It’s been No Meat March for a whole entire week, and I didn’t starve! Seriously, because I told the entire world this time around about the pledge month co-sponsored by Girls Gone Green and Ananda Kula, I got even more of “But what do you eat?!” than in the past when I’ve switched to a vegetarian diet. Fortunately, The Organic Adventurer loves questions!
Actually, one can eat quite well on a vegetarian diet—even too well. What derailed me the last time I switched to a vegetarian diet is that I gained weight. I could blame it on an aging metabolism but, honestly, it’s because I love, love, love carbs. Unfortunately, they hate, hate, hate me! All I have to do to gain five pounds is gaze longingly at a piece of bread. Mmm…dense, crusty, yeasty homemade…oh, sorry. Where was I? Carbs…right! So this time around, I promised myself I would limit non-vegetable/fruit carbs.
I belong to KYV Farms CSA, a farm subscription where I get a share of locally grown vegetables every other week, so I always have plenty of fresh, organic produce on hand. Because of that, I also had a freezer full of cabbage and butternut squash soup. So I was doing pretty well—until I went grocery shopping and bought English muffins. Sigh. Oh well, no one’s perfect.
Besides, my sister-in law came to town a few days before No Meat March started, and she’s a hardcore Weight Watchers chick. She introduced me to a carb-free pizza crust she found on Pinterest, and we topped it with roasted veggies. It was a ridiculously tasty and easy way to curb a pizza craving without meat or loads of carbs. When my workout buddy and portion cop headed home, she left me with a website, skinnytaste.com, to check out. The site has a lot of vegetarian recipes, and the Weight Watchers points are listed for all of them.
The dinner was held in Intuition’s huge brewery-floor bar area, and it was clear from the ambiance that it would be a special evening. White string lights, soft candlelight, great music and simple wildflowers on the tables, along with the buzz of anticipation from the 50 or so guests, set the mood.
The Intuition folks know how to keep people happy and quickly passed out pints of Dubbel Helix, one of my favorite Intuition brews, as a pre-dinner drink and to accompany the first course. And, yes, I know beer is liquid bread. Thanks.
Dig Foods’ Sean Sigmon introduced each of the five courses and their accompanying beers. The sweet potato and arugula salad with citrus dressing was an explosion of flavors that was indeed brightened by the Dubbel Helix, as Sigmon had said it would be. Each of the three perfectly plated main courses was a unique vegan take on non-vegetarian favorites: paneer, the Reuben and muffuletta. And hardly a hint of carbs! (Yeah, I’m just gonna go with the “liquids don’t count” philosophy here.)
As fantastic as all of the food was, the dessert stole the show. It’s almost impossible to believe that the rich, moist, silky almond cake with strawberry compote was made without any eggs, milk or butter! As if that little slice of heaven weren’t enough, it was accompanied by what could, quite possibly, be the best chocolate truffle I’ve ever had.
After introductions, thank yous and a raffle drawing, it was time to go home and reflect on the fact that we had been treated to a fabulous gourmet meal without a single animal-derived product in it! The Organic Adventurer, for one, will be seeking out Dig Foods whenever possible.
Of course, one can’t have such a catered meal on a regular basis, so what to do when you have to fend for yourself? My go-to breakfast has been an egg, a Morningstar organic soy breakfast patty and a sprinkle of cheese. I’ve always loved a good salad with a variety of toppings for lunch, but the week was very busy for The Organic Adventurer, so I relied on my go-to frozen entree, Amy’s Paneer Tikka, a few times.
A recent No Meat March newsletter that I can’t figure out how to link to included an excellent article by Cate DiCarlo on good places to find vegetarian selections around town. I would add a few places to her recommendations. St. Augustine’s The Floridian is a nice place to take out-of-town visitors when you’re showing them around the Ancient City. They serve a lot of fresh, local foods in nouveau-Southern preparations and have a decent vegetarian selection. Hovan, in 5 Points, is another spot I love. Their Mediterranean dishes are so yummy, the prices are incredible and the service is excellent. Even if you don’t usually like eggplant, try their Baba Ghannouj! And for a super-fast meal, Larry’s Giant Subs’ Greek veggie is great. I know it’s a franchise, but at least it’s one with local roots, and I do appreciate their efforts to use recycled paper products. I’ve always found their veggies, while not organic, to be fresh and crunchy and their service, especially how they ask you specifically whether or not you want each topping, has been very good.
For dinners at home, my favorite recipe source is Northeast Florida’s own Florida Coastal Cooking blog. Dawn Hutchins is a genius in the kitchen, and she always gives the full nutritional breakdown for each recipe. Besides, I could just eat her gorgeous photos! It doesn’t hurt that she’s also a member of KYV CSA, and so frequently features recipes using many of the same veggies I have on hand. I’ve made many a meal from Dawn’s recipes and have yet to have one not be an instant hit. I recently made the FCC Hasselback Rutabaga recipe and, once again, heard what I hear every time I make one of Dawn’s dishes: “Please tell me there’s more of that!”
With all the great vegetarian options at hand, The Organic Adventurer hasn’t even begun to miss meat. I would love to know readers’ tips and ideas for limiting carbs though, especially when eating a vegetarian diet. And I do hope you’ll comment on your favorite places to eat that have vegetarian options, good veggie recipes, what you would like to know about The Organic Adventurer’s meatless month, and anything else!