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Fish as a major source of protein, also quinoa

ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the darkLost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
edited May 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Let me start this out by saying that over the past few years or so I have become a very fussy eater.

For a number of reasons I don't really plan to get into, I'm at a point in my life where I'm looking to cut out red meat and poultry completely - no beef, no pork, no chicken or turkey or anything that resembles any of those. No shellfish, either. Unfortunately I don't absorb protein all that well so I need to eat a lot of it per day. While I can eat a ton of cheese every day that will get old really fast. I get sick of eggs quickly, I've never met a bean I have any interest in choking down (soy beans are the exception), and whey protein supplements make me gag. This leaves me in a bit of a tight spot.

I've turned to fish, which is of course great for protein. I stick to cod, haddock, tilapia, salmon... basically, fish that aren't fishy. I'm fine with throwing a few ounces in a pan with a little oil and having that be dinner, though it does get expensive to do that.

The problem is that, aside from this not being terribly maintainable due to the expense, my husband is practically begging me not to eat fish more than twice a week because of heavy metal contamination. He is very serious about this, and I'm not sure if it's true - or at least, if it's true that three or four times a week instead of twice a week is going to kill me. I know I've heard things about canned tuna, but I don't really eat much canned tuna. So is it true? Will that much fresh fish give me heavy metal poisoning? He swears up and down it will.


We've started eating some quinoa as well, which I read somewhere is a complete source of protein. I would have to eat a ton of it, but it's a start. So I'm also looking for things I can do with quinoa. If anyone has any favorite recipes to jazz it up a bit, that'd be great.

ceres on
It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
I don't expect anything.

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Posts

  • tinyfisttinyfist Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I like to make a quinoa salad. It's pretty simple and healthy (if you like beets)

    Cubed beets, steamed
    Spinach, steamed
    Quinoa, boiled
    Feta Cheese, crumbled

    Toss and eat.

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  • WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I don't know a whole lot about quinoa and I'm allergic to fish so I can't help on that account.

    As far as protein supplements go you could check out Bolthouse:
    http://bolthouse.com/our-products/beverages/proteins

    I havn't tried the other new ones but the protein plus chocolate one is delicious.

  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    it depends on the fish

    http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/guide.asp

    for example, tilapia, like farm raised, will not have high levels of mercury
    it's usually the big fish like tuna that have higher levels of mercury (and the smaller varieties like tongol will have less than blue fin etc)

    if you have a problem with protein absorbtion but don't want to turn to meats, why not supplement with 1 protein shake a day too? i can recommend this in chocolate: http://www.amazon.com/Optimum-Nutrition-Standard-Natural-Chocolate/dp/B000GIQT06 and it's an affordable way to up the protein intake each day and doesn't taste bad

    cottage cheese & greek yogurt also, fermented soy products like tempeh as well will be good non-meat sources

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  • TwoQuestionsTwoQuestions Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Perhaps peanuts might help you?

    I don't know jack about lentils except they have lots of good protein. Perhaps looking into those would work?

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  • PeenPeen Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Here's an article from the EPA on Mercury levels in fish and shellfish for women who may become pregnant and young children but it's got links to a lot of other information on the right hand side and bottom. Basically it seems like it is a danger but that it's pretty dependent on the kinds of fish that you eat.

    Also, I know that you've said you don't like beans but have you tried lentils (I'm not trying to be smart, they're not techically a bean)? They've got a lot of the same virtues as beans but they taste different and you can do a lot with them, plus they're dirt cheap.

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    You're really going to have to eat something from that list that you're prohibiting if you want to be well rounded. Beans, rice, lentils and other protein sources are probably going to have to fill a gap.

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  • Kate of LokysKate of Lokys Registered User
    edited May 2011
    Various state governments have "how much fish can you eat?" guides - this was the most useful I found. If you prefer raw numbers, the FDA has a list of average mercury content in a few dozen different species of fish and shellfish - some of the data is a bit dated, though.

    If you stick to only the lowest-mercury fish (Pacific cod, salmon, haddock, tilapia, plus shellfish like oysters and scallops), minimize other contaminants by removing the skin and any visible fat, and keep your portions reasonable, you should be perfectly fine to consume seafood 3-5 times per week.

