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Day 16: Past the halfway point

May 16, 2010 - Andy Gray
I miss cheese. That’s been the toughest thing to give up during the 28-Day Vegan Challenge.
Beef? No temptation. I made buffalo burgers with cheese and bacon for Michelle and I on April 30, the day before the challenge, but I don’t remember the last time I had a steak. It’s been months. After reading Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” I pretty much swore off non-grass-fed beef, except for mom’s meat loaf or the occasional burger.
Chicken? I confess, I’ve been craving cilantro and lime wings from Michael Symon’s The B Spot, but since it’s about an hour from my house, it’s not a real threat.
Pork? Bacon is one of the reasons I never could be a full-time vegetarian, but it hasn’t threatened to derail the challenge.
Seafood? Meh.
But life without cheese is tough. I don’t know if I ever have gone two weeks without pizza in my adult life. I’ve written before that I singlehandedly keep a spinach picker somewhere employed for as often as I get spinach pizza from the bar at Sunrise Inn for a quick lunch or dinner. There’s usually a frozen pizza in our freezer (DiGiorno’s spinach, mushroom and garlic is my favorite), and several places in Niles recognize my number on the caller ID when I place a carryout order.
Last night for dinner I thought I would toss some of the ingredients I picked up at Cleveland’s West Side Market (after going to the press screening for “Shrek 3D”) with pesto, not thinking that our pesto had pecorino-romano cheese in it. But that just meant I had to improvise.
I bought fresh pasta from Ohio City pasta (nearly all of their products contain egg, but they do make a vegan spinach variety) and some organic asparagus. I roasted the asparagus in the oven with olive oil and a little lemon pepper, added some chopped roasted red pepper (from a jar) and tossed it all with olive oil and a few large cloves of minced, browned garlic and a sprinkling of chopped basil on top. The quality and freshness of the ingredients made it a winner, and at least for one meal I didn’t miss the grated cheese that normally would have topped it.
The bounty from West Side Market also included some Portobello mushroom caps and corn on the cob that will be dinner today and some Mediterranean-spiced couscous, dried black truffles, leeks, eggplant and a few other things that we will figure out something to do with this week.
While fruits and vegetables are in abundance at the West Side Market, so is temptation. What did my daughter Ali eat while I’m buying veggies and munching on a baguette? She had a grilled brat and a cream puff the size of her head. Kind child that she is, she kept the moans of dining satisfaction to a minimum. And she offered me a taste of the stadium mustard on the brat.
I passed.


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