The Good, the Bad and the Veggie

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Guilty pleasure confession: I like McDonald’s. And I don’t even eat hamburgers!

I’ve heard all kinds of negative things about McDonald’s over the years: That they’re not environmentally conscious, that they destroy both the rain forest and local family businesses, that they encourage childhood obesity. Does any of that stop me from heading for the drive-thru early in the morning? Not a chance.

Breakfast at McDonald’s is one of my favorite ways to start the day, and I typically indulge in all its greasy, calorie-laden glory a couple of times a week. Even a non-meat-eater like myself can find some tasty ways to increase his lipids and get his cholesterol up.

I cruised over to the drive-thru on Friday morning and placed my usual orderr: Two sausage McMuffins with egg, no sausage. And a hash browns.

“Ohhhh yeah, no meat on Friday during Lent,” came the voice over the speaker.

“That’s every day for me,” I responded.

No, I’m not Catholic. I’m just a Jew-boy from New York who got farblonget and ended up in the middle of the desert. When it comes to my eating habits, one day is the same as the next. No meat for me, please. And don’t even think of serving me that pig meat crap they call sausage.

I’ve heard all the vegetarian arguments about McDonald’s: It’s all made with the same meaty, greasy utensils, they make it in advance and just take off the sausage patty, the oil that they cook it in contains animal fats. So I do a really bad imitation of a vegetarian and I’m a terrible Jew to boot.

But I still love my McDonald’s breakfast anyway. This little habit will probably take a year or two off my life, but I suspect it’s worth it. I’ve never smoked, but I think I’ve caught a glimpse of what it’s like to be hooked on the cigarettes that you know will result in your untimely death.

Oh, it gets worse. I also like McDonald’s fish filet sandwiches. I had to try their Fish McBites that they rolled out just in time for Lent, but I was not impressed. They are too salty for my taste. Besides, there is just something about that slice of American cheese on the fish filet sandwich.

It seems that everyone’s getting in on the act. In some locations, McDonald’s lowers the price of its fish filet sandwich from over four dollars to about a dollar and a half on Fridays during Lent (but not in our little town). Their fast food competitors have to keep up with reduced fish filet prices, the broiled cod sandwich (Carl’s Jr.), beer-battered fish tacos (Del Taco) and so forth. I love Lent!

I do try to balance out my horrible fast food habit with eating more healthily the rest of the time. One of my favorite dishes is roasted vegetables (pictured above). My wife cuts up the veggies, I spread them out on the pan and season them, then into the oven they go. Quick, simple and delicious. Protein? We don’t need no steenkin’ protein! I make a meal of this alone. Prepared this way, veggies are truly delicious and they are so filling.

This is an extremely easy dish to prepare; there is nothing to it. I don’t really cook and this is the kind of food we make all the time. Preheat the oven to 375°F, place a sheet of aluminum foil on a flat plan, then grease it with some cooking spray or a little olive oil. Cut up whatever fresh veggies you have on hand (today we used zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, white mushrooms, onions and one large potato). Sprinkle on garlic powder, onion flakes, oregano or Italian seasoning, black pepper and whatever other spices you like. Stick it in the oven for 15 minutes. That’s all! The potatoes will come out very al dente. If you like your taters a little more toward the well done side, put them in the oven separately 10 or 15 minutes ahead of time, then have the rest of your colorful veggie family join them on the heat.

Eat this regularly and you can almost justify that lovely, greasy McDonald’s breakfast that you know is calling your name.

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