Post by Christine Frazier.
So, you’ve made the choice to eat less meat. You’ve done the research, examined the facts, and decided you’re ready to take your health into your own hands.
Today’s recipe is inspired by the surprises I’ve had since making that decision myself. Anytime you start shifting the pieces of your life around with a goal of positive change, there’s bound to be some negative resistance.
Of course, I already knew this from quitting smoking. As much as my friends wanted to be supportive, most were hoping I wouldn’t make it. If I failed, it meant that addiction was too hard to get over, that willpower wasn’t enough, and in short, that they didn’t have to try.
My refusal to light-up even at parties or social settings was taken as an insult by my pals, as if my quitting was a direct critique on their lifestyle.
Sound familiar? If you’ve ever ordered a meatless dish when you’re out to eat with your friends, you probably know the feeling.
But really, at the health club?
While I expect this reaction occasionally from my family and friends, I never expected it at the gym. I mean, a health club; a club of health. As I was checking in at the front desk, I had a one-minute conversation that bugged me for an entire week.
The girl swiped my membership card, looked up at my No Meat Athlete top, and said “Hey, that’s a really cool shirt.” Another lady behind the desk looked up, smiled, and said “Yeah, that’s cute!”
A third woman, also a staff member, walked over, smiled and casually chimed in:
That is a cute a shirt. But you do need meat, you know.
There were a lot of things I wanted to do right then. I wanted to ask her why the chick in the Cheerleading is life: the rest is just details shirt got to check-in without any life advice. I wanted to whip out my resistance training journal and show her my improvements over the weeks since I joined her gym. I wanted to tell her how I finally ran a 5k within a year of smoking a pack a day. I wanted to tell her all about my brother, from starting this site to qualifying for Boston to running a 50 miler.
And mainly I wanted to tell her to mind her own ****ing business.
Instead, I chuckled, thanked the ladies, and just walked away. I figured they’d see me all sweaty in an hour when I leave, and hopefully would note that I didn’t keel over from my workout, and no ambulance had to be called to pump ground beef into my veins to revive me.
Maybe enough workouts, and enough people proudly wearing the shirts…but really who knows, I think that lady already made her mind up awhile ago.
A pleasant surprise in the land of cheesesteaks
It’s so easy to get hung up on little negative exchanges like this one, which makes it even more valuable to recognize the positive surprises that come around. Like one extra hot afternoon in Philadelphia, when I was tired and starving from exploring the city. After passing cheesesteak joint after cheesesteak joint, I finally swung into a corner deli, hoping at best to get a side of mac and cheese or mashed potatoes.
To my amazement, the entire food case was stocked top to bottom with dream-vegetarian food. Not half-hearted attempts with soy dogs and Boca burgers—no, I’m talking about avocado and sprout sandwiches, orange-beet salads, Italian bread salad, tabouleh, Morroccan couscous salad, quinoa pilafs, and Asian veggie wraps.
I stood, frozen with joy and overloaded with options. The best part was, this deli wasn’t some weird crunchy health market; it was for everybody, and boy was it busy! I finally left with a curried Isreali couscous salad, and it truly made my day.
The salad was so yummy, I had to make my own version to enjoy whenever I wanted (and without the $8.99/lb price tag). The recipe is below.
I know you’ll love this one. For me this re-creation of that couscous salad is a good reminder that when you take control of your health, there really is a pleasant surprise around every corner. It might be a faster race time, a couple pounds shed, a friend you’ve inspired, or perhaps just a really yummy deli.
Couscous Surprise Salad
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup Israeli couscous (I like Marrakesh Express Couscous Grande)
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups (1/2 lb) frozen shelled edamame
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 a large red onion, minced
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoons salt
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the couscous and stir to coat. Toast for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 12 minutes, until the couscous is soft and most of the water is absorbed.
Meanwhile, steam the frozen edamame by microwaving in a bowl wrapped with plastic wrap for 2-4 minutes. Be careful, the plastic wrap and steam will be hot.
In a large salad bowl, stir together the couscous, steamed edamame, red pepper, cilantro, onion, apricots, cranberries, curry powder, salt, and lemon juice. Let chill for an hour to let the flavors combine.