I’m loving diving more into the topics of meatless meals that seems to be on so many of our minds lately. For clarification, meatless doesn’t have to mean vegetarian or vegan, unless you want it to. It is just a a focus on incorporating more plant-based meals and snacks into our weeks. I hope to show more behind the scenes of how we’ve been eating more plant-strong family meals, the prep work, and even what I keep in my fridge at all times…
Always: La Croix, fresh herbs, leafy greens, ginger, and beer.
Never again: those faux mozzarella shreds. Yall, they made me gag.
I’m finding it easier to get inspired for colorful meals now that the weather is starting to perk up. We spent a lot of this weekend outside. We rode bikes (Hailey is officially on two wheels!), played a little basketball, restarted tennis lessons, had a backyard bonfire, and wandered Davidson (good news- chips and guacamole is meatless ;))
So let’s get into last week’s plant-strong family meal plan. As always, I’ll link to the recipe and tell you what my family thought and if I will add it to the repeat list!
I loved the deep flavor in this dish (David did too), and though it wasn’t complicated by any means, having to use a mortar and pestle or a small food processor doesn’t fall under easy. It was too spicy for the girls so they ate buttered rice and naan (quite happily). I will make it again, but probably decrease the number of fresh green chilies to make it more family friendly.
The addition of cashew cream (you only have to soak the cashews for an hour), give this dish some heartiness you don’t usually get from a typical marinara sauce. The capers and shallots offered depth and the entire family ate this is quite quickly. Of course, what’s not to love- it’s PASTA! Next time I might try it with a shorter pasta noodle, like fusilli, so I don’t have the long linguine or spaghetti strands stick together quite as much.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Veggie Burgers with Avocado Caesar Kale Salad
This dish won meal of the week! These burgers take some prep work and some time in the fridge to set, but they were delicious. Hailey gave an emphatic two thumbs up to both the burgers and the kale salad. Kaitlyn ate the burger happily (with ketchup) but stuck to a single bite of the kale salad. I doubled the avocado Caesar dressing and ate it several times (YUM) and David enjoyed the heartiness of the meal (anything with a bun usually equals hearty). I’ll definitely make these again and maybe try to freeze a batch.
Zesty Greek Pasta Salad over Greens with Hummus and Pita Chips
This recipe is already on our repeat list because it’s an easy dinner (or side) that I know everyone likes. Ideally I would add some falafel and pita bread, too, but it was a quick option because I was heading for a girls’ night and wanted to leave the fam with something effortless. Easy peasy!
Homemade Vegetable Pizza
I always get questions about my homemade pizza dough. It’s fluffy, delicious, and perfect each and every time because I use my bread machine. It has a dough feature, so I just add the ingredients, set the timer to whenever I want it to be ready and viola! We roll it out, add pizza sauce, sauteed mushrooms, onions, and peppers, mozzarella, and oregano. I tried the vegan cheese shreds and threw them right into the trash. We stuck with the real thing, and added fresh basil afterwards. Is anything better than pizza night?!
For a peek into lunches…
I made a batch of kichadi and ate it all week long. It was mindless (heat and eat!), and balanced (lentils, rice, veggies) so I liked how simple it made lunches, but I was a little bored with it by the end of the week.
The girls and I often eat the same thing unless I note otherwise, and this was an instance when we didn’t line up for the week. Instead, they stuck with snack plates because they are colorful and easy.
It’s now been a couple months of eating more plant-based with less meat. Overall I’m feeling really good! I still will feel bloated on days I overdo the beans, but I’ve gotten into a rhythm now where that doesn’t happen often. I’ve been asked if it has made me lose weight- no it hasn’t really (I’m down about 1-2 lbs from Christmas time, but… holidays) and that was never part of my motivation. However, David is down a few pounds, and although he says he doesn’t noticeably feel any different day to day, he notices he feels worse when he does eat meat now. Again, he says I’ve ruined him. Men… 😉
What meatless hurdles or frustrations do you struggle with?
The girls’ haircuts look so cute! Thanks for the recipes and your take on them. I am sitting here eating left over broccoli soup for breakfast, wondering what to fix this week–and you gave me some suggestions.
Brittany Dixon says
I think dad might like the creamy vegan marinara!! As for you, the burgers were good- and freezable, which is nice because it makes 8 burgers!
You have inspired me to begin making at least one meatless meal a week and luckily my fiance is on board with it (he is a huge meat eater). I cant wait to try some of these recipes and who knows? Maybe incorporate more meatless meals and become a little more plant based 🙂 I have held off on watching a few documentaries on Netflix in fear they may sway me to eat more meatless meals but now I am excited. Keep posting about this please!
Brittany Dixon says
I’ve never seen Food Inc for the same reason! I heard it was so graphic! I really don’t want to change my eating habits (or any other habits) based on fear, so I try to avoid those propaganda-style documentaries too. I’m trying to learn as much as I can based on real research and as far as I can tell, more plants is never a bad thing 😉
Is there one or two books you would recommend on this subject?
Brittany Dixon says
The only book I feel I could really recommend at this point (I still have plenty of reading to do myself!) is How Not to Die. It’s not a sit down and read book, more of a reference, but I found it really interesting and inspiring.
I usually add spinach or potatoes to channa masala to change it up a little also I use a mix of various carbs like white rice, brown rice, barley, quinoa with yellow/brown or any lentils in hand to make khichdi. Try added a dollop of ghee. Its super yummy. My daily struggle with veg meals is lack of protein intake.
Brittany Dixon says
I love the idea of barley (one of my favorite grains- so chewy!) to switch things up. I need to mix grains up more; great suggestion, thanks!
