Dear readers, you are cordially invited to read the guest post from the amazing Bess, a fellow Hollaback Health blogger, vegetarian, and friend She is an honored guest here at Sweat Every Day and I hope you enjoy reading what she has to say!
(FYI: I’m stuck in meetings all day for my summer job, so I figured you’d enjoy this more than pictures of my hotel continental breakfast and lunch at the sub-par campus dining center — I know it is bad, I ate here all last summer too.)
Vegetarian Dining Dilemmas Solved: Part 1
I was hardly the girl who saw Bambi and swore off meat for the rest of her life. More like I hightailed it to the nearest steakhouse and powerhoused a 16 ounce rib-eye (since venison wasn’t on the menu).
In fact, I didn’t even realize I liked vegetables until after college when I moved to Southern California and discovered farmer’s markets.
Now fast forward to the present, where the only vegetable I don’t like is the pickle (and not even sure if that classifies as a veggie because of all the brining and sodium). And the only meat I eat is of the “tofurky” variety.
My vegetarianism was initially met with a “Oh she’ll get over that phase real fast,” or a “You’ll make an exception for sushi, right?”
I stuck to my guns but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to find something yummy to eat at a restaurant.
So I wanted to share some of my best kept secrets for vegetarians when confronted with Mexican, sushi, and the especially terrifying steakhouse.
I am the first to admit I am a bit of a “Type A Foodie”, as in I want to eat exactly what I want.
However, I have found that as long as I am polite and just explain I am a vegetarian before making special requests, waiters are happy to comply. Remember, you are paying; it’s your right to enjoy delicious food!
Have you resigned yourself to assuming you will just carbo-load on chips, salsa and guac, a bland burrito the size of a brick or enchiladas hidden under a never ending coating of cheese? I’m here to tell you there’s broader horizon beyond those warm greasy triangles and pillars of fat such as:
*Disclaimer, if they come with frijoles, I recommend asking if they have lard in them or not (some places use lard, others don’t).*
*When I sleep over at my friend’s in Venice Beach, I am always awoken to the smells and sounds of the “tamale truck”. Most Mexican restaurants offer at least one form of tamales.
*Ask for grilled fajita veggies to be added in, or even plantains for a sweet/salty combo.
*Kick up your basic salad by adding grilled veggies, guac, black beans, a sprinkling of cheese and pico de gallo. *Be wary of the deep fried taco shells (especially if you’ve gone to town on the chips)-I usually request my salad without the shell.*
I have to be honest when I say that vegetable rolls do not do it for me, in large part because I am not a fan of rice…even when I ate fish, I ate mostly the innards of my sushi rolls. If you think you will regurgitate if you have to eat another cucumber or avocado roll, here are some great alternatives:
*This lightly fried tofu is served over a warm, flavorful broth. *Ask if the broth has dashi and if so, I like it to be served atop a green salad with ginger dressing*. — Side note from Meredith: I tried this for the first time a few weeks ago. Amazeballs.
Miso Eggplant (pictured below)
*One of my favorite appetizers of all time, this piping hot eggplant is topped with an earthy yet sweet miso sauce and generally garnished with sesame seeds. The flavor parade in your mouth is so intense from this dish, I have been known to get 2 orders in the same meal.
*I’m convinced these green pods are infused with crack. Confession: sometimes I like to dip these bad boys in some spicy mayo and follow it up with a ginger chaser. Then again, I have quite the obsession with ginger. (http://bit.ly/aBbB7v) (another side note from Meredith: ME TOO).
*Even if there aren’t steamed veggie dumplings on the menu, I’ve found if I request them, most restaurants are happy to oblige.
“Geuged Up” Miso Soup
*A lot of Japanese restaurants take your regular miso soup to a new level by adding vegetables, soba noodles, etc. *Again, if it’s not on the menu, I definitely recommend requesting it.*
While your dining companions start with the shrimp cocktail, oyster on the half shell or lobster bisque and wash it down with a thick steak, you will not be forced to seek solace in a loaf of bread slathered with butter.
I should note that for some reason when I am at a steakhouse, my cohorts always feel the need to repeatedly offer me a bite of their meat, deeming it “exception worthy”. I politely decline, and that is that.
Behold the Upscale Salad
*I love me a good steakhouse salad, especially because they tend to use ingredients that “upgrade” the salad like burrata cheese (sinfully good), Asian pears, toasted pine nuts, jicama, etc. *If the salad has bacon in it, just ask for it sans bacon*
Sides Are Your Friends
I have had many a delicious steakhouse meal constructed purely out of sides like:
*Steamed asparagus or broccoli
*Roasted, baked, mashed potatoes
*Baked yam *Try asking for a side of balsamic vinaigrette with it-yum!*
*Mac and Cheese (this is a good share for the table dish)
*Grilled or roasted vegetables
Thanks, Bess! This is so helpful for me because I love Mexican food (I lived in Mexico for a summer) and my family loves steakhouses
I hope you’re all having a great day! As you read this I’m likely sitting in a planning meeting, directing my new staff (I’m Lead “RA” — more like camp counselor — for the same Spanish language immersion program I did in high school & worked at last summer!).