I love all vegetation – from blooming hanging baskets to those mystical spider lilies which show up out of the blue and color the fall landscape with the most beautiful shade of red I ever saw.
But I’m not talking about ornamental plants today. My latest obsession is with the kind you see on Aisle One in the supermarket – the very same aisle I once avoided because I couldn’t face the guilt of my childish aversion to vegetables. Fruit represented the first step to a major Oreo binge.
Since I was a wee little girl, I hated vegetables and equated them with punishment. “You can’t go out and play until you eat your green beans,” announced my well-meaning mother. I took an obligatory bite and they tasted like dirty socks smell. I hid them under my mashed potatoes and was finally released to join my friends.
Ditto for dessert: No dessert until all my squash was gone. The name alone sounded disgusting to a child and it would not become acceptable until a decade later when I discovered they could be battered and deep fried. Okra? Forget it. It felt more like a slimy slug going down and I embarrassed my family by regurgitating in the dining room of the old Gilmore Hotel in Columbus, Ms. No one ever encouraged me to eat okra again unless it was fried and smothered in ketchup.
As I enter my fourth week of a plant-based diet, I have suddenly begun eating like “a big girl.” Oh my gosh, I can’t believe what I’ve been missing. This week I baked my very first acorn squash and when almost done, brushed the cavity lightly with a teaspoon of butter and brown sugar. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. This should be dessert.
It had the flavor of a pumpkin pie and the consistency of pudding.
Next, I grilled some round slices of eggplant brushed with a dressing of olive oil, pomegranate balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. I did the same to fat slices of red bell pepper and red onion. I layered the tender crisp vegetables on a whole wheat bun, grilled lightly with the same dressing. I added a slice of provolone cheese and some basil which I’d rescued before the freeze last week. What can I say? A quarter-pounder never tasted as wonderful or seemed so satisfying.
Did you know that fresh raspberries don’t taste anything like raspberry popsicles and lentils are not an internal organ somewhere near your spleen?
Cauliflower and broccoli have become mid-afternoon treats. I didn’t care for either a month ago unless they were swimming in a rich Velveeta based white sauce and topped with an inch of buttered bread crumbs. What is happening to me? I’ve feel possessed by little green elves.
This week I bought my very first beet which I didn’t even know was edible. I thought they were grown in cans and used to decorate an all-you-can-eat buffet. Beets do have one big drawback. After slicing one on my white cutting board, it looked like I had slaughtered a pig.
The new vegetarian plan was an experiment to which I agreed only to humor my vegan son. He felt I could fight cancer more effectively if I said goodbye to the low carb, high fat fare to which I’d grown accustomed. Most nutritionists agree.
I agreed to give it a try for one month since that would bring me right up to Thanksgiving Day. Who ever heard of Thanksgiving without turkey and ham? Now, I’m not so sure I’m going back to my old ways. I feel good, have lost a few pounds and my taste buds burst at the thought of something as simple as a pear. Sell your stock in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
It’s taken almost a month for my taste buds to adjust to this new adult way of eating,
and I’m making new discoveries every day. Instead of shopping for shoes, I’m out foraging the market for mung bean sprouts or trying to grow alfalfa on the window sill.
My next challenge is to cut out the cheese and sugar, but I can’t go from zero to sixty in a mere month and this way of life is a monumental shift in my food gears.