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Fried broccoli. Why?

“Are you still being a vegetarian?”

That was my daughter’s question, and my husband was wondering the same thing. Given my track record with fad diets, can’t say I blame them.

But yes, I’m still doing the vegetarian thing.

This is Week 5, and I’ve only had one slipup: Saturday night, when the hubby was frying tilapia. Wow, did it smell good. (I do love fish and seafood, which is why I’m fairly certain I may eventually turn pescetarian.) And, I was very hungry. I’d spent nearly seven hours at two malls with my daughter. Lunchtime hit, so we headed to the food court. I remembered there was a Five Guys at this particular mall, and thought a burger and fries would hit the spot – until I remembered I couldn’t have burgers. Rats.

I looked around, and there was precious little I could have. Well, there was plenty to choose from, but soft pretzels, fries and ice cream wouldn’t be very nutritious. I spotted a Subway and figured I’d try one of the veggie subs, which my son often orders. However, on the way I had to pass a Chinese food counter, and if you’ve ever tried to pass a Chinese food place in the mall, you know about their aggressive marketing tactics, including launching ground-to-air, bourbon-chicken missiles.

One woman actually blocked my path, smiling while threatening me with a hunk of something speared on a toothpick. “No,” I said, feinting left. “Vegetarian.”

“Ah, vegetarian!” she shouted, and that animated her coworkers. “You like green beans? Asparagus? We got fried broccoli!” One woman started preparing a plate: “Noodles or rice?”

I gave in. The green beans did look good, as did a selection of sautéed vegetables. I ordered a mixed plate of vegetable lo mein, green beans and the sautéed veggies, passing on the fried (tempura) broccoli.

The veggies were piled high and I ate well. Three hours later, I was reminded of the old joke about Chinese food. I couldn’t believe I was hungry again. At home, I fixed a large salad. There was rice, but I didn’t want any. But at bedtime, when I was turning everything off, I opened up the ’fridge to get something to drink and there it was: a foil-covered plate of tilapia.

I peeked. Several pieces left. I pinched, just a little. It tasted great. I pulled off the equivalent of two, healthy bites, and remember chewing unusually long. It was satisfying, and I didn’t want anymore.

Fish is supposed to be good for your heart, especially “fatty fish” like salmon and tuna. They help lower cholesterol levels. Of course, all that goes out the window if they’re fried.

And speaking of cholesterol . . . did you know that this is National Cholesterol Education Month? Me neither, but as I was typing this entry, I received an email from the PR folks at Edelman stating the following:

Elevated cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (such as heart attack and stroke). More than 40% of African Americans and nearly 50% of Mexican-Americans ages 20 and older have elevated cholesterol. A contributing factor of high cholesterol in these communities may be traditional eating habits. Soul Food dishes that are a staple in many African-American households are often high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and salt. . . .  Additionally, data shows that physical activity levels among African-American and Hispanic adults are low. 52% of African-American adults and 54% of Hispanic adults have a physically inactive lifestyle, putting them at higher risk for obesity and high cholesterol.

Granted, the email included links and info about the cholesterol drug Crestor, but stats are stats, and those are especially disheartening – no pun intended.

So yes, I’m still “being” a vegetarian, because I want my next set of blood tests to show impressive improvement across the board. Between that and boot camp – and I am still very sore from yesterday – I should be well on my way.

You will enjoy good health.   ~   My fortune cookie. Seriously.

Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.