Tag Archive for food

A Poem for Canada

View from Tunnel Mountain Hike in Banff, Canada

Canada, O Canada

where mountains reach to the clouds
where rivers, green, rush and tumble
where trees are varied, diverse, and brave
where lakes are serene, peaceful, calm

Canada, O Canada

where people are kind and polite
where locals come from all over the world
where visitors feel welcome
where people learn to respect the land
where natives are still respected

Canada, O Canada

where animals are “slaughtered kindly”
where food is thoughtfully prepared
where meals consists of elk, bison, venison, and duck
where vegetarian meals are rare
where restaurants have gardens on site
where food is expensive

Canada, O Canada

where parks are guarded
and valued
and cherished
where animals are protected
and roam free
where elk and bears wander uninhibited
where chipmunks draw near
where nature is savored

Canada, O Canada

where life is lived outdoors
where you hike, bike, raft, boat, fish, kayak, ski, and canoe
where you walk in the rain
where you linger
where you smile
where you ponder
and life

Canada, O Canada

where silence can be heard
where sounds can be felt
where God can be found
and remembered
and thanked

Canada, O Canada,
how I love thee

Thank you
for allowing me
to experience you

Reflections on Eating Vegetarian: A Week in Review

I recently embarked on a crazy journey. My goal was to eat vegetarian for one whole week. I was out of town at a professional Summer Seminar in Rhetoric and Composition at Michigan State University and was able to eat five days worth of meals at a five-star cafeteria (see this article for more), and the other two days in airports. The food in the cafeteria was especially good. Not what I had in The World Famous Bean at ACU back in the day (over 15 years ago–wow!). The students donned chef coats and cooked the food right in front of you. Amazing!

Many of you followed along during the journey, but if you did not (or if you just want to re-visit some of the pages), you might be interested to see with your eyes the variety of food I ate and the many different options of eating vegetarian. It isn’t all steamed cauliflower and roasted peppers (although those are good!). The pictures are also really pretty! I have included links to each day’s food, including verbal descriptions and visual photos of what I ate at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Background of Experiment, Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, Day Six, Day Seven

Phyllo and Zucchini Strudel with Summer Squash Saute

Though short, this journey opened my eyes to a variety of issues about food, eating, mealtime, fellowship, and myself. I share some of these with you in today’s post. Since it’s Tuesday, let’s just make it part of the Tuesday 12 Series.

1. Eating vegetarian reduces the number of food options available, which simplifies the process of ordering food.

When I go to a restaurant, I scour the menu looking for something to eat. I am not one who orders the same thing each time. I actually order a different meal each time. Even when I cook at home, I rarely make the same thing twice. I like to cook and eat a variety of foods. Sometimes, it takes me at least 15 minutes to decide on something to eat.

But eating vegetarian meant that I was typically given two main meal choices along with soup, salad, and veggies. I didn’t even look what else was being served. I saw the vegetarian options and decided what I wanted. It was so simple. And since I’m trying to simply my life and my mantra is becoming “less is more,” I think simplification is a good thing.

2.    Eating vegetarian does not equal healthy eating.

This may not come as a surprise to vegetarians, but I guess it did to me. I assumed that a vegetarian diet meant a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables and legumes. And it does. But it also includes the oh-so-yummy dairy food group of butter, cheese, and milk, oils (even healthy ones still are high in fat), and desserts. I do think, though, that eating vegetarian means that you can enjoy these foods more often since you aren’t eating high-fat meats and maybe fewer calories. Although I can’t point to any “real” data to back these points up, I can say that I didn’t gain any weight this week–even though I had more dessert than I have had in a very long time.

3.    Meat substitutes taste good (at least most of the ones I ate).

The vegan hot dog wasn’t my favorite, but the ground meat substitutes and the tofu were both tasty and served their respective purposes in the dish.

