Sometimes I surprise myself.

26 Apr

So, I decided to become a vegetarian about 9-10 months ago. This decision surprised me, not to mention my family, since I love meat. I love bacon, lamb in any form, and really love the carnitas at Chipotle. (I know, it’s bad–don’t tell the co-op police.) Most of my meals before becoming a veggie consisted of some form of meaty goodness and a salad. Every day. Needless to say, changing my diet this drastically was a bit of a culture shock for a little while. (I still fight the Chipotle urge every week or so.)

The thing that changed my mind about being an omnivore is hard to explain. When I got promoted at the co-op to Newsletter Editor, aka Head of the Co-op Police, I began to really immerse myself in the political underpinnings of what it meant to be a natural foods co-op. There are tons of books out there about food safety, big agriculture and the American diet. The book I blame as the final straw in my growing pile of evidence to stop eating meat and therefore stop supporting the commercial meat industry that I feel is ruining our environment was Peter Singer’s “The Way We Eat.” (wow–I sound like a crazy in that last sentence.) Don’t read this book unless you are prepared to take a serious look at your diet and the ethical implications it.

On to my point: One of the things I REALLY miss about being a vegetarian is taco meat. I love tacos and used to eat them at least once a week. This morning I woke up with a huge craving for a taco, so I decided to figure out how to replicate them. I know there are some pretty good meat substitutes, like Smart Ground, that make a pretty comparable taco filling, but I also have a gluten intolerance that eliminates most of those types of fake meat products. (I know, you’re asking yourself how can I possibly survive without meat or wheat, but trust me, I don’t miss any meals.) I looked around on the internet for a while and eventually decided to wing it.

Here’s what I came up with:

Disclaimer: I rarely measure ingredients, so the amounts listed are just estimates, add more or less to your own taste. You will know when it’s right. It is kinda fun to watch me cook though–like a science experiment where you don’t know what will happen next but the end result is always interesting, to say the least.

1 pound of extra firm tofu, frozen and thawed

one small onion, chopped

two cloves garlic, minced

1 jalepeno, diced

1 medium orange bell pepper, diced

1 tsp. cumin

1-2 tsp. Hungarian paprika

1-2 tsp. chili powder

2 tbsp. tamari

sprinkle of Tapatio

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup tomato sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Mash the tofu in a small bowl. In a medium frying pan, heat 2 tbsp. canola oil and saute the onion and garlic until soft. Add tofu and peppers, stir to coat with the oil. Add spices followed by the lemon juice, Tapatio and tomato sauce. At this point, it will be pretty saucy, so let it simmer for about 30 minutes, or until it’s the consistency that you like.

I made my tacos with soft corn tortillas and topped them with salsa, queso fresco and shredded lettuce. Yum. It totally satisfied my craving for a taco. I really did surprise myself. Maybe this veggie thing won’t be so hard after all, now that I have tacos back.

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3 Responses to “Sometimes I surprise myself.”

  1. Liz April 26, 2008 at 7:35 pm #

    Yum!!! That sounds awesome!
    (Granted, I’m fasting, so even Saltine crackers sound awesome…) I’ll have to try this soon.

  2. Dylan Atkinson May 15, 2008 at 8:54 pm #

    mmmmm.. Sounds Yummy!

  3. Lily May 19, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    I had the same dilemma when I went veg because I love tacos. I’m not gluten intolerant, but I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible and I really like grated tempeh for this – the texture pretty closely approximates ground meat, and it’s richer and more sturdy than tofu. Just make sure you get the all soy kind, and not one of the soy + grain varieties :o)

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