August 1, 2007

It's What's For Dinner

A couple of weeks ago my buddy Brad at Almost Lucid dropped me a line asking how Beth and I survived without eating meat. Then, just last night, ::c:: asked a pretty similar question. Sniff...sniff...I smell post!

About six or seven years ago, Beth and I realized that we didn't eat a heck of a lot of meat. Throughout college and after, we rarely cooked meat for ourselves. We only ordered it when we went out to dinner. We didn't hate it but it just wasn't a staple. The leap into meatlessness wasn't a tough one to make. We weren't all Brokeback Meat - "I can't quit you!" Nor was the leap moral. Me not eating meat saves, like, three or four cows and a handful of chickens over time. I'm not saving a herd. Or whatever you call a group of chickens. But as I remain a vegetarian, the less and less I like the idea of eating something with a face.

Now, vegetarianism is much more common than it was ten years ago but this doesn't stop people from, when I inform them that I don't eat meat, gazing at me sympathetically like I've just informed them that I lost my left testicle in a gardening accident. I assure you, it's not hard. Take a look at some of the meals we've prepared over the last couple weeks:

  • Minestrone Soup. Beans, veggies and pasta from scratch in about 20 minutes. Perfect with a nice loaf of bread.
  • Black Bean Tostadas. Tostada shells topped with a thick black bean sauce. Put some shredded cheddar, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and salsa on top and serve with a side of Spanish rice and you're set.
  • Spaghetti. Nothing can beat spaghetti. Make the sauce from scratch or buy a jar of your favorite (Newman's Own makes a great one), add veggies and spices and serve over the noddles of your choice. Oh, and don't forget bread.
  • Veggie Burgers. Fake meat can be creepy. If I wanted to eat meat, I'd eat meat. But Morningstar Farms makes some great stuff, including their spicy black bean burgers.
  • Wild Mushroom Risotto. Risotto can be tricky but once you get the hang of it, it's seriously one of the best things you've ever put in your mouth. Let me know if you ant a recipe.
  • Pizza. Make one, don't buy one. Store-bought crust and fresh veggies make all the difference.
  • Breakfast! Seriously, breakfast for dinner rocks.

My point here is this - you won't go hungry. Even if you don't want to get stuck eating weird soy products or subsist on oats, you'll be fine. If you're contemplating vegetarianism and you're concerned about what there is to eat, check out Carol Gelles' 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes. It's our go-to, well worth the $25 and a fantastic cookbook you can use even if you fall off the vegetarian wagon.

Oh, and by the way, we sold our house yesterday. Eek.

Posted by Chris at August 1, 2007 6:56 AM

Breakfast for dinner would include Bacon and sausage for me.

Congrats on selling the house.

Posted by: William at August 1, 2007 8:04 AM

Yay for the home stretch! (pun not intended) I'm one of those sick people that kinda likes moving, only because I like the process of unpacking and finding homes for all my stuff.

I had Morningstar Farms corn "dogs" yesterday for the first time, and found them surprisingly edible! I also enjoy some of their veggie bites.

Posted by: jaime at August 1, 2007 8:05 AM

I would totally be a vegetarian if it were not for two things: 1) my husband is a definite carnivore and gets crabby if he goes too long without meat, and 2)I love me some hamburgers.

Still, I try to do about half of our meals without meat.

And, I would LOVE a recipe for "wild mushroom risotto". There's nothing about those three words together that doesn't make me instantly hungry.

Posted by: Jessie at August 1, 2007 8:40 AM

I love the morningstar products!!!! I was very skeptical and would not try them for a long time, finally I did and wow!!! I dont eat meat burgers anymore. They are good grilled too. My hubby just shakes his head because he is still chicken...hee hee! I think I am going to send him to your site tonight.

Posted by: linda at August 1, 2007 8:42 AM

Congratulations on selling the house. So many people seem to be moving to new houses these days. I'm definitely getting new house fever and that is NOT a good thing.

Posted by: daisy at August 1, 2007 8:55 AM

Wow, I am basically a vegetarian for the exact same reasons, or non-reasons. I'm just not really a fan. Red meat always grossed me out as a kid, so once my parents got past the "you have to eat three bites" thing, I just didn't eat it anymore. (Except bacon. I don't know what it is about bacon.) Then, end of my senior year of high school, I was served the same bland unidentifiable fancy-sauce covered chicken at three events in a week (the last one being prom) and that was it. No more meat -- red or poultry. And I never ate seafood. Although I do miss chicken and bacon, but not enough to actually eat it because I know after one or two bites I will be totally grossed out by it. I actually really like fake chicken, but I'm not a big fan of veggie burgers. They are just too mushy for me most of the time, although I do like the Morningstar black bean burgers.

