If there were enough room in the title box, I would have named this post "My Adventures with Vegan Girl and Meat Man: A Flexitarian Mom's Guide to Avert Insanity." You see, my family is, shall we say, diverse in the diet department. On the one hand, we've got my daughter (Vegan Girl) who literally throws up if she even thinks about consuming meat or dairy. On the other hand, we have my husband (Meat Man) who thinks that if they could find a way to make vegetables and bread out of meat, that would be spiffy. And he's not changing. Then there's me who's kind of Switzerland in this whole affair. I make a lot of vegan dietary choices but will occasionally eat meat or cheese. So my task was trying to get these folks to a) eat together occasionally and b) eat as healthy a diet as possible given their loyalty to their personal dietary choices. On a budget. No small feat.
For my teenager, "healthy" means keeping some weight on her tiny frame. For my husband, it's about keeping his arteries from locking up like I-94 at 5pm on a Friday. For me, it's staying strong and keeping the middle age spread at bay (that's getting easier the more vegan choices I make).
After a few months of really struggling to make sense of it all, I started to do what I call "modular cooking." I make a vegan meal and put it on serving plates for my daughter and myself and then I add pre-cooked meat and/or cheese to the remainder for my husband. Why does this work for our family? First, my daughter can rest assured that her food hasn't come in contact with animal products in any way. Second, it limits the amount of meat my husband eats and guarantees that he is getting a large variety of veggies, fruits, and grains. Third, I don't have to "cook two meals" each night. On Sundays I cook up small amounts of meat for the week and place it in plastic bags in the fridge and freezer (at the same time, I deep fry some tofu to add to meals for my teen. Adds a few calories!) As I'm planning the meals for the week, I select vegan recipes that are nutritionally complete and plan to add a small amount of the type of meat I think my husband would enjoy with that entrée. It has literally cut his meat consumption at dinner in half and he still enjoys the meals very much. Now, I can't stop him from going through the Burger King drive through, but hey...I'm doing my part to support his dietary health.
Here's a yummy recipe I make for my family in "modular" fashion:
Modular Vegetable Curry
You Will Need:
- 1 cup uncooked dried green peas (split peas)
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 handful baby carrots, julienned
- 2 ¾ cup of water
- 2 veg bouillon cubes
- 1 Tbs. curry powder
- 1 Tbs. oil (I like peanut oil)
- 1 ½ cups yellow onions, chopped
- 1 Tsp. minced garlic or to taste
- 2 cups frozen broccoli or cauliflower
- 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes
- ½ cup frozen or fresh peas
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper or to taste
- Cooked basmati or brown rice
For Your Carnivore: ½ cup cooked diced chicken or pork
- Rinse and pick over peas
- Wash and slice carrots lengthwise into sticks
- Wash and cut zucchini into ¼ inch slices
- Combine water, bouillon & curry powder in saucepan and bring to boil.
- Add dried peas and simmer for 15 minutes
- Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and add onions and carrots, cooking 7 minutes or so
- Add cooked onions and carrots to the split pea mixture
- Stir in cauliflower or broccoli, zucchini, cayenne, coconut milk and a dash of salt, simmering another 20 minutes or until peas are done
- Stir in frozen or fresh green peas and tomatoes and heat through before serving over hot rice
After plating veg portions of the meal, add ½ cup of cooked diced chicken or pork to a serving of curry stew and heat through for your carnivore. Serve over rice.
Makes: 2 meals for 3 or 1 meal for 5-6 people