Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I read a rather disturbing article the other day about the future of food production. Scary, to say the least. Combine that with my fourth (maybe my fifth) viewing of the film Food Inc. and I'll clamoring to make some changes in the way my family eats.

My biggest enemy is complacency. I get all gung-ho and for a couple of months where we don't eat fast food, there is lots of from-scratch cooking and my vegetable crisper is a rainbow of good for you produce. But life happens. We get busy, we get lazy and slowly, slowly, all those not so good for you habits start sneaking back in. A fast food lunch here. A frozen dinner there. I don't want to cook dinner honey, let's go out! happens more and more frequently. And let me tell you....my checkbook and my rear end are living proof that bad food choices make for one unhappy momma.

I have been tempted...oh so tempted....to give vegetarianism a try. Vegetarianism is one of the smartest and healthiest ways to eat. On average, vegetarians live about four more years than meat eaters and an added bonus? They weigh about 15% less than the rest of us too. But there are a few other reasons I have been considering a plant based diet. Meat prices are excruciatingly high and will only get higher. As I mentioned in a previous post, we get most of our beef from our family's cattle ranch. But if we want pork, chicken or fish for dinner, it's off to the grocery store we go. And lest we forget... factory farming is one of the most environmentally damaging practices we humans have come up with. Cutting out meat seems smart for health, wealth and planet. But....

I LIKE IT! I really do! And my family likes it too. And really, what kind of rancher's kid would I be if I didn't eat meat? It would be like committing family treason! The rancher's daughter is a vegetarian. The sentence is itself an oxymoron! So instead of giving up meat completely, my husband and I have committed to eating less meat. Hipsters have coined the term flexitarian which basically means a part time vegetarian. Also, when I say my husband and I committed, well, I use that term a little loosely. I told him we eat too much crap, meat is too expensive, and since I'm the one who does the cooking, he better be prepared for some meatless meals. He didn't exactly rejoice in my wise and frugal descision, rather, he raised his eyebrows and reminded me that he is "iffy" about vegetables. Iffy. 

Branding time on my husband's grandfather's ranch
Well here's a little secret. I'm kind of iffy myself. But I'm sure there are ways to make just about any veggie taste delicious. Though I strive to be like her, I am definitely no Martha Stewart in the kitchen. When it comes to vegetables, I sautee it, steam it or roast it. That's it. My family has a small list of "safe veggies" i.e. vegetables that my husband and kids will gag down with a healthy dose of ranch dressing, but I would love to expand upon that list. And eat less meat. I want be less "American" I suppose. In the good 'ol USA, a "meal" means a healthy slab of meat with an equally hearty side of carbs and bitty little portion of the good stuff. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE those American meals. Boy do I! I just think that maybe we should eat them a little less often.

I have ordered a cookbook called The Flexitarian Diet to help guide me a little, but this is the part I really need help with. I need tasty recipes. Easy recipes. Recipes that don't have weird ingredients, curry (what is it with vegetarian recipes and curry?) or meat in them. Recipes that are doable for a busy family. Lunch and snack ideas too. My go-to lunches for my kids include turkey dogs and ham sandwiches. If I'm not giving them meat, what the heck do I feed them? I'd like to learn how to use all the produce we grow, like beets and turnips, instead of giving them away. I want to jump in head first but if there aren't any weapons in the arsenal, the McDonald's drive through will be seeing my van sooner than later. Help me help myself!


  1. oh dear, you don't like curry? I don't think I can follow your blog anymore! haha, j/k...I have recently become vegetarian, and am also hoping to find things my family will eat. I'll make sure to post or pass along recipes!

  2. Here are a few cookbook recommendations for you:
    "Get It Ripe" by Jae Steele
    and anything by Sarah Kramer: 'La Dolce Vegan", "Where it all Vegan", and "The Garden of Vegan"...
    We're not vegan but these are all books I use often for "sides" and often main courses. I try to do one or two vegetarian meals a week. A recent study presented on our national tv network stated that, out of 100 randomly selected samples of chicken bought at major stores across Canada, 67% contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
    I mean, YUCK!!! I vowed upon seeing this report that I would no longer eat chicken unless I raised it myself. I was just too grossed out. Mass-produced meat is unnecessarily injected with growth hormones and antibiotics (even if the animals aren't sick)...my kids have never been on antibiotics, but if they ever have to be, I don't want to hear that THEY'RE immune because of exposure through their meat...
    But I do like meat, too...
    I'll mail you a few of my fave recipes (kid tested!)
    Also, Jamie Oliver's cookbook (can't remember which one) has many great ideas for carrots which my kids love...

  3. I am so excited! I have been vegetarian for about 2 years now, and I don't plan on changing it anytime soon. The biggest obstacle you have to overcome is trying not to feel like there is something "missing" in your meal because there is no meat. There are so many good protein alternatives, and they don't have to involve curry- even though it's delicious :P. In our house we eat a lot of beans, and if you cook them from dried, they are insanely cheap! We also do stir fry with quinoa (a complete protein), and the occasional tofu dish. Also don't worry too much about getting enough protein, because it is surprisingly easy to do. I am constantly asked "where do you get your protein from?!?!", and it is really not difficult, you just have to think about your meals throughout the day. Don't fall for the "fake meats". They won't taste the same, and your kids will not be impressed. Instead, don't make it an issue that there is no meat in the meal. Simply serve it and don't say anything. That way they won't be automatically missing the meat because that is the first thing you have mentioned about the meal. Try making a vegetarian chili, or shepherds pie. You won't notice the difference. I have a few recipes on my blog, and Meaghan at ECOmilf has some great veggie recipes, that are kid friendly! Good luck with the transition. I am happy to provide you with more recipes, just stop by and ask!


  4. You guys are great! Keep the info coming!

  5. Good Luck Steph! Just take it day by day. Have you started with 'meatless mondays' then at least there is one day a week set aside to experiment with the vegetarian menu. Brenna is right- try things that are hearty and fulfilling like vegetarian shephard's pie (every man i know LOVES this), vegetarian curries, chillis and other hearty meals. If you start with salads no one will be enthusiastic. xo m.

  6. Steph, I like Peter Berley's cookbooks - they are all about vegetarian meals that you can make in an hour and that are seasonal, so you can use your veg from your garden while you cook! My favorite is Fresh Food Fast, which is all vegetarian and has very filling meals. There is also the Flexitarian Table, which I don't have (since I don't cook meat at all), but I've heard great things. I would also highly recommend hummus sandwiches for lunches or with carrot sticks for a snack. You can make it with your kids (it's super easy), and it is very transportable. And very healthy!

  7. Oooh! Another recommendation - tempeh! It's so yummy, and my favorite way to make it is to pan-fry in vegetable oil. Then add salt, and it's delish on salad or as a snack. Nice and crunchy and filling. Warning: it looks gross in the package, but once you saute or pan fry it, it looks less gross and tastes great.

  8. Thanks for the great article and joining the Green Blog Hop. Sorry it took me so long to get to you.

    Jacqie @ talesofthewife.com