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Monday, February 28, 2011

Vegetarian Month #6 Begins March 1st

Hi everybody!

Tiffany & I can hardly believe it.  March 1st commences our sixth month of vegetarian life.  Looking back to October 1st, 2010 it still feels hard to believe how easy it has been.  How much we've learned and the wonderful tastes that we've experienced.

March 2011 is month #6 of our vegetarian life

Regrets?  Absolutely none!  Well... Maybe just one.  That we did not begin traveling this vegetarian path earlier in our lives.

What carnivorous substance do I miss, if any?  Maybe an occasional fond remembrance triggers when I sit in Carrabba's Italian Grill and a plate of fried calamari or seared scallops passes me by.  When this occurs, I wish to myself that there were a vegetarian alternative.  But, such a little price to pay for health abstaining from these carnivorous things.

No, we're not losing weight... yet.  But I know that my body is much, much better off for this path that Tiffany and I have taken.  The mind and soul is leading my body mass down the path of vegetarian life.

Instead of turning this particular blog into a sermon or preaching vegetarianism, I just wanted to report that we're happy, becoming healthy and have not strayed our vision or path.  It truly was a simple life change to make for the both of us.

The biggest single thing that I have noticed?  Tiffany and I were discussing it on Sunday when we visited Dandelion Communitea Cafe for our first time.  It's easily how delicious vegetarian food tastes.  The freshness, the diversity of each dish, and the tendency to remain on the palate for many minutes after dining.

The reason?  I truly believe that carnivorous food has one huge advantage over vegetarian cuisine.  What's that?  With a carnivorous dish, you can simply douse the entire dish with animal fat (broth, animal fat, etc.)  With a vegetarian dish, you are unable to mask mediocre food with animal laden fat.  The taste must therefore be accomplished by the ingredients.  The use of herbs and fresh vegetables must accomplish this task on its own merit. That's why, no matter which vegan or vegetarian restaurant that we dine, we are truly amazed by the taste and pleasure to the palate! Bon appetit my fellow vegetarians!

Hi-dee hi-dee there-is-no-looking-back-ho my friend.

Wine Tasting - Il Duca Imperiale 1917 Stella Rosa

Hello my fine friends!

Is it okay if we talk wine today?  How about my favorite sparkling rosé, Il Duca Imperiale 1917 Stella Rosa.  You will discover may references to this particular wine within my blog history.  I simply keep coming back to it again, and again, and again.  It's that delicious.

Point Score A:  88
Point Score B:  90

Il Duca Imperiale 1917 Stella Rosa
Appellation:  Piemonte (Piedmont), Italy
Grape Varietal(s):  unknown
Retail Price:  $9.99
Vintage:  unknown
Producer:  CA. I. VI. SPA
Alcohol:  5.5%
Calories:  47 per 4-ounce

Instead of re-iterating the details, I shall let our wine tasting sheets (below) speak for us.

Review A
Review B

I will promise you that you will have to search high and low for a better or more delicious wine at the $9.99 price point!  "Impossible!"  I challenge anyone reading this to identify a better $9.99 effervescent sweet rosé wine.  Heck... "I double-dawg dare you!"

Hi-dee hi-dee wine-certain-is-fine-ho my friend.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD

Salutations and expressions of happiness to one and all!

Have you ever been to an opera produced by one of the world's most respective opera companies?  Have you ever watched an opera live?  Have you ever been to an opera?  "No, no and no."?  Well then... Tiffany and I have something to share with you.
Me?  I'm a rock 'n roller at heart.  Tiffany?  She favors country music.  Ne'er the two shall meet, huh?  Well, this is not necessarily true when it comes to the opera.  Our friends introduced us to "The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD" season series last year and we both have been hooked since!  "Hey!  Why don't you become our friend?  Friends don't let friends miss out on opera!"

We go to our local movie theater and watch opera live from the MET in New York City.  Except, our viewing has some extra advantages.  We get to watch introductions to the stars before the performance and during intermission.  We get to learn about the stars, the maestro, and the producer.  We get to watch set changes behind-the-scenes.  The greased wheels and cogs of the opera.  Stage hands, set managers, costume staff, make-up crew, etc.  The true guts 'n glory for what makes an opera truly spectacular.

