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Could You Be an "Accidental Vegetarian" Too?


"Help, I'm an accidental vegetarian!" That was my revelation this week. As I mentioned in my last post, since I'm only 21 days into new motherhood, I'm not quite ready to leap into an intense workout routine. So while my "bounce back" strategy remains throttled back to a mid-paced power walk, I've decided to examine my food choices and eating habits.

I don't need a life coach or nutritionist to alert me that I like to eat... and snack... and nibble... all the time. But when Clueless in the Kitchen founder Paula Hankin asked what I liked to eat most, I slapped on my eager-to-please grin and answered "everything!" We then moved on to review the so-called powerfoods (kale, flaxseeds, salmon, etc.) and the best picks from every aisle at the supermarket. It all sounded excellent, but while looking over my food log just 24 hours later, one thing was painfully clear: I love to talk about super foods, but I don't actually eat them. I consistently retreat to carbs and sugars, which is probably why I'm always trolling around my kitchen long after the dinner table has been cleared.

Another thing I noticed: I don't like most proteins. I dutifully put them on my plate and order them in restaurants, but whether it's meat, poultry, or fish, it almost always ends up swapped for the veggies or starch on my husband's plate. Those veggies might be healthy and clean, but they don't keep me feeling full for long, and that's when I end up entertaining the evening sweet tooth (The one I pretend not to have.)

I don't know exactly when I began shying away from protein, but it became more pronounced during pregnancy. I just wasn't up for eating any heavy meals. It's as though I became a vegetarian without ever trying. I never realized it because, simply put, I love cheeseburgers. But even so, the actual burger is the least appealing element for me. The heaping pile of condiments, doughy bun, French fries, and milkshake? They've all won my eternal love. The actual burger is sort of like the designated driver at an all-night rager—necessary but not memorable.

RELATED: 9 Low-Carb Snacks to Eat on the Go

After my "revelation," I turned to Paula Hankin and fitness guru Jay Cardiello for advice on how to pump up my protein intake. Jay suggested a drink supplement, and Paula is helping me come up with healthy and filling alternatives. The recipe below, for example, celebrates the all-American pastime of grilling without the meat. I'm sure some purists would turn up their noses at a meatless summer meal on the grill, but I think you could probably deep fry or barbecue an old boot and it would still taste divine. So why not pick the healthiest option you can? Try the recipe for BBQ tofu below—you might be surprised by how much you like it!

One more piece of advice this week, which I personally tested at my local Whole Foods: We've all heard that you should never go to the grocery store hungry and you should always bring a shopping list. I also recommend putting your kids (age irrelevant) IN your shopping cart. This serves two functions:

1. There's less room for foods like giant tubs of ice cream, super-sized bags of chips, and jumbo soda bottles. You can always fit a box of gluten-free seaweed crisps next to a kid.

2. The cart is like a far less offensive cage! It keeps your kids from running away while you're trying to buy your groceries--saves time and the cost of a sitter!

BBQ Tofu Recipe
Serves: 3

1 package organic firm tofu
BBQ sauce(Try to find one with the least amount of sugar.)
Sea salt

1. Baste tofu with barbecue sauce.
2. Place on grill or grill pan (which I use) for 10 to 15 minutes, turning frequently and basting as desired. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
3. Slice and serve.

A baked sweet potato wedge and sauteed kale make excellent side dishes, but I can only vouch for the former (I'm not buying the kale sale just yet!).


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