Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Help The Human Rabbit

My friend is undertaking an intense, almost all-veggie diet, and he came to me for ways to make it palatable. Here is his regiment, as I understand it.

There are milk days and veggie days. On milk days, it's just whole milk and yogurt. On veggie days he can have two fruits and 1.5 pounds of veggies, so it's obviously more about what you can't eat than what you can. No oil, grains, nuts, alcohol, vinegar, and in his words, he's desperate for anything that tastes good, or "tastes at all." (And I'm assuming there's no beans if there's no grains.) Obviously he could use some help, so please comment if you've got any bright ideas.

I have three bits of advice. The first is to favor starchy, filling veggies. If all you can eat is vegetables, baby arugula will only go so far. I'm thinking baked acorn squash (or any winter squash), roasted sweet potatoes, whole baked eggplant, mashed potatoes or mashed anything like a potato. If avocados fit the criteria, I would eat as many as possible, with just a squeeze of lemon and lots of salt and pepper. If coconut milk is cool, I would mix in a few spices and use it to turn plain old steamed veggies into curry.

Still, if you find something you like, you'll soon hate if you don't vary the preparation, especially the texture. That way you can trick yourself into thinking that you're eating a greater variety than you actually are. This is how a lot of raw foods people do it: "lasagna" that's just thinly sliced layers of different vegetables and so on.

In keeping with the first idea, I think spaghetti squash could go a long way here. It's filling, it's flavorful on its own, and it's fun. I would also suggest purées, since you can cook and blend almost any veggie with a little water and salt and suddenly have a satisfying soup. Since you can do spices, might I suggest carrot ginger. I haven't done it, but I bet baked latkes made with any grated veggie wouldn't be bad.

My third suggestion is to hit the blogs. There are a ton of people out there with specialized diets, and they're often the same folks who are compulsive enough to tell you about every little thing that they consume. 101 Cookbooks is queen of the veggieblogosphere, and I bet you could find some inspiration in raw foods; just the fact that you can use heat might make your options look decadent in comparison.

I will say that it's surprising how much we can alter our diets just by changing the ratios of the kinds of things we eat. I grew up with meat taking center stage in every dinner, and I still eat it, but I've also learned that if I up the amounts of other stuff, like grains and veggies, I can not only adapt but also do better.

That said, it sounds really tough, so good luck. Anyone else?

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Dave said...

yikes! sounds pretty impossible to me. are dairy days really only whole milk and yogurt? no grains ever?

Karen B said...

sorry, the real dave would probably be more amenable to this diet. wrong id in the last comment!

Maggie said...

I think the starchy vegetable idea is a good one for this time of year. How about making sure each meal has umami rich ingredients? Tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic are ones that should all fit in with what he's doing. He can stock up on no oil fresh salsa to throw on everything and then roast, broil or no oil panfry mushrooms. I think that would make his meals more satisfying.

The blog I think would be most useful to him would be Fatfree Vegan Kitchen. She has a lot of good content to chose from but still tough with the no nuts and grains.

Anonymous said...

celeriac, parsnips, beets, daikon, delicata squash, portabellas, fresh herbs and lemon

Mir said...

wow, that's a challenge. how long is this diet supposed to last? i'd pickle cucumbers cabbage and onions together but that takes a while to ferment. is pickling allowed? if it were warmer out, i'd say grill up veggies with different flavored coal. for dairy days i'd suggest trying kefir if that's allowed. and to top it all off add some ghirardelli double chocolate chocolate chips. :)

eli said...

two ideas for your friend: the soup is delicious and and you can eat it along other foods and it will fill you up and make you feel like you are having more of a meal. the other is just a mix of vegetables that is interesting enough to eat by the plateful.

green curry squash soup
bake pumpkin or squash with a couple of sweet potatoes and carrots until everything is nice and soft.
meanwhile fry some sweet onion, garlic, and chopped cilantro stems for about 10 minutes. add a few teaspoons of green curry paste and continue cooking until caramelized.
puree everything in the food processor or blender. add a little water if you like it thinner, sriracha to taste, the juice of one lime, and a can of coconut milk. cook for about ten more minutes. serve with chopped cilantro.

vegetable mess
this is not really a recipe, but just a recommendation that you try a fajita like mix of vegetables (zucchini, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, corn, onions, garlic, potatoes, green olives) in a light spicy tomato sauce with lots of cumin and oregano.

this is good plain, on baked potatoes, on tortillas and the like, also with those yam noodles (you can get at the health food store or trader joes), good with cheese or yogurt on top, with spaghetti squash or mashed vegetables as a base, etc...

Anonymous said...

Sauerkraut! makes any other veggies taste great. Make sure its raw, not pasteurized, to take advantage of the friendly bacteria. Other fermented veggies are available, like dill beans and gingered carrots, from Hawthorne Valley (Upstate NY).

Moxie said...

Just wondering if this is a diet to lose weight (or for some other reason) or just because? I can't imagine any benefits from rotating dairy days and veggie days, so it seems really strange to me.

For tips, maybe your friend should join a CSA to introduce a greater variety of veggies into his diet. A lot of CSAs also provide recipes for the weekly produce grown.

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