Sometimes it is hard for people to break away from their routine, in particular, food intake. I think I fall victim under that category. Though I have attempted to scale back on my consumption of meat products, it is a bit unnerving that I rarely explore the options of high protein grains. On the right is Quinoa, a crop that originated in South America, consumed by the ancient Incans, and essentially spurned by the Conquistadors. High in protein (a complete protein for that matter), quinoa is a great as a substitute for rice. My co-worker Tammy made a vegetarian fried rice dish, doubling the use of quinoa as a grain and protein. During my Los Angeles River bike ride, I was lucky enough to dry chocolate chip cookies with quinoa mixed in. Most people who do not eat meat primarily focus on eggs and soy, which can lead to a dangerous and unhealthy diet.
Tempeh is another alternative to meat, which is made from soy. It is a staple found in Indonesia, particularly from the region of Java. At some of the vegetarian places I've been to, tempeh is a substitute for meat products, such as "tempeh cheese-steaks" and so on. The texture, from what I have heard and gathered, is quite a good substitute for red meat. Although I enjoy the consumption of tofu in it's cubed form, I must admit that I cannot fathom eating chunks of soy day in and day out. Nor could I imagine eating more than one egg on a daily basis. Actually, the only thing I can possibly imagine consuming on a regular basis is rice, but then again, how could I not considering that I am Chinese? But that's besides the point. Obviously, we know that beans and nuts provide another source of protein. Beans, however, do not provide a complete source of protein on its own. Eating rice and beans together, like refried beans and Spanish/Mexican rice will allow one to have a complete meal intake. Fiber, protein, etc. etc. (If you are wondering how I came to this, my coworker is a vegetarian, and tries to balance her diet as much as possible, while diversifying her options). Another popular option to meat that does not utilize soy as a replacement for protein is seitan. For the life of me I cannot recall ever having this, even during the Lunar New Year (for all you politically correct readers) when one dish at the tabled must be vegetarian (my, how far my family has fallen). The photo right was the most appetizing of the seitan images that came up on my search. Although, I believe I may have had seitan at this vegetarian Chinese place once in Monterey Park. My parents took a German foreign exchange student/visitor (during High School) that we housed for a few days to a Chinese vegetarian restaurant because, well, she was a vegetarian. This begs me to ask my parents if they ever use seitan, or wheat gluten. Anyway, if you're vegetarian, these are some great options for you to explore if you have never tried any of the three aforementioned items. I particularly enjoy quinoa. Anyway, how will I really diversify my culinary skills, you ask?
My co-worker, her parents, me and Patrick have all decided to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group based out of San Diego. They deliver organic vegetables and fruits (all seasonal) twice a week to locations throughout the greater Los Angeles area. We are currently doing the bi-weekly plan to see how it works out. If we like it, we'll sign up for the summer batch, if not well, I guess stir-fry will be a huge deal for the next few weeks. What is nice is the fact that CSA's do not grow food the entire year. The farmers allow the ground to lay fallow so the soil can replenish for the season. Another thing is that the shipment varies due to the season (summer means strawberries and tomatoes). I only wish I could have had a shipment of squash. How delicious.
I guess I lost the point of my entry. My diet doesn't very much because like work, I have fallen victim to a routine schedule for making food. Whether or not it is intentional, I tend to cook the same things over and over again, primarily because I am too tired to try something new. On the weekends I like the go out and exercise, or bake. Even though I own a cookbook that I very much adore, the ingredient lists can be off-putting. Another issue at stake is the fact that I am allergic to so many fruits. People that know me have commented that I rarely eat fruit, well now you know why. I will not go on to list all that I allergic to, but I can tell you that I am allergic to all melons (which is why I hate fruit salads). So dishes with pears, or apples and such don't appeal to me. Wait, I know you must be thinking I am crazy. That's okay, because honestly I am.
So I admit that I may have a hard time appreciating delicious foods. Tunnel vision, yes, that's the term I believe that suits the predicament I am in. Hopefully with the shipment of vegetables coming in I will explore new territory in my culinary diet. And in terms of diet, I hope that everyone out there understands that I am not trying to eat less to lose weight (because we all know how much I generally love food). That being said and done, I need to find a good Chinese cookbook or website. Having a wok and an electric stove is problematic though (I really miss having a gas stove, for obvious reasons). I think the first shipment of our food includes kale. Yes, stir-fry it is.