Thai-ing One On

Sorry for the late post today; recently I’ve been writing them during my office hour at school.  But get this–today a student actually came to office hour to learn something.  The nerve!

30-Day Challenge Check-In

It has been 28 complete days since I last drank caffeinated coffee, the wonder drug that makes me extremely happy for no good reason.  Even though it was caffeinated coffee that I gave up–not caffeine–I’ve actually stopped drinking caffeine as well.  True, there’s a tiny amount in decaf coffee, which I drink a few times a week, but not nearly the amount that you’ll find in black or even green tea.  I drank tea for a few days, but it just didn’t do it for me.

But I’m unequivocally looking forward to drinking real coffee again.  I’ve proven to myself that I don’t need it.  Erin doesn’t seem too impressed by this; she says that if I still want it, it just means 30 days wasn’t a long enough commitment.  But my intention, I remind her, was not to never drink coffee again.  Those kinds of commitments never seem to last.  The point of 30 days is that it’s enough to break the habit so that you can reevaluate your priorities at the end of it.  That’s what I’m doing, and I really think a little bit of coffee in my life is a net good.  What do you think; if I start drinking coffee again, will the challenge have been a failure?  If you took a 30-day challenge with me, how’s it going?  How strictly are you going to stick with your change after the 30 days are up?

Thai Lemongrass Soup

[lemongrass soup photo 1]A few months ago, I went to a Thai restaurant with Erin and my sister.  It was one of the first times I’d eaten out since going vegetarian, and I was so excited when I realized how many wonderful food options there are that I didn’t even consider before.  The highlight of the meal (other than the company, of course) was a lemongrass soup with mushrooms, unlike anything I’d ever eaten before and something I just had to try at home.

I did a Google search for “Thai lemongrass soup vegetarian” and came up with this recipe.  And last night I finally made it, having fruitlessly visited three grocery stores before Erin was able to find some lemongrass at Whole Foods.

The recipe is a good bit different from the soup that I enjoyed so much, but the flavor is very similar.  Whereas the other was only broth and mushrooms, this one includes red and green bell pepper, tomatoes, and tofu.  More suitable for dinner perhaps, but I think having all that stuff in there takes away from the soup a little bit.

I had never cooked with lemongrass before, here’s what it looks like:


A few other notes about the recipe:

  • There’s a link on the recipe for how to prepare lemongrass; it involves chopping it and processing it to make the pieces small enough to become edible after some time in the boiling soup.  Still, I think the soup would benefit from straining the lemongrass pieces out of the soup after an initial 10-15 minutes of boiling.  They’re just too tough.
  • I didn’t use the optional coconut milk; that flavor was definitely not in the soup I was hoping to replicate.
  • I didn’t use the kaffir lime leaves; I just threw in some extra lemongrass.
  • The recipe calls for 1-2 red chili peppers.  I used one green jalapeno, and actually only needed three-quarters of it.  There’s a chance midway through the recipe to test the soup for spiciness, so use less than you think at first and add more at this point if needed.

lemongrass soup 2

I really enjoyed the flavor of this soup; it was very much what I had been craving.  But really I think it’s best suited as a simple broth with mushrooms, as an appetizer.  Erin wasn’t a big fan.  She thought there was a lot of spice and lemony flavor but not enough other flavors.  So we can only give it three cows out of five.  Average, in many ways.  Anyone have a recipe for this soup that they really like?

That’s all for today!  I have a track workout tonight that seems easier than the previous: four 800-meter repeats at 2:52 with a two-minute rest after each.  Sounds pretty doable, but I believe I struggled with this one earlier in year.  That was, of course, before I was veggie-powered!



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  1. 30 days without coffee? Not sure I could do it 🙂 Its my one real guilty pleasure. I think you rock for making it through!! Soup sounds yummy- I have never cooked with lemon grass- thank you for the tips. I hope you and Erin have a great night

  2. I didn’t join in your challenge but have recently given up Diet Coke, again in order to get caffeine out of my diet. I have given it up in the past leading up to marathons only to jump back into drinking it as soon as I cross the finish line. I am hoping this time I have the perseverance to stick it out and never drink it again. I think if you KNOW you won’t become addicted then having it won’t hurt. But if you are like me, once you start, you can’t stop, then I personally would wait longer until you start drinking it again. I honestly think it would take me a year of not drinking soda in order for me to not give in after drinking just one, obviously this is an extreme as I am an emotional eater, and Diet Coke has always been my go-to when I am feeling down.
    .-= Robin´s last blog ..Never Ending Rain =-.

  3. You did it! 30 days without coffee! I think you’re right… enough time to break a habit and if you’re still looking forward to resuming it, after this much time, it is obviously something that you truly enjoy. And as long as it’s not too unhealthy in the big scheme of things, enjoy!!!

    I stuck with my under 1200 calories/day all but 2 days, and they were just slightly over. I felt better and lost about 4-5 solid pounds with never feeling hungry. I actually ate very healthy foods. It certainly feels more like “the real me” to eat less than what I had been eating, so I think I’ll continue for awhile longer.

    By the way, a Starbucks employee told me that beginning Tuesday, they’re revamping their dessert menu selections… getting rid of the high fructose and other things and replacing the desserts with things that are all natural ingredients. Mostly sugar and butter, he said. I’m not sure what all that means, but I found it interesting.