Susan Graham & Placido Domingo
Source:  The Metropolitan Opera

Yesterday Tiffany & I watched a most wonderful opera, Gluck's "Iphigénie en Tauride".  Starring Susan Graham & Plácido Domingo. A truly wonderful three-hour investment of our lives!  The story, the music, the singing, the sets, the costumes and everything simply combined and melded into entertainment maximus.

Christoph Willibald Gluck
Source:  Wikipedia

A mature behaved audience and the cool comfortable seating of our modern local theater made it a treat.

"Iphigénie en Tauride" is sung in French.  Luckily, the Metropolitan Live in HD series is subtitled in English.  In addition, one page synopsis sheets are available online before the show.  As well, the theater hands out the synopsis sheets prior to the showing.  You don't have to speak French.  You don't have to speak Spanish.  You don't have to speak Russian.  You don't have to speak Italian.  Just sit back, open your eyes, turn off that cell phone, unplug those iPod ear buds, and open your mind.  You will not be disappointed.

There is something for everyone.  Whether it's the musical composition, the singing, the play, the acting, the sets, the costumes, or the intangibles it takes to pull it all together... You will not be disappointed.  Tiffany and I have found an entire new world to visit once or twice a month during the opera season!

"Operatunity."  It's an affordable and wonderful way to take a vacation from the worries, fears and stresses of everyday life.

Hi-dee hi-dee experience-something-that-you-have-never-experienced-before-ho my friends!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Zinfandel Wine Tasting

Hi everyone!  Betcha thought that I'd fallen off the face of the earth, huh?  Afterall, you haven't seen me in any movies lately nor have I made a blog entry in way too long.

I cannot promise that blog ideals will once again arrive steadily in that little plastic bubble head of mine but I can offer you these words today.  Better than nothing?  Er ~ maybe not?

I have recently discovered an aunt and uncle who are wine affectionados.  We've been sharing "favorites and finds" back and forth via Facebook.  They had recently suggested a most affordable zinfandel for Tiffany and I to try.  They learned of a particular favorite Cabernet Sauvignon which we both enjoy (Mount Veeder).  They have it on order and will be trying it soon.

They recently enjoyed Dancing Bull Zinfandel and found it quite pleasant to the palate.  They had suggested that we exercise those little doll legs our ours and scurry down to our local wine purveyor.  "Please!  Please, Mr. Spirits Purveyor!  Have you a bottle of Dancing Bull Zinfandel to spare?"

Dancing Bull Zinfandel - 2008 - Winemaker's Reserve

Well ~ I am quite happy to report that I was successful in my wine acquisition.  Ha!  You should have seen the look on the cashiers face when I reached into the back pocket of my overalls and whipped out an ID showing that Chucky was, indeed, older than 21-years!  

Last night I cooked portabello mushroom sandwiches (recipe below).  I also made some fresh Carrabba's Tomato Basil soup (recipe below).  A most delicious pairing to the zinfandel experience!

Bleu Cheese Basil Portabello Mushroom Burger & Basil Tomato Soup

It was then time for the wine tasting to commence.  For our first pour, Tiffany and I elected to pour straight out of the bottle with no decanting.  We each independently sniffed, sipped, savored and scored this wine.  Without looking over each others shoulders and without speaking during the judgment, we eerily scored quite comparably.  However, I shall admit that this is quite common for the two of us. Never have two individuals held such similar tastes in vintages and grape varietals!

Instead of going through too much detail, I will allow the following tasting sheets to speak for us.  I decided not to identify which is Tiffany's and which is my review.  Can you guess?

Tasting Sheets - 2008 Dancing Bull "Winemaker's Reserve" Zinfandel

Bottom line?  A most excellent zinfandel for the affordable $7.99 price point.  Although I prefer a more bold Shiraz or more elegant Cabernet Sauvignon grape varietal, the zinfandel has it's place upon our table.

In our second experiment, Tiffany and I poured the 2nd glass using a Venturi to emulate 1-hour of decanting.  "Same great taste only smoother!"

Third glasses?  We simply poured from the bottle and allowed it to breathe naturally without Venturi or decanter.  Since the bottle had sat and was breathing during our tasting, it was more similar to experiment #2 results.

Trust me...  This particular wine gets nicer by the glass.  But, then again... Maybe it was the effects of the wine?  Hmm...

