By vegetables possessed


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.

beetsThis 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.

15 thoughts on “By vegetables possessed

  1. Remember the grilled eggplant, tomato and cheese sandwiches with tapenade we made? Yumm!

  2. Barbara – do you still have that recipe? My sandwich could have been made better by the sauce we made up. But if I recall it took all day to make it. Plus can’t find the wonderful bread we used – dont think they make it anymore. Thanks for reminding me of one of our great triumphs (unlike that Xmas when we attempted beef Wellington).

  3. Do you have a good and easy recipe for sweet potato muffins? Sugar will be in it, I am sure, but isn’t it brown sugar? Anyway, please help me. Thanksgiving is next week.

  4. Have you tried spaghetti squash? I love it with some marinara sauce and a little parmesan. Has very few Weight Watcher points. Cut up some pickled beets recently for a salad, and my cutting board is still red!. Did you ever get the beet juice off?.

  5. Try 50-50 mix of water and Hydrogen Peroxide. Let it bubble a minute; rinse and wipe down. That should remove the stains from your cutting boards.

  6. Here’s a recipe Judy. I substituted brown sugar Splenda for the bad white stuff (tho not all that much better) and used almond flour. Next time im going to experiement with maple syrup in place of sugar.

    Sweet Potato Muffins
    2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (preferably pastry flour)
    3/4 cup sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 cup pureed or mashed cooked sweet potato
    1 egg, beaten
    1/2 cup buttermilk

    Heat oven to 375° F. Grease 12 muffin cups or add paper liners.

    Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, and salt.

    In a bowl, whisk butter, oil, sweet potato, egg, and buttermilk. Fold wet mixture into the dry; stir until just combined.

    Fill muffin cups three-quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

    Pumpkin Coconut Variation Replace sweet potato with 1 cup canned pumpkin; add 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut to the batter.

  7. Emily and LC, buy one of those new plastic thin cutting boards. They don’t stain.

    Re. the eggplant sandwich, try it with pesto and mozzarella.

  8. Also Conley, I live in Austin. .. the birthplace of Whole Foods. Come next year there will be two within 5 miles of my house and a Trader Joe’s within walking distance.

  9. I used to make us grilled portabella mushroom sandwiches like the one you did with eggplant – esp loved green pepper, red onion, and tomato add-ons. Sometimes it was hard to get one’s mouth around it ’cause of so many layers. At present, my two favorites are avadacos and asparagus (tho not at the same time).

  10. Carole- can I come live with you? I’ll clean house and mow the yard just to ne near a whole foods AND and a trader Joe’s.

    Norm told me about Don’s heart episode. He’ s in such great shape, I’d never dream he would be a candidate for such a procedure. You take good care of him!

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