4.    When you don’t eat meat, people assume you are a vegetarian.

The people at the Seminar assumed I was a vegetarian. I never ate any meat, so, of course, I was a vegetarian (really, this makes logical sense). But what’s interesting is that I never told anyone I was a vegetarian. They just inferred, after looking at my plate, that I was a vegetarian. My suitemate, Karen, knew about my “experiment,” but I didn’t tell anyone else until much later in the week, and only if they asked. I found it really interesting that after the first or second day, many of these colleagues even pointed out vegetarian dishes that they thought tasted (or looked) good. They often directed me to a certain station to make sure I tried one of the vegetarian dishes being served there. I found this quite endearing.

I also noticed that the cafeteria staff made assumptions about me when I ordered the vegetarian option from their station. These assumptions weren’t bad; I just noticed it, that’s all. Vegetarians are typically a certain type of person (more health-conscious, more environmentally-friendly, more liberal, etc.). I could tell this in the questions they asked me and in their friendly smiles and eye contact. This generation of college students (the people working the food stations) seems very aware of the impact, the difference, one person’s personal choices can have on the larger society. To me, they seem more socially aware than my generation, which, I think, is a good shift.

5.    Individuals and restaurants can be very accommodating to vegetarians, vegans, gluten-freers, or others with dietary food requests and restrictions.

Many restaurants these days are conscious of the wide variety of eaters coming in their doors. Many now have a wide variety of options for all kinds of people, and the food is quite comparable. Even when we went over to one person’s house for dinner (who is not a vegetarian or vegan and has no known food allergies), she thought in advance and made vegan hot dogs, gluten-free dishes, dairy-free dips, and many other dishes that people with specialty requests could eat. I find this to be extremely thoughtful.

6.    Eating a vegetarian diet can cause massive problems on your intestines.

Not eating meat can constipate you. It happened to me on Day 2 and lasted until Day 6 (Friday). One colleague at the conference told me to eat more fruits, so that’s what I did. I don’t know if the relief on Friday was the result of eating more fruits or if my body adjusted to a plant-based diet. Either way, I was thankful.

In the same vein, I did notice that bowel movements are not the same (If this topic grosses you out, embarrasses you, or makes you uncomfortable, proceed to #7. If you read on, remember that YOU WERE WARNED!).  Instead of the long, S-shaped pieces of poop Dr. Oz once told Oprah were ideal, my poops were shaped like small round pellets. This happened the entire week, every time.

One interesting benefit/side effect of not eating meat is that your poop smells different; it doesn’t stink quite so bad. I hadn’t really considered this point–that not eating meat would impact the smell of my poop–which is odd considering I have a 9-month baby who doesn’t eat meat yet and whose diaper does not smell near as bad as it will in a few months when we introduce meat into his diet. I’m wondering if this rings true for any vegetarians out there??

7.    Eating less meat is a really good idea.

Eating less meat can be good for your health, as much research on eating a plant-based diet suggests, even if you primarily eat low-fat meats. It can also be good for the environment. I’ve heard it can be more cost-effective and cheaper (Have you noticed how expensive meat is?). It can make you think more reflectively about food and eating and mealtime. It can get you to change normal routines and be more thankful for what you do eat. I could go on and on here, but I firmly believe that eating vegetarian, even if it’s only once in a while–is a good idea.

8.    Eating vegetarian encouraged me to slow down, talk more, listen more, and really pay attention to each and every bite, to savor the flavor and ponder the taste.

I was shocked to see how my eating habits changed when eating vegetarian food. Granted, I was not eating these meals with small children, where the words slow, savor, and ponder don’t often show up. However, I do think it was more than the fact that I was eating with adults. The food I was eating was on my mind the entire time. I studied it. I pondered the food combinations in a dish. I analyzed how I thought the dish was cooked. I questioned what spice was used. I tasted the food, I mean, really tasted the food. I didn’t just eat with my eyes, but I also ate with my mouth…in a deep way that I often miss when eating before. This habit could have been because I was doing an experiment about food. I’ll grant that. But even at other times, I think about food all the time–what I’ll cook, what I need from the grocery store, which food is the healthiest, etc. This time, however, I thought about food while I was eating it. This is a new thing for me–to be conscious of every single bite that goes in my mouth. It was a neat discovery, and I thank this vegetarian experiment for it.

