can spin “Long Island sweet corn pudding” into being something trendy.

Really delicious. I could eat an ocean of scallops. Cookshop was a great choice for a mixed crowd of dietary restrictions – two of us don’t eat gluten, one doesn’t eat dairy, and there were plenty of choices for everyone.

Cookshop
156 10th Avenue

New York, NY 10011

Breaking News: Most people on a gluten free diet kind of think it sucks

I was reading this article on jacksonville.com by Mark Basch (The Gluten Free Glutton) about how “43 percent of people on a gluten-free diet rated their satisfaction as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor,’ with 35 percent rating it as ‘average.'” So that’s 78% of people on a gf diet that kind of think it sucks.

How sad is that?

Then I got to thinking about how I would rate my satisfaction with my diet.  And I think I’d say “above average”.  Or maybe “average”?  It’s such a weird question.

On the one hand, I still get to eat things like this massive Thanksgiving sandwich from Terri Vegetarian in NYC.  And I’m very satisfied.

But on the other, sometimes I have to buy the one gluten free veggie burger in the grocery store, which ends up tasting dry and looking like a dirt patty, and I have to slather it with hummus to make it edible.  Then? Not so satisfied.

How would you rate your satisfaction with your gluten free diet?

Match-up: Primal Strips vs. Stonewall’s Vegan Jerky

I know what you’re thinking – there is more than one type of vegan “beef” jerky?  Yes.

And you’re actually recommending them as something I should eat?  Yes.  (If you are vegetarian, but still enjoy salty protein-filled meat-imitating snacks) 

But Anna, whatever jerky should I choose?  

No worries, I’m here to help.  DING DING DING – let the match up begin!

First up: Primal Strips

Texas BBQ and Hickory Smoked are Gluten Free - note the handy icon in the upper right of the package

 

Buy me. 

Primal Strips are truly amazing.  A feat of food engineering.  I don’t understand how those food scientists could make soy taste and feel so much like dehydrated meat. Seeing as I haven’t eaten meat in about four years, this is about as primal as my eating gets.  These strips are only 80-90 calories each, and pack about 10-12 grams of protein each.  They’re also almost fat free, and have no cholesterol.  They’re perfect for a mid-afternoon snack (and even give that guilty-pleasure salt satisfaction, without eating a bag of chips).  These are super chewy, fun to eat, and have a ton of meat-ish, BBQ flavor.  

I’ve been eating Primal Strips for a few months now, so when I saw that the store across from my office started carrying them I was super excited.  They also started carrying Stonewall’s Jerquee.  So I thought – what’s better than one kind of vegan gf jerky than TWO KINDS?  Pretty much nothing.  

So I picked up a package of Stonewall’s Jerquee and started snacking.  This jerky is in little nuggets rather than a strip.  

Nuggets

 

These, however, were not the primal experience I was seeking.  With such pleasant olde time wild west mascot, you’d think that the product would live up to the packaging.  (They also have about 12 different flavors, which was exciting to me).  However, the package of Teriyaki jerquee that I had tasted like dog food.  It had a grainy texture, unpleasant dog food/stale smell, and left my mouth drier than Cheetos and cardboard combined.  I forced myself to eat about half the package (it cost $2.99 so I couldn’t bring myself to just chuck it).  But then I had to give up, drink some water, and throw them out.  

*Sidenote – what’s with the spelling of jerquee?  Makes my skin crawl just typing it. 

Heavyweight Champion = PRIMAL STRIPS!

So, if the thought of vegan jerky doesn’t repulse you – go get some!  They’re available at Whole Foods (near the register at my store). 

Don’t get Stonewalls Jerquee.  Unless you run out of dog food.