Monday, May 19, 2008

I'm ba-ack...

Yep, I've returned from my weekend jaunt down to South Alabama. It was great to meet the groom's side of the family but a tad overwhelming. There must have been at least 60 people at the barbecue on Saturday night, and they were all related. It's kinda cool though, because they all live on one (lovely) street. Grandma, the kids, cousins, grandkids--they're all within walking distance of one another. Part of me is jealous of such a convenient arrangement, but then the other part of me remembers those times when I "need my space" from my family members...

As you might expect, vegetarian options are limited in South Alabama. The bridal shower was held at a place called the
Fly Creek Cafe, a local bayside joint that serves fried fish and the like. The view, the weather, and the company were all wonderful, but food was a bit less than stellar. There was a fixed menu for our gathering, and the options were: hamburger, fried fish sandwich, or a shrimp po- boy. Uh-oh. Just as I was about to open my mouth to order, the groom's mother stepped in and asked for a salad for me. I was so grateful to her for remembering my dietary preferences, but this locale's idea of a salad was a small mound of iceberg lettuce, chopped tomato, and shredded mozzarella. I am not much of a cheese person, so I attempted to spear just the lettuce and tomato. When it came time for the monogrammed petit fours, I was hungry enough to indulge a bit by having a few bites. I made up for the lack of calories later by eating an apple pie Larabar.

I was pleasantly surprised at the barbecue by a few vegetarian options on the buffet table. Imagine my delight when I found a delicious bean salad with red onion and green bell pepper (I even went back for seconds!). I also helped myself to some sliced tomato and homemade sweet pickles. My self-control apparently took a hiatus this weekend because I also treated myself to the icing from my sister's abandoned piece of coconut cake (she detests anything coconut!). It was delicious!

I got a lot of teasing as a result of my vegetarianism, and a lot of questions like, "you don't even eat fish?!" It's an understandable question considering we were in a city by the Gulf of Mexico, but the whole thing makes me feel uncomfortable. I fear that my diet makes me seem "picky," "snooty," or "attention-seeking," when really I am just trying to make the most ethical, responsible, and healthful choices I can. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Do you feel alienated because you eat healthfully or because you don't eat certain things?

Onto the food, already! Before I left, I made sure to pack a snack grab-bag which included:
Larabars, low-sodium V8, Justin's Nut Butters, vegan jerky, pretzel braids, and a couple Odwalla carrot-raisin bars. I didn't end up needing most of it, but as they say, it's better to be safe than sorry.
My only picture from this day is my breakfast, and it's a pretty pathetic picture. In case you can't see through the lovely Christmas themed Ziploc, I had an apple, high-fiber cereal, and some almonds. Picture-taking and riding in the car are not exactly compatible activities.
I returned to my own kitchen on Sunday afternoon. After a refreshing run (on which I think I re-injured my ankle...argh!), I refueled with some dried plums and some Thin Cakes spread with cashew butter. I have decided that I love this combination for an afternoon snack. Dried fruit with some nuts/nut butter, and a few crackers keeps my hunger at bay until dinner--which means fewer scoops into the kitchen candy bowl!
We had hot dogs for dinner. On our trip to Publix (very close second to Whole Foods in my estimation!), I picked up some Smart Dogs and a pack of Arnold Whole Wheat hot dog buns. I've decided that I really like Arnold as a brand--whole grain and no HFCS=good buy. After grilling it on my spiffy George Foreman, I dressed my dog with ketchup and mustard (Chi Omega colors!), and I had a side salad with green beans. I also had a strawberry-banana soy yogurt for dessert:)
The evening smoothie consisted of peaches 'n cream: frozen peaches, nonfat organic plain yogurt, vanilla Spirutein, and a generous dose of pumpkin flax granola and agave nectar.
After much hemming and hawing, I decided to make pumpkin oats this morning. I had a blueberry soy yogurt on the side. Yum!
Lunch was a burrito made with refried beans, mashed avocado, and salsa in a Rudi's Organic Whole Grain Tortilla. I apologize for the poor photo quality--the camera battery was running out. Organic greens and an orange rounded out the meal.
Spaghetti squash was the main ingredient for dinner. I roasted it, then combined it with broccoli, garlic, soy sauce, tahini, and a cut up Quorn cutlet. Delicious! Why did it take me so long to discover tahini? I also had a side salad and some whole grain graham crackers for dessert.
Well, I had promised to write a skimpier post today, but apparently I failed in doing so. I guess I just like to type too much...Be back Wednesday!