    For other sources of protein, what about tofu, yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, or peanut butter? When I'm feeling protein-starved, I just throw a scoop of cottage cheese into whatever starch I cooked for dinner - pasta, rice, baked potato, whatever. It pretty much just tastes like salt, so I don't even notice it.

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  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2011
    I'm not sure I've had lentils, I could give them a try. I have no idea what to do with them, though. I do eat some greek yogurt, but I've noticed that a lot of tofu doesn't actually have a high enough protein content to be worth it. I don't mind soy protein as a supplement, but the only drink I'd found that used just soy protein and no whey started adding whey and it's definitely not as drinkable.

    I've not tried tempeh either, so I could give that a try. When I think of fermented soy I think of natto, which stinks.

    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2011
    That cottage cheese thing is a good idea. I never eat the skin of fish, either, so hopefully that helps. I like the Washington State site; I think most of the tilapia we get around here is from the US, but I'll check next time. It looks like most of the fish I prefer to eat are on the safer side, though I'd also like to take into account how they're caught/raised.

    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Could also use a whey shake, I hear good things about it from the Indian doctor here at work.

  • RadicalTurnipRadicalTurnip Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Did you want to eliminate all beans per say, or just the beans that people think of when they say beans? Peas, Green Beans, lima beans, and some other types of "bean" are still a decent source of protein. You could also check out to see if you like any of the Boca products. My wife really likes the Boca burgers and the Chick'n, either patties or nuggets. They're a good source of protein, although if your getting away from poultry and red meat for the taste, you may encounter a similar problem with the Boca products. Of course, as people have said, nuts and legumes are a great way to get protein; as well as milk products, but they can be somewhat fatty.

  • PeenPeen Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Not to throw up a giant unhelpful link but you can do a lot with lentils. They're downright versatile.

    And I know you said you're not down with beans but you can do really cool things with black beans, everything from faux burgers to hummus.

  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2011
    Checking into Boca stuff is a good idea that for whatever reason hadn't actually crossed my mind. It's definitely not a taste thing keeping me off the meat, although since I've stopped eating it I find that I really don't miss it as much as I thought I would.

    Do string beans actually count as beans? I like those bunches. I didn't used to like peas, but lately I've found I don't mind them anymore, so that's another possibility.

    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • HurtdogHurtdog Registered User
    edited May 2011
    What are the dangers of ingesting Mercury?


    Also be warned quinoa can taste like shit, even after the bitter residue is removed.



    Keep in mind, while plants can have protein, they are often not COMPLETE proteins, which means they might as well be fucking useless (for protein). Quinoa is an exception, as it has a full amino acid profile and is complete. I'd recommend not cutting out meat entirely unless it's absolutely necessary.

  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Hurtdog wrote: »
    What are the dangers of ingesting Mercury?

    Nerve and neurological damage, organ failure, hair teeth and nail loss, a wide variety of nervous system and brain damage, impaired kidney function, and heart problems. It all depends on the amount and variety of mercury.


    What types of beans have you tried? How were they cooked?

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_poisoning

    You basically want to avoid high mercury fish like tuna.

  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2011
    Honestly, I'm not sure. I can't stand most of the stuff you find in chili, so I never ate that (I also don't like chili seasoning in general). I know I don't like kidney or lima beans or things that those beans make appearances in. I've never done a bean-tasting or anything, though I suppose at this point it's probably not a bad idea. It's taste and also texture that keeps me away.

    I'm going to get some lentils to try throwing into a soup tonight, and I'll see how it goes. I'm skeptical, but I'm going to try to keep an open mind.

    Still open to favorite quinoa recipes, and that site with the lentil recipes looked pretty good.

    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo When life gives you lemons... ...eat your delicious lemonsRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Unless there's something seriously wrong with American fish then there is no problem with eating fish a couple of times a week.

    I know, you said you don't want to get into it, but you should really make sure that your reasons for artificially restricting your diet are good. You mentioned it's gradually come on over a few years, and that seems like a real worry.

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  • minirhyderminirhyder NYCRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    The problem with a lot of fish is the bioaccumulation of various compounds. Not only metals, but also PCB's and PAH's. Since most of the fish we eat are large and high on the food chain that stuff adds up in their bodies and ends up in ours. While you're not likely to get hard core metal poisoning from eating fish often, it can have an impact on your reproductive system as well as neurological effects.

