Portobello…The Other Brown Meat

May 28, 2011

When people find out that I’m vegetarian, they always ask me how long I’ve been eating this way. A lot of people are shocked to hear that it’s been over a year, and I find that odd because I spent 31 years not being vegetarian. The other question that generally follows is, “What do you eat?” I always chuckle at this question. I find it funny that so many people cannot comprehend how they would possibly survive without meat. Many are surprised to learn that I don’t miss meat a bit. Although sometimes it would be easier to make food choices if I would consider eating meat, it’s never a temptation for me to sway back the other way.

I contribute this to a number of factors. One, when I went from eating processed foods to fresh, organic whole foods, I discovered an amazing array of flavors naturally provided without the need of much man-created help. Two, eating fresh always feeds my spirit and peace of mind—all the colors, flavors, beauty in the foods really provides an incredible multi-sensory experience often lacking in processed, nutrient-lacking, quick fix foods. Give it a thirty-day test run, challenging yourself to only eat and prepare fresh, whole foods, and I believe you’ll understand this fully.

The other tip that I have for maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle with ease is that some fresh vegetarian and pescetarian options resemble the flavor and texture of chicken, pork, and beef. Nuts, rice, and some vegetables serve the same denseness these meats offer. One of my favorite meat-like substitutes is Portobello Mushrooms. Grilled after being marinated in a bit of organic teriyaki sauce, it’s a challenge to tell the difference between filet mignon and a Portobello. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!

This dish was inspired by my love of portobellos on the grill. I used the same techniques I do on the Weber outside, and brought it inside to my grill pan. Vegetarian or not, I love my grill pan from The Pampered Chef, and it proves its value over and again. Now, I’ve seen and heard countless debates over washing mushrooms or not, I’ve seen both ways in personal and commercial kitchens, and have heard the argument about if rinsing leads to saturating mushrooms with water or not. Personally, it wouldn’t matter much to me either way. However, the majority of fresh mushrooms still have a touch of soil on them, so a light rinse off with water also puts my husband’s mind at ease, so that’s what I do. I simply take a couple of Portobello mushroom caps, rinse them, and pat them dry with a towel, and add organic teriyaki sauce on both sides, gently rubbing the sauce around the mushroom. Teriyaki sauce is not a health food, however it falls in that 20% of not-the-most-serving-choices category, and I always buy organic when possible. A tablespoon or two from time to time is definitely acceptable in my book.

Once the grill or grill pan is hot, around 6-7 heat on my stove, I start the mushroom grilling cap side up, after a little spraying of olive oil on the pan. It will only take a few minutes, maybe 4-5, for the mushroom to heat up enough to flip over. Once the cap side is down, I use the cap like a bowl to spoon a bit of feta or goat cheese crumbles around. After about 4-5 minutes max on this side, the mushroom is ready to go! I may sprinkle a bit of organic oregano, basil, fresh ground black paper, and/or sea-salt with garlic. Flavoring is always up to your personal preference. Remember, feta has a naturally salty taste to it, and teriyaki is often sweet and on the salty side of flavorings.

To accompany the dish this evening, I’m making brown rice, along with sautéed brussel sprouts, with wilted kale and red swiss chard. These dark leafy greens are delicious and packed full of nutrients! The darker, the greener, the fresher, the healthier. These veggies tend to be a bit denser and more fibrous (a great thing for digestion & elimination!) and little tips like cutting into smaller strips, massaging, marinating, juicing, lightly sautéing and gentle wilting, will all assist with breaking down the fibers while maintaining, and even bring out, nutritional benefits. And anytime I can get added colors: red kale, red swiss chard, red onion, I always opt for the added antioxidants, not to mention visually delightful, bonuses.

Despite their sometimes-negative reputation, brussel sprouts can be delicious when they are fresh and prepared properly. I simply peel off the beat up outside layers of the little cabbages, cut off the stem leaving only the best meat, and then I cut each one long-ways, quartering the particularly large sprouts. As always, this is simply a suggestion and how I prefer them, so feel free to experiment to find which size you prefer. I heat a pan on about 6-7 high on my stove, add a light spray of olive oil before adding my brussel sprouts, followed by another light spray of olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, and sea-salt with garlic. Give it a good stir, leaving on heat for a moment.

The kale and swiss chard, I wash, pat dry, and then slice into thin strips. I add the strips on top of the brussel sprouts, stir the greens into the sprouts, reduce heat to 3-4, and add a lid to steam the nutrient-dense greens for a few minutes, breaking down the fibers for easier consumption, while bringing out a tad more nutrients. Overcooking can cause a lot of nutrients to break down or release, so err on the side of freshness always when dealing with heat and vegetables.

The combination of flavors, textures, freshness, nutrients, and peace of mind this dish delivered, definitely feed my body, mind, and spirit! If you are skeptical or curious about going vegetarian, try this meal out just one night of the week, and I believe you won’t even realize you’ve skipped the meat. Play around with cooking suggestions, and have fun discovering your abilities and preferences in the kitchen. Honor yourself and those you love by making the conscious choice to feed more than just what seems easiest in the moment, and nourish your future, along which your present desires.

Remember:

  • Many vegetarian options make great meat substitutes
  •  The darker, the greener, the fresher, the more colorful…the healthier!
  • Err on the side of freshness when dealing with heat and veggies

I appreciate you taking the time to read my posting & I’ll be posting great new information, tips & tools weekly. If you have a recipe you’d like for me to try out & review, topics you’d like to hear about, or any other comments, feedback, or suggestions, kindly send me a message to AskCrissy@gmail.com and I will address the matter in a future blog posting. Be sure to subscribe to my Blog & YouTube Channel, visit my website regularly, and follow me on Facebook & Twitter, to stay plugged in to all of my offerings. As always, I wish you infinite love, blessings, peace, and joy as we take this journey together. I am blessed & honored to share my path with you.

Crissy

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