For the month of July 2014, I decided to get creative and give up meat for 31 days. Now, for some this is a pretty easy challenge. But for me? Not so much. Click below to read all about my month of vegetarianism.
For the month of July, I have decided that I am going to cut out meat from my diet and live a vegetarian lifestyle. For some, this seems like an easy challenge. But for me? The guy who puts bacon on his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? This is not going to be smooth.
Ok, first off, I honestly thought that vegetarians could eat fish, so that is why I got a tuna burger for lunch. Secondly, I have never (ever) eaten fish before in my life. Sure, my mom force-fed me fish sticks when I was a child, but the amount of fish in those breaded sticks is questionable.
Before today, I had never been inside of a Whole Foods before, and I have to say, I was extremely anxious throughout my entire shopping experience. Everyone in the store was so thin and weak, they could barely push their shopping carts full of quinoa and asparagus stalks.
Originally, when I made the pact to go vegetarian for the month, I was going to allow myself to eat a hot dog on the fourth, because patriotism. But, when I was invited to a festive brunch (hosted by a vegetarian), I knew that my dream of a foot-long frank was going to be a fictional one.
When my roommate and I went to Whole Foods the other day, we filled up our cart with plenty of vegetables to make our stuffed peppers and spinach quiches. Now, on a lazy Saturday, what better breakfast than to throw everything into a pan, add in six (organic) eggs and make an omelet!
Today I was feeling adventurous and experimental, so I decided to cook (from scratch) a vegetable lasagna. Usually on Sundays, when I’m not napping or sleeping on the couch, I like to make a big meal that can be portioned out in little Tupperware containers for my lunches for the week.
I know what you are all thinking: “It’s about damn time you posted about mozzarella sticks!”
I am actually pretty surprised that it took a full week of this vegetarian challenge for me to eat mozzarella sticks, having them be my favorite food group (yes, mozzarella sticks get their own section in my food pyramid)
After being yelled at for eating mozzarella sticks and a quesadilla the past two nights, my roommate veered me back on track tonight with a roasted potato and quinoa salad. I walked in the door, grabbed myself a Bud Light Platinum, and took a look at all the ingredients that would soon be my dinner. Asparagus, lemons, a red onion, and a jar of Dijon mustard were all lined up on the counter.
Desperate to get out of the house, I ventured to Il Bambino in Astoria for dinner and wine. My roommate and I have a list of restaurants that we want to try in the area, and this was next on our list. And, thankfully, they had a wide variety of vegetarian options.
Upon crossing state lines, I met up with a friend and we decided to go to the Grand Lux Café for dinner. Grand Lux is an affiliate of the Cheesecake Factory, but classify themselves as the “more sophisticated” version. I like them both the same (mostly because they both serve bread and butter).
Saturday, I went to a Met’s game at CitiField. Normally, a baseball game is a great atmosphere to chow down on hot dogs, cheese steaks, and just meat on a stick. But not today! Today I had to walk past the Nathans’ hot dog stand, the baskets of chicken tenders, and the Shake Shack. Ignoring the Shake Shack was probably the hardest thing I have ever done.
Sundays are supposed to be spent in front of the TV and napping on the couch, right? Ok good. Because that is literally all I did. The only time I put on pants (pajama bottoms) was when I went out to get my 2 bagels and cream cheese for breakfast.
Normally for my lunches during the week, I cook a big meal on Sunday and portion it out for Monday through Friday. But, if you read Sunday’s post, you will see that I did absolutely nothing all day. So, today I had to walk the streets of Manhattan looking for a delicious and affordable lunch.
I cannot believe I have made it this far – Especially with so much temptation being thrown in my food path. First my friend put a piece of bacon on my plate. Then there was the time I accidentally ordered a salami sandwich. And then, just tonight, my roommate came home with an entire Chicken Parm entrée from Carmines and said, “I won’t tell if you won’t…”
I was sitting on my couch, minding my own business, when my roommate came barging in carrying three huge bags from Carmines. She had family in town, so naturally, they went to Carmines – the best Italian food in the city. Besides the Olive Garden.
