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I'm not sure what I expected, but going without meat for six months hasn't resulted in anything dramatic -- except a sense of relief from not always having to worry how the poultry, beef, pork and lamb were raised before I got to them in stores.
My overall cholesterol dropped only four points -- to 176 -- probably because I started eating much more full-fat cheese than before. In the last month or so, I've switched to low-fat cheese and plan to resume eating aged Parmigiano Reggiano (photo), which is made with skim milk.
I don't think I saved money, because the seafood I substituted for meat often cost more, including Costco's wild sockeye salmon and farm-raised prawns from Vietnam that weigh about two ounces each (eight to a pound) and cost a small fortune.
Do I feel better? Yes. But I can't separate the effects of going to a gym five mornings a week for the past two months or so, and the lighter feeling of not being weighed down by meat.
I've always loved salads and grilled vegetables, and I've been eating them more frequently and incorporating greens and vegetables into sandwiches and frittatas or just eating them on their own.
Last Sunday, I picked up fresh mustard greens and two heads of arugula at the Tenafly farmers' market.
One morning, I quickly blanched the mustard greens, then poured some extra-virgin olive oil and Costco egg whites into a 10-inch, nonstick frying pan. When the eggs set on the bottom, I added the mustard greens, sliced beefsteak tomato and low-fat cheese; sprinkled on some salt and finished the frittata under the broiler. (Preparation tip: Chop greens into bite-size pieces to make frittata easy to portion and eat.)
Today, I made a breakfast sandwich with grilled eggplant and carrot, baked wild salmon with herbs straight from the fridge, cheese and fresh arugula, spreading toasted 100% whole-grain bread with Dijon mustard. Outrageously good.
A friend who is a faithful Costco food shopper invited me over for a lunch the other day and served me items from the warehouse store: A Greek salad with anchovies and crumbled cheese, and a fruit salad with mango, strawberries and other fruit. We had an appetizer of spicy hummus and drank coffee and seltzer.
For the last few weeks, I've wanted to add antibiotic-free poultry back into my diet -- Readington Farms chicken from ShopRite and turkey parts and duck from Goffle Road Poultry Farm in Wyckoff.
But I haven't done that yet, secure in the knowledge there are so many other good things to eat that don't involve meat.