Bleu Cheese, Basil and Portabello Mushroom Burger:
  • Quality hamburger bun
  • Portabello mushroom cap
  • Bleu cheese crumbles
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 Tbsp reduced-fat Vegenaise
  • 2 dill pickle slices
  • 5 or 6 fresh jalapeno slices
  • Tomato slice
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Bragg's organic seasoning
  1. Grill hamburger bun.  
  2. When lightly browned, remove from skillet or grill and set aside.  
  3. Grill portabello cap on each side until fully cooked, tender.  While cooking, sprinkle Bragg's or similar herbs onto mushroom cap.  
  4. While portabello cap is cooking, prepare hamburger bun.  
  5. On bottom half spread 1 Tbsp Vegenaise and top with arranged dill pickle and jalapeno slices.  Top with bleu cheese crumbles.  
  6. On top half of bun, arrange lettuce, tomato slice and shredded basil leaves.  
  7. When portabello cap is ready, place hot 'n juicy cap onto of bleu cheese crumbles to facilitate melting.
Vegetarian Carrabba's-like Tomato Basil Soup:
  • 2 cans (14-oz) fire cooked tomatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped (reserve 1 clove)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup So Delicious coconut milk creamer
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 15 to 20 fresh basil leaves (reserve 1 or 2 leaves)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat sauteing sliced onion until translucent.
  2. Add 4 chopped garlic cloves to onion and cook an additional 5-minutes.  Stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  3. Add  canned tomatoes and juices.  Cook additional 15-minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add vegetable broth and coconut creamer.  Reduce heat and cook additional 10-minutes.  Allow to thicken and stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  5. Crush basil and add.  Remember to reserve 1 or 2 leaves for garnishing.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add crushed red pepper to taste.
  6. Transfer to blender.  Add reserved garlic and blend until pureed and smooth.
  7. Serve topped with chopped reserved basil leaves.
Hi-dee hi-dee share-a-wine-find-with-a-friend-ho my fine friends!  Cheers!

Print Soup Recipe
Print Sandwich Recipe 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tiffany's Green Smoothie

Good morning all!

NOTE:  This blog subject has been updated on 29APR2011 under new entry entitled, "Tiffany's Green Smoothie - Updated and Revisited".

I was thinking to myself yesterday, "What one recipe or thing that Tiffany and I do prompts the most questions?"  Absolutely and without a doubt ~ Tiffany's green smoothie!  "What's in it?"  "Yuck!"  "Doesn't it taste horrible?"  "Can you notice a difference?"

Glass for Tiffany, glass for Chucky, and bowl for The Seed

Well ladies and gents, I hope to answer these questions and more with today's blog post!  Man, ya'll are a lucky bunch 'o folk!  I had to twist her arm for the updated recipe but Tiffany reluctantly agreed to share.

Hemp seed, flax, enzyme, chia, vinegar, Truvia and nutritional yeast flakes

Ingredients (2 servings):
  • 4 enzyme pills
  • 3 Tablespoon Bragg's organic apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon cold milled ground flax seed (note that we use cold milled instead of overly processed flax seed)
  • 1 Tablespoon hemp seed
  • 3 Tablespoon chia seed (pre-soaked for a couple of hours to maximize full nutritional value)
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 packet Truvia natural sweetner
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 fresh kale leaves (including stems)
  • 2 fresh collard green leaves (including stems)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • water, as needed to aid in thorough blending
  • ice cubes, as desired
Place all ingredients into Blendtec (or Vita-Mix) except water and ice cubes.  Add sufficient quantity of water necessary to facilitate fluid blending.  Add ice cubes to provide smoothie texture.  Blend as instructed based on your blending device.

Hint:  You can pre-cut, dice and freeze your fresh bananas to substitute for some of the ice cubes above.

Nothing but healthy stuff ready to roll

Warning:  If you're not using a "power blender" such as a Blendtec or Vita-Mix, please take extra precaution.  I would suggest not including vegetable stems, pre-grind seeds in small coffee grinder, pre-crush the enzyme pills using a pestle and mortar, and using crushed ice.  Please be aware that a "power blender" is capable of blending materials down to a cellular level resulting in a very digestible form of food.

How does it taste?  In our opinions, "Fantastic!"  The predominant taste is the banana.  Tiffany and I have found that when we substitute grapes in place of the banana it takes on a mixed berry taste.  The secret is using a proportion of fruit that provides the flavor but not too much such that you have a sugar-laden fruit smoothie.  Health is the target here folks.  If I want a naturally sugar laden "fruit drink" I would go to Starbucks and order a fruit smoothie.  After doing this on a regular basis, I would then make an appointment with my physician to obtain my diabetic diagnosis.  "The sugars in fruit is still sugar, my friends!"

