January 28, 2010


Say it with me:

This time with meaning!

So, I'm a pescatarian. Yes, although not recognized by my spellchecker, pescatarian is a real word. Pescatarianism is a branch of vegetarianism where I don't eat any fowl, beef, pork or other assorted meats, but I do eat seafood.

Becoming a pescatarian was my New Year's resolution for 2008. Why? Well, let me give you a short 13-step story line:
1. I moved back to McPherson, KS (July 2006).
2. I lived in a dorm and part of my salary was free meals in the cafeteria.
3. I went from walking several blocks (and miles) a day in Chicago and working out 3-4 times a week at Curves (where I worked) to being rather sedentary and walking to the cafeteria. Have you eaten in a cafeteria lately? It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet for every meal. You eat 2-3 bites of this 2-3 bites of that until you find something that you actually like and by then you've already eaten enough for three people.
4. I weighed myself in January 2007 and discovered I had gained 40 pounds. Yes, 40 pounds over the course of 5 months. It's like 160 sticks of butter. I just admitted that. Out loud. On the internet. I'm not proud, but I am honest.
5. I tried to work out more. I tried to keep a food journal. I kept eating in the cafeteria. (Spring 2007)
6. My boobs were falling out of my swimsuit (July 2007) because they were rather large. (They're still large and have always been large, but now they're a bit more under control.) This was also not a proud moment. (Sorry for that.)
7. I resolved to do two things in my second year at McPherson College:
a. To dress nicely, maybe not business attire, but nicer than sweats and jeans.
b. To eat at least one meal a day on my own outside of the cafeteria.
8. My body didn't change. This is perhaps also in conjunction with the fact that I was miserable. (Fall 2007)
9. 2008 was a new year. I knew that I was leaving McPherson. I knew I wasn't happy with my body. I knew that there were some things in life that I can control and something that I can't so I needed to control as much as possible when it came to food. I decided to slowly take meat out of my diet in order to force myself to eat more fruits and veggies. I also decided that I could continue eating fish because it's a healthy choice (unless it's fried) and I love sushi.
10. I quit buying meat and I told my brothers who acted like I had the plague.
11. I cut out all red meat and most chicken (Spring 2008).
12. I went to Germany and stayed with host families and ate what was fed to me. Including some raw onions and a pile of some kind of raw looking meat that you spread on bread. It was interesting.
13. I moved to Durham (August 2008) and became strict with my diet and began massage school. I lost some weight without a lot of effort and became much more connected with my body.

Although I'm not skinny, I feel pretty good in my skin. Most days.

So, the only times I've eaten meat since August 2008 have been when I've been over to people's houses and they don't know and they serve me meat. Which was once. Not a big deal. In making my decision to cut a large portion of what people base their meals on out of my life, I knew that I could either be a pain in the butt or a gracious guest and eat what I can. I try to be the latter.

Since I don't eat meat, I'm always looking for other ways to get protein. I eat lots of beans, nuts and some tofu. I also have slightly addictive tendencies when it comes to hummus.

This is one of my favorite (CHEAP!) recipes using tofu. It's not super healthy, but I've actually doubled the veggies from the original recipe and you could probably halve the noodles if you wanted and add ANOTHER package of veggies and still have enough flavor going on and deliciousness if you want to make it healthier. You could also easily substitute any other meat for the tofu.

1 package Tofu ($2.14)
2 packages Ramen ($0.16/each=$0.32)
2 bags Frozen Stir-fry Veggies (10/$10=$2)
-Soy sauce

That's a grand total of $4.44 for 5-6 meals in our house since we had keep all of the additions in our house. If you don't have ginger or sriracha in your house, add some things that you like in your Asian food. Peanut butter and honey. Garlic. Almonds. Creativity is welcome.

So, everything in this recipe is easy-peasy, the only thing that requires some learning curve is the tofu. My friend Christina taught me about cooking tofu. She lived in China for a year awhile back, she's an expert.

It's all about patience and frying.

First drain your tofu, slice it into 3/4" wide pieces and place those pieces between paper towels or two clean dish towels. Place a cookie sheet or cake pan on top of the tofu and use some cans or other heavy objects to press as much extra moisture out of the tofu.
Moisture + Frying = Bad News

Once your tofu has been pressed for 15 minutes slice it into small pieces. I like bite-sized ones.
Heat your oil in your wok (I mix a basic vegetable oil and some sesame oil since the tofu will absorb some of the oil and I love the flavor of sesame oil). Throw them in the wok with the hot oil. Let them sit. OK, I shake the pan a bit to make sure the pieces aren't sticking together, but you have to let the tofu fry. Don't touch for 3-4 minutes. Then turn the pieces to the best of your ability. I mostly just do some stirring and try to get every side done as much as possible. The entire process takes 15-20 minutes; patience, you want color on your tofu! A crispy exterior generally means you have a creamy interior.
Once your tofu is done throw in the seasoning packets from your ramen, a bit of soy sauce, your additional ingredients and the veggies. Cook until the veggies are heated through. While your veggies are cooking heat up some water and cook the noodles from the ramen. After everything is hot toss the noodles into the veggie-tofu mixture and toss.
Eat up! It's probably not going to win any awards for health, but if you're on a budget, it's cheap cheap cheap!

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