Lately…and Thoughts on Vegetarian Cooking

LatelyComing off three big writing deadlines last week, I found myself at a loss for what to write about for today’s blog post. Over coffee this morning, settled in my comfy armchair, I thought “Why not write about what I’ve been up to lately?” So here you go.

When patients are in my office, we of course talk about nutrition, but since food and nutrition don’t exist in a vacuum, we also talk about life. Most of my patients, whether they are working or retired, have so much going on in their lives that things can quickly get out of balance. In other words, too much time spend doing things for other, not enough time attending to good self-care.

Even with no writing deadlines this week, I still have a long to-do list of less-urgent tasks (research for upcoming articles, social media, answering emails, recording new video and audio for the upcoming session of my Healthy For (Your) Life online program). I did tick off some of those boxes (and will get to more today), but I also gave myself permission to step away from my computer this weekend. We spent Saturday morning tromping around a very wet downtown Seattle before catching an 11 a.m. showing of “Spectre” at Cinerama (Daniel Craig is my favorite James Bond, with Sean Connery a very close second). We had the theater almost to ourselves, which is a definite benefit of seeing a movie later in its run (I think we’ll do the same thing with “Star Wars“).

That morning, an email from New York Times Cooking inspired me to make this recipe for North African Meatballs, which was a hit. (I baked the meatballs in a 40o-degree oven for about 8 minutes to brown them rather than fry them in oil.) It’s times like this when I’m glad I keep a well-stocked spice drawer! I’m also eying the recipe for Red Lentil Soup with Lemon, which fits nicely with a currently evolving shift in my eating patterns. We’re due to pick up our 2016 share of grassfed beef soon, but other than that I’m moving more toward vegetarian meals.

You may be thinking, “Vegetarian plus beef? That makes no sense.” Well, actually it does. Between reading The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business and recent news reports that cast doubts on the living conditions of poultry and other livestock even at “better” large-scale farms, I feel myself turning away from meat that wasn’t raised by someone who I can look in the eye (or at least email directly). I can count on my beef, I can’t count on the organic chicken or eggs I buy from Costco, and I don’t feel wholly confident about Whole Foods, either. Plus, I was mostly vegetarian for a number of years many moons ago, and what I know now about vegetarian cooking is much healthier and more sophisticated than it was back then, when I ate way too much pasta. (It was the low-fat era! We didn’t know that white flour was that bad for you!)

I’ve been enjoying cooking from Martha Rose Schulman’s The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking. I love that many of her recipes are in template format (i.e., a basic recipe with variations), and following her technique for blanched greens has made it much easier to eat more cooked kale and collard greens. I’m working out of a copy from the library, but I think I’ll have to add it to my personal library (my husband will roll his eyes when he reads this).

I count this weekend as a success. I worked a little, relaxed a little, worked out a little, cooked a little, and more importantly, managed to not just wash and dry my clothes but fold them and put them away, too (while watching part of Season 5 of “Portlandia“). It’s a good way to start the week!

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