My goal isn't to dramatically elevate my blood sugar levels and train myself to be a lifelong diabetic.  Instead, I want wholesome natural nutrients fed directly into my blood system that preclude the use of dehydrated and oxidized pre-manufactured powders, pills, and packaged foods.  "Let my body have the real thang!!!"

The one thing that Tiffany and I almost immediately noticed when she finalized her smoothie recipe?  Energy!  Not an immediate "sugar rush" type energy.  Rather, a day long low glycemic release of iron, minerals, and other nutrition that our bodies had not previously been fed.  That tired late afternoon feeling was amiss.  In addition, when lunchtime arrives we're not as hungry as our bodies had previously been signaling.

Our "power blender"?  Yes ~ Absolutely the #1 kitchen appliance that we now own!

Hi-dee hi-dee have-a-real-smoothie-instead-of-a-sugar-laden-yogurt-and-fruit-smoothie-today-ho my friends!

Monday, February 7, 2011

What Is In Chucky's Lunch Bucket?

Hi everyone!

I really haven't had much to write about and swore to myself that I wouldn't bore you with another "where I ate today" blog.  Instead I thought to myself, "Why not describe what you have eaten today?"  What you had for breakfast and what was packed in your lunch bucket.

Breakfast?  That was simple.  Tiffany cooked up some steel cut oats last night.  She toasted the steel cut oats in coconut oil and used coconut milk to cook them up.  This morning she reheated the oatmeal and I included a dollop of IKEA lingonberry preserves.  A 1/4 cup of cooked oats and approximately 1/2 teaspoon of preserves.

Lunch?  A sandwich built on a 6" whole wheat submarine bun.  One slice of Wham (vegetarian ham) and one slice of vegetarian smoked turkey.  One slice of rice cheese.  Approximately 1 Tablespoon reduced fat vegenaise with some jalapeno mustard.  I heated the sub in the microwave at the office before adding lettuce slices, tomato slices, pickle slices, and fresh jalapeno slices.  Delicious!

Tiffany had included about 1/4 cup of garbanzo bean garden salad from Hoover's Essential Market, a Gala apple, and some hot smoked TVP jerky pieces.  I've also delved into my secret desk stash of rice pucks.  I ate two of them (3 pucks have 40-calories).

According to Diet Power computations, I've eaten about 877 calories so far today.  This is good.  This leaves me a fair amount of available calories for my dinner tonight.  No, the dinner menu to be determined.

Hi-dee hi-dee keep-track-of-what-you-are-eating-ho my friends!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vegetarian Life Month #5

Hi everyone!  Yes, it's been too long since I have checked in.

Today begins vegetarian month #5 for Tiffany and I.  Absolutely no regrets whatsoever!  Continued kudos to Dr Kelloggs, Dr Braggs, and many others.

Tiffany & I just returned from Christmas #2 with my family.  December 25th was celebrated with Tiffany's family this year.  We try to rotate each year.  We had a pleasant time in the panhandle of Florida and it was a safe trip there and back.

And... Yes.  We behaved the entire time.  I even cooked some vegetarian sausage rolls and veggie soup for dinner one night and everyone willingly tried it.  My family was pleasantly surprised.  No "Eewww!  Vegetarian food!" from anyone.

On the trip back home Tiffany & I tried our very first Burger King Veggie burger!  To be totally honest, I didn't expect anything more than a Morningstar veggie patty between a bun.  Instead I was served one of the very best veggie burgers that I have eaten lately.  Leaps and bounds better than the last one that I ate at the Elephant Bar and the one that I had at Mimi's Cafe!  Kudos to the Burger King franchise!

What was it like?  It was amazingly identical to the Burger King Whopper sandwich only meatless.  It was created, served and built just like a full-size Whopper sandwich except using a vegetable burger.  The only thing missing was that char-broiled taste that I recalled from my former carnivore life.

Tiffany and I both agree that Burger King can occasionally be included on our diet.  When the opportunity and need presents itself we will drive-up, order a BK Veggie burger sans mayo, and take it home to top it with some reduced-fat Vegenaise instead.  Tiffany quickly noted, "Too bad they don't make Vegenaise in those little take-out packets!"

I will try better to get back on blog-track and begin posting a little more frequently.

Hi-dee hi-dee watch-out-for-those-take-out-treasures-ho my friend!