Posted by: Stephanie at August 1, 2007 9:09 AM

I'm with Jessie. I think I could make the switch if it was not for my hubby. Although, I'm afraid I'd end up existing on all carbs. I love my rice, pasta, etc.

My question is do you ever worry about not getting enough protein? Do you worry about Mia not getting enough protein since she is still growing? (She looks like she's doing just fine, by the way! It's just a harmless, curious question.)

Posted by: snakeepoo at August 1, 2007 9:12 AM

I totally respect vegetarians. Really, I do. And if you ever come to dinner at my house, I promise I can make it through one meal without meat. But I have too much German blood in me. Meat calls to me. Whispers sweet nothings in my ear. I'm its bitch and I know it.

Not to mention I am diabetic and while I do know it's possible to be diabetic and vegetarian, I am also completely lazy.

So, high-five to you and Beth, dude. And big congrats on the house.

Posted by: aimee/greeblemonkey at August 1, 2007 9:15 AM

I'm also a fan of Morningstar Farms' fake chicken thingys - the nuggets are tasty, and the parmesan ranch chik'n patties? Delicious. Love 'em. Stay away from the fake bacon and sausage, though. Frightening.

Posted by: Dawn at August 1, 2007 9:30 AM

Yeah, its surprising how good some of these products are these days. We picked up a box of organic chicken nuggets at a Whole Foods store a while back and it wasn't until 75% of the box was gone that I read the fine print and realized the nuggets were made of soy.

Posted by: J at August 1, 2007 9:46 AM

You know why cows are sacred in India? Because they're delicious, that's why. All hail the hegemony of beef!

Vegetarians. pfft.

Congratulations on selling the hizzy.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at August 1, 2007 10:07 AM

we dont eat too much meat these days. no particular reason why. We are big macaroni eaters. I dont know how people survive on Atkins or other no-carb diets. there would like, nothing left for me to eat and id go batshit insane without macaroni, bread, cereal.....but every now and then I like a good steak. Or pork tenderloin, especially if its from Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill....holy shit! anyway, have you ever tried any Mediterranean style dishes?? there are lots of delish vegetarian stuff/ They eat a lot of beans and fresh, in-season veggies. I cook that way sometimes, but I use fish and other seafood too. A very healthy way to eat tho. and great flavors.

congrats on the house, btw. :)

Posted by: madmom at August 1, 2007 10:15 AM

Congrats on your house sell!!

I am veg more for health reasons or at least trying to be!! Yes, please send me the risotto recipe.


Posted by: ::c:: at August 1, 2007 10:20 AM

Yay!!! Congrats on the house!!!

My mom sold her house this week too and is closing on her new condo today.

Posted by: Li'l Foot's Mommy at August 1, 2007 10:28 AM

Congrats on the house.

Do you do eggs and cheese? Meat I could probably do without, but cheese... cheese in another thing entirely.

Posted by: Nat at August 1, 2007 10:46 AM

I applaud your vegetarianism. I had to start eating meat again for medical reasons, much to my dismay, but I still tend to be mostly meat-free. I can say from experience that vegetarians eat better than meat-eaters. I think vegetarians put more thought into their food, and what meat-eaters dismiss as side dishes, vegetarians take to new heights of tastiness. (Especially breakfast. You're so right about that.)

Congrats on the house! I wish someone would buy my condo.

Posted by: Kelly at August 1, 2007 10:46 AM

Congrats on the house!

I don't want to be that kind of vegetarian, but just fyi that Morningstar Farms I believe uses GMO corn, you know, that Starlink stuff that is wiping out monarch butterflies. Try Amy's Chicago Burger -- yum! Also? I am newly addicted to edamame. Excellent source of protein and fun to eat when you have them in the pods.

Posted by: laura at August 1, 2007 11:00 AM

I'm afraid my German blood calls for meat as well. It's an addiction, I know and I simply can't help it. However, I admire people who can make Vegetarianism work for them.
And yes, Miabean looks happy and healthy and I am thinking you are doing her a big favor!

Posted by: Maribeth at August 1, 2007 11:03 AM

I'd love the recipe for the Rissoto.

Congrats on the sale of the house!