    If you're so picky with everything, maybe you can just have all these sources of proteins rarely? Like once every two weeks or something like that. I mean if you have eggs for example twice a month, it can't be that bad, can it?

  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Well, there are hundreds of varieties of beans, all with different tastes/textures. You've probably had the standard black, kidney, cowpea, etc that you find in many recipes. However, beans can be ground up and added to food without contributing the texture to your food. I make veggie burgers with mashed cooked beans as well as textured vegetable protein and veggies. Press them thin and grill/pan fry them and they taste like a nice char broiled meat, not like beany mush.

    Algae and sea weeds are also high in protein, but you may not like the taste.

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  • minirhyderminirhyder NYCRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Also how do you feel about falafel? Chickpeas are great for protein!

  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    ceres wrote: »
    The problem is that, aside from this not being terribly maintainable due to the expense, my husband is practically begging me not to eat fish more than twice a week because of heavy metal contamination. He is very serious about this, and I'm not sure if it's true - or at least, if it's true that three or four times a week instead of twice a week is going to kill me. I know I've heard things about canned tuna, but I don't really eat much canned tuna. So is it true? Will that much fresh fish give me heavy metal poisoning? He swears up and down it will.

    Your husband is wrong. You should not eat a ton of tuna, but otherwise, the other high-mercury fish are expensive enough that you won't run into any issues.

    Fish are a great source of protein, and shellfish are even better. They're like protein bombs. For the vast, vast majority of people, any minor accumulation of any environmental particulate will be counteracted by the typical Western lifestyle.

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  • BeltaineBeltaine The End of TimeRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    My wife concocted a dish consisting of quinoa, black beans, and taco sauce.

    Was pretty good.

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  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I did cottage cheese for a while - but you want to know what tastes better and is awesome?

    Chobani. It's a greek yogurt and the stuff is great. You get a ton of protein, it's VERY filling, and it's low calorie. Very very very healthy!

    Re: Chickpeas and falafel...I don't know why people say this has a lot of protein - I have taken a look at the nutritional information and it doesn't seem very exceptional in the protein department.

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  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2011
    Chickpeas are something that I'm probably going to have to give another try; I hated them when I was a kid and haven't looked twice at them since.

    The gradually becoming fussier thing is definitely not great, but I know why it is. It doesn't have anything to do with cutting meat out; what does is the fact that I've started keeping kosher, and it's nearly impossible to find kosher meat in my area that doesn't cost a mint. It's just easier not to eat it, and since vegetarianism has always appealed to me I'm not exactly fighting it, though I do acknowledge the impracticality of cutting out animal protein altogether (for me), hence the fish. No, keeping kosher and the nature of that decision are not up for debate. At this point these are things that I'm looking to learn to live around.

    edit: I try to eat chobani cups regularly. I love it and it's about a sixth of what I need for the day.

    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • minirhyderminirhyder NYCRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    100 grams of chickpeas have about 8-9 grams of protein, which is not bad at all. For an average woman that's about 20% of recommended daily protein intake.

    Sources: USDA

  • SelnerSelner Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    minirhyder wrote: »
    The problem with a lot of fish is the bioaccumulation of various compounds. Not only metals, but also PCB's and PAH's. Since most of the fish we eat are large and high on the food chain that stuff adds up in their bodies and ends up in ours. While you're not likely to get hard core metal poisoning from eating fish often, it can have an impact on your reproductive system as well as neurological effects.

    If you're so picky with everything, maybe you can just have all these sources of proteins rarely? Like once every two weeks or something like that. I mean if you have eggs for example twice a month, it can't be that bad, can it?

    There's a book, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth (http://www.amazon.com/150-Healthiest-Foods-Earth-Surprising/dp/1592332285), that has some interesting things about fish and mercury in it.

    The most interesting thing was that the fish with the highest mercury contamination also have the highest levels of a mineral that supposedly counteracts mercury to some extent, selenium. Apparently that has not been proven 100%, but there is a study about the people of the Seychelles Islands who eat fish 12 times a week and have no toxic signs.

