Monday, January 19, 2009

Saying No to Vegetarianism

Aside from taking up fitness, I have also gone back to school at an age when most of my age cohort is sending their own kids off to college. It's kind of a midlife crisis, only instead of sports cars and younger men, I'm getting a degree and better cardiovascular endurance.

I'm taking a sociology course titled "Food, Inequality, and Obesity." Thanks to the class, I'm really becoming politicized around food. Which is unfortunate because I just managed to become de-politicized around food to the point where I can eat a Trader Joe's frozen skinless chicken breast without imagining battery chickens pecking at each other. With their de-beaked lips.

Aw dang it! I guess it's back to tofu hotdogs for me.

Not really. If all the bodybuilding literature is correct, it seems if I want to build and maintain muscle while cutting fat, it's almost a requirement to eat a whole lot of chicken. A quick read through bodybuilder bios reveals that, for the six weeks before contest season rolls around, they basically live on chicken, whey protein powder, steamed vegetables, and a rainbow of shady supplements. (Okay, not this guy.) My experiences bear this out, as I lost 30 pounds after adding animal products back into my diet.

Now, I'm not quite ready to commit to the full-on bodybuilding diet, since I still plan to derive pleasure from eating food. But trading out a few cheese quesadillas for some lean poultry would probably do me some good. So in the spirit of keeping my food choices de-politicized enough to reach my training goals, here are:

"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Defrosted Trader Joe's Frozen Chicken Breast"

1. Pan-seared in a bit of olive oil
2. Wrapped in a parchment envelope with vegetables and baked
3. Chopped up and cooked in chicken stock for soup
4. Grilled in the backyard on a warm spring day
5. Stir-fried with garlic, broccoli, and a sprinkle of sesame oil
6. On a stick, over an open flame
7. Covered in Walker's Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Paste and grilled
8. Poached with lemon juice, herbs, and white wine
9. Pressed in a George Foreman Grill
10. Rubbed with seasoning and broiled
11. Shredded and cooked in Mexican red or green sauce for tacos
12. Marinated in Indian tandoori sauce and roasted
13. As the base for a chicken and white bean chili

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