Wednesday, June 09, 2010

June Happiness Project: Om & Yum

So this month is a bit of an experiment in our home. Life, right now, is sort of a melange of experiments all flowing forth from my current "zOMG, who am I? What do I want to do with my life? What does it all meeeeeeeeeeean?" angst. This month (and perhaps into the future), the angst has manifested itself in Vegetarian June & a re-re-rediscovery of yoga.

I've mentioned before that way back when, pre-Husband (pre-Boyfriend, as he was before he was Husband), before I lived in DC, I did yoga regularly. Two or three times a week. I started because a therapist I was seeing for depression told me it was either yoga or medication. During my first yoga class, I must have cracked some chakra or another wide open, because by the end of the class I was lying on my mat, sobbing silent tears. It was, I think, the equivalent of a year's worth of therapy in one hour of twisting, stretching, bending, breathing. I stuck with it for the years leading up to moving to DC, became friends with my instructor, and even taught a few classes for her when she was out with the flu.

I have found in my life that nothing heals me like yoga. But I honestly believe that, in some way, it has to break you before it can put you back together. As you breathe deeply into your spine and stretch your heart to the sky, the seams you've sown to hide that hurt, or mend that ache, split under the pressure of the movement of your body and breath, and whatever pain those threads of denial or patches of everyday-life were flimsily hiding comes gushing out. I've been attending a gentle yoga class twice a week for the past month, and on more than one occasion, I have found myself, by the end of class, quietly crying. I started attending the class not for emotionally therapeutic reasons, but to strengthen my back after last month's mystery injury. Even still, the emotional impact remains the same, and perhaps is, at the core, the root of my angst. Which sounds bad. But this angst is (or will be) the impetus that moves me to the next part of my life, so it's a necessary angst. Or so I keep telling myself.

Either way, my back is stronger, the muscles I feel under the stubbornly persistent layer of "baby weight" (can I still call it that if the baby is 4? ) are more pronounced and each class I find myself able to do more--both physically and emotionally.

Also this month, we've gone meatless! It should have been enough when I read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle years and years ago to seal that deal, but it took snippets of things like Skinny Bitch, Food Inc, and just the title of Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, to really get me to a place where I felt I needed to make a change. I say "snippets" because my tolerance level for the anxiety caused by those types of things is very low. A few pages in, a couple of descriptions of slaughter houses, or of caged animals, and I am sobbing and having nightmares. It's just not pretty (what's in the books, or me, after reading them). So snippets is as far as I usually get.

For me, being vegetarian doesn't feel like much of a sacrifice. Nine days in, I don't miss eating meat at all. Husband, on the other hand, is having a different experience. While not curled up in a ball and crying, he is not quite as enthusiastic about living meat-free for 30 days. It might be making him a bit twitchy. But he's doing it, and I'm proud of him. I know that on July 1st he might disappear within the walls of a Brazillian churrascuria and eat meat off of spits for 24 hours straight. And that would be okay--this month isn't about committing to vegetarianism forever; it's about cleaning a slate for a more healthful life going forward (which I realize frequenting churascurria's could not be a part of), time to re-examine how and what we eat.

My concerns is, how to go meat-free and still eat filling meals that are not comprised of loads of pasta, rice and cheese. We could eat pasta, or bean & cheese burritos every night for a month and have accomplished the goal of being meat-free. But we'd each gain 20lbs, and that kind of defeats a big part of the purpose of trying to eat more healthfully. So if you are a vegetarian could you throw a few great recipes my way that don't involve a pile of fettucini or a slab of cheese? I'd appreciate it.

aaaand, now I'm off to yoga. Namaste. ;-)


Kayla said...

Here is one of my favorite recipes. I swear Jason would eat this every day. It is especially yummy served with naan bread.

Becca said...

We went meatless for a month not long ago and it was great! I used the Moosewood cookbook a lot. Everything is pretty easy and healthy (there are a lot of good cheesy recipes too though!).

Also, Google "flexitarian" too. Might be a good fit for the husband.

Anonymous said...

Thai Chick Pea Soup
Have on Hand:
2 Qts Cooked Chick Peas in their own Juice
Saute in a large stock pot:
1 Large Onion
1 Red Pepper
1 Green Pepper
2T Chopped Garlic
3 T Curry Powder
Add to Pot:
1 Qt Vegetable stock
2 Cups Chopped Tomatoes
2 cups coconut milk
The Chick Peas and their juice
1 Cup Good Quality Peanut Butter
¼ Cup Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon Salt
Bring to a boil, and cook 1 Hour
Puree 1 Quart of the soup and add it back to the pot
Add 1 Cup Chopped fresh Basil
Add more stock if necessary
Check salt and pepper (to taste)

i found i liked the vegetarian food i made when i went veggie for a month, but it was definitely more time consuming (versus grabbing some chicken, potatoes and a veggie at the store) because it needed more flavor (chopped onions, etc). because of that, i tried making more food than i used to and doing leftovers more often. anyway, i love this soup recipe above. enjoy!

sarah said...

thanks for the suggestions! Kayla, I knew I could count on you to share something delicious! We're trying the kidney bean curry tonight & Kita, I think we'll do the chickpea soup tomorrow--I LOVE thai!

Becca--"flexitarian" is a pretty good description of what Husband will be. While I've been told that I'm really a "pescatarian" b/c I am continuing to eat seafood. So many labels!

Erin said...

If you look up Dawn Jackson Blatner there are a TON of recipes on her website. She actually has a cookbook that is "The Flexitarian cookbook - and I can attest to the recipes being REALLY good after being to two of her cooking classes. We have eaten a three bean Mexican casserole a few times and my husband (and some of his friends) all really liked it - and were surprised that it had no meat in it (and was tofu instead). Good luck - and please share the recipes you like!

Alice said...

I love black bean soup, it's filling on it's own, but add a salad and you are set.
1 chopped onion
1 carrot diced
2 sticks celery diced
1 clove garlic pressed
2 tbs olive oil
2 cups beans (I like using dried beans that you soak over night, but you can use canned works)
3 cups broth or water
saute all chopped veggies in oil, add beans and broth, and simmer for an hour or so.
Another great veggie treat is kale chips, cut up some kale into squares drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper over the pieces, place them on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven at 400 for a few minutes. They crisp up and my kids go nuts for them. I think they are pretty good for a snack as well!

Amy said...

I have a post upcoming about the changes in our house because of reading, "Eating Animals."

I have officially become a food psycho.