Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Going Meatless--It Ain't Easy

Since I had several comments regarding the difficulty in getting the men-folk in our lives to go meatless for even just a couple of meals a week, I thought I'd relate again how I did it.

First of all, it's kind of like quitting smoking.  If you try to make them go cold turkey, you get a back-lash. 

Instead, I recommend a slow and steady stealth approach.  The first step is to just reduce the amount of meat in a meal and up the vegetables and other ingredients.

A typical family dinner in my house used to consist of pasta with 1 pound of sausage in it.  First I reduced the sausage to 3/4 of a pound, adding more pasta and veggies, then 1/2 pound and now I often make it with 1/4 pound or no sausage at all.

If you're making a roast, meat-loaf, burgers, chili etc. do the same thing.  If you originally started with 2 pounds of ground meat for the family burger night, reduce to 1 3/4 pounds and add more veggies, etc., then 1 1/2 pounds etc.  

You can easily substitute more beans for meat in chili.   Meat-loaf is great because you can hide a lot of veggies in it (great if you have difficult kids).   I saute up a bunch of carrots, celery and onions, puree it well (if my daughter even suspects that a vegetable is present she won't eat it), then add it to the meat along with whole-wheat bread-crumbs.

Another trick is to add substances with "meat-like" textures.  Filling up the void left by the meat with Portabello mushrooms in a pasta dish gives them the feel of meat without the negative health consequences.  Same thing with beans.   Tofu is also a good substitute, although I must admit that I'm not much of a tofu fan and don't cook with it myself.

I also like to make my "almost meat-less meals."   These meals have meat but just a touch of it.    Although it sounds counter-intuitive, bacon or pancetta is great for this.   Saute just a wee bit of bacon in a pan, add some steamed green beans or asparagus and pasta, and the whole dish has a bacon flavor.

That's not to say that I didn't have difficulties, and some pretty big battles.   I can't tell you some of the knock down, drag out fights I had over my husband over eating fish (which he doesn't regard as "meat.")   But, by standing my ground in getting the whole family to eat better, I eventually won the war. 

My husband last night ate a meal of Cod, with zucchini, tomatoes, red onions and brown rice with no complaints.  

1 comment:

  1. My oldest son was the first one to go vegetarian in my family. That made it a bit easier to shift our meal emphasis to vegetables and salad instead of meat. Congratulations on getting your family meals moving in the right direction.