9.    I had more energy throughout the day.

Usually after lunch, I experience what I like to call–“the afternoon crash.” Right after lunch, I suddenly become so sleepy that I can do nothing but think about getting in bed and going to sleep. This feeling of exhaustion is overwhelming. If I am home, I may go take a nap. If not, I just try to make it through the next couple of hours. Either way, this sensation comes almost every day (depending on what I ate at lunch).

Interestingly, I did not experience “the afternoon crash” one time during the entire week, even though we went immediately back into the Seminar for another half day of work. I didn’t get sleepy. I didn’t get tired. I was able to concentrate.

What’s more is that after the Seminar ended for the day, between 5:15 and 5:30, I exercised. I either went to the gym or jogged around campus (all but one of these days when we went over to a colleague’s house for dinner one evening). One might think I would have wanted to lie in bed and read or just rest (this was actually my plan), but I had more than enough energy to work out for well over 45 minutes each day I was there. THIS IS HUGE. And it felt great. My energy level was amazing, and this alone is making me consider being a vegetarian, at least for breakfast and lunch.

10.   I slept better at night.

I am a person who gets up at least twice a night to go to the bathroom. During my time eating vegetarian, I did not get up ONE SINGLE TIME to use the bathroom. I drank just as much and drank it just as late. But I never had to go during the middle of the night. I don’t know if it’s connected or not, but it was an observation so I put this here. I have decided that I probably still needed to go (I had to go badly when I woke up in the morning), but I was sleeping better and was not awakened by the need to go. I’m interested to hear from others: Does this ring true to your experiences?

11.   I felt full and was always satisfied after finishing a meal.

Eating vegetarian can be quite filling. You’re not just eating “rabbit food.” Rather, the meals were satisfying and delightful. And because I ate slower, I was full faster, oftentimes, before I had even finished my plate. It’s interesting how all this works together. I even noticed that I was focusing on what I could eat, rather than what I couldn’t eat. I didn’t even glance at the meat dishes served. I didn’t even miss them–in looks and desire or in taste.

12.   Eating vegetarianism brought me closer to God, the creator of all things.

I have been taught my whole life that, “in the beginning,” humans and animals were vegetarians (Genesis 1:29-30). Even though meat was available, only a plant-based diet was ordained by God. It wasn’t until the flood that God told people they could eat meat (Genesis 9:1-3).

This week reminded me that God is the creator of all food, meat, grains, fruit, vegetables, and other wonderful delicacies. And I thank God for all the food supplied to me. As an American, I recognized how blessed (some would say cursed) I am (we are) to even have the choice to do something like this. Others in the world–too many people–are starving, literally, and here I am able to eat with so much to choose from. I have learned that food is a gift. Eating food is a a git. And being thankful for it should be part of our daily lives…whatever you consider yourself.


Overall, this was an interesting experience. I learned a lot and I’m left with even more questions than with which I began this journey. I hope my experiences have shown you that it isn’t too hard to eat vegetarian once in a while. Even if you would never eat vegetarian for an entire week, I do encourage you to challenge yourself for one meal, probably dinner. I think it’s worth it. Maybe it will make you appreciate where you food comes from. Maybe you already appreciate that. Perhaps you want to see how it impacts your budget, or what a complete vegetarian meal tastes like. Or maybe you just want to pull an April Fool’s Joke on your loved one. Going vegetarian just might be for you.

If you’re interested in this topic or in trying it out for yourself (even one day a week), check out these sources for more information:


One final note, this experiment did not involve me cooking vegetarian food, which would be a different thing entirely. I am so used to cooking food with meat, and I have become quite good at it, and cooking vegetarian “main” meals seems like it would be a challenge. Although I cook vegetables with almost every meal, they are the “side,” the appendage to the meal, the part that my husband could do without. It seems to me that cooking vegetarian would take this challenge to the next level. Maybe that’s what’s next.

