From the Kitchen of barb0812

When One of You Is Vegetarian…


 veggie cacciatore being served for one

I often eat alone, even though I eat with others.  That statement sounds like an oxymoron, but is true for those of us that eat special diets.  Meat has not been in my diet for many years now, and friends and family are usually eager to take on the challenge, so discussions ensue around “what to feed Barb.”  It’s OK, though; I have gotten used to this and luckily am no fussy eater as my parents can attest!

In my younger years, being a strict vegetarian often led to confusion of exactly what that meant—especially with my older family members.  One of my favorite lines in a movie is probably something most vegetarians could relate to at one time or another.  The movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding shows the main character introducing her fiancé to an aunt and explaining that he does not eat meat.  The aunt exclaims, “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat? That’s okay, I make you lamb.”  

Since I do include dairy and eggs in my diet, finding ways to eat with friends and family has not been too difficult.  With a little planning, you can make many meals your own while still eating likewise with others. Along the way I have learned some tips and tricks that are sure to help whether you are a newbie or slowly removing meat from your diet.

1. Going to a BBQ?  Take a mushroom!  Tired of being served those Boca Burgers?  Consider grabbing a Portobello mushroom on your way to the BBQ. So, maybe you are not the greatest fan of mushrooms, but it is amazing what you can do with a bit of the teriyaki or BBQ sauce and a hot grill.   Hand over that mushroom and watch a happy host cook up a delicious “meaty” burger for you.

2. Use a meat alternative.  There are a number of meat alternatives that are so easy to cook up, and they pair well with some veggie-friendly side dishes.  Quorn is an excellent example of a protein product that has a similar texture and feel to meats such as chicken and beef.  I go crazy for the chicken herbed cutlet…yum!

3. Borrow some ingredients.  Many times I will grab ingredients being used for dinner and create my own dish similar to what is being served.  For example, if it happens to be spaghetti, I simply portion out a bit of the tomato sauce and add my own “beef” crumbles or chopped zucchini and mushroom and create a veggie feast for myself. 

4. Make a veggie dish and then meat it up.   I am not bothered by cooking with meat.  I actually do it daily for my dogs, so I am happy to do it for others. Pasta dishes and casseroles are so easy to create as a vegetarian dish, pulling some aside for you and then adding chicken or turkey to the rest.  I recently made a simple veggie cacciatore that can easily be modified with chicken.  Check out my recipe, and give it a whirl.

I can’t wait to read your own tips or suggestions for eating vegetarian solo! 


Posted By: barb0812

My dogs consider me the "greatest chef of all time"...I am lover of all foods vegetarian and advocate for growing your own veggies--no matter the size! I am one of the Co-founders of Hey Good Cookin' and a believer in cooking for yourself because everyone deserves it!

See barb0812's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of heygoodcookin

Hail All Kale


One bunch of raw Kale

Having just read Lori’s post on kale, my first reaction is to rally with her.  Although, I have had a couple of positive palate experiences with it.  I visited a vegan restaurant a few years ago and was served a portion of kale with my meal that tasted amazing.

I know what you are thinking…how did they do it??? 

I asked the waiter, still not believing I was eating what I always considered just a garnish for a little color on your dinner plate.

They steamed it, then sautéed it in sesame oil for a minute or so.  Delicious!

sauteed kale in a pan with sesame oil

Kale, steamed, then sautéed with sesame oil

More recently, I was at Trader Joe’s standing in line and doing my usual stare at what snacks were selected to be at the checkout line. It was an unusually long wait for T.J.’s, and I was feeling pretty hungry when a bag of Kale Nacho chips caught my eye.

This could be good… 

Kale Chips Nacho flavored from Trader Joes

Kale Chips from Trader Joes

I stood in line and decided to open a bag.  Hmmm, not much there…just a lot of air in the bag.  So, I took a few “clumps.”  Yum…cheesy.  I took a few more and then some more.  By the time I got to the counter, my bag was empty with the exception of some kale crumbs.

