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The Vegetarian Experiment, Day 1

Fridge full of goodness
We're just back from the Newark (DE) Farmers Market, where we bought one of everything. I spent a lot more money than I'd intended, but I wanted to be sure we have enough of the grainy staples, as well as some new spices, nuts, and vinegars. And of course, cheese. I think my entire family (myself included) is clinging to cheese as the great hope in this vegetarian experiment. We now have an entire crisper drawer full of cheddar, mozzarella, colby jack, more cheddar, American slices, and goat cheese. Also ricotta cheese, for the yummy vegetarian lasagna recipe I hope to make tonight, and cottage cheese because I love it no matter what you say it looks like and because I don't get enough calcium.

I'm nervous about this vegetarian thing today...mostly because I feel a lot of pressure to make fabulously delicious food so my family doesn't whine and moan about the lack of animal protein. And I don't want them to be hungry (even though we're all in need of a little hungry-tummy right now...the summer clothes are snug for everyone but Zippy), because hunger equals more whining and moaning -- and blaming Mom for this hair-brained idea in the first place. Honey is actually the one providing a huge amount of encouragement, and he's come up with some great lunch ideas for himself and the boys, sans lunch meat or peanut butter (in keeping with preschool rules). Cream cheese and strawberry wraps, anyone? How about hummus and red peppers? Or my personal favorite: Honey and walnuts on English muffin.

Snacks at the ready. And some onions.
Which aren't great for snacking.
I don't think I'm going to miss meat, personally, but it will be difficult to reprogram my thinking through our weekly menu. I usually go to the grocery store and buy whatever meat and fish is on sale, then build meals around that. Today it was challenging, building meals around veggies and grains. And cheese. Don't forget the cheese.

Zippy's favorite fruit.
He's eating one now, in fact.
I'm also nervous that I'll have to spend a lot of time preparing dinners, which is sometimes not ideal in our busy household. The timing here might be good, though, with summer being less action-packed in the evenings. I plan to find a few meals that I can make large quantities of, so we can have a big Sunday dinner with leftovers for another weeknight. And I have a feeling we'll be eating lots of "Pasta-with" dinners: pasta with spinach and garlic, pasta with tomatoes and zucchini, pasta with broccoli and peppers.

Pizza is vegetarian, and my kids' favorite topping is black olives. So pizza-and-movie Fridays can still happen. Whew. And we're still eating eggs and the aforementioned cheese, so omelettes and frittatas are a good, easy bet. Throw some tater tots in there, and everyone will smile.

Something struck me today, as we pulled away from the farmers market: How amazing it is to live in a place where we can access so much food at any time of year. And how fortunate we are to be able to walk into a market and not really worry about what we're spending or whether we'll be able to eat three meals each day this week. Our bellies may be hungry as we get used to vegetarianism, but that's nothing compared to what some families feel. I'll try to keep those families in my heart -- and remind my kids from time to time how grateful I am.

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