    Also, if you plan on having children any time soon, I believe that almost universally the advice is to cut back on potentially contaminated seafood.

    Here's a website that talks about the relationship between selenium and mercury:
    http://www.mercuryfacts.org/fselenium.cfm .

    That website in general is sort of interesting to read. Apparently the scare with mercury in fish is all a giant fear-mongering thing from enviromental groups, and has almost no basis in science. That's different.

  • RadicalTurnipRadicalTurnip Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Eating Kosher is hard, I've never tried to do it, but I've looked into it a little bit (I'm not Jewish, I was just curious). Good luck to you, especially that you don't like eggs.

    Um, okay so I looked into it further. Green Beans (String Beans) do provide protein...but not as much as I had thought. About 2g per 100g, unfortunately. Which isn't bad, but also isn't something you can count on to get your protein. I'm sorry to get your hopes up...but they're still delicious, right?

  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    srsly the whey i recommended, get that, + a blender bottle from amazon
    it will mix well and be good

    tastes even better w/milk but is fine with water
    i drink one every day

    thats 24g+ of protein in a glass that takes a few minutes to drink

    bam

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  • ShanadeusShanadeus Registered User
    edited May 2011
    I don't know if this has been mentioned yet but you might want to look into protein supplements of some sort - which can be both milk protein based and soy based.
    You can probably get 1kg of either for maybe $10-20.

    I recently obtained some Protec Double-Protein, which is a "slow-acting" protein (whatever that means), for 130 SEK/750gram (roughly 20 US dollar, but would probably cost 13 US dollars in the USA)

  • TwoQuestionsTwoQuestions Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Have you tried cooking eggs with other foods? I can barely stand the flavor of eggs by themselves, but eggs with green peppers/onions/salt/tons and tons of pepper and you can get the protein of eggs without the gross eggy flavor.

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  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    ceres wrote: »
    The gradually becoming fussier thing is definitely not great, but I know why it is. It doesn't have anything to do with cutting meat out; what does is the fact that I've started keeping kosher, and it's nearly impossible to find kosher meat in my area that doesn't cost a mint. It's just easier not to eat it, and since vegetarianism has always appealed to me I'm not exactly fighting it, though I do acknowledge the impracticality of cutting out animal protein altogether (for me), hence the fish. No, keeping kosher and the nature of that decision are not up for debate. At this point these are things that I'm looking to learn to live around.

    Oh, you should've said that in the first place. There's plenty of practicing Jews who keep kosher and healthy. You might be able to find local food that's both kosher and halal and be available at a good price. Kosher beef is going to be expensive (even non-kosher beef is expensive), but lamb and goat and other common "middle eastern" meats are cheaper.

    Of course, eating vegetarian is a fine way to go about keeping kosher, too. I would imagine you'd find a plethora of options in Indian cuisine, too. I personally don't find chickpeas all that appealing on their own, but you know what is delicious? Hummus! Baba ganouj is pretty good, too.

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  • MadpandaMadpanda Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I usually just add some spices to my quinoa from the start,

    so water+quinoa+whatever bring to boil, lower heat and cover for ~12 minutes.

    I've done a few pre-mixes like old bay, mrs dash, cayanne powder.

    I find its not as overpowering as if i were to add the spices to the finished quinoa.

    Also hummus + quinoa is pretty good.

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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    EggyToast wrote: »
    ceres wrote: »
    The gradually becoming fussier thing is definitely not great, but I know why it is. It doesn't have anything to do with cutting meat out; what does is the fact that I've started keeping kosher, and it's nearly impossible to find kosher meat in my area that doesn't cost a mint. It's just easier not to eat it, and since vegetarianism has always appealed to me I'm not exactly fighting it, though I do acknowledge the impracticality of cutting out animal protein altogether (for me), hence the fish. No, keeping kosher and the nature of that decision are not up for debate. At this point these are things that I'm looking to learn to live around.

    Oh, you should've said that in the first place. There's plenty of practicing Jews who keep kosher and healthy. You might be able to find local food that's both kosher and halal and be available at a good price. Kosher beef is going to be expensive (even non-kosher beef is expensive), but lamb and goat and other common "middle eastern" meats are cheaper.