Posted by: Jody at August 1, 2007 11:09 AM

Im a vegetarian, and have been all my life. No seafood either.

We do a lot of what you do for meals. I epsecially love to do "fold-overs". Like calzones, dough stuffed with sauce, cheese, olives, onions, garlic tomatoes, peppers, and pineapple. And anything mexican.

Once, a LONG time ago, someone asked me how I could eat pizza, since it had meat on it. As if ALL pizza has meat, just cheese or veggies wasnt an option in their minds. A lot of people think that about spagetti too.

Morningstar also makes these nugget like things that are stuffed with veggies (mushrooms/peppers/mozzarella) and one that has spinach and eggs. Very good. Great for kids too.

Posted by: alfredsmom at August 1, 2007 11:31 AM

As I was reading the title of your post, the Beef commercial came on the radio. Frightening!

I can never go all the way because I am WAY too dependent on bacon and sirloin. :)

I used to eat vegetarian on Tuesdays for religious reason (not harming animals on the day I was born) and ended up eating more fries, grilled cheese sandwiches than I needed in a life time. Now that I can cook, perhaps I may resurrect the tradition.

Kudos to Morningstar Farms. Tried their spinach artichoke nuggets, it was tasty for healthy stuff.

Posted by: oakley at August 1, 2007 11:31 AM

Congratulations on the sale! What a relief that must be.

One of my favorites during my vegetarian years was a veggie lasagna with soft tofu in place of half of the ricotta. It cut down on the fat and added some extra protein. Plus, non-vegetarians never knew it was there! You make it with the no-boil noodles (which are AWESOME) and it's really very easy.

I'd love the recipe for risotto. We still don't eat much meat (poultry and fish only) and I'd love to get some more variety!

Posted by: heels at August 1, 2007 11:41 AM

My brother fell into vegetarianism the same way. I wouldn't eat much meat either if my husband wasn't such a die-hard meat eater. And I love beans! I would miss some meat, like seafood or the little meat in spaghetti sauce, but all in all I rarely crave it, especially beef. Just not that into it.

Congrats on selling your house!

Posted by: the weirdgirl at August 1, 2007 11:45 AM

I'd love the recipe for the risotto, and minestrone for that matter:). We go back and forth on the vegetarian issue in our house (not that it has to be a decision made for all, but it would make dinner time a lot easier). We have a three year old that refuses to eat meat anyway, and I'm not much of a meat eater anyway. Thanks for sharing. And congrats on the house!

Posted by: kim at August 1, 2007 11:45 AM

Congrats on the house sale! What a relief.

I'm with Aimee... I respect vegetarians, but as a diabetic I'm limited. Also, Hubs is a true carnivore. I can go a few meatless meals without a twitch, but he thinks he's missing something if he can't identify it in the dish. I slip it through occasionally, but he's pretty good at missing it.

I'm always up for a good recipe!

Posted by: sue at August 1, 2007 11:57 AM

Yay on the house!!!!

Not a veg - though I understand/respect others' choices...I don't eat much red meat, but I eat a fair amount of chicken and lots of seafood..And looooove bacon, but don't eat it except for visits home! One of the things that would keep me from getting a balanced veg diet - I HATE beans...blech...

Posted by: Sue R at August 1, 2007 12:01 PM

Having had you on feed for the last few years, holy poo you get a lot of comments.

Anyway! I'm currently seeing, solely out of curiosity, how long I can actually be meat-free. I'm working on two straight weeks right now (if I hadn't had my brief fling with salami two weeks ago, I'd probably be working on over a month, but I wasn't paying attention).

I will probably make it all the way until Labor Day weekend, at which point I'm going to be fishing with my father in Alaska and he'd drop dead on the spot if I said I wasn't eating meat, so I'll take a hiatus then. I really do love meat, but I hate cooking it, and like you, only really order it out. So I don't think this'll be hard.

Posted by: Kate at August 1, 2007 12:06 PM

I just started cooking more vegetarian meals myself. I just discovered quinoa, which I love. So like three days a week I don't eat meat, got to count for something!?

Posted by: LooLoo at August 1, 2007 12:21 PM

I'm glad you're saving a few cows and pigs.

That means more steak and bacon for me. :D

Posted by: Stacey Burkett at August 1, 2007 12:21 PM

That is our go-to book, as well. It is always interesting that people who eat the same 4 meat dishes every day wonder what they heck vegetarians eat besides tofu.

