Sunday, March 25, 2012

Veggie tales from a family of professional carnivores

Veggies: generally not poisonous, after all. Who knew?

We haven't exactly been feasting on roasted mastodon hocks on a daily basis around here, but vegetables that have unwittingly found themselves in our fridge have typically suffered a rather unenviable fate, rotting away in their original grocery sack, or worse, naked, until they reach the stage of unidentifiable sludge/refrigerator compost.

We have good intentions: "My, those beets look yummy. Let's get 14 of those!"we proclaim in the produce section. I have even diligently prepared some of them, if only to add color to the plate, where Meat has reigned supreme, front and center.

They have been there for us all along, providing fodder for dinnertime screaming matches with our bewildered preschoolers (despite swearing, at their births, to the gods of broccoli that we'd never make them sit at the table until they forced something green down their gullets, like our cruel parents did to us).

Anyway, after some embarrassing analysis of our weekly family food intake, I decided to try a week of vegetarianism. Crazy talk, I know. But between having to adjust to dairy-free for the sake of David's guts (he seems to be allergic to milk and I'm not making 2 versions of every meal), and the puke-worthy pink slime coverage, I reached one of those "you know what - screw this" moments and ordered a vegan cookbook by vegan, blogging mom Dreena Burton (we didn't go vegan this week but it helped for dairy-free recipes).

And you know what? I'm as shocked about this as the poor pizza guy, who didn't make $400 in tips from us this week, but it was a great week! The kids had meat one night, and Kurt had meat a few times for his lunch, but by and large, it was a vegetarian week (100% for me). Here is some stuff I learned:

1. It is way easier to be a procrastinator when it comes to preparing dinner if you don't have to defrost meat.
2. When it is hot outside, it's much easier to keep vegetarian because the meals can be lighter and still fulfilling.
3. Vegan cooking is like a science project, but fun for someone like me who considers it a hobby to make complicated, odd-sounding recipes while cursing at rarely-used kitchen appliances.
4. My complexion clears up quickly with no meat (why? eek), and my energy level goes way up with either no meat or many more veggies, or both.
5. The kids didn't moan nearly as much as expected, and finding enough protein for them was no problem.
6. I had a lot of stereotypes about vegetarian/vegan people that were stupid and unfounded. I suck.

So we'll see where this takes us. Originally I'd wanted to follow the Engine 2 diet after watching that Forks Over Knives documentary, but realistically I realized it is far too restrictive for me to maintain, especially for the whole family. And I read a bunch of research on sites I trust that question much of the science in that movie (though I do maintain that finding a peer-reviewed study that actually finds that it is healthy to eat red meat is impossible). So for now I'm comfortable with calling this "mostly plant-based." I reserve the right to partake in burger night at Arthur's on the rare occasion. So far, though, I'm not missing the meat at all, which is bizarre to me. I found myself craving zucchini and spinach a few days ago. Who have I become?

Here's a little photo essay from our cooking adventures Saturday:

Veggie scramble for breakfast - kid rating:"I'm not eating the green part but the rest is good".

Baked sweet potato in possible need of exorcism.

Veggie pizza with frankencheese for lunch. Kid rating:"PIZZA! Thank god. We thought you forgot about the existence of pizza."

Quinoa soaking for a later science project. KEEN-wha. Say it repeatedly and with emphasis throughout the day.

Weird ingredients awaiting immersion blending. Nuts, seeds, almond milk, various weird stuff, somehow came together to make something called Pumpkin Seed Chipotle Cream sauce, a topping for our dinner.

Believe it or not, this is how you start making vegan mac-and-cheese from the cookbook. Nuts! Ha.

Black Bean Quinoa Sweet Potato Croquettes, before cooking, chilling out where cookies usually reside.
Croquettes after meeting their sizzling fate. Kid verdict:Mixed, but mostly good.

Vegan mac and cheese after baking. Kid verdict:Yes! And, More! Amazing.

It doesn't look much like a plate filled with veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains, but it really is!

Adult version. Our verdict:This was a hell of a lot of work, but very yummy and no pangs of sorrow over the lack of mastodon hocks.


MizGreenJeans said...

You're so brave! I admire your tenacity. Keep posting so we can follow along.

Sarah Hunt said...

Thanks, Laura! It wasn't too awful, especially since there are so many products out there. We didn't do a lot of fake meat or that kind of thing, but a natural peanut butter/fruit spread sandwich goes a long way to keeping the kids blissfully unaware that they are eating much healthier than normal. As for me, I went through a lot of hummus this week. :D

Jen said...

I love it! Well done, Sarah. Well done. :)

Sarah Hunt said...

Thank you, Jen!

Emilio said...

Hummus is actually a staple in our world. Home made' no less. It's easy as pie!!! From Emilio :-)

Anonymous said...

I found your blog =)

-Andy G.

Sarah Hunt said...

Stalker! :D

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