An empty Kale Chips bag

Empty Kale Chips bag

Yikes!  I then decided I needed to somehow justify this by complaining to the clerk that my bag somehow had very little in it.  She looked at me and said, “You know that is like 4 servings?”  Okay, really?!?  I didn’t know whether to feel insulted or just bend my piglet head down and look for the credit card as quickly as I could pay and run. (BTW, it was actually only 2 servings.)

Since my TJ discovery, I have learned to find creative ways to include kale in my everyday eating without dumping a bunch of seasoning on top.  I make this wicked green smoothie usually about 3 times a week now and add some kale.  The texture changes up a bit but the flavor stays tasty good.  One more tip, add some kale to a hot lentil soup–fantastic!

Kale lovers abound!  

Posted By: heygoodcookin

The Hey Good Cookin' Kitchen has become a place of food inspiration and savory discovery to share with our cookin' singles community. We search out new recipes or sometimes just adapt familiar ones to test, taste, photograph and share in the triumphs and mishaps of creating new dishes.

See heygoodcookin's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of barb0812

Dreamin’ of a Veggie Garden…


Squirrel plotting his next move to feast on veggie garden

Ground squirrels have invaded my life. 

Actually, ground squirrels have probably just outsmarted me.  I hear their mocking chitter when I plant my few modest veggies, and I know they are making plans: organizing their army because they are plotting their next move determined to foil my inevitable plan to harvest a small number of tomatoes, bell pepper and eggplant.

The first couple of years that I planted a garden I chose an area of the property where snails were my biggest nemesis.  Although they challenged about every attempt I made at sending them packing, they did not deter my efforts to yield a decent crop.  Perhaps it was the coyotes that snuck in to hunt for fruit and small rodents that offered some protection for my carefully tended young plants.

Coyote checking out a bunny

Coyote checking out a rabbit in the orchard

Then it happened. The invasion was occurring and I was ignoring the signs, confident that Mr. Green Jeans was indeed in my family tree. Surely nothing could go wrong.

I was wrong. First it was the bunnies.

Cotton tail Rabbit in the fruit orchard

Cotton Tail Rabbit looking hungry for my veggies

My garden was practically inhaled that year.  It started with some nibbles and then it was as if the bugle was sounded, and my plants disappeared just as quickly as if they had never existed.  I was devastated.  Determined more than ever to win the war, I replanted everything that year, and my garden was reinforced with a better fence that no bunny could get in.  I had won!  Or, at least I thought so.

Then, the squirrels appeared. 

Squirrels invading the garden

Squirrel eyeballing cucumber plants

Nothing I could do would keep them out.  I would find beautiful, green tomatoes ripped off my plants, their path of destruction evidenced only by the single bite taken out of each.  I searched online for answers, some websites telling me that this is not the behavior of a typical ground squirrel.  However, I found solace in a forum discussing squirrel garden devastation, including the crime scene photos taken by the tearful and obviously defeated victims.

I decided the next year, I would try again.  Money was of minor consequence at this point; it had now become a war I needed to win.  A fortress was put together with as much effort as Ft. Knox.  I would be victorious.  What I didn’t know is that squirrels always have back-up plans. At first nothing happened.   My plants were growing, and I was feeling quite smug that I had played my hand well.  They knew they couldn’t climb in, but I had not counted on them chewing their way through.  My garden was destroyed in a matter of two days and nothing was spared.  I was defeated and knew all there was left to do was walk away with my tail between my legs.

The next year, I decided to try a couple of potted plants.  Having forgotten some of the pain involved in the ruin of my fortress, I resigned myself to a few plants on the patio.  This could be good.  I planted some herbs, tomatoes, bell pepper and an eggplant.  So far all was untouched. I managed to have a few tomatoes and bell pepper for salads, but was waiting for those majestic purple beauties to make my Eggplant Parmesan. My plant seemed a bit stressed, and I found myself nursing one eggplant and watching it grow to harvest.

