Vegetarian Challenge Completed (and still going)

My Week 11 challenge was to go vegetarian and I passed it with flying colors!! And guess what, seven full days are behind me and I’m still eating vegetarian today. Who would have guessed?! Even with some friends in town visiting during Spring Break, I still was able to go out and eat according to a vegetarian diet.

Things like this didn’t make it too difficult, either:

That, my friends, would be home made Eggplant Parmesan!

Ingredients:
1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise
1 egg, beaten
1 T olive oil
3 c bread crumbs
4 c tomato sauce
1 c mozzarella
1/2 c grated Parmesan
fresh basil
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350º. Dip eggplant slices in mixed egg and olive oil, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side. In a baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

We had ours with seasoned grilled polenta and garlic asparagus.

And although the meal was already on my agenda, it was prepared specially with a new purchase in mind.

…That would be garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil! I sampled olive oils and vinegars in a boutique shop in Scottsdale and literally wanted to buy everything in the building! From blood orange EVOO to dark chocolate balsamic vinegar, I loved it. Although I wanted to buy at least three bottles of the stuff, I could only think of enough practical uses for the garlic oil. But seriously, if you ever stumble across blood orange or lemon oil, try it. You can thank me later.

So how about some thoughts on being a week-long (plus) vegetarian. I didn’t mind it at all. Sure, in the back of my head I really wanted some meat, but I really didn’t miss it once I started exploring with recipes. Groceries for the week cost me a whopping $71 (mostly covering canned products and grains, which I still have in my pantry), and keep in mind that’s the amount eaten by TWO people in this house.

The one thing that got to me was dining out. With friends in town, we went to a few restaurants for lunch and dinner in between baseball outings. I really felt trapped in a menu that only offered at most two vegetarian options. Luckily, grilled vegetable fajitas were some of the best things I’ve ever tried. The cucumber margarita wasn’t too bad either ;) And while we went to a Greek restaurant that had a lot of vegetarian/vegan options (Pita Jungle if you’re curious and in the area), I reallllllly wanted to order one of their beautiful fish dishes.

But like I said, it was a breeze. Being the animal person I am, it made me happy to know that I wasn’t detracting from the animal population… for a week. So in summary from this week: going vegetarian has been very wallet-friendly. And it’s been delicious. I am going to try to cook as many vegetarian dishes as I can at home, but when it comes to dining out, I’m not going to limit my options. I mean, I like my burgers, pulled pork and sushi :)

And speaking of hanging out with friends on Spring Break, my week looked a lot like this:

Don’t be too jealous ;) I had to do a little bit of work in there, too haha. It was the first “Spring Break” I got to semi celebrate in about four years.

Oh yeah, my friend Michelle and I also got to experience a special kind of ice cream (and you all know how much I love me some ice cream/frozen yogurt)! There is a place in the A’s stadium called Sub-Zero in which you get to pick your own flavor of ice cream with two “toppings” mixed in. The catch is, however, your ice cream begins as a liquid then undergoes a quick freeze right before your eyes.

We opted for mint ice cream with double chocolate chips inside. It tasted deliciously creamy and light and melted a little bit slower than regular ice cream!

And my last loose end to tie up before I go is another exciting discovery in my life! This past week I found my eReader, which was lost in the scuffle of moving over seven months ago. You have no idea how upset I was about “misplacing it” and then how ecstatic I was to find it. I’ve already read a Lewis Carroll book and am pretty far into an Émile Zola novel. I even read it at Whole Foods yesterday while enjoying a guava Kombucha and the salad bar.

I felt so trendy. In reality, I was honestly just trying to kill time in between working a baseball game in the morning and a volleyball match several hours later, in the same area.

As you’ve seen, it’s been a pretty eventful week, but it’s only going to get crazier. My parents fly in this week for a few more baseball games, I’m tutoring, subbing and working baseball all week long and then when my parents leave, one of my other best friends from high school will be making a visit!

That’s my excuse, in advance, for a lack of posting to come :)

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Vegetarian Challenge Completed (and still going)

  1. Rather a stupendous week to my mind! Lovely weather, delicious food, reading, and ice cream = perfection :)

  2. Baseball season is almost heeeerrrrreeee!

    So excited!

    Nice work on kicking ass on the challenge! :)

  3. I don’t even like eggplant and would still kill for a bite of your lasagna, looks so tasty! Ugh, I’m fiending for Italian food so bad!

  4. Eggplant parm is one of my favorites!! I like it more than the chicken version. Yours looks delicious – especially the grilled polenta.

  5. The eggplant parm looks amazing. i haven’t used polenta in over a year. I should bust it out. Thanks for the support on my blog. :)

  6. What would les francais say – une vegetarienne?? ohlala!

    Totally joking – good for yoU! Everything looks so yummy as well :)

  7. Mmmm a local company makes infused oils and they have some fun recipes w/their blood orange and lemon ones (http://cdaoliveoil.com/recipes).

    My hubs got me a few oils for Christmas, which gave me a wonderful excuse to buy fancy bread.

    You’ll have to pass along all your tried and true veggie friendly recipes. I’m doing better at my vegetarian challenge than I was last week, but my husband really misses bacon ;)

  8. Meg

    There are definitely days that I go vegetarian by “mistake” even though I really enjoy meat.

    There’s a sub zero ice cream here too! I really like it, it’s just fun. :)

  9. Yum!! Good for you for making the challenge!! I still don’t think I could be vegetarian 24/7, but it’s things like this that make it deliciously possible :)

    Also, super jealous about the baseball. I’m ready for some Rangers!!

  10. Ooh that is my kind of spring break! :) Your eggplant parm looks great!

  11. That eggplant parm really looks delish!

    …if it were me, I’d opt for mint ice cream with double chocolate chips inside, too. Sounds wonderful!

    Where are you located???? I’m in northern cali- I may have asked before but I can’t remember.

  12. Sounds like you’ve had a GREAT week! Way to go with your vegetarian goal! Your eggplant parm looks amazing! I’m super impressed you were able to stick with it even when eating out! I don’t know if I would have been able to do that!

  13. Note: best potatoes to bake Bintje, russet burbank and sebago (brushed). Variations: Garlic & rosemary potato wedges: Add 2 garlic cloves, crushed, and 2 tbs fresh rosemary leaves with the oil, salt and pepper in step 2.hot & spicy wedges. Combine the oil, salt and pepper, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp sweet paprika and a pinch of chilli powder in a small bowl then toss with potatoes in step 2.

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