VeggieGirl said...

Welcome back!! Sounds like a fun trip you had.

I'm very grateful that the people who surround me are very accepting and understanding of my veganism (and of the raw-food aspect of my lifestyle/diet, as well); but at my university, there have been a few people who just don't get what it means to be a vegan - or even a vegetarian, for that matter!! I get a kick out of it :0)

Haha, I always try to make my posts shorter, but I'm so long-winded that I can't help but write loooonnngggg posts :0)

romina said...

What a fun trip you must have had! I can imagine how overwhelming it is to see so many people at once. It makes me glad sometimes that I don't live so close to my family because I have "breathing room".

Your little snack baggie is so cute!!

Anonymous said...

For friends and family that already know about my vegetarian/vegan -ism.. I feel like they get it and respect my choices. But when I'm meeting new people or going out with someone for the first time.. I definitely feel you.

Date nights can be tricky.. especially when it's like an "oh, I want to take you out and surprise you" kind of thing. You usually just have to grin and bear it, hope that there will be something better than iceberg lettuce and tomatoes with ranch.

Sounds like you had a fun time though! Hope your ankle thing is just a strain.. nothing serious! That would suck :(

Anonymous said...

I think you are being a diva.
As a recovered anorexic myself, I know it works..... I have had issues with food for years and only now I am beginning to realize how extremely ANNOYING these "dietary preferences" can be for non-vegetarians/vegans/people who aren't absolutely obsessed with food and let it consume every single minute of their lives.

I know it's difficult NOT to think about food because long-term deprivation --> obsession.
I see this in about 90% of "healthy food bloggers" --

Next time, just think about other people outside yourself and your special needs and your special preferences and your need to differentiate...

My goodness...nothing horrific will happen if you eat a sandwich like everyone else....

(sigh...let the backlash begin...)

Alice (in Veganland) said...

Oh yes? are our dietary preferences annoying? do I comment on my friend's diet based on fries and meat? no I don't. Should my friends be annoyed by my way of living? no they shouldn't. I do what I want, and the others should respect me the same way I respect them.

This is probably not the best place to talk about food deprivation, we're talking about healthy food. If you get annoyed reading about our food choices, there are lot of other things to do!

Anonymous said...

glad to hear the groom's mom was at least thoughtful, but it stinks that you got asked a lot of questions about it... although i'm not a vegetarian or vegan, i completely understand your (and other bloggers) purpose for doing so and (wholeheartedly respect it) i must admit before i read the blogs, i was terribly not educated enough about it :( however maybe since you will be "joining" their family, they will become more accepting of it... i hope :)

at least you managed to have some good & yummy sounding eats!

and i love reading your posts no matter the size!

Anonymous said...

Please don't beat yourself up or say you lost control just because you had some coconut icing. Losing control would be more like eating three big pieces of cake, icing and all. But you didn't even eat the cake! Life is meant to be enjoyed, girl. Please be kinder to yourself. You don't want to be on your deathbed years from now and saying, "Gosh I wish I'd allowed myself just one piece of cake." You seem like a sweet girl, so you deserve to have a piece of cake once in a while. You don't need to eat perfectly healthy ALL the time. A little sugar adds fun to life :)

Jennifer said...

Glad to hear that you survived your trip to such an unveg friendly place. Oh, and eating a bit of icing never hurt anyone!

It's nice that some of your family members even made sure you got a salad for lunch.

Your treat goody bad looks delightful.

Oh, and bad picture my butt! I'd still happily take your burrito!

Ruby Red Vegan said...

First of all, I'm so sorry you had to endure the teasing this weekend! I can relate to the feelings you described - feeling snooty, picky, attention-seeking - I felt like the attention-seeking girl when I was in Disney World at Wolfgang Puck and everything that could have gone wrong did! But don't lose heart, keeping doing what you're doing because it's the right thing, no matter how other people's opinions may try to twist it around into some egotistical/picky diet.

I also had a similar salad & Larabar experience at a Mexican restaurant with my family this week. My salad had iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and sliced avocado, and that's it. So I ran to the grocery store across the street while my family paid the bill and picked up my first Pecan Pie Larabar! I'm getting addicted to those very quickly.

I finally located Justin's nut butters at the Whole Foods in my hometown! I really want to try the Maple Almond Butter, because maple syrup and nut butter are two of my favorite things ever.

But anyway, welcome back home - I bet you're more than glad to have real food again!