The day had arrived. I was ready and really excited to have this modest yield.  Eggplant Parmesan would soon be sitting in front of me to relish with a sense of accomplishment.  I stepped outside and immediately spotted the empty place where my eggplant once hung. I couldn’t believe my eyes.  What could have happened?  It couldn’t be an animal; nothing had touched the other plants.  Still recovering from this unbelievable loss a day or so later, I must have uttered something out loud about my missing eggplant, when someone leaving the house the day of the incident turned to me and said, “Oh that purple eggplant?  I saw a squirrel run across the driveway in front of my car with it in its mouth.”

The knife just got a bit deeper.

Somewhat wiser and un-jaded by my experiences, I decided to create another potted plant garden this year, but this time they sit where the dogs play.

Basset X named Maribelle pictured with 2 bell pepper plants in a pot

Maribelle pictured with bell pepper plants

Tell us about your veggie garden nightmares or share your tips. Whether you have grown eggplant or not, get yourself some of this!


Posted By: barb0812

My dogs consider me the "greatest chef of all time"...I am lover of all foods vegetarian and advocate for growing your own veggies--no matter the size! I am one of the Co-founders of Hey Good Cookin' and a believer in cooking for yourself because everyone deserves it!

See barb0812's Latest Posts

From the Kitchen of heygoodcookin

The D Word


Guy eating a salad at the tableI recently visited with my Dad whom I have not seen for about a year. I was working in the area, so it worked out well to stay with him. He shared some news that came as a  big surprise to me, knowing our family history: the D word. Diabetes. Although it runs in my family, most of the cases were diet related. I mentioned that a cooking show host, Paula Deen, AKA “the butter queen” was also recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  She happens to be in the news right now, so my Dad recognized the name right away after seeing her on CNN, the station that is rarely changed from his flat screen. This led to conversations about carbohydrate grams, and I assumed he would be heading right to dietitian for help. Nope. He informed me he was in the process of studying up first and had many books around to show for it. Although I was pleased that he was taking so much initiative, I realized that he was cheating himself out of foods that he could eat, and in quantities that allowed for his needed weight loss as well as blood sugar management. I picked up one of the books he had laying around and actually picked up a few tips.  Now I understand why the diabetic diet is also an ideal weight loss diet.  Here is what I learned:

1.  If you are diabetic, 40% of your calories should come from carbohydrates.  So, if you are eating 1600 calories for weight loss or management, that would be 640 calories for the day.

2.  Carbohydrates are measured in grams.  Gram “allowances” are determined for your age, weight, and sex, and should be fairly even in number for all 3 main meals.  This keeps the blood sugar more evenly stable. So, if you are a woman, your gram count is going to be somewhere between 30-45 carb grams per meal.

3. A fistful is the best rule of thumb. A complex carbohydrate like pasta can rack up the gram count quick!  While looking at all the pasta dishes I had just bought, I realized that eating the equivalent of pasta to the size of my fist would likely keep someone within their gram count.  Also a good portion control for dieting.

4.  Pay attention to that glycemic index. For diabetics, this is a very useful measure of the foods they eat.  Why?  Because a  glycemic index indicates how quickly a particular food will raise the blood sugar.  The lower the index, the slower that food will raise the blood sugar.

5.  Avoid the simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are your sugars such as fructose, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.  Diabetics have to watch the simple carbs carefully, but I did learn that sweeteners such as stevia (glycemic index is “0”) and light agave (glycemic index is between 15-30) are the best natural sweetener alternatives to cane sugar and fructose.

6.  There are foods that actually help lower blood sugar.  Cinnamon is such a food.  What? I love that! A number of places such as Costco even carry cinnamon in a pill. Other foods that can be helpful are  lima beans, rolled oats, almond butter, grapefruit and spinach.

Disclaimer: As with everything you read here on Hey Good Cookin’, we are expressing opinions and thoughts and not giving advice.  See your doctor, nutritionist or diabetic counselor to manage your diabetes or pre-diabetic condition.  

Posted By: heygoodcookin

The Hey Good Cookin' Kitchen has become a place of food inspiration and savory discovery to share with our cookin' singles community. We search out new recipes or sometimes just adapt familiar ones to test, taste, photograph and share in the triumphs and mishaps of creating new dishes.

See heygoodcookin's Latest Posts