No Meat March is almost over: You need veggie eye candy

The Organic Adventurer has been completely without meat for almost a month. In five more days, I could eat all the meat I want. Except I don’t want any! That’s a big surprise for me. Mr. Organic Adventurer just suggested that on April 1, he could grill a big steak for me. Without missing a beat, I said, “What if I don’t want it?”

I hadn’t yet thought about whether or not I will continue with the vegetarian diet after the Girls Gone Green– and Ananda Kula-sponsored No Meat March. There are reasons aplenty to stick with it though. (My reasons for doing the challenge were more about health and the environment, so I’ll set aside ethical issues for now.) First, the thought of the oily mouthfeel of red meat just isn’t appealing. Second, I promised myself that I would do this meat-free month only if I could avoid gaining weight, as I have in the past when I’ve stopped eating meat. I’m holding off on weighing myself until the last day, but my clothes actually feel looser! Third, our food budget is well under what it usually is, so the savings from not buying meat are very attractive.

Besides, it’s been a damned good excuse to go to Hovan, quite possibly my favorite restaurant in town. I also finally got to try Pele’s Wood Fire. We had two pizzas: The Mushroom Formaggi was absolutely delicious, but the Roast Pear and Gorgonzola stole the show for me. It was basically my ideal salad on a pizza! The sweetness of the allspice-dusted pears and the bite of the red onion slivers balanced each other well. The walnuts gave it an interesting crunch, the spinach was somehow just barely wilted, and the cheese was dreamy. The original order didn’t last long enough for a photo, but here are the leftovers.

Pele Wood Fire pizza!

While Pele’s isn’t participating in the No Meat March pledge card-holder discount (whaaa?!), The Organic Adventurer was impressed with their automated restroom that saves water and reduces the amount of paper towel used. Also, leftovers are taken home in the “Greenbox,” a recyclable pizza box made from recycled material that includes instructions for turning the box into plates and a storage container before it goes in the recycling bucket. Pretty cool!


We also went to Masala, another fave of mine, for Indian. They are offering a No Meat March discount, which made their awesome saag paneer that much more awesome. We also got the malai kofta and garlic naan. Mmm…naan.

On Sunday, March 25, The Organic Adventurer was at CoRK for the Cultivating Culture event hosted by Arbus. Helping people live greener, healthier lives is hard, hot work, so we walked a few tents down and got some cold orange ginger kombucha with chia seeds (call 904-419-7463 for more info.) and a bag of three organic seeded wheat rolls from Community Loaves. If you love fresh, homemade breads and pastries but don’t have time to bake them yourself, check them out. Their home delivery subscription service is available to residents of Riverside, Avondale, Ortega, Downtown, parts of Springfield, and San Marco. They also offer group delivery to ZenCog, so you could probably pick up there if you don’t live in one of those areas. The wheat rolls were dense, fragrant and delicious, and I will definitely buy from Community Loaves again (in moderation, of course)!

Community Loaves' wheat roll

Now that's some happy bread!

More on prepared food: One reader commented on Facebook, “For yummy, quick veggie take-away, try Sprocket’s Food Truck and Nalu’s Tropical Takeout, both in St. Augustine.” I haven’t yet had a chance to try either, but thought I’d throw that out there.

Aromas of yummy veggie dishes have also been filling The Organic Adventurer’s own kitchen as well. My go-to recipe genius, Dawn Hutchins of the Florida Coastal Cooking blog, came through again with Baked Pineapple Curry Tofu with Fried Basmati Rice and Veggies. It was so good, I had to make it twice!

I thought I’d also seen a dish at Florida Coastal Cooking involving roasted chickpeas and kale, but couldn’t find it when I went looking for it again, so I just made something up. This had caramelized red onions, roasted chickpeas and turnips, and kale sautéed with garlic. It turned out really delicious with the smoky chickpeas and sweet onions. I’m thinking of throwing some pine nuts in next time.

I got nostalgic for collard greens one night (Good thing I had some from my KYV Farms CSA membership!) and found a recipe for a vegetarian version online. I wish I could remember exactly where and link it, but you know how it goes: onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, veggie stock and simmer the crap out of it. I really didn’t have high hopes for this one – collards without the bacon? – but it turned out so good! The collards were somehow so smoky on their own that it didn’t even seem vegetarian. Some lentils cooked with onion and celery made it a very satisfying meal.

I can’t say I’ve really gotten into the whole smoothie/juicing thing, but Whole Foods had organic mangoes for $1 each. We also picked up a sample pouch of Vega One Nutritional Shake. Having just been at Masala reminiscing about mango lassis, it was kind of a perfect storm thing. I blended two mangoes, six ounces of Greek yogurt, about three-quarters cup of almond milk, the Vega powder and about three cups of ice, and we had Vega Mango Lassis for breakfast. They were very tasty and made me want to try other smoothie recipes—maybe something with apples and kale next time. Anyone have a good recipe?

Finally, it’s almost Passover, which always makes me think of a delicious vegetarian Passover treat called charoset. Charoset, in the Passover Seder, symbolizes the mortar Israelite slaves used in their building in Egypt, a weighty image for such light, delicious, easy goodness. Thanks to my favorite mother-in-law and to aunt-in-law Merry, I make it by chopping six semi-tart apples and mixing them with the juice of one lemon to prevent browning. I then mix in two cups of chopped pecans or walnuts (or both), two tablespoons of a cinnamon and sugar mix, two tablespoons of honey (agave syrup would work too), and about one-and-a-half cups of a very sweet wine. I’ve tried an organic variety or two, but nothing seems to do it justice better than Manischewitz Concord Grape. That’s probably just a mental thing on my part though. Anyway, the recipe calls for a few handfuls of golden raisins too, but I’m not a raisin fan, so I leave them out. Mix it all up and let it marinate in the fridge. Toss it once in a while; the longer it marinates, the more of the wine the apples soak up. It makes a great dessert or side dish and is as good a reason as any to love eating vegetarian!

As No Meat March winds down, I’d love to know readers’ reasons for eating or not eating vegetarian, so please comment! If you subscribe by email, you can choose to be notified when other comments are made on a post you’ve commented on. You can also subscribe to be notified of comments without leaving one yourself!

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