By day three of my week as a vegetarian, I was feeling like complete crap. I woke up starving, ready to eat my weight in Godfather’s pizza. I was exhausted, run down, feeling completely deprived. Ready to give up completely and scarf down an entire pound of bacon. I put out some feelers and got feedback that I was definitely missing out on some important components, i.e. protein.
See, this whole week trial has made me think. It’s made me analyze my regular eating habits. I eat a lot of crap. I don’t mean to, but it’s a fact and I do. And so just taking out the meat and replacing it with other meals didn’t leave me feeling any better. Because I was still eating the normal junk. Transitioning from a meat-filled diet to a meatless diet requires a lot more thinking. A lot more time and effort put in to researching what I could be eating, what I could be making, how I should be changing my diet.
A friend suggested using the food plate (the one that replaced the old food pyramid) and it’s been a life-saver, for sure. It opened my eyes to what I was eating, daily. Yes, there is still a need for protein but it doesn’t have to come from meat. And subbing in a piece of chocolate fudge where I could have been eating watermelon is a bad idea. No, chocolate fudge is never a bad idea but it definitely does not leave me feeling full, satisfied and energized. If I take this food plate and try to model my eating around it, will I end up being healthier, feeling better? Probably. Can I still indulge in the occasional snack? Sure.
As for where I started getting my proteins, I turned to a few good staples that I want to start incorporating on a more regular basis. Greek yogurt, of course. It’s filled with protein and if you toss in a scoop of peanut butter or some nuts, then you are even better off. I had some for breakfast on Day 4 and ended up feeling full and more energetic than on Day 3. Also lentils. Lentils are a great source of protein. I’d never had them before but figured why the heck not. My first thought was to make them as I would my favorite risotto. So I took some chopped onion and sautéed it in a little bit of butter. I added in the cooked lentils and a ton of seasoning plus some tomato paste and let it all incorporate for a few minutes.
The result is a really tasty Middle-Eastern style dish that is packed full of flavor as well as protein. I made 1/2 cup of lentils and it definitely carried me through two lunches. I could barely eat 1 serving without feeling stuffed.
- ½ cup cooked lentils
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- ¼ tsp. curry powder
- ½ tsp. coriander
- ½ tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. turmeric
- ½ tsp. allspice
- In a small dish, combine curry, corinader, paprika, black pepper, salt, turmeric and allspice.
- Heat butter over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add in onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and stir until fragrant.
- Add lentils to the pan and stir to combine. Cook for two minutes, then add in the spices. Stir well combine.
- Add in tomato paste and stir until well incorporated.