Garden/ Food

Kissing Meat Goodbye!

We have begun our transition to whole food, plant-based eating. We’re not becoming vegetarian or vegan; we are becoming conscious of what we are putting into our bodies and into the bodies of our children. Plant-based eating is so beneficial to health that it’s really hard to argue such a transition when you are truly ready to tackle your health head-on.  I say truly ready because it is a complicated transition moving from the foods you’ve grown up on to a totally new way of cooking, baking and simply enjoying food. Plus, there’s the tricky part of convincing a two-year old and a four-year old to come along for the ride!

So, the mission has been to find truly good dinner ideas. Not just kind of good or “I can talk myself into this” good but good enough to pass the kid test. I have researched, I have read books, I have tried to adjust meat-friendly recipes…it’s exhausting and overwhelming to learn a whole new way to operate in the kitchen. But, I am slowly gaining a list of recipes and dinner options that taste good and that our kids have taken to, believe it or not.

What we decided to do is to make these recipes and offer them to the kids without any mention of the alternative meal we had ready to make in case the kids flat-out refused the official dinner of the day. Surprisingly, there has only been one meal the kids completely refused and I can’t even remember what that meal was. So far we have had things like Ramen Noodles with veggies, Rainbow Pasta (a cold pasta salad with fresh vegetables of all colors tossed in a lite Italian dressing) and “crab” cakes actually made from zucchini! I make the best Minestrone soup you will ever have and our bread machine is cranking out fresh wheat bread all the time. Tonight we even convinced the kids to try Stir Fry with water chestnuts!

A while back, we transitioned the kids from cow milk to rice milk with the approval and support of their Pediatrician. They still use dairy cheese but we are currently transitioning them from that to rice cheese (slices) and vegan shredded cheeses and they don’t seem to mind- or really, notice- the difference. My biggest concern was the idea of giving up cheese. It’s a huge part of my current cooking repertoire that I feared going without. Thank goodness for the vegan shredded cheese! It’s not an exact replica but it’s a satisfying substitute. We can have grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, mac and cheese, garlic cheesy bread…all the comfort foods I was struggling to part with and was feeling bad about depriving the children of.

Oh, and another plus side of this new way of eating…weight loss. You feel satisfied without stuffing yourself. You don’t take in too many calories, fat or carbohydrates and your body uses the food properly and more efficiently. We’ve seen dramatic weight loss and significant reduction of cholesterol totals just by eating whole and plant-based foods. That’s a good side-effect I can live with!

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