Thursday, October 29, 2009

Eat that meat

Get ready, because I'm about to pull stories from like a million directions.

Heather sent Stef and me an email last night discussing some issues she's having with protein and how she noticed that lately she hasn't really been eating meat. It's funny because Stef was a vegan at some point and Heather actually prefers meat substitutes (like boca burgers, etc) over beef. I have always been the stickler that says, "Guys there is no way I could go without meat for even a day. It's too hard." SO the two of them did a no meat challenge a few months ago and I politely declined my participation because I've ALWAYS said that giving up meat is not enjoyable for me.

So when Heather posted her blog about labeling herself a "flexitarian" this morning, I was just expecting to read it and go on about my day. But as I read her blog, I realized that the topic of meat has been on my mind lately much more than I actually thought it was.

I've always loved chicken. Chicken has been a staple of my diet and even before I started watching what I ate, I mostly ate chicken. I would have the occasional beef thrown in from time to time and very rarely I would eat pork (aside from bacon). Turkey was always on sandwiches or on holidays and other than that - it's been CHICKEN. I actually have been eating much more beef and pork since I started watching what I eat. My favorite way to eat chicken is grilled and when I sold my house, I sold my grill, and the foreman is absolutely no comparison for my old propane grill. Therefore, I've been a little bored with chicken as of late and needed to switch it up!

But here's the problem with chicken, and well meat in general. It's super expensive! And therefore, for about the past 4-5 months Matt and I have been buying the huge bags of frozen breasts at Costco. You can get a 10 pound bag for like $18. It's a steal of a deal. I've found that usually if you defrost the chicken in the refrigerator for a day or two, you probably wouldn't be able to taste that it was frozen. Or at least, that's what I thought (we'll come back to this.)  So every time that I'm coming up with a meal, I usually pick a carb - pasta, bread or rice, pick a veggie and pick a meat. In the past month or so I committed myself to eating more vegetables, so lately it's been more often two veggies and a meat. Sometimes I have a carb, other times I don't. Well, frankly I get bored of this and more frankly, the meat has been my least favorite part of my meals lately because I've been eating mostly that frozen chicken. The chicken is so thin, it's hard to do much with it. Grilling has been boring. Baking I've done a few times and frankly I'm sick of the taste of sautéed chicken. I'm not a big sauce eater, so that isn't much of an option. I'd love to stuff some chicken breasts and bake them, but you can't do that very well with these frozen breasts. I've have been wishing some days that I didn't have to eat a meat at all. That's not fun, is it!

Also in the mix, I have been trying to empty my pantry and all the beans in my pantry in the past 3 weeks. I've had some DELICIOUS bean meals in the past few weeks, ones with a meat and ones without. Why did I think I didn't like beans? Beans are the perfect combination of protein AND fiber, and well they are pretty awesome nutritionally compared to chicken.

Do you see where I'm going here? No more frozen chicken, Laura.

The last indication that I need to stop eating this frozen chicken happened this past weekend. My mom bought some amazing fresh chicken breasts from Whole Foods. I forgot how great chicken can taste when it's fresh and simply seasoned and grilled. AMAZING. It made the foreman grilled breast I had yesterday with some BBQ sauce taste like fast food. My family started talking about how great the chicken was and my brother mentioned he can't eat those frozen breasts anymore because they are frankly, awful.

So imagine all of these ideas coming together in my head and being topped off with the realization Heather is going to become a "flexitarian". She really got me thinking about all these little cues that I hadn't put together yet.

Now let me be clear, I am NOT saying I'm a flexitarian. After all, I still love meat. I still hate meat substitutes (you won't be seeing ANY tofu on my plates anytime soon). I still live in TEXAS people - throwing meat out of my diet is out of the question and I won't do it. I love beef, pork, chicken and turkey (seafood? ick!) And I will definitely still be eating it. But I'm not going to eat sub quality meat any longer. I'm giving up those frozen chicken breasts cold turkey (haha). And since I'm saving for school and poor and still don't have a wonderful propane grill (I miss you grill), it looks like I'm not going to be eating as much meat as I used to. I'll start incorporating less meat into my meals at home. I'll just be checking the grocery store for meat on sale and either freezing it or using it that week. I know it sounds weird that I won't eat frozen chicken but I'll eat chicken I bought from the store that I froze myself - but trust me, the difference is unbelievable. But now it's more beans for me! I'm actually a little excited as I keep thinking about all the recipes I can make with beans! Who knew!

(as a side note, I never realized how fantastic it would be with Matt living with me - because I can make what I want to eat each night and he'll either feed himself or eat some of the stuff I batch cooked for him on the weekends. This was NEVER the case when we didn't live together. I always felt like I had to make him something and I just ate it too. Ick)

So now I need to figure out some ways to make tasty meals from dried beans. I've only made beans that were dried once or twice and I wasn't impressed. But canned beans are HELLA expensive (I buy the organic versions that have low sodium or no salt added), so this is my mission for November. I'm SUPER excited!

Thank you Stef and Heather for being my inspiration for non-meat meals!


  1. First, Your meat/ chicken habit sounds almost exactly like me. Second, I'm pretty sure you just ruined chicken for me. Thanks a lot. :P Now I'm going to have to start thinking about this.

  2. haha, I'm a TX gal through and through and I recently gave up meat. Well, almmost. Just the occasional piece of chicken or ground turkey. It just was making me too sad thinking about all those cows and pigs that were dying- I find them to be very cute actually(I know- weird, right?). It was weighing on my heart too much and I couldn't do it any more. And the stuff I'm learning about slaughter is enough to make anyone a little green around the gills, lol. It works for me though, it wasn't hard to give it up at all! I would never label myself anything though- to me that just sets me up for failure.