As soon as noon came around, my stomach was growling and I knew I needed to leave my office and pick up some lunch. I couldn’t get my normal “2 BLT’s”. And I can’t eat a salad twice in one week. So, I went downstairs to Subway to see what kind of vegetarian options they had.
Now, if you have been reading The Hunger James, you know I love a good chain restaurant. Outback, Fridays, and even Applebee’s on some occasion. I don’t know why I love chains so much. Maybe it’s because that’s all I knew in Florida, so eating at a Ruby Tuesday makes me feel nostalgic?
There is a place in the Flatiron district called Beechers, and it is a cheese shop slash restaurant. They have some of the best cheeses in the city, and also one of the best happy hours. My friend and I went to the Cellar @ Beechers for a quick dinner before a concert. Having both been there before, we knew what to expect, but were still very excited about the food.
Last week I went to a restaurant in Astoria called Il Bambino and had an out-of-body experience with a roasted eggplant Panini. Desperate for those 15 minutes of euphoria again, I went back to Il Bambino for brunch. Not only do they have an amazing selection of Panini’s and crostini’s, but they have a pretty decent sized brunch menu.
“What’s for dinner?” is a question I often get asked now living with James (The Hunger James) and a question I go all day waiting to hear. Sometimes he chooses TGI Fridays 10$ all you can eat appetizers over my cooking, but hey- I’m okay with that because tonight it was my turn to cook again
There is nothing better – or happier – than leaving a long work day and meeting up with a friend for dinner and drinks. And that is exactly what I did on this glorious Wednesday night. I met up with a friend downtown (well, 25th street) for happy hour at a bar called Rogue. I looked at their happy hour menu and saw that Bud Light bottles were on special (my personal favorite) as well as chips and guacamole. I ordered both.
From Day 1 of my challenge, I really wanted to make a homemade pizza one night because it seemed easy, fun, and cheesy. I looked up recipes online for the perfect pizza that had goat cheese as its main ingredient. Goat cheese, to me, is such an underrated cheese and is probably one of my favorites. I found a Pesto Basil Pizza with tomatoes and goat cheese and was sold.
There is a restaurant by me new apartment called BareBurger and I am sure many of you have been there or at least heard of it. Essentially, it is an organic burger joint with a giant menu of all different types of burgers and sandwiches. Starving and desperate to sit outside, I went to BareBurger for dinner.
Feeling adventurous, my friend and I decided to try the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes for an appetizer instead of our usual avocado egg rolls. I was extremely impressed that my friend suggested to try something different and “ethnic” since he survives off of chicken tenders and chocolate frosted donuts.
My friend and I were going stir crazy in the house today so around 6 we decided that it was a nice day to sit outside and drink. So, we went to this restaurant/bar in Astoria called Oliver’s because they had a pretty good drink special going on.
There is a supermarket across the street from my office that has one of the best lunch buffets I’ve been to since Atlantic City (read all about Sultans Feast here). I went there today to see if they had some grilled vegetables, pasta or mozzarella sticks.
What I love most about it, aside from its convenience and location is that they have a wonderful vegetarian menu – something you may not be able to guess from the restaurant name. A few days ago I wrote about my experience there and how I ordered the Quinoa burger. Wanting to try something different (and to not be boring) I got a burger with a Portobello mushroom as my “meat patty.”
Today I went back to my hometown, Melbourne Beach Florida to get some much needed R&R….and to visit my parents.Usually my first night back, my parents take me out to my favorite restaurant: The Outback Steakhouse. But, being still in the month of July, going to Outback would be absolute torture for me. So, I asked them to do some research and pick out a place that I would be able to eat at.
Today was the day. The last day of my 31-day vegetarian challenge. Over the course of this month, I ditched the bacon and the chicken and the ground beef and replaced them with vegetables (and lots of cheese). The first few days, I thought it was going to extremely difficult and I started to question my purpose in life. “Why would I give up bacon? Bacon makes me happy. Why am I choosing to give up happiness?” I would ask myself, night after night. I really did not think I could do it.