Monday, January 5, 2009

Vegan Eating-Day 1 w/Moosewood

My wife and I have been reading this book, the Blue Zones, about where in the world various people live long, happy lives, and believe it or not, they span the entire globe. There are even people in the US who fall into this, in California, no less. While the requirements to live long are way too complicated to explain, there is no complete answer, a few things came up with every situation that just so happen to fall in line with our thinking, namely the presence of a strong community, quality time spent with family and friends, and the absence of meat in their diets.

We've been trying to develop a less meat centered diet for years, we believe in it. In fact, we do a vegan night for dinner at least twice a week, and sometimes more, but it ain't easy. Meat just makes a meal much simpler, and people, especially kids, love it. Just add salt, and you've got a meal.

Eating vegan takes a lot more thought and work, at least with children. I could get by with black beans and rice, but try getting your children to eat that every day. There would be mutiny. So the quest to find good vegan meals is not easy, but we couldn't just give up on it. While we'll still eat meat on occasion (we've got a freezer full of the stuff), our goal is to eat a majority of our meals without it. We'll compensate the loss of protein with legumes, eggs, and some dairy, but for the most part, it's going to quite the adventure.

And it all begins with Moosewood. Personally, I'd found in the past that the book is daunting to the point that I avoided it. Too many esoteric ingredients, and in the end, I found vegan dishes left me flat. They were bland, but the problem with cookbooks is that there are too many of them, it's ridiculous, really. Since my wife has the Moosewood, I decided to go for it.

My biggest obstacle was selling it to the kids.

Our first dish on our new healthy eating plan was Bulgarian Red Pepper Stew, which required cannellini beans, of which I had none. I figured that a lot of the specialized stuff, which is easy to find if you live in New York, but more of a challenge in Vermont, I could substitute with whatever I felt was a close facsimilie. I used white beans, I forgot what kind, instead of what they recommend, along with the lentls.

The recipe called for sherry and wine, and though I love both, they give a dish a unique flavor that I'm not sure appeals to kids. It was too late, though, we were moving forward. In the end, it helped that we were starving after a day of skating. We served the stew over brown rice and steamed some broccoli for the uber-healthy, high fiber (uh-oh) meal. I had the backup hot dog or veggie burger in case there were no takers.

But you know what? They actually liked it. They could have been humoring me, but that's fine because they ate their dinner, though N was a little less enthusiastic. A even had seconds. We found the key was a big dollop of yogurt on top, it cut the edge a little and with a little salt, tasted great.

AND, we had no meat. So we got lucky for our first day, I figure we dodged a bullet, and for all their approval, I'm not sure how soon I'll go back to this recipe.

Today our plan is for an Incavolata, a rustic bean (what else is new?) soup, with some fresh vegetables and bread. The problem is, we'll have to make bread and rolls, which is always a bit of a chore. Kneading dough is a pain, but we love the idea of fresh, homemade food, especially bread, something I never grew up with.

We'll see how this one goes. At the very least, the kids love fresh bread, so they're bound to eat something.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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