Seems like it’s been a while since I blogged. This week has been totally chaotic. In addition to the usual classes and research, I also had to complete a presentation for a conference next week and practice it in front of the department (always super unnerving), deal with some family issues, work on an event I’m planning on Monday for 50 people, and on top of all that there was a six-hour long hostage standoff yesterday that closed down my street. Seriously. Gotta love Tucson.
But let’s talk instead about something I love: food. It’s been nearly three months that I’ve been living almost totally meat-free (I’ve gotten down to eating meat once monthly or less, though I still eat fish and seafood) and without alcohol, and I can hardly believe the results. I am down 22 pounds since last Christmas, my mood is improved, I look really fit, and I don’t particularly miss those things anymore. Yesterday I went to happy hour with my friends, had a veggie quesadilla and an iced tea, and didn’t get the “wet blanket” feeling or peer pressure that I would’ve had two months ago. This has given me a huge infusion of pride in my body and in my willpower. Even better is that I keep finding new and delicious things to add to my healthy diet. Here are a couple of recent Trader Joe’s finds:
1. Kimchi Fried Rice
If I hadn’t tried a sample of this in-store, I never would have thought to purchase this item. I’ve never been a fan of kimchi, but this rice is delicious and has just the right balance of spice. I bought it to pair with shrimp as a main course, but it could be good as a side dish all on its own.
2. Chickenless Crispy Tenders
Imitation meat products are a real mixed bag, and that is doubly true of things that pretend to be chicken. For instance, Morningstar Farms makes meatless buffalo wings that are great, but their chick’n strips meal starters did not wow me at all. However, these chickenless tenders from Trader Joes are sooo good, I didn’t believe that I wasn’t eating meat. They actually taste like chicken! I don’t know how they did it, since the main ingredients are basically the same as all meat substitutes: soy proteins and wheat gluten. Perhaps what makes the difference here is the inclusion of “ancient grains,” which I found rather amusing. Is quinoa any less ancient than your average rice? And can the copyrighted brand Kamut be considered all that “ancient” if it has a copyright?
Anyway, with a side of ranch or BBQ sauce, these are just as tasty as real chicken. You will want more than the recommended serving size of three pieces. Also, I suggest preparing these in the oven or toaster oven, but use a nonstick baking sheet. On my sheet, a couple of them got stuck and I lost some of the delicious coating. Bon appetit!