Here are some questions I’m considering now:

  • What would “going vegetarian” look like if I actually had to cook all the food? How would the food taste? How would I feel preparing it? What would the food taste like? Would I like it? Is it more difficult to prepare vegetarian foods?
  • How does eating vegetarian impact a food budget?
  • How does eating vegetarian impact my children? Would they go for it? Would they express “not feeling full” or “still being hungry”? How does one move a family toward a vegetarian diet?
  • What would my church family say if I brought a vegetarian dish to the weekly potluck, especially something more “exotic,” like edamame, lentils, and quinoa (yes, these are exotic around here)? Would anyone but me even try it?


Thanks for journeying with me. As always, I love hearing from you (even if you disagree—just be constructive, not rude, demeaning, or mean).

What is your response to this experiment? Would you ever try to eat vegetarian? Why or why not? What are you favorite vegetarian recipes? What is something you have learned about eating vegetarian? What have you noticed? What resources (documentaries, movies, books, cookbooks, etc.) do you recommend that I (or my readers) take a look at? What assumptions do you have about vegetarians?

Vegetarian Experiment, Day 7

I returned home from my week away with more than I had bargained for…a sore throat, cough, runny nose, and fever. This meant one more day of “daddy duty” for a man who had spent all week with the kids and was ready for a break and who has very busy (and tiring) Sundays as a minister. Though I was home, I was no help. I literally slept from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm on Sunday…and then on and off for the rest of the day. I went to the doctor today and found out I have a sinus infection. I got a steroid shot and a zpak. I hope I can get over this soon. One of my friends commented that my sickness was a result of not eating meat for a week, which I thought was quite funny.

Below are the meals I ate on Saturday, 2 in the airport and 1 at home. The one at home was made my a thoughtful husband. Almost all of it was vegetarian, except for the bacon, which was wrapped around a stuffed fig (delicious!). I know. Technically, I didn’t go for the full 7 days; it was 6 and 2/3 days. But, it wasn’t that much meat, and I didn’t really have a choice since my sweet husband had made me such a sweet meal. (The kids even ate it too!).

I will reflect on this experiment later in the week when I am feeling better.


Bagel with Cream Cheese

Burned Bagel with Cream Cheese, burnt


Caprese Baguette Sandwich (Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil, and Balsamic Glaze on a Baguette)

Caprese Sandwich


Here’s the fabulous dinner that was waiting for me when I got home. I have a very sweet husband.

Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Dressing (the cucumbers and tomatoes came from our garden!)

Rolled Zucchini with Goat Cheese Filling

Bacon (the meat!)-Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Zucchini Wrapped, Bacon-Wrapped Figs, and a Salad


And here is my new friend, Karen from Rhode Island, who put up with me at every. single. meal. while I took all these pictures of my food and took so long to get started eating! We were suitemates attending the same conference and we shared a really gross bathroom (welcome to dorm life!). I’m so glad to have gotten to know her! It made the week much more pleasant Here’s to you, Karen!

My friend Karen

Vegetarian Experiment, Day 6

Today was the last day eating in one of the cafeteria’s here on MSU’s campus. I will definitely miss this place. The student workers were polite, kind, and helpful. They even cooked the food right there while we waited. And we could see them make it. This is a different kind of cafeteria than I had in college…and even that I have at Baylor, even though the ones at Baylor are good, too.

Here is what I ate today:


Egg and Cheese Croissant Sandwich

Egg Sandwich



Hummus and Tabbouleh and a Side Salad


Vegetable Lasagna with Cauliflower Gratin

I didn’t like the vegetable lasagna. It had some sort of sweet sauce that I didn’t like, so I didn’t end up eating very much of it.

Vegetable Lasagna2

In fact, because I didn’t eat much of the lasagna, I went back for seconds of the cauliflower gratin. It was cooked with golden raisins, capers, cheese, and bread crumbs and topped with finely diced parsley. It was very, very good. I never would have put these ingredients together into one dish.

Roasted Cauliflower

Turtle Brownie (yum!)

Turtle Brownie



Caprese Salad with Warmed Pita Bread

Caprese Salad

I’ve had caprese salad before, but only on top of a tomato (deconstructed, I think). This one with lettuce was really good. And the warmed pita bread had a nice crunch to it. I will definitely make a salad like this at home. There’s nothing like basil, balsamic vinegar, mozzarella, and tomatoes.