John J. says
I admire the effort put in, knowledge gained, and presentation of your meals in order to give your family the best nutrition you can. That’s a lot of dedication.
This may fall under post suggestion vs a direct comment to this post… but it is related…I would love to see featured ingredients you try to frequently incorporate and why (health benefits). Thanks for considering!
Brittany Dixon says
Oh I like that idea! The short list: turmeric, ginger, ground flax, green tea, and garlic! But I love the idea of expending on this more. Thanks for the idea, Melissa!
I did try vegetarian and vegan once in high school for almost a year (almost 25 years ago!) but it felt very restrictive and is just not for me. Sounds like vegan cheese has not improved much since the 90’s:)
I would say my eating habits are most similar to the French (and many other European countries)- quality ingredients, everything in moderation. Many of our meals are by nature vegetarian, but never forced vegetarian (chili will always contain meat, as will meatballs, stews, etc, and butter means butter). For me and my family, cheeses, eggs, red meat, seafood, and dairy are all things we enjoy immensely. There would be no motivation or reason for us to eliminate these foods (if it ain’t broke…). We are all at a healthy weight, are healthy, and have good energy (sometimes kids have a little TOO much :)). It seems nowadays there are so many documentaries and news articles that demonize entire food groups which goes against my entire philosophy of food and eating.
I love that you are trying something new and especially that it includes new ingredients and recipes! For me though, a vegan or vegetarian meal plan feels incomplete, and I was curious as to your motivations for eliminating meat and/or dairy. Was it not working for you, or do you not enjoy it, or do you believe it is unhealthy, or is this just a temporary trial? What about eggs? I know in the past they were your go to breakfast (and they are delicious and healthy!). Thanks! None of my questions are coming from a place of criticism or judgement, just curiosity.
Brittany Dixon says
Thanks so much for your comment, Laura! I value good conversation about things like this. I completely understand your feelings that “vegan” feels restrictive. It does to me, too, even though I am eating a lot of vegan meals on the regular now. I prefer (overuse?) the word plant-based because my goal is truly to eat that way, but plant-based means that nothing is really off limits. I thoroughly enjoyed the seafood we had at the beach last week and come football season, I have no doubt we’ll be eating a batch or two of David’s famous chili- sausage and all! However, it is working for us right now to be more plant-based and meat-less in our regular eating. For me, it hasn’t felt restrictive yet.
When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, my whole family went into research mode. We’ve always been balanced, healthy eaters but as we researched more about cancer genes, the more research we found that pointed to the benefit of plant-based eating and disease. That is what started my journey and from there, it’s really been enjoyable to learn more about it. I also feel vegetarian cooking is more flavorful (though in my experience it takes more time!) because it relies on more herbs and spices for flavor than typical meat dishes. Overall it’s been more fueled by excitement and creativity in the kitchen, not fear.
I don’t feel knowledgeable enough to really advocate for everyone eating this way, but there does seem to be a growing movement which is why I’m sharing about out personal journey- in hopes to give people ideas for new recipes to try or foods to avoid (IE: that particular vegan cheese ;)) We had omelets for breakfast on Saturday with eggs a friend gave us from his chickens and when he gives us more, we’ll eat them! I haven’t been buying as many eggs as a was, but again, I don’t feel like anything is off limit- I’ve just adjusted a bit to make plant-based foods the centerpiece.
I hope my lengthy response (I tend to ramble!) answered your questions and again, I’m always open to sharing about what we are doing and why, fully understanding that different ways work for different families, and as I’m learning, at different life stages. I always appreciate your insight and input and I value hearing your thoughts on so many family and food topics!
Thanks Brittany! I really appreciate and value your thoughtful and personal response! Good luck continuing with your plant based eating endeavor, and your advocacy for your and your family’s health is admirable!
Loving that you’re doing more veggie meals, because it’s really giving me inspo to try new recipes! I have been veg for maybe 10 years? But I’m pregnant and lazy right now…and after killing the healthy eating game leading up to my wedding last year, I was sooo burned out on my usuals. It’s been fun to follow along and try new recipes with yall, once you approve of them of course, ha! Also, my husband is a LITTLE more accepting of eating meatless meals a few times a week – I just stopped making/adding meat to his portion unless he decides to spend the time on that and I haven’t gotten many complaints yet!
Brittany Dixon says
Oh gosh I lost so much desire to cook while pregnant and I remember being sad about it, thinking it was gone forever! It came back once baby was about 6 months old 🙂
Congrats on your pregnancy and I’m glad me sharing our favs is helpful!!
Kyla Jocson says
I’ve been planning to go have a vegan recipe for this week and see if it will work for me. Thanks for the recipes! I’m excited to try them! Cheers 🙂
Thanks so much for these recipes..I’m so inspired by your posts to try more plant based meals. I to read that book How Not to Die and it was really an eye opener for me. My family will not give up meat entirely as my husband and son are meat and potatoe guys but definitely incorporating more plant based meals into our diets. Really love your posts! Also funny side note, we have been eating more healthier around here lately….less processed foods, limiting dairy and meat and my husband has said I ruined him as well!! BUT he has way more energy and has lost weight! He can tell the difference 🙂
This is brilliant and I appreciate all the tips. I would have to agree that it is very helpful to have a family meal plan. Though I try to make one, I am actually not very consistent. Thank you for the inspiration. This is very helpful.
I’m not a huge meat eater, but my husband and son are. They could eat meat all the time and I can just skip it. But I was a vegetarian for 12 years and totally expected not to feel well when I started eating it again. I never felt “off” when reintroducing meat. I typically eat it once a day or once every other day and usually not much of it.