Jan. 31: What I Ate. A Surprisingly Awesome Day.

Outrageous experiments in sensible eating.
Jan. 31 2011 8:29 PM

Jan. 31: What I Ate. A Surprisingly Awesome Day.

This morning marked the start of my week of eating foods I don't normally eat or have never tried.

Breakfast: Ezekiel Golden Flax cereal and almond milk, as recommended by readers. Well, surprise of surprises, these were both really good. The almond milk wasn't too almondy and the cereal was hearty and tasty, despite having 0 grams of sugar per serving. Only problem: I took way too much. This stuff is like Grape-Nuts. You only need like a quarter cup.

Ellen Tarlin Ellen Tarlin

Ellen Tarlin is a former Slate copy chief and writer of the "Clean Plate" blog. Her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston PhoenixBrooklyn Bridge, Bark, and  the RISK storytelling podcast. Follow her on Twitter.

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What could I drink in the morning that would be different? Chai tea, I thought. I considered getting one at Starbucks but discovered on their Web site that it is full of sugar , so I just bought bags. I know, it's teabag tea and it's Twinings, but I unfortunately don't have time to fly to India this week to get the real thing. This was good a spicy change from my regular morning green tea and coffee. If you have other breakfast-drink suggestions, please post them in the Comments section below.

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And then the eating began in earnest: a snack of steamed Brussels sprouts. These were so fresh and so good, they were actually sweet. Great snack, too, because they require a lot of chewing. I should snack on steamed vegetables more often.

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For lunch: wild rice and cranberry salad, another recipe from Easy Beans . This was so good I almost couldn't stand it. It's got lentils, which I have, of course, eaten before, so I figured I should try a different kind. These are organic French lentils. They were black in dried form. This recipe also has dried cranberries, pepper strips, and a sweet vinaigrette dressing. It's a good thing I was at the office; otherwise I would have eaten the entire bowl in my fridge.

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My first new fruit of the week: starfruit, aka carambola. The thing about buying unfamiliar fruit is: 1. I don't know how to pick it out. 2. I don't know how to tell if it's ripe. 3. I don't know how to eat it. This was palatable and interesting, but I can't imagine in the future saying, "Wow, I'm really in the mood for a starfruit."

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Fruit snack No. 2: kiwifruit. Of course I've eaten kiwi before, but never a whole one. Again, no idea how to tell if it's ripe. On first bite, I thought it was a bit tart, but it got better. So apparently, you can and should eat the skin, too, because it contains a lot of fiber. So I did.

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My system was a little freaked out by all this new food. I'm lucky to have a stomach of steel, but my body definitely felt like things were a little bit off. I was really hungry, but not at all in touch with what I wanted or needed, since I'm not eating my regular foods. It has occurred to me that this experiment could make me really sick, or it could just make me feel like I've been in an exotic land for a week. We'll see.

Late afternoon snack: artichoke hearts. I'm afraid I'm going to start sounding like a tween gushing over the Jonas brothers but omg these were so good ! I could have eaten 17 more. I bought them this way; I did not prepare them myself.

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Still hungry, I had some roasted, salted pepitas, aka pumpkin seeds. Gushing again: so good !

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And, at last, dinner: tofu, asparagus, and pepper stir-fry with quinoa . It also had three kinds of mushrooms. Since I'm not eating my regulars, I'm going to need new sources of protein, so I thought I'd have to try to incorporate tofu this week. I used orange peppers for something different, and "Inca" red quinoa. This was good, needed more sauce, though. My husband, who doesn't like anything, took not only seconds but thirds: an unprecedented event in the Clean Plate household. Dilemma: I made too much and it's not really freezable, but if I eat leftovers for lunch, it will be one less meal at which I can try new things.

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Today was great, far more excellent and delicious than I had anticipated. I thought this week would leave me feeling weird and unsatisfied, but I was pretty excited about everything I ate today.

Dilemma: What about dairy? Aside from milk, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese, are there other dairy products I could try?

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