This weekend was a test of willpower, though, for a couple of reasons. It was the first time I went out for dinner (and I went out both nights). The first night was rough--we went to a Chinese restaurant. The place was surprisingly sensitive to people with special food requests, and even had a section on the menu that was free of basically everything (soy, salt, MSG, etc.). I had steamed vegetables with shrimp, and seasoned it myself with salt and vinegar. Vinegar is the seasoning of choice in China (you'll find it on the tables more commonly than soy sauce) so it wasn't terrible. But let's be honest: watching my friends eat the crab rangoon and orange chicken wasn't exactly fun. I got through it though, and certainly enjoyed the fact that after dinner, I didn't feel like I needed to drink eleven glasses of water and take a nap.
Saturday night went much better. I had dinner with a friend at Harvest, which is an upscale restaurant that promotes the farm-to-table philosophy and is a proponent of Slow Food, a movement that really interests me but that I haven't had the time to get involved in yet. The waitress (and by extension, the chef) was extremely accommodating and never once rolled her eyes at the long list of things I couldn't have. I was in the mood for steak, and since the marinade contained brown sugar, the chef cut me my own. He served it with brussel sprouts, turnips, radishes, and broccolini in a mustard sauce. The meal was delicious, and I really didn't miss the carbs. I did wish I could have had dessert (Harvest is famous for its bread pudding), but hopefully that craving will subside. It's only been five days, after all.
The other reason the Paleo Diet is "tough" is because it pretty much forces me to eat only when I'm hungry. Sounds simple enough, but I'm sure I'm not alone in having the occasional boredom snack or celebratory piece of cake when I'm already full. On Paleo, though, if I'm not hungry, I really don't eat. Who honestly turns to celery sticks when they're feeling tired and lazy on a Sunday? Or pops a hard-boiled egg when they're feeling blue? Not me. And that is a very good thing.
This afternoon I made some Baba Ganoush to go with the Mediterranean meatballs I'm making tonight. I wanted to call it "Paleo Hummus," because to me, that's what it is (and also because I think "Baba Ganoush" is one of the silliest sounding terms ever). But it's made with tahini, roasted eggplant, and garlic. So Baba Ganoush it is.
Recipe for Baba Ganoush
Adapted from The Clothes Make the Girl, which is quickly becoming my favorite Paleo-friendly blog
2 lbs eggplant (her recipe calls for Japanese eggplant, but Whole Foods only had graffiti eggplant so that's what I used)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup tahini*
1 clove garlic, chopped
*I used Trader Joe's Tahini Sauce, which already has the lemon juice and garlic in it.
Rinse and dry the eggplant. Slice each one lengthwise and place it on a baking sheet cut-side up (if you hate doing dishes like I do, cover the baking sheet in foil and clean-up is much easier). Broil in the oven for about 15 minutes.
When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and place it in a food processor with all of the other ingredients. Pulse until the mixture has the consistency of hummus. Chop up some carrot and celery sticks and enjoy!