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MARCH 10, 2010    More below:  GINGER-SCALLION PORK

The Semi-Veggie Diet

Ginger-scallion pork in wokI'm a big fan of halfway measures. Not because they are the best solution (they're probably not) but because they are doable.

So I haven't traded my PT Cruiser for a hybrid, but I always set the cruise control at the speed limit and save a few gallons of gas. I don't ride a bus to work, but I do park at the far edge of the lot and get more exercise.

And when it comes to eating, I'm not ready or willing to become a vegetarian, but I have taken a couple of steps in that direction. You can too. It's easy and painless to switch to my Semi-Veggie Diet. You can enjoy the Ginger-Scallion Pork you see here and still feel good about it.


There are different reasons why you might want to eat less meat and more vegetables. I'm a huge fan of Michael Pollan and think his advice on eating makes a whole lot of sense: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. To explain a bit, it's better for the environment. It's better for your health. It's better for your waistline. Of course it's better for the critters who might be part of your dinner.

Last month Joanne and I decided to cook only meatless meals to see how hard it would be. The verdict: not that hard. By the end of the month I was amazing myself, actually relishing the eggplant we had for supper. I used to avoid eggplant like the plague.

On the other hand, I like the taste of meat occasionally, especially pork. Joanne favors chicken. Neither of use feels a need to give them up entirely. Hence the halfway measure: a semi-veggie diet.

It's easy to go halfway

Unless you absolutely hate vegetables, the Semi-Veggie Diet won't be hard to do.

Step One:
Make every other meal meatless. Once you realize that you don't have to have meat all the time, this isn't too tough. Skip the pepperoni, order a mushroom pizza. Make parmesan with eggplant instead of chicken. And so on.

Step Two:
Cut the amount of meat in any recipe in half. Spaghetti sauce with a half pound of ground beef is every bit as tasty as with one pound. The Ginger-Scallion Pork recipe below was really good with just a half pound of pork. You may need to increase the amount of veggies in some recipes so that you have enough flavor and volume to satisfy everyone.

That's it. Go halfway. It's easy, and it's much better than doing nothing.


Ginger Scallion Pork

1 large Spanish onion
3 cups fresh snow pea pods
1 red pepper, stemmed and cored
1 stem ginger, about a 4-inch piece
1 pound 1/2 pound lean pork
4 to 5 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
4 long green scallions, trimmed and cut, on an angle, into 2-inch pieces
4 to 5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar (to taste)
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
2 tablespoons sesame oil (to taste)
Optional: 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1-1½ teaspoons cold water
Steamed rice; stir-fried or sauteed vegetables as desired

Preliminaries: Julienne the Spanish onion, pea pods and red pepper. Slice the ginger into thin, medallion-size slices, about ¼-inch thick. Trim pork and slice it thin, about ¼-inch or thinner.

Sear the meat: Heat a frying pan or heavy wok and add canola oil. When oil is hot, add pork, cooking until well seared (or even slightly charred). Remove from pan and set aside.

Cook the vegetables: Add ginger and let simmer in the oil until slightly tender, then add Spanish onions, pea pods, red peppers and garlic.

Assemble the stir-fry: Add back the cooked pork and green scallions; stir, adding in the thin soy sauce, sugar, salt (taste before adding; soy sauces have varying degrees of saltiness) and sesame oil. If you wish, add cornstarch mixture to thicken to taste.

Presentation: Serve with steamed rice and/or other accompaniments. Makes 4 to 6 servings

Source: Adapted recipe from Randy Hom, King Wah restaurant, Rocky River. I got it from the Cleveland Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com.

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