I have a VERY diverse group of friends. We all like different things. Interests and hobbies (I am the token pastry chef, thus pumping out kids' birthday cakes year round), political ideas (although I secretly think mine are superior...), religious beliefs or a lack thereof, opinions in health and wellness, and of course tastes in food. I am married to a carnivore, yet I eat a mostly plant-based diet with some seafood and dairy mixed in from time to time. (I also enjoy eggs a few times throughout the week.) I keep the company of health-conscious friends who follow the 'Eat Right for Your Blood Type' diet, the gluten-free group, I have raw and vegan friends...there are the stuck-in-the-90's 'Is this low-fat?' junkies, and of course the rest of them...who eat just about anything. (And then there's my brother...just fry it in fat and it'll be fine.)
One of the best ways to bring people together is NOT discussions of religion or politics (as my mother so warned me in my early teen years but I still decided to find out for myself, the hard way), but these words alone...'Hey, I'm cooking Thursday night!' Suddenly I'm the most popular girl in the bunch, and I'm also the 'best chef' and nobody else knows how to turn on an oven. *sigh*
And while I typically do not have issues finding and creating recipes for my diverse group of friends and to suit everyone's tastes, it can be a challenge to make a good majority of them solely plant-based without feeling like I am 'forcing' people to eat healthy who simply don't care about it...or that I have to fix an entirely different meal all together for myself, which is not only tiring but can appear a bit snobbish and even rude. I never though of it this way until my husband so happily pointed out another one of my 'flaws', but I suppose it is a bit 'Here peasants, you eat this artery-clogging meat while I ever-so-elegantly enjoy this endive salad.'
But what does one do when her husband declares he's doing his long-forgotten '30-days-with-no-meat' cleanse? At first she internally jumps for joy...really, really high! But next come all the frequent, subconsciously-implanted reminders that said husband IS (and will ALWAYS be) a carnivore. And then the stress receptors start firing up in the brain. How in the world can I POSSIBLY create something that is filling and satisfying enough for my meat-eating spouse to still remain interested in my cooking, ultimately keeping him interested in ME (and not just interested in my body parts...)? Well, first I think to all the wonderful things that CAN be eaten with or without meat, that are equally satisfying and filling either way you fix it up. Curry dishes with sides of brown rice were my first thought. And whole grain pastas with roasted veggies and made-from-scratch marinara sauces. Ooooh, and Chinese take-out inspired meals, sans meat! And this is why I love having so many wonderful blogger friends. We all 'specialize' in something different, thus providing a canvas with the picture already sketched out. All I need to do is fill in the colors. Or perhaps I'll just take the finished painting and hang it up in my house...
And this is exactly (well, almost exactly) what I did with the wonderful vegan curry I concocted last night for both hubs and myself. Went to friend's blog. Found recipe. Copied. Almost... I have this thing about not following directions. I know, I know. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And there ain't nothin' broke about Chef Amber Shay's (at 'Almost Vegan') Roasted Cauliflower-Chickpea Curry. (I just realized I used this same 'if it ain't broke' line in my last blog entry...I'm not going to edit it out. It's funny when I do such things...) It's perfect, full of curried goodness, and not too spicy (although you could certainly make it taste like the devil delivered it 'himself'). But I just like to make things my own, add my own signature I suppose. I guess that's kind of like taking an already-finished painting, adding in a random paint stroke, and then signing your name on the bottom. Whatever...it works.
I'm just going to let you check out Amber's site for yourself rather than copy the recipe here. But I WILL share with you some of the things I added and changed a bit:
- I TRIPLED the amount of garlic used. (What?!? I like garlic!)
- I used fresh, roughly-pureed tomatoes in placed of canned.
- I added in a cup of frozen, organic peas a few minutes before adding the roasted cauliflower.
- I added a few teaspoons of brown sugar. Not sure why, but it tasted really, really good!
- I threw in some red pepper flakes for heat (my curry powder is mild, purposely to adjust heat).
- Tossed in a few Tbsp. of roughly minced fresh cilantro...because it's good on everything.
- AND because I did not have cumin seeds on hand, I just used 1 1/2 tsp. of powder instead.
So what else could carnivores on a no-meat cleanse eat? Besides this awesome curry creation, here are some of my other picks and possibilities for the week:
Whole Grain Pasta with Marinara and Roasted Veggies (broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, and onions)
'Copycat' Panda Express Orange Sauce with 'Popcorn' Cauliflower, from Chocolate-Covered Katie
Baked Potatoes, smothered in sauteed onions and mushrooms, with Vegetarian Chili
Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Peas, posted by Amber at Almost Vegan
Southwest Veggie Stir-fry (bell peppers, onions, carrots, broccoli, garlic, corn, black beans, SW seasoning)
Cajun No-chicken Pasta (basically a meatless version of a creamy Cajun pasta dish I make for Hubs)
Veggie Patch Pizza
My very own Brown Rice 'n Everything Wraps :-)
And for dessert...
Vegan and Gluten-free Pumpkin Coffee Cake (which I'll blog about soon...)
Veganized version of Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake (which I'll also blog about eventually...)
Maybe not this week, but eventually Amber's Raw Pear Tartlets, except I'll probably use apples
Ahhh. Life is good. :-)
Have you ever done a food cleanse or diet just before the holiday season? And if so, what kind did you do?