Sunday, October 15, 2006

#148 - Woody's Guide to Vegetarianism

(HINT: Chicken is not meat!)

A few months ago, I wrote a piece describing my new religion. I mentioned that, as a result of my recent heart, um, irregularities, I had probably become a vegetarian whether I wanted to or not. But the truth of the matter is that while I have been eating a lot more rabbit food in the weeks since my test results were discussed, I have hardly become the rabid sort of near-Vegan that I feared at the time.

So, how does Woody define "vegetarianism?"

Salad intake is definitely increasing. However, making sure I have enough protein in the diet becomes a problem. Yes, I know that it's possible to put together "complete proteins" by using legumes of various types, coupled with other things. This is fine as far as it goes, but I've been a life-long carnivore, and beans aren't one of the foods ancient hunters sharpened their spears to pursue and kill.

"Honey, I'm going out to hunt beans. If I don't make it, make sure you marry a vegetarian."

No, I grew up at a table where any meal that didn't include, at a minimum, hamburger and potatoes was sneered at by the head of the household. And the meat had to be well done. Anything but charcoal was met with, "Willie! (This was my Dad's favorite nickname for Mom) This cow is still mooing!"

So I ate a lot of beef in my day. Hamburger. Pot roast. Barbecued beef. Chili con mucho carne. You name it. From my perspective, it's really quite unfair that beef (or "red meat") is so rich in cholesterol, because that appears to be my particular downfall.

Not that I can blame red meat alone for my current condition. Oh, no. I have a long-standing addiction to caffeinated sodas and prefabricated snack foods that have all left their cholesterol droppings in my system since I was a teenager. Some habits, as you well know, are harder to break than others.

I have made a few heroic adjustments over the years, particularly since I married Mrs. Woody. (I might note, for the record, that if I currently possess a 135 IQ, 35 of those points were acquired merely by marrying Mrs. Woody.) For one thing, I really don't eat much red meat anymore. Mrs. Woody and I discovered the joys of ground turkey as a hamburger substitute several years ago, and we use it instead of ground beef in our cooking. As a meat it is much more lean than hamburger, and I have developed a spicing combination with onion power, salt, and garlic powder that pretty well flavors it to taste more like traditional hamburger.

Also, as I mentioned, I'm eating lots more rabbit food these days. I've been enjoying different salads for many years now, and when Daddy decides he really doesn't want to cook on a particular evening, we'll go to Jack in the Box and get one of their Asian Chicken salads (our current favorite). We buy romaine hearts, which keep nearly forever, and Mrs. Woody makes very yummy salads with that.

Poultry in general and fish make up most of my non-legume proteins nowadays. I can eat the white meats, but I really don't even eat that much pork. In cooler weather, my soup intake increases to roughly the capacity of your average septic tank. Mrs. Woody is forever finding new and creative soup recipes that we can do in our crock pot, and they are nearly always delicious. We frequently say, "Ooh. We need to add that one to our list of favorites!" Our list has grown to about 30 now, by my reckoning. The caffeine is history. I've been a very good boy on that score.

So we're eating healthier. One very important benefit to this healthier diet is that our girls have been eating fairly healthy since they were babies. We've never encouraged the junk food mentality with them, and Wonderwood Academy has a zero-junk-food tolerance policy. No vending machines at this campus, I can tell you! As a result, the Woodyettes will both (hopefully!) grow up with healthy eating habits firmly in place, and won't have to deal with the same difficulties Mommy and Daddy have had to struggle with for the past several years.

The good news is, Mommy and Daddy are both losing weight. We're motivated now, especially in light of my recent heart troubles. We both have goals that we'd like to reach by the time we turn 50. If we do, we'll both be much healthier than we are today.

Actually, today is not a terrific starting point. Today we both have head colds - a direct result of allergies coupled with not enough sleep. Last night was my first concert in an honest-to-goodness choir in many years, and I'm sure my stress levels tanked out afterwards. Always happens to me. In general terms, however, aside from the colds we're in better shape health-wise than we've been in several years. And it can only get better from here.

In the meantime, I need to go clean my rifle. Got me some beans to rustle up.

Next up: What I Did Over the Summer (with Photos!) - Part One

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