Ruby Red Vegan said...

P.S. You inspired me to have tahini for lunch - I forgot about the jar I had in the back of the fridge, and you reminded me of it! Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

I would imagine it must be pretty difficult going to family get-togethers and such and having to worry about if there will be anything at all that you can eat, being vegetarian, since often gatherings like that don't have the largest and most versatile of food selection. Good though that you were able to find things to eat!

I had spaghetti squash the other day too. I like the way yours is dressed though, sounds really good. I might have to try something like that with my leftovers!

ChickPea said...
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ChickPea said...
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ChickPea said...

VeggieGirl: Yes, I must say that most of the time I am lucky to have people around me who don't judge me based on my dietary preferences.
Romina: I hear ya on the "breathing room!"
RunRoamRecycle: I hadn't even thought about the obstacles with dating. I've never had a surprise situation like that, but I think the company is a lot more important than the food:)
Anonymous: Yes, in retrospect the tone of my post seemed like something a "diva" would say. For that I apologize. However, I consider my blog a place to vent. I never expressed any of the negative opinions toward the food to anyone I met--give me some credit! I know how to be polite.
And yes, you're right my past ED probably does make me more focused on my diet than other people. I realize that, and thanks for reminding me. However, I think you were a little harsh in your comment because you insinuate that I don't think of people around me.
I try not to make my eating habits an obstacle to family/social gatherings. I don't think that should mean that I have to eat something that I don't want to, however. If I had ordered that sandwich, it would have been wasted because either it would have gone uneaten or I wouldn't have enjoyed it.
Alice: Thanks for supporting me. I totally agree that vegetarians and omnivores alike should respect each other's preferences.
Loveofoats: I experienced situations like this even when I wasn't a vegetarian. People used to tease me for NOT wanting to snack on RC Cola and Moonpies, just because it was unhealthy.
Anonymous: I didn't mean to seem like I was beating myself up for the coconut icing! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I don't regret eating it. You're right that desserts are one of life's greatest indulgences, and it's better to enjoy them than to wish I had done so. Thanks for your concern!
Jennifer: I knew you'd appreciate my burrito!
Ruby: Actually, I remember your post on your Wolfgang Puck experience. I don't want my lifestyle to be a hindrance! I just want to make the right choices for my body, the animals, and the environment.
Glad to hear you found Justin's nut butter. I haven't tried the almond/maple flavor yet, but I think I have a squeeze pack of it to try. Let me know how you like it!
lighterportions: Family gatherings can be a bit challenging food-wise, but it should really be more about the people present than what I eat.
I highly recommend the tahini+soy sauce combo on the spaghetti squash!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...
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ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Welcome back from your trip :o).

And girl, you absolutely do NOT need to explain yourself to the first anonymous poster. That comment was rude and uncalled for, and I can only hope that the commenter was shown more compassion when she (or he) was recovering from anorexia than what she/he showed you.

Jenn said...

Sounds like a great trip! As always, I enjoy reading about your adventures and seeing all the yummy food - thanks for sharing :o)

Cassie said...

Your trip sounds fun- never been to Alabama! But stinks that there were not more options for you.

Don't worry about the comments - people tend to say the wrong things when they don't understand something. I have always been a step healthier than my whole family and constantly get comments like "why don't you eat some more you eat like a bird (and as you know I don't)- or your too skinny you better eat more"- I just ignore it. I know I am healthy and that is all that matters. So you go girl with sticking to your personal choices- it's your body no one else's!

Danielle said...

I'm afraid I know exactly what you're talking about! It's unfortunate that a lot of people are unaware of the effect their eating habits have on the rest of the world and their bodies. I hope you weren't too bothered by the questions & comments, remember that we're the lucky ones :). Glad to hear you got through it though and enjoyed your time with family, plus you were super prepared, haha, so that's just great.

Your first few meals back look delicious. It's too bad us vegetarian & vegans are so limited in our boring eating options ;)

ChickPea said...

CCV: I guess there are parts of blogging that I haven't gotten used to yet...namely ignoring negative comments. Thanks for reminding me that I shouldn't let them get to me.
Jenn: Thanks! I have been reading your blog, but I haven't gotten a chance to comment lately. I love your enthusiasm for Panera!
Cassie: Yep, I've gotten the "eating like a bird" comment before. Oddly enough, I am usually the one with my plate piled high...
Danielle: People just have different priorities, I guess. And you're right, I feel like we are lucky--we get awesome vegetarian food that is healthy and yummy!