Vegetarian Sloppy Joe with Steamed Green Beans

The sloppy joe was made with tofu and vegetables. It was pretty good. It was the closest thing to meat I had all week. It felt like I was eating meat because of the texture, but I cognitively knew it wasn’t meat. It was a weird experience. But it was good.

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Turtle Brownie (Take 2)

Turtle Brownie

I end my week at MSU by eating dessert twice today, the same thing I had for lunch. Moist, chocolatey, crunchy, and gooey. What’s not to like?

One more day of eating vegetarian and my experiment will be over. It’s given me a lot to think about.

Vegetarian Experiment, Day 5

Five days is, by far, the longest I have gone without meat, yet I am not missing it too much. I am enjoying a variety of foods, am taking longer to eat the food I choose, and enjoying trying and tasting new food items and flavors. I have never eaten so many vegan food items in one week. After this week is over, I will offer more a reflection. Until then, here are the foods I enjoyed today.


Toasted Blueberry Bagel, one side with Peanut Butter and the other side with Cream Cheese

Toasted Whole Wheat Bagel


Vegetable Bulgogi Lettuce Wrap

Vegetable Bulgogi Lettuce Wrap

I had never heard of “bulgogi” before. It’s a Korean dish that usually has meat in it (they were serving that dish, too). I’m still not too sure what it is, except it had a wide variety of vegetables and seemed to be cooked in some sort of barbecue sauce. It was pretty good, which says a lot coming from someone who doesn’t like (or eat) Asian food too much.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Butter and Brown Sugar and Sauteed carrots

Roasted Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar

Wow. This acorn squash was delicious. I ate the entire thing. (The carrots were a bit hard.) I will definitely be making this acorn squash soon. I know that Levi and I will eat it up!


Phyllo and Zucchini Strudel with Zucchini and Summer Squash Saute

Phyllo and Zucchini Strudel with Summer Squash Saute

The vegetables were tender and well seasoned and the zucchini strudel was rich and original. In addition to the zucchini, the phyllo crust was also filled with sauteed onions and feta cheese, as well as a varety of seasonings. Delish.

Here’s a close-up picture of the Phyllo and Zucchini Strudel.

Phyllo and Zucchini Strudel with Summer Squash Saute

Black Bean Burger

Black Bean Burger

I’ve been wanting to try the veggie burger all week and when I was still hungry after eating the first course, instead of going for a salad, hummus, or dessert, I opted for the burger. The burger itself was quite spicy, and I ended up eating the meat all by itself–without buns or condiments. I’ve eaten veggie burgers before and this one was pretty similar in terms of texture and taste.

So that’s it for today. Only one more day at the MSU cafeteria. I’m going to miss eating there at Snyder-Phillips! Being able to choose from so many great options. Not having to cook. Being able to spend longer eating and talking than cooking or cleaning up. In two days, it’s back to reality.

Vegetarian Experiment, Day 4

I have now completed four days of eating vegetarian in this “going vegetarian” experiment. Here is what I ate on Day Four.


Fruit: Watermelon, Grapes, and a Banana

Fruit for Breakfast

Whole Wheat Bagel with Strawberry Cream Cheese (again)

Bagel with Cream Cheese


Jalapeno and Cheddar Veggie Wrap (with corn salad, tabbouleh, and hummus added to it). (Sorry about the blur of this picture.)

Cheddar and Jalapeno Wrap Stock Full of Veggies

Here’s the Veggie Wrap up close.

Veggie Wrap

Key Lime Pie (yum!)

Key Lime Pie

Pre-Dinner Snack

I knew we would be eating a late dinner tonight, so when we were released at 5:00, Karen (my suitemate who is also in the seminar) and I walked down to the cafeteria and had a little “snack”.

Vegan Calzone with Marinara Sauce

This vegan calzone had sundried tomatoes, green peppers, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, and carrots. It was very, very good. I was even surprised to find that I didn’t miss the cheese at all. It was quite tasty without it.

