Having been a vegetarian for about 10 years back in the day, I know it can be difficult to enjoy exciting, delicious food that doesn’t involve asparagus (because apparently, that’s the staple of every vegetarian diet according to most caterers at functions) or lentils….
My motivations for not eating meat were varied. I wanted to detox my body in a way and just thrive on the nutrients and benefits of vegetables. It was also an experiment- would a meat-free diet inspire any changes in my health, my complexion, my irritable moods or stabilise my erratic hormones (how’s that for TMI?). Would not touching any steak, or chicken or seafood make me feel drained, weak and starving or would I feel vibrant and refreshed?
Well, here are the results, two weeks later.
- For the first few days, I felt vibrant, energetic, healthy and wholesome. I am convinced this was psychological, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
- Then coincidentally, I got the flu, had an allergic reaction where my face swelled up and itched like crazy, hives on my arms and puffy eyes. Now, I have a respiratory infection. Now, I’m not blaming the change in diet. I’M JUST SAYING, it’s a bit of a coincidence that I changed my diet and as a result, perhaps I wasn’t being as responsible with keeping my vitamin and mineral intake up to where it needed to be to help my immune system stave off all the problems? Alternatively, I blame my job. For stressing me. Stress weakens your immune system, therefore it’s all work’s fault.
- Then I felt tired. A lot. More lazy and lethargic than usual, I was having trouble being the night owl I usually am and was falling asleep on the couch every night while The Husband polished off the cookies behind my back. Don’t you worry, I took care of him. With my fists, KA-POW! Joking…no spousal abuse here….
- Then I felt hungry and unsatisfied all the time. My mouth was watering for chicken, to have something to CHEW and digest, I felt empty and found myself drooling over a pamphlet we got in the letterbox for KFC discount vouchers. I was looking at each individual coupon, tongue prickling, imagining what it would be like to chew on that. I thought about it all night and all the next day. I couldn’t shake the feeling. By 5pm the next afternoon, I was rabid. If someone didn’t give me chicken, I was convinced I was going to die from malnutrition. So I went. I ate with shame, my face buried in a 2-piece feed box and I think I had a foodgasm. Was chicken really this good before? It was the first time I had eaten chicken in 2 weeks and it was damn good. Then I felt guilty and dirty and like a failure. So I went home and ate celery with peanut butter and felt depressed.
- Then, I had a blood test. And my hormones were a little more balanced this time around. Hmm, interesting, interesting.
I love the idea of being a vegetarian again, for health reasons, for ethical reasons, for cost-cutting reasons, but I just don’t think I can do it this time around. I tried, I failed ultimately but what it did teach me is that I can survive on a diet without meat and there are delish meals to be had using vegetables as the stars of the dish.
Going forward, I will be cutting down the amount of meat we eat and try and incorporate more veggie-based meals into our diet, but God help anyone who gets between me and chicken ever again.
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
1 bulb of garlic
1 large eggplant, sliced
2 medium zucchini, sliced
1 leek, sliced
1 brown onion, sliced into thick rounds
2 large red capsicums
3/4 cup semi-dried tomatoes
2 x 600ml jars of good pasta sauce (I use my grandmother’s homemade Italian tomato sauce)
Fresh lasagna sheets
Fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
Fresh parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Drizzle a large baking tray with olive oil and placed sweet potato slices, potato, carrot, the bulb of garlic, leek and onion on the tray. Toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are soft and cooked and the onions, leeks and garlic are soft and sweet.
- Remove the vegetables from the oven. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the bulb and discard. Chop the cloves of garlic and combine with the roasted vegies.
- Meanwhile, heat a grill on med-high heat, drizzle with olive oil and grill eggplant, zucchini and capsicums in batches until they have beautiful grill marks on them and are semi-cooked.
- Now, to compile the lasagna, pour some sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish. Line with lasagna sheets. Trim any lasagna sheets that don’t fit well. Line the lasagna sheets with the sliced potatoes, onion and leek. Sprinkle with sauce and a small amount of the grated cheeses.
- Place another layer of lasagna sheets on top of the potatoes. Line this layer with the eggplants, zucchini and garlic. Pour on some sauce, sprinkle with some of the cheeses again- dont overdo the cheese, it’s really there to act as a “glue” between the layers. Press down the layers and place one more layer of lasagna sheets on top.
- For the last layer, arrange the capsicum, carrots and sun-dried tomatoes, pour a little sauce over the top, sprinkle with a little bit of cheese and pat down the top layer of pasta, pour on remaining sauce and sprinkle with enough cheese to cover the top.
- Bake, covered with baking paper and foil for approx 1 hour before removing the foil to allow the top to brown and crisp up.
You should have leftovers of this for the next day- and it’s even tastier the next day.