Monday, March 19, 2012

Meatless Monday And Beyond: Dipping A Toe Into Healthier Family Meals

We spent some time talking over the weekend about returning to vegetarianism -- something we were exclusively for several years until our fertility doc recommended I add meat back into my diet back in the days when we were tinkering with why we were having trouble being pregnant.

I'm glad we did, because it resulted in us having The Peanut, who is the joy of our lives.  But...isn't there always a "but?"

We eat way too much meat these days.  Add to it that we eat way too much crapola in general, and need to add in far more veggies and fruits and whole grains and...well, you get the picture.

I've decided we're at least going to dive in with a meatless Monday regime and make that change and then see where that takes us.  We have an almost 9-year-old very picky child to consider and a 20-year-old nephew living with us, so a whole hog switch to sprouts and kale isn't something we can do immediately without a wailing mutiny (at least from The Peanut, anyway).

Although, as Mr. ReddHedd says, "when she gets hungry enough, she'll eat."  True, dat.

I'm not inclined to issue wholesale food changes by fiat, but at the same time we are definitely going to be shifting what we eat.  Just, perhaps, a little more gradually so that small persons have some time to adjust along the way.

My plan is a very simple one:  transform the side dishes into the main course, and the meat -- when we use it -- into more of a condiment.  Plan more meals based on healthy whole foods, mostly veggies and fruits and whole grains, and come up with more meatless meals wherever possible.

In short, what we should have been eating all along will hopefully become our norm.

Tonight, for example, I'm planning some curried lentil dal soup made with some lite coconut milk and some diced sweet and regular potatoes thrown into the mix to make its taste more palatable to the picky one along with some garlic and cilantro naan and whole wheat naan.   I'm going to cheat and start with a base of Amy's curried lentil soup and some sauteed veggies, and add in some leftover potatoes and caramelized onions that I roasted in the oven this weekend and that I don't want to see go to waste.

But there are a lot of other days in the week, and so I've put together some yummy recipes that I hope will serve as inspiration to me and to you as well.  Here's a sampling, and I'll share what I'm cooking going forward:

-- Tuscan White Bean Soup with Escarole
-- Black Bean, Corn and Zucchini Enchiladas
-- Falafel with Avocado Spread
-- Cuban Black Bean Patties with Pineapple Rice (except I'd make this with brown rice, I think)
-- Lemon-Garbanzo Salad with Feta
-- Butternut Squash and Smoky Black Bean Salad
-- Market Salad with Goat Cheese and Champagne Vinaigrette
-- Grilled Peppers and Lentil Salad
-- Easy Meatless Manicotti
-- Rotini with White Beans and Escarole
-- Tortilla Flat Stacks with Lime and Black Bean
-- Leek, Potato and Cheddar Soup
-- Shaved Butternut Squash with Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza
-- Roasted Veggies and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad
-- Ricotta and Spinach Frittata
-- Zucchini, Tomato and Fresh Herb Fettucine
-- Spring Asparagus Pizza
-- Caramelized Onion and Flatbread Pizza
-- Spanish Tortilla
-- Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean Salad
-- Greek Orzo-Stuffed Peppers
-- Middle Eastern Platter
-- Sweet Potato Fritters with Smoky Pinto Beans

(Photo by Christy Hardin Smith.)

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