I've actually found that trying to eat a balanced vegetarian diet has added a heck of a lot more variety into my life than when I ate meat.

ps - if you want an awesome vegetarian chili recipe, check out my blog...

Posted by: Kaz at August 1, 2007 12:49 PM

My mom is "dating", or whatever she wants to call it, a Buddhist. She now doesn't eat meat, mostly because she's with him all the time.

Me? I would die. When I'm in the store, I spend a good twenty minutes just gazing at red meat. I like the way it looks. I like envisioning myself cooking it.

I think I'm a meat version of a vegetarian. I rarely eat veggies, and eat a whole lotta meat. (3 lb trip-tip for 2 people? SURE!) I give thumbs up to veggie folks mostly because I don't honestly care one way or the other. Just don't come to my house for dinner. I wouldn't know what to serve. (I dread my mom coming out... She might starve.)

YAY on selling your house! Hope the move goes well!

Posted by: Phoenix at August 1, 2007 12:49 PM

That is our go-to book, as well. It is always interesting that people who eat the same 4 meat dishes every day wonder what they heck vegetarians eat besides tofu.

I've actually found that trying to eat a balanced vegetarian diet has added a heck of a lot more variety into my life than when I ate meat.

ps - if you want an awesome vegetarian chili recipe, check out my blog...

Posted by: Kaz at August 1, 2007 12:51 PM

ah yes, but i hate beans, except for the jelly. i also hate most vegetables.

but hey... that just means MORE CHICKEN FOR ME!! and bacon. and steak. and cheeseburgers. and pork chops.... mmmmm

Posted by: jodi at August 1, 2007 1:14 PM

I tried being vegetarian for awhile but mostly for the health part of it. I couldn't do it. I eat meat about 4 times a week. Sometimes more :x

Posted by: Stephanie at August 1, 2007 1:52 PM

We eat about 75% vegetarian and love it. I'd love a recipe! (except my huz hates mushrooms...) ;-)

Posted by: Much More Than A Mom at August 1, 2007 2:32 PM

but the bacon... dont you miss the bacon??? :)

Posted by: stinkerbell at August 1, 2007 2:44 PM

I think this is an interesting choice that you and Beth have made. I find that I'm similar to how the two of you were: I never cook meat at the house, only ordering it when I go out, and even then, I'm not so in love with it that I'd miss it like long-lost treasure if I never had it again. I'd miss shrimp more than anything else, and if I never saw a cow again, I wouldn't shed a solitary tear.

Congratulations! I can't wait to see the new place.

Posted by: Emily at August 1, 2007 2:52 PM

Awesome about the house! I have plenty of friends who don't eat meat. I don't care that they don't and they don't care that I do. That's all that matters.

Posted by: wordgirl at August 1, 2007 3:09 PM

We're kind of in the same boat. But then I think about not having a taco. Or a steak on the grill.

I tried going meatless for a week. I was okay on the spaghetti nights, but other times I had a salad and some veggies and bread. I was hungry by the time I stood up from the table...

Probably the best thing for me would be to become a semi-vegetarian. Like a Monday, Wednesday, Friday kinda thing.

Posted by: L.A. Daddy at August 1, 2007 3:20 PM

Congrats on the house. As for the "meat" of the post, all I could think about as I read through the meals listed was:

That would be good with some chicken/beef/pork added in.

Posted by: Rex at August 1, 2007 3:36 PM

I was a pescatarian for over 4 years and only went back to meat when my doctor recommended it. As a huge lover of cereal and pasta I had no issues finding food to eat (unless at a potluck, cafeteria or my parent's house). But I did often wonder what role my pesca-ism would play if I had a child. Have you come across any conflicts with Mia? Does she eat meat when you're out to eat or visiting family? And what, if any, role do you want your eating preferences to play in her life?
Just curious...

Posted by: amaya at August 1, 2007 4:33 PM

I give you guys a lot of credit for going vegetarian. I tried it for a while but my body wasn't getting enough of something and I was running on fumes all of the time. However, I don't particularly care for meat, I do mostly fish...D however, couldn't live without his meat.

Congratulations on the house sale!!

Posted by: Krush at August 1, 2007 5:54 PM

I also dig the Morningstar burgers.

Hit me with the Risotto recipe!!

Posted by: Allison at August 1, 2007 7:24 PM

I'm sure you've seen this by now but just in case:

The risotto recipe sounds familiar but I'd love to see the one you make. Aand the minestrone recipe, please! It sounds delicious.

