Thursday, May 27, 2010

Almost Meatless Meals

One of the first thing I realized when I started trying to lose weight was that I could not do it alone. For me to lose weight and keep it off, I had to change the whole family's eating habits.

Let me tell you, the biggest struggles I've had with weight loss was not actually losing the weight--it was getting my family to accept a new and different way of eating.

And, one of the most important changes I made was to dramatically reduce the amount of meat in our diets.

Now, I come from a large Italian family where meat was no-where in sight at many family meals.

My husband, however, was raised to believe it wasn't a meal unless it was mostly meat (and fish doesn't count).

So, when I started to introduce vegetarian meals into the family diet, there were some pretty bad knock-down, drag out fights. My husband was very resistant. But, I persisted. I explained the health benefits over and over. I also pointed out that his own doctor recommended the changes to confront his high blood pressure and a congenital heart condition.

Persistence pays. We know eat fully vegetarian (and often vegan) meals once or twice a week, and eat fish at least once.

But to further reduce meat consumption, I've developed a number of "almost" meatless meals. These are meals that contain meat, but only as a flavoring factor.

Pancetta, an Italian version of bacon that's cured instead of smoked, is a great for almost meatless meals. Just a little bit can infuse a pasta dish with that "meat" taste that satisfies my husband.

Last night I made one of my "Mostly Vegetables" fritattas by starting out sauteing a little pancetta in a pan. I then added tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, arugula and peas. Then I added just enough eggs and egg whites to "bind" the vegetables. The fritatta was finished off in the oven.

I got the idea for the "mostly vegetable" from Mark Bittman--the New York Times Food writer. It's simply a fritatta that's mostly vegetables with a little bit of egg, instead of one that's mostly eggs with a little bit of vegetables. To further"health it up" I use half egg whites and half whole eggs.

It's a healthy, quick to make dinner that satisfies my husband's meat cravings.


  1. I like you. You tell it like it is. And I can relate to your situation. I've got to try some almond milk. Folklore says eating almonds gives you wisdom. I guess I can use a bit of that.

  2. Eating Almonds gives you Wisdom?? LOL!! Then I should be one of the wisest people on the planet by now :)

  3. Somewhere recently I read that many Italians don't consider pancetta and similar products "meat." They're for flavor in a dish.