Mega Meat Eater Goes Meat-Free: Day Two. (+ Romesco Sauce)
It’s Day 2 of going Meat-Free. This calls for Celebration Brownies!
Last night, as I was snacking on some mochi, it suddenly dawned on me that tomorrow would mark the longest time I’ve gone meat-free since…toddler-hood.
Growing up in a Chinese family, pork was basically a food group. I remember the first time I brought my then-boyfriend, now-husband home for dinner, and we stopped by the Cantonese BBQ shop for a couple pounds of roast pork and a BBQ duck to bring home.
“Your family doesn’t have to go all-out with so much food just because I’m here,” he said, politely.
I stared. “We’re not. This is how my family eats all the time.”
There was a bit of shocked silence.
“Uhm…this is actually just a side dish,” I said slowly, gesturing to the several pounds of pork the butcher had chopped up with his cleaver, then scooped into a styrofoam box. “My mom is at home cooking.”
“Oh my god,” I heard him mutter a short while later, surveying the platters of food set up on our kitchen table and kitchen counter (because there would never be enough room to fit everything on just the table, obviously), “You weren’t joking.”
That was dinner for six.
Day One of the Meat-Free challenge was a tough one for me. When I go meatless one day a week, I tend to daydream about the dishes I’m going to eat the next day. I must admit, I was craving meat pretty badly by late afternoon. I started furtively looking at various food blogs, shutting my laptop whenever my husband poked his head in the bedroom and asked me what I was up to. Looking at, well…this seemed almost…smutty.
See, my husband enjoys eating meat as much as I do. I didn’t ask him to join in on Meatless Week, but he volunteered.
“I’m not doing it for the full seven days, though,” he warned. “I’m going to have pulled pork at Mardi’s house on Friday.”
For some reason, I feel almost obligated to make Meatless Week “fun” and “easy” when I’m around him, because I know he is making such a sacrifice in order to be a supportive husband.
“Hungry?” he asked last night, when he caught me in my boxers at midnight, spooning gobs of Nutella straight into my mouth.
“Nope. I feel fine,” I lied. Truth was, I ate half a jar of Nutella last night. I ate a huge spoonful every.single.time. I thought about steak. Or bacon. Or pulled pork.
One of my motivations for doing a full vegetarian week, as opposed to a day, was to see if it’d get easier. I already know one Meatless day a week is tough. I’ve been there. A week seemed more of a challenge. I love challenges.
At least, I thought I did…until this morning. When I spent *ahem* considerable more time than usual in the bathroom.
Truth is, I eat a typical North American diet most of the time–low in fiber, high in saturated fat. A lot of meat. A lot of delicious carbs, usually in the form of desserts. Few vegetables. I didn’t know my body was retaining so much waste. And would expel it at the first sign of a healthier diet.
(My husband is suffering the same consequences. This is not going to be a sexy week at the Yee-Lo household.)
My husband’s lunch pick: a falafel from Mr. Gyro (in Greenwood, Seattle)
My lunch! Falafel plate. (Not pictured–two enormous, grilled pitas for sopping up all that baba ganoush.)
Today, my husband suggested we meet for lunch at Mr. Gyro, a tiny little blip of a shop that sells gyros and falafel. We didn’t have much choice on what we could order, seeing our restrictions for this week. But we had a delicious lunch. (I was the creepy person trying not to stare at all the other patrons digging into their lamb kebabs.)
I feel this week has taught me to differentiate between true hunger, and emotional hunger.
“I feel full,” I wrote to a friend last night who was curious about my progress, “but I’m constantly craving meat. I think about it all the time.”
How many of us eat when we’re not truly hungry? I know I do. (It is especially easy, when you work mostly from home.) But in the past two days, I feel I’ve been more mindful of what I’m putting in my mouth–firstly, because I don’t want to absent-mindedly eat something that contains meat, and blow my experiment.
One of my favorite recipes from The Newlywed Kitchen–romesco sauce!
Dinner consisted of some lovely appetizers put out by Taste at SAM–beet salad with feta and watercress, polenta with morels, purple potato chips with edamame purée, chocolate-espresso Whoopie Pies. And wine. I had seconds of it all. And came home, and fixed myself another snack. I’m still feeding that emotional hunger. I’m hoping by tomorrow, the cravings will have abated a bit.
Today marks the end of Day 2, and I’m hanging in there. Tomorrow, I’ll show you what I ended up making with that sweet and tangy romesco sauce. We also have dinner plans with some friends at one of my favorite restaurants in town.
I guess I’ll be having the tofu.
Romesco Sauce, from The Newlywed Kitchen cookbook
During grilling season, there is absolutely no vegetable dish more delicious than charred leeks smothered in this bracing romesco. This sauce is a lovely thing to make when one of you starts complaining about those jeans feeling a little snug–chock-full of vegetables, nuts, and olive oil, it’s quite possibly one of the healthiest things you two can eat! The sauce keeps for up to five days, so try the leftovers on grilled shrimp, pork, pasta, or simply on some bread for a light and delicious snack.2 medium tomatoes, quartered 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar 1/4 cup olive oil 1/3 cup cubed stale bread 1 roasted red bell pepper 4 cloves garlic, finely diced 8 almonds, finely chopped 1/4 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt Small pinch of red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the tomatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, or until softened.
In a large bowl, combine the vinegar and olive oil. Add the bread and soak until softened, about 3 minutes.
Combine the bread (including the vinegar and olive oil used for soaking), roasted tomatoes, red bell pepper, garlic, almonds, hazelnuts, salt, red pepper flakes, and paprika in a food processor and process until smooth.
Bloggers, how has Day 2 been for you? Are you finding this challenge an easy one?