Throughout my childhood, I often felt as though I was living in a parallel universe. While other kids packed their lunches with JIF-filled Wonder bread sandwiches and sipped their chocolate milk boxes, I was eating avocado-covered rice cakes and yelling at my dad to make sure he strained the fresh-squeezed orange juice my sister and I had to drink before we were allowed to leave for school. I was sixteen when I finally discovered what a coffee grinder was. Granted, we had one in our kitchen my entire life, which was used to grind cashews and in my mind, it was a nut grinder.
Normally resigned to two aisles in the back of conventional grocery stores, I remember feeling liberated whenever my dad and I would make our monthly pilgrimages to the Mustard Seed Market in Akron (this was even before Cleveland got a Whole Foods, let alone a Trader Joe's).
The world of healthy eating has changed a lot since I was in elementary school. By high school the same kids who once mocked me for eating "slime" on my rice cakes were asking me how to lose weight and how to make smoothies. I knew the world had really begun to shift the first time I saw national commercial for Silk soy milk. Now in addition to The Mustard Seed, my dad's pilgrimages include detours Whole Foods as well as Trader Joe's. While growing up the best vegetarian option for fast food was a salad bar at or baked potato at Wendy's, veggies-on-the run can now choose from Panera, Jamba Juice, and the wonderful magic that is Chipotle.
The point is, there a lot more ways to eat healthy today there were when I was growing up. Still, I encounter a lot of people who run into obstacles when trying to navigate the meat-free lifestyles. They either report feeling ill because they decided it was enough to simply give up meat while continuing gorge themselves on what my dad would call "chazerai" (i.e. over processed sugary crap), or they eventually give up after a month because they find a diet of brown rice, tofu, and steamed broccoli to be severely limiting. And I agree would have to agree wholeheartedly.
This blog is by no means a diet system. I have always found the word "diet" to be limiting. It implies oppression and deprivation. Many people give up on vegetarianism cold turkey because they feel discouraged by one or two guilty indulgences. For me, life is all about balance. I am immensely grateful for the way I was brought up (yay immunity!) and yet at this point I personally find pure veganism limiting as a lifestyle choice (a semester delighting in unpasteurized camembert and roquefort in Rennes, France pretty much killed my taste for soy cheese). I am grateful to my upbringing because it taught me how to take care of myself: when I start to eat too much "chazerai" (i.e., over-processed, over-sugared crap whose ingredient list contains more than 5 mysterious chemical compounds) I get congested and realize my body is telling me it's time to eat fresh fruit and miso soup for a week.
Here you'll find recipes here that involve cheese and eggs as well as soups that use ground nuts as and coconut milk as substitutions. Though I am aware the vegetarian lifestyle is not the right choice for everyone, I want this blog to illustrate that vegetarian living by no means should involve sacrificing flavor, color, variety, adventure, and magic.