Vegan Calzone with Marinara Sauce

Cut Vegan Calzone with Marinara Sauce

A bite of the vegan calzone

I think you can tell that I liked this vegan calzone. It was really, really good. I definitely think I will try making this dish when I get home.


Later this evening, everyone taking the seminar and most of the presenters went over to Nancy’s, the seminar host, house. She grilled out, and there were a lot of finger foods, but here’s my main dish:

Vegan Hot Dog

Vegan Hot Dog and Side Salad

So what does a vegan hot dog taste like?

There was little resistance biting into the hot dog, unlike in a beef hot dog where the bite is actually a crunch that breaks the hot dog’s skin and sends a (yummy) spray of hot oil (grease?) into your mouth. I do like that sensation, but I didn’t mind it not being there in this case, though. The texture of the vegan hot dog was soft and a bit mushy. Unfortunately, I didn’t find there to be much flavor in the hot dog, even with the ketchup I added after I took my first bite. Next time, I would add mustard and perhaps some onions to enhance it’s taste. Or maybe I just wouldn’t eat it in the first place.

Vegetarian Experiment: Day 3

Day 3 of my week of going vegetarian has gone really well. The cafeteria here at MSU has a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan options at almost every station, and even more options at lunch and dinner. I felt fuller today.


Veggie omelet with peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, spinach, and cheese

Vegetable Omelet

This was all right, but not very good. I don’t blame the vegetables, though. I think it was the way they were cooked. And the egg omelet was very thin (and not too appetizing). I would have liked black beans on the omelet, but they were not available. I don’t think I’ll have an omelet again while I’m here.

Whole wheat bagel with cream cheese

Wheat Bagel with Strawberry Cream Cheese

Because the egg wasn’t very good, I decided to go get a bagel as well. It was really good.


Vegetable Lasagna, squash and zucchini saute, garlic bread, a small bite of the same veggie enchilada from yesterday, and tabbouleh, which I of course had to have again after how good it tasted yesterday.

Veggie Lunch

Other veggie options I didn’t choose included a veggie burger, a vegetable wrap on spinach tortilla, and a tofu lettuce wrap. So many options for people with special dietary needs. It makes eating vegetarian quite simple.


Israeli Couscous, Fried Chili Cabbage, Spiced Lentils, Vegetable Medley, and Naan Bread

Here is a picture of the Spiced Lentils up close.

Spiced Lentils

The lentils were my favorite of this meal. The couscous was mediocre and the cabbage was hard and overcooked. The naan bread was good. What I really wanted to eat was the chicken tandoori. It looked so good, but I bypassed it like a good girl.

Vegetarian Experiment: Day Two

In Day 2 of my adventure eating vegetarian, I ate all three meals at a cafeteria on MSU’s campus. I had no difficulty finding a variety of vegetarian and vegan options, and the food was really, really good. Not your typical cafeteria fare.


French Toast with Syrup, Eggs, a Pear, and Cran-Apple Juice

French Toast with Eggs and a Pear


Green Salad with Lots of Veggies

Salad from Salad Bar

Veggie Enchilada and Asparagus

This dish was delicious! The veggie enchilada was made out of vegetable beef. I’m not sure what that means exactly (do any of my readers know?). It had beef’s texture, but wasn’t near as greasy. I wanted to go back and get seconds (and thirds). I didn’t, but it was THAT good.

Vegetarian Enchiladas


Tabbouleh, Hummus, and Pita Bread

Tabbouleh, Hummus, and Pita Bread

The tabbouleh was AMAZING, the best I had ever had. If you have never tried tabbouleh, it’s a salad made of bulgur, tomato, parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon. It was delicious, especially with the pita bread.

Vegan Sweet and Sour Chicken with Steamed Broccoli

Sweet and Sour Vegan Chicken

I would give the sweet and sour vegan chicken a 5 out of 10. It was average. I’m still curious what “vegan chicken” is made out of.

And for dessert, Tollhouse Pie

Tollhouse Pie

The pie made me think of Phoebe Buffay and her grandmother’s famous cookie recipe. Here’s to you, Phoebe, and your grandmother’s Nesslay Tollhausen.