On Father’s Day we went out twice. The first time was to Benny’s Bar and Grill for their brunch. I had never had their brunch before. We had their mussel appetizer (really good), a bowl of their gumbo (fantastic), and I had a tilapia wrap. My wife had a chicken sandwich, with marinated grilled chicken, and my daughter had a omelet.  It was all good, and too much food for lunch really. We all took leftovers. And I found out how much my daughter liked my wrap when I took it for lunch on the Tuesday after, and she had already taken a large slice of it. For dinner we went to Destas Ethiopian. I’ll review that restaurant later.

My doctor has laid down a gauntlet in terms of my eating, and it’s going to be hard to meet. The deal is, no red meat, no soft drinks that aren’t diet drinks, control portion size, and start an exercise program and stick to it. I start exercise programs all the time. Sticking to them is the hard part. The point is to lower my weight, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and if possible, prevent the onset of adult diabetes. There were some ugly sides to my last blood test, and though I didn’t starve the way I should before that kind of test, it is better take precautions now.

Simply put, I’m not going to be able to give up red meat. But what I think would work better actually, is giving up almost all meat for lunch. While the difference in cholesterol between fish and red meat is something like a 20-30% difference, the difference between animal and plant products is a 100% difference. Plants have no cholesterol at all.

The best diet I was ever on was later popularized as the Subway diet. You don’t need to eat Subway sandwiches to do this. Just limit calories at lunch to 400 or less, don’t snack, eat normally at dinner, and exercise moderately. My last successful diet, about 10 years ago, was exactly this. I lost 20 pounds doing this and relatively painlessly.

An easy way to accomplish a vegan/vegetarian lunch at my work is to make heavy use of Kashi’s frozen entrees, such as their Black Bean Mango and their Ranchero Bean offerings. Both are vegetarian, if not vegan (Sara from Innocent Primate suggests that many Kashi entrees may have honey as a sweetener. Please check). Both are under 400 calories.

Popular Atlanta sandwich shops often have a vegetarian option. Alon’s has a Tuscan sandwich and Wright’s Gourmet in Dunwoody has a vegetarian sandwich they call Glenda’s Garden. Finally, I’ve cooked both a quinoa and Kashi stir-fry before. If worst comes to worst, then I can do it myself (though I need some way to figure out calories per serving).

In terms of boonie peppers, I couldn’t be happier. The outside plant simply shed all its bad, nasty looking leaves and it now looks extremely healthy:

Potted boonie pepper growing outside in Georgia. It looks fantastic!

Potted boonie pepper growing outside in Georgia. It looks fantastic!

The inside plants, in 2 liter soda bottle greenhouses, are doing extremely well. To reiterate, take your plant once sprouted, get a peat pot, add about 1 inch of soil. Put the sprout in the peat pellet into the pot, cover with soil. Place in a greenhouse made of an empty soda bottle cut in two, with a few two inch vertical slits (can be done on either half, really. I split the top half). Water immediately with an indoor strength fertilizer; assemble greenhouse and place on handy sunny window sill; repeat watering as needed (every 1-2 weeks). Don’t worry about excess; it will drip into the bottom of the greenhouse and help keep the plants moist. To keep them warm through the cool Georgia spring on the window sill I had them on, I was using a heating strip. Heat + fertilizer + greenhouse = steady reliable growth.

Many of those will be moved outside sometime during July. They are looking that good, growing that well. My tomatoes, on the other hand, aren’t growing well. I believe I’m going to have to find a new plot for them, some place with more sun. The only tomato to fruit there so far have been Sweet 100s a few years ago.