No Meat March: Day 1 (Tackling Mushrooms)

Today is the first day of No Meat March and I decided yesterday that I would participate. No Meat March is a Jacksonville-based,  31-day challenge for individuals to live a meat-free lifestyle.  Obviously, anyone from anywhere can join the month-long movement. I’m just proud to call this a homegrown organization.

The Girls Gone Green and Ananda Kula have partnered to bring this opportunity to the public and offer an encouraging start to anyone wishing to give this a try. And, of course, the motivational support will continue through the month with daily emails, planned events and meet-ups, and ample opportunities throughout the city of Jacksonville to change lifestyle habits by offering discounts at local eateries and wellness centers.

Meat has never been a dominant source of my everyday eating so I honestly thought this 31-day challenge would hardly be…well, challenging.  That was yesterday. Then I had to feed myself this morning and this afternoon. Without the help of shrimp or bacon, sliced turkey cuts or tavern ham, I had to get creative with my food.  Thankfully, I am still so stuffed from my late lunch that I don’t need dinner.  I’ll save that dinner-without-meat riddle for another meal.

Breakfast will be the easiest time of the day because eggs are allowed, though I have a feeling there may be a few nights this month that will be turned upside-down as I eat breakfast for dinner. Lunch is simple as long as I have some veggies around and a reasonable amount of bread to dip into various cheeses and sauces (FYI – I really like eating anything that involves dressing or dips). Also: POP TARTS. See, I will always win at breakfast.

Lunch, as I learned today, will prove to be more of a challenge. Any thoughts I had about the ease of vegetarian meal-planning went out the window this afternoon. I stared at my portabella mushrooms and wondered, “Uh, how do I cook this?” Now is probably an appropriate time to mention how much I love Google and how it knows everything in the whole wide world while I don’t even know how to cook mushrooms.  Mushrooms are on my list of foods that freak me out (those things have been known to kill people!) but as I chopped and sautéed and inhaled the rich, meaty scent of the portabella, I knew I would be able to pull it off.

I will be sharing recipes of my meatless meals throughout the month of March (tongue-twister?) but keep in mind, I’m feeding one mouth. The kid would live happily ever after if we had a steak-and-hamburger machine rigged in the backyard, so the measurements for ingredients will obviously need to be increased if you find yourself needing to cook for more than one.

Portabella Mushrooms & Toasted Baguette
(seriously, I’m embarrassed to even write up a recipe as this is so very self-explanatory)

½ cup chopped portabella mushrooms
3 slices mozzarella cheese
toasted baguette slices (I used five-grain Italian bread – delicious!)

Sautée the mushrooms in olive oil, toast the baguette, melt the cheese. VOILA!  If you mess that up, shame on you.

I did add a little bit of salt to the mushrooms after I topped the baguette, but I also considered roasted red peppers or possibly sautéing onions with the portabella. As a newbie mushroom eater, I wanted to go easy. I know how to improve on this but I would happily eat it again just the same way – plain and simple.

Don’t worry, I won’t be posting every single meat-free meal I eat, just the ones I most impress myself with as I learn to cook. I’m already looking forward to a steaming bowl of jasmine rice and lentils when the weather cools down in a few days and a heaping helping of angel hair pasta with zucchini and melted cheese.  I really feel like I’m gaining experience here, having to learn how to plan ahead (not a strong point of mine when it comes to feeding myself) and trust my instincts when it comes to creating recipes with ingredients I’ve never used before. This is exciting for me and I really can’t wait to see how my body reacts to this new diet.

I will admit that I truly miss my bacon already. Who knows? Maybe that will change, too! But in the meantime, I have two pounds of that delectable goodness squirreled away in the freezer just begging for April 1st to hurry up and happen already. I think I’ll be spending the next 31 days begging for it to shaddup.


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