Okay, so that title might be a little misleading, but hear me out…
This month has been really tough for me. And I’m the first to admit that I have NOT handled this month’s challenges in the best way possible.
Although I am officially single (definition: no ring on my finger), I do have great boyfriend who I care about very much.
And (usually) he is great to cook for….which I love! I don’t have to avoid many ingredients or run dishes past him to see what he thinks. If I cook it, he almost always eats it happily. He even refers to himself as a “flexetarian” (i.e. he eats as a vegetarian when I cook).
But, this month has been different. My boyfriend is on the “Paleo diet” for this month as part of a challenge for his gym. For someone who loves food, loves to cook, enjoys a challenge, and even has a “special” diet which said boyfriend rarely gives me a hard time about, I have surprised myself with how tough I have found it to embrace cooking for him while on this diet.
Although I do not personally agree with the paleo lifestyle for modern times, if you had asked me a couple of months ago if I could cook for someone who is paleo while still being a vegetarian, I am pretty sure I would have said that “of course I could do that”.
And then my boyfriend said he was doing this. For one month. For a competition.
And what was my response?
“Good luck?” Nope.
“I’m sure we can make this work?” Sadly, not even close.
I think my response was something closer to, “How could you do this!?! We won’t be able to eat together at all!”
I know what you are thinking…..and you are right. I was not then and have not been a very supportive girlfriend (ouch, it hurts to write that).
For those of you not familiar with this diet, I won’t go into specifics other than to list the forbidden items that I was SURE would make cooking for the both of us impossible:
- no peanuts
- no soy
- no grains of any kind
- no legumes of any kind
- no vinegar
- no dairy
- no added sugar (I kind of like this one, but it’s hard to avoid ALL sugars)
This left us with only two major protein sources that we could share (and meat/protein is this diet’s biggest food group): eggs and seafood.
So, through gritted teeth and with multiple eye rolls and shakes of the head, I have spent hours this month researching and thinking about meals and came up with a grand total of maybe 8 paleo meals.
As a result of this challenge, we have eaten some interesting and decently tasty meals. Here are a few of the dishes that I was able prepare so that we could eat together (with a whole lot of help from google):
- Shrimp and veggie stir-fry with no-peanut sauce
- paleo crab cakes on a bed of sautéed spinach topped with poached eggs
- Paleo pizza heavy with tomato sauce and piled high with roasted veggies (sans cheese)
- pan-fried cod on a bed of shredded sweet potatoes
- raw kale salad with mashed avocados and veggies
- banana ice cream
- kale chips
- Trader Joe’s salmon burgers on coconut buns
- Paleo enchiladas
And, here is what I have learned this month, albeit reluctantly. I CAN cook for the paleo lifestyle while still eating as a pescetarian, but it requires me to eat A LOT of seafood and A LOT of eggs. And, as I try to limit my seafood intake and try to diversify my other protein sources, I can’t say that I could do it on a daily basis.
As I begin to prepare
hopefully possibly my last paleo meal for the month, I find myself reflecting on the challenge that this month has been for both of us. He has been stronger than I with a much more positive attitude. And he has done really well. I, though very begrudgingly, have gotten something out of this challenge as well. Not only has it forced me to face my prejudices (in diet choice that is), but it has shown me that creativity grows out of many different circumstances. I learned more about my food, worked with new ingredients (I had never even heard of coconut aminos before, but they make a decent soy replacement), and found that food, no matter what’s in it and what’s not, is best made and shared with love–despite how corny that sounds.
And at the end of the
day month, only one thing matters– we made it. Now I can get on with some fun non-paleo recipes that I want to be able to share….like homemade yogurt–yum!
So, my dear, with the end in sight, and your cravings for forbidden foods abundant, here is one last recipe just for you. To tell you I’m proud of what you’ve achieved this month.
…But I’m glad it will soon be behind us!