Posted by: Laura GF at August 1, 2007 7:58 PM

First off...congrats on the house!

We are almost meat free in our house...except for the two little carnivores that need their McDonald's fix every now and then.

When we fix pasta we always use the veggie meat crumbles and you really can't tell the difference (and the carnivores are happy).

Posted by: kali at August 1, 2007 8:04 PM

I was an on-again off-again vegetarian sometimes vegan.

Now I'm 100% vegetarian and mostly vegan (I love cheese too much.) I moved somewhere that has a ton o' vegetarian restaurants and started dating someone who used to be a chef at a vegan restaurant.

So I guess my point is, if you wanna go meatless, move to Atlanta and date a vegan chef. :-P

Posted by: Krystyn at August 1, 2007 8:15 PM

High five on selling the house!

Thanks for the tips...maybe one day I will not be so heartless and make the jump.

Hmmmm, but I do recall that you have a little yearning for bacon from time to time. ;)

Posted by: Nanette at August 1, 2007 9:57 PM

I am a vegetarian, and have been for more than 20 years. The smell and taste of meat grosses me out. Are you raising Mia on a vegetarian diet, too?

Congrats on selling the house!

Posted by: Milly at August 1, 2007 10:02 PM

Totally love morningstar farms. And when I discovered their fake bacon? I was all over the good old blt sammich of old. It's so much better than the real thing. And it stays nice and flat and crispy and isn't all wobbly and greasy which totally ruins a sammich in my opinion. Blech.

Yeah. Fake meat is kinda weird. What's the point, right? But if you're the type who misses that or thinks they'd miss it, A lot of products now cover the bases. You can even put a not dog on a stick over the fire. It does some pretty freaky things, but hey they taste good!

Posted by: Keri at August 1, 2007 11:25 PM

I eat chicken and fish. No Red meat for me please. But I HAVE to say, if you haven't already, DO TRY the Morning Star "Garden Veggie" Burger...Og God! So good. Tell me how you like it if you ahve tried it or will soon try it :)

Posted by: Dee at August 2, 2007 12:34 AM

Sounds pretty much like dinner at our house. We also have lots of stirfries and Jon makes a mean sweet potato and black bean burrito from Moosewood Low Fat. He's not vegetarian but can't be bothered to make himself some extra meat for dinner so has a big fat burger from the farmers market on Saturdays to make up for it.

Posted by: Katherine at August 2, 2007 5:30 AM

Congrats on selling the house.

I am not a vegetarian, but your meals sound similar to mine. I've just never been very fond of meat.

Posted by: Maria at August 2, 2007 6:20 AM

Being a vegeterian was easy for me, until I went to visit my Mexican grandmother. She just didn't get it. They'd try to feed me beans, with lard.

Sadly, I'm a meat eater these days. My child on the other hand is vegetarian by nature. I dragged him into chick-fil-a the other day and all the cow pictures in there made him feel guilty.

Posted by: Nila at August 2, 2007 7:01 AM

Good for you! We don't eat a lot of meat either. Like 2 or 3 days a week. We do eat a lot of fish. Do you eat fish? Fish don't really have a head.. or they kinda do... but still they don't look like cute lambs or chickens :)

We have considered being vegetarian, but we just SO like some meet dishes. But we do buy all our meat organic, that way the animals are treated relatively good (OK, until they get slaughtered to end up on my plate :)

Posted by: Nadine at August 2, 2007 1:48 PM

Thanks, man! I'm not terribly surprised by any of these, but I'll certainly give them a try.

I need to embrace vegetables. A veggie intervention or something.

Posted by: Brad at August 2, 2007 2:28 PM

Well at least you don't get the meat sweats anymore.

Posted by: Just Janice at August 2, 2007 6:53 PM

Vegetarians have just as many eating-options as meat eaters, that's for sure. It's just what you're used to. And I'm sure you're enjoying your food just as much as they are, or else you wouldn't have stuck with your current eating plan for so long. :)

Posted by: Zandria at August 4, 2007 2:33 PM

just wanted to tell you that on your recommendation I tried the morningstar farms spicy black bean burgers and they ROCK! So thanks for that. I never liked Gardenburgers but these are so yummy. My husband, the ultimate carnivore, even liked them. What else do they make that's good? I am afraid to try fake chicken, but if you say it's good, I'll try....

Posted by: donna at August 5, 2007 11:57 PM