It’s been a successful week without red meat for the most part. My pledge began on Ash Wednesday. Breakfast was fine but I accidentally sabotaged my efforts at lunch. I popped a frozen pizza in the oven like I usually do about once a week. When it was ready, I mindlessly tasted a few rogue pepperonis that had fallen off the top before realizing what I had done.🤦♀️ Whoopsies. Can I get a do-over?
I frantically googled the ingredients of pepperoni in a Totino’s party pizza hoping, in this case, that they were artificial. Crazy, right? Nope! The pepperoni consists of “pork, chicken and beef product.” Yikes!😱 I’ve already failed Jesus on day one of Lent. He went without food in the desert for 40 days and I did not even make it through lunch!
I was tempted to eat a leftover burger for dinner that night and simply push the reset button on the following day. My rationale being that I would just consider today a wash and tack on an extra day after Lent. But that would feel wrong to eat red meat with intention. I mean, the pizza was an accident. So, I decided to forgive myself for this natural reflex and shake it off.
Wednesday night dinner was leftover macaroni and cheese. Thursday night I made a very tasty bbq chicken flatbread. Friday night I made a delicious chicken fettuccini with homemade Alfredo sauce followed by leftovers of that on Saturday. I attempted baked tilapia again on Sunday night. I thought maybe a parmesan bread crumb crust would help me like it more. I ate it but didn’t especially enjoy it. Some parts still tasted a little fishy. Maybe I should experiment with mahi mahi or cod. We also participated in our first Meatless Monday with veggie pizza for lunch and gnocchi/mixed veggies for dinner. Tuesday night was chicken casserole.
So I guess for now I think of myself as a chickaterian. (I think pollotarian is the technical term but I like mine better.)😆 A few words on that. I don’t want to pick on the poor chickens. I love chickens. I feel so sad when a truck full of them passes by me on the highway. I think of their fate and pray for them. Seriously.
In fact, I have refused to patron KFC for many years after undercover animal rights workers discovered that some employees in their chicken supply farms were torturing the animals. Atrocious stories came out about chickens being thrown around, stomped on, eyes gouged out and feathers being torn off for no reason. Why on earth would someone do that?
I recently watched the documentary Forks over Knives to learn more about the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. The narrator touched on the horrible working conditions in meat processing plants and how over time many in the workforce become desensitized. It’s so awful to think about on all sides. The truth is that I really enjoy chicken dishes. But I also think about their treatment and realize it’s unfair to single chicken out and say it’s ok to eat them but not cows or pigs.
So, should I become a vegetarian?🤔 No animals would have to be killed for my nourishment’s sake. It would help the environment. I could still enjoy making many dishes that I like just without the meat. I proceeded down that rabbit hole a little further by researching meat alternatives. In so doing, I learned about flexiterianism.💡The principle is that you try to eat mostly vegetarian but allow yourself some wiggle room to enjoy meat here and there. Another option is the “vegan before six” when you only consume meat and dairy for dinner. Then I stumbled upon more horror stories involving the industry of mass producing dairy products and eggs. Not to mention all of the added hormones!
Ok, what about being pescatarian? If you look into it, many standard fishery practices are considered cruel. Now I’m more confused and conflicted than ever. Could I even entertain the mere thought of a vegan lifestyle? I mean, giving up meat is one thing but cheese?!?!? Sour cream??? I have a carnivore husband and a growing two year old to think about. Would that be fair to them? I just started a food blog for crying out loud!?!? I certainly never imagined the possibility of switching to veganism barely five months into my journey. There are sooo many dishes I have yet to explore and cook.
Perhaps consuming more foods in their natural state is a more realistic goal. I’ve recently traded in Pringle’s for pistachios. I could also aspire to make more informed selections of organic, cage and hormone free products at the grocery store. I already do that with eggs. However, it does cost a lot more to do so. Plus, the nearest Whole Foods type store is over an hour’s drive away. Higher prices and availability are definite barriers in seeking a healthier lifestyle.
I think that this mental wrestling is all part of the Lent process. To reflect on your choices and take stock of the big picture. How our values are constructed by everyday choices like what you should cook for dinner. What do I prepare my little for breakfast today? What’s actually in the food that I buy? Also, just because you have good intentions doesn’t mean that others will necessarily be on board. For instance, my toddler protested the baked tilapia and tomato by throwing them both on the floor.🤷♀️
I am trying to weigh the various factors and figure it all out. I remind myself to be patient and that Lent is a marathon not a sprint. This is literally all food for thought. Thanks for reading what I type out loud. Your reward is a recipe for my dreamy, creamy Chicken Alfredo found below.✌️💜🍴
Cajun Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo
You will need: Half a box of fettuccini noodles, a few chicken tenderloins, 1-2 T of Olive oil, Cajun seasoning and salt & pepper to taste
Alfredo sauce recipe by Allrecipes: (Warning: this is so easy and delicious you will never want to use store bought again) 1/4 cup of butter, 1 cup of heavy cream, 1.5 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, 1 clove garlic (I used 1/2 tsp minced), parsley (I didn’t have any)
To prepare: Boil fettuccini until al dente. Drain and set aside. Dice chicken into bite sized pieces. Heat olive oil in pan and brown chicken while adding Cajun seasoning/S & P to taste. Set aside. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cheese, constantly stirring until sauce is sufficiently melted. Add parsley if desired. Incorporate noodles and chicken with the sauce. Stir everything together on low heat until warmed through and the ingredients are happily married. Enjoy!
Mood Ring Kitchen
I’m a self teaching home cook and aspiring foodie entrepreneur. I enjoy coming up with creative ways to prepare flavorful food such as snacks, desserts and everything in between. Cooking is a way for me to challenge myself and satisfy curiosities about different ingredients.
The hope is to produce something thoughtful, memorable or every once in a while maybe even wonderful. I enjoy following my “gut” and exploring new recipes that can be comforting, exciting and nourishing. Above all else, I enjoy exploring the emotions surrounding food and writing about those experiences. 😝👩🍳👩💻