Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It's a good day to go vegetarian

I don't know how many of you are (or WERE) Grey's Anatomy fans, but folks got a shock when the main heartthrob of the show, played by Patrick Dempsey, was killed off. One of the most quoted lines of the show was, "it's a beautiful day to save lives." The line stuck with me because I thought it was obvious foreshadowing. I just didn't know it was foreshadowing for my diet. Ack!

Following my heart cath recently, I thought all was good. No need for stents. The doctor mentioned "one little problem" to discuss when I came in but ManO just heard no stent and I was loopy. All I remembered hearing was the nurses saying, "you can't beat genetics."

Turns out I have a 40% narrowing thanks to plaque in one of the branches of my heart arteries. I am very thankful it was found. But it wasn't what was causing my chest pain. Esophageal spasms are the culprit. But because of that coincidental pain, they found the silent time bomb just waiting to be 100%. I had time to do something about it. Ack! But PTL!

In order to keep cholesterol plaque at bay, reduce acid reflux, and lose weight, I decided it was a good day to save a life and go vegetarian. Thanks to a lot of wise counsel on Facebook, here from Kav and friends sending me cookbooks, it's easier than I expected.

I've had to withdraw from meat slowly as Kav advised. It's also really important not to go to just salads. The transition is doomed with just lettuce. You need enough protein, good fat (like olive oil or nuts), and carbs to keep you energized.You also can't go the other way.  You can gain weight as a   vegetarian because folks often still eat too much sugar and processed flour.

One of my first big experiments was for Cinco De Mayo. No day is worse for me. A day when wheat and corn products are in the forefront, everyone is having fun but me. This year was even worse. I couldn't find rice tortillas and there was the whole meat problem. But I cobbled together a solution.

Spring rolls saved the day and saved me carbs. Rice tortillas are 24 grams of carb. Spring roll wraps? SEVEN. So what began as a problem turned into a great lo-carb solution.Then the whole meat thing. That was a fairly easy solve thanks to ManO. I was just going to make spinach and cheese enchiladas with beans on the side. He suggested I add them in in order to make it seem like he got his meat. Another great solution and it let ManO feel like he had some say in the process.

It was rather ironic I used Italian marinara, Irish cheddar, Vietnamese spring roll wrappers and American veggies to celebrate a holiday that began when the Mexican Army beat the French.

I know you are wondering about the cheese. We'll see how it goes but I need to get extra calcium right now. Life is a challenge. But as I told a friend, if it came down to it, I'd rather have books than meat, books than meals. Make the meal pretty and I can survive.

AND I've lost almost ten pounds at a very safe clip so far without feeling starved.

Here's the recipe in easy steps:

Cinco de Mayo Enchiladas

1 package baby spinach
1/2 sweet onion
1 can pinto beans
1 package spring roll wrappers
1 lb or less cheddar cheese
1 cup and a half garlic spaghetti sauce or one can enchilada sauce
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 1: Saute onion in a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Cook down spinach in onion/oil mixture until wilted.

Step 2: Rinse beans then add to veggies. Set aside.

Step 3: Following directions on spring roll wrapper package, wet the wrappers one at a time.

Step 4: Fill with two heaping spoonsful (see picture) of veggie mixture.

Step 5: Top with a sprinkling of cheese and fold/roll as directed. Save remaining cheese for topping.

Step 6: Set rolls in olive oil greased 9x13 pan.

Step 7: Brush tops of rolls with olive oil.  Bake for 25 minutes at 350 until slightly browned. Remove from oven.

Step 8:  Pour enchilada sauce or combined marinara sauce, salt and cumin (to taste) over rolls. Top with cheese and put back in the oven another 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted. 

Step 9: Serve with a tablespoon of light sour cream and shredded lettuce.

So, have you ever tried to go vegetarian? What prompted the experience or what keeps you from going meatless? Any advice for newbies?


  1. I've never considered going vegetarian before, but would definitely make the switch if faced with the same choice as you! Since we consume much less now, I'd be more inclined at this stage of my life. This dish looks yummy...except for the cooked spinach. I don't mind raw spinach, but cooked? Not so much. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Julie! I'm enjoying them.

    1. Thanks, Dora. I'm a raw spinach person too. But you put enough cheese on it and it's great. I imagine Mr. H might have a problem with it given his love of and skill creating BBQ!

  2. I like enchiladas. And cooked spinach rocks Dora! I'll have to try this variation!

  3. Julie, those look amazing!! I'll have to give it a try!

  4. Missy, they even tasted amazing. And of course, spring rolls have so many optional veggies inside, I'm thinking of all the variations.

  5. Yum -- looking forward to trying this -- spinach and all. I have another enchilada recipe that I've been using and I near swoon whenever I make it. LOL

    I think it's easier to go vegetarian nowadays since there are so many options -- both in regular grocery stores and in restaurants. Used to be you had to hunt down ingredients that are now so readily available. Love that. Though just because it's vegetarian and organic doesn't make it low-fat or low sodium.

    And Julie, are you taking a B12 supplement? If not you should start up. It/s the one vitamin that seems to be lacking in the vegetarian diet.

    1. Kav, the good thing is I have to have B-12 shots monthly because my body doesn't absorb it!

      And you are right, it is easier. Especially in my area where we have lots of Indian restaurants!

      I still stay away from pre-made or frozen foods for exactly that sodium reason.


  6. No, going vegetarian is something that has never crossed my mind, Julie. Can I enjoy the occasional vegetarian meal? Yes. But I also want to have my steak and eat it, too. Beef is a great source of iron.

    That said, sometimes we have to make sacrifices for our health. Give up some of our favorite foods. And in those cases, it's amazing how creative we can become. This is what I'm craving, now what can I have that will satisfy that craving, yet not sabotage my healthy eating? ;)