Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Meatless Meals without the Label

A craze that's been floating around for a few years is the concept of "Meatless Mondays", in which people do not eat meat for one full day during the week. Why? Well, depending on what kind, how much and how often you eat it, high meat consumption is associated with cardiovascular disease, overweight, cancer and higher mortality rates. Eating factory-farmed steaks and chicken can also lead to environmental degradation and unhealthy animals, so it's about more than just our health.

"Meatless Mondays" are a good idea, but they can be very stressful! Words like vegetarian and tofu start floating around the house and suddenly the husband and the child aren't on board. "I need MEAT!" he'll say, and somehow those three little words make a convincing argument... and "meatless Mondays" suffer a quick and quiet demise without ever being given a chance.

I'm proposing something slightly different.  What if you ate delicious, delectable food that just happened to contain no meat?  No hullabaloo, no labels, just food?

Moong Dal with Red Split Lentils, Brown Rice, Yogurt, Potatoes, Peas and Homemade Pickles

There are plenty of cuisines that lend themselves naturally to meat-free eating, one of which is Indian. Spicy scrumptious lentils and veggies have absolute no need for meat, and they make a delightful and filling meal.

This week, I purchased cauliflower at the store for no other reason than it looked good.  I had no meal plan. What could have been a simple steamed side dish turned into a wonderful, flavorful main course of cauliflower, potatoes, peas and mustard seeds.  Once I decided to cook Indian food, I just had to add lentils.  I always have lentils in my cupboard, and red lentils are especially quick cooking and easy to work with.

In preparing this meal, I gave absolutely no thought to making a vegetarian dish, I simply cooked what sounded good.

Potatoes, Peas and Cauliflower... plus delicious Mustard Seeds!

So... what sounds good to you?

What ingredient do you have in your fridge that you can base an entire meal around?  Cooking is more than calories and fat and health and labels.  It's about what feels good and tastes good and feeds your core.  If you have over-analyzed your food, chances are you won't enjoy it.

Love what you eat!  Enjoy what you cook!


  1. You make such an excellent point here about the change in perspective that needed to happen for me in order to finally change my eating habits. I had to change how I approached and prepared vegetables. I had to start taking a lot of inspiration from foreign cuisines, as you mention here. They really know how to appreciate vegetables!

  2. You are absolutely right landanimal. I often tell my clients to plan their meals around veggies- pick a veggie recipe and then choose a protein and starch to pair with it. Entirely new way of thinking about it!