    Of course, eating vegetarian is a fine way to go about keeping kosher, too. I would imagine you'd find a plethora of options in Indian cuisine, too. I personally don't find chickpeas all that appealing on their own, but you know what is delicious? Hummus! Baba ganouj is pretty good, too.

    Yeah, if you're not totally committed to 100% vegetarian (not arguing, just offering), Halal markets are going to be Kosher as well and may be cheaper.

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  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2011
    Have you tried cooking eggs with other foods? I can barely stand the flavor of eggs by themselves, but eggs with green peppers/onions/salt/tons and tons of pepper and you can get the protein of eggs without the gross eggy flavor.

    There's also just cooling them differently, as the method has a big impact on flavor. Coddled eggs like in shakshuka are very different from hard boiled. I'm personally very fond of egg curry.

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    for fish and mercury, i would take a look at the pregnancy guidelines, they have a good breakdown on there

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  • LavaKnightLavaKnight Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    For quinoa, I generally use it just like I would use rice or other grains. For instance, I'll use it with beans and other ingredients in burritos, or add some to a baked potato to help increase the protein content. I haven't tried adding spice while it cooks, as Madpanda suggests, but I find that a generous helping of curry and other Indian spices (cumin, tumeric, garam masala) and maybe a little bit of cayenne are plenty strong enough to counteract the somewhat strong taste that quinoa has. Plus, you get used to the flavor.

    I buy it from Trader Joe's in a box, because I can't seem to find it bulk, and the boxed price works out to be not super expensive per unit.

    As far as fish goes, the advice Eggy Toast gave regarding mercury is probably safe to follow. I've studied mercury (from an environmental standpoint) for a number of years now, and have a decent idea about it. Basically, fish high in the food chain (tuna, red snapper) will have higher concentrations of mercury. Methyl-mercury passes very easily through the placenta and then the blood-brain barrier of a developing fetus, which is why care should be taken if you are (or might become) pregnant.

    Another thing to consider is buying sustainable fish, as well. It's pretty silly (compared to other meat sources) how over harvested some fish species are. The link there has some guidelines which aren't working for me currently, but should be helpful when it works.

  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I'm afraid your husband is entirely wrong.

    There are entire nations all over the earth that eat fish and seafood every day with no problems at all, and are often healthier than the US.

    Heavy metals are only concentrated in particular fish (predators mostly, high up in the food chain), and the health dangers of that are contested.

    I don't want to be confrontational, but your husband just doesn't seem to know much about fish.

    Is he from a non-coastal region? I've often met Americans from the midwest etc who really view fish as an odd food and really don't know much about it, whereas I've always lived in small island nations and think of it as a food as basic and daily as bread.

    What fish exactly have you been eating or do you like?

    Edit: Sorry, missed the part about cod, haddock etc.

    What kind of fish are cheapest in your area? Perhaps we can find some that you wouldn't find too 'fishy'.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2011
    Actually, most of the websites I've been directed to in this thread are more or less confirming what he said. It looks like you can eat a few types of fish more often than that, but very few have nonexistent levels of mercury. It looks like the ones I like best are fairly safe, where (unfortunately for him) the ones he likes best are of the "consume at your own risk" variety.

    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • lonelyahavalonelyahava One day, I will be able to say to myself "I am beautiful and I am perfect just the way I am"Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Good luck with the Kosher diet, ceres. I have tried it off and on, but I discovered a long time back that I just love crab meat and cheese burgers too much.

    that said, i've been looking for cheaper foods to get the dietary needs in and have done some lentils.


    i have a bag of quinoa sitting in my cupboard, waiting for me to be adventurous enough.

    I usually go to http://www.allrecipes.com , I type in the ingredient that i'm looking for and then I spend a few hours going through the recipes listed. There are a few quinoa recipes that I'm considering trying (one in specific is lemony quinoa which sounds good).


    you should be fine doing the fish diet though. I do, however, recommend adding in eggs if you want, but (from memory) you have to make sure that there is no blood anywhere in the yolks for them to be considered Kosher, so they have to be cracked separately.


    Also, what somebody else said, look for Halal stores. The meat there will be just as kosher as kosher, but for less.

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