  4. Colleen says:

    I know that I have shared some of the changes we’ve made along the way but, for the purpose of a 30 day challenge update, here’s the latest…I do plan to try a soda after the 30 days to see how I react to the taste but we’ve made some changes to avoid going back to a daily soda routine. The first is seltzer…not flavored water, just seltzer w/ natural flavor…I find that I love the fizz of a soda and this seems to do the trick! Within the past week, we’ve also been looking to take artificial sweeteners (i.e. aspartame) out of our diet entirely. This means organic yogurt and unsweetened iced tea for me…plus we checked out some organic sodas for an occasional treat after day 30:)

    I think that the motivation/rationale behind our 30 day challenges dictates whether or not we can “reintroduce” the item. My plan was not to quit soda or eliminate caffeine. By cutting it out for a while, I learned more about what I really crave (i.e. the fizz) and became more opened minded about how to satisfy that in a broader and healthier way.

  5. My 30 day challenge was to start my Core Performance program. I read most of the book, but I didn’t do the exercises. I had been meaning to start toning up before the 30 day challenge, so it was actually good for me to sign up because I definitely was aware of the time passing that I wasn’t exercising. Otherwise, I would have still had that nagging feeling but no real quantifier. I did make one change: I started walking the 2-3 miles home from work each day. Making that one change has opened the door for me to remember how good exercise feels…I’ll keep ya updated!

  6. I’ve never cooked with lemongrass either; thanks for the information.

    And I agree with you about the challenge- the point of them is to bring about awareness and to reevaluate your priorities and all.
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Product Review and Giveaway: Zhena’s Gypsy Tea =-.

  7. the soup looks delish!

    i agree with you on the 30-day challenge…it’s just good to reevaluate sometimes and figure out what your body needs. if its a big of coffee, so be it 🙂
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..Grazin’ Like a Cow =-.

  8. I’m still really enjoying my daily pushups, and I’ve added planks in as well!
    .-= katherine´s last blog ..CocoBanana Bar (and variations!) =-.

  9. lemongrass loves kaffir lime, by the way.
    The citrus contrast accentuates the lemongrass.
    A squeeze of lime is a close substitute.

    I bruise short segments of lemongrass, easier to avoid them.
    Or, make a lemongrass stock and strain out the pieces.

    If you have an Asian market, you can get a better price.

    I made it thirty days without coffee, the first week was
    bad, but then it was a breeze. I went back, though.

  10. Hey. Great that you’re trying to go Veggie.
    First some comments on the recipe and your notes:
    Adding more lemongrass is not a substitute for Kaffir Lime leaf. The idea is a hint of lime flavor. A good substitute is the zest of one regular lime… and then just before serving squeze the juice of the lime on top.
    Goodness…. jalapeno is not a substitute… that made me cringe. Just SO WRONG… but you get a B for effort. If you don’t have an Asian market nearby… you are looking for Thai Chillies …. a suitable substitute if all else fails is a 1/4 tsp. of your regular Red chilli flakes .
    Next time… try with the Cocoanut milk… it’s great.

    Lastly I’d recommend that over time you build your library of Vegetarian cook books…. follow the recipes to the letter the first time… even if different than what you happened upon in a restaurant. Only after you’ve made it once “by the book” should you alter it… unless it has stuff you are allergic too. This will teach you complimentary flavors and portions…. take it as teaching yourself to cook.. the cook book is your instructor.

    I find a lot of my cookbooks (totally over 270 at present) from the “Bargain Book” areas of the large retailers and we happen to have an amazing local discounted book store with 32 rooms of books (The Book Loft, Columbus, Ohio). Every time I’m in Barns & Noble I check out that Bargain Book area to see if there are any new cook books I’m interested in. Look for Vegetarian Basics (also on Amazon here
    Search for cook books that have great information… not just recipes.. but the information you need to live a healthy life and understand why the choices are effective.
    Get several and explore.
    Also get several Indian cookbooks … since most Indians are vegetarian due to their Hindu religion. Talk about flavor… POW !

    Another tip… if you find the Thai Chillies or Lemongrass in larger quantity… bot freeze well. When we use to live in Orlando… we actually grew both in our back yard and froze some for use over the winter.

    Best wishes.

  11. First, thanks for page and being an ethical eater. Second, you’re a hottie, so thanks for that too…

    and 3rd–here’s a recipe you can play with (soup-wise)–

    Coconut Thai Soup With Chilies and Lime

    A satisfying wonderful Thai soup, cooks note: can adjust for heat/spice preferences and can add cooked shrimp at end if you wish.

    • 2 tablespoons canola oil
    • 1 medium onion, sliced
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
    • 1 Thai or serrano chili, halved
    • 1 3-inch piece lemongrass, smashed (optional)
    • kosher salt
    • 6 cups vegetable broth
    • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
    • 1 medium head bok choy, chopped (about 4 cups)
    • cilantro and lime wedges, for serving
    1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, chili, lemongrass (if desired), and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 4-5 minutes.
    2. Discard the lemongrass. Add the coconut milk and bok choy to the pot and simmer until tender, 2 to 4 minutes. (Optional at this point can add cooked shrimp and warm through)
    3. Serve the soup topped with cilantro and lime wedges.
    4. ☼❂☆

  12. Interesting post mate.

    About lemon grass, you may want to start boiling it first as though making a ‘strong’ lemon grass tea. Next strain out the lemon grass leaves. The water will change colour from light greenish below to dark yellow colour. At this point even without the leaves, the lemon grass flavours will be preserved in the soup.

    Lemon grass is quite hardy, you could reuse it again after making tea initially with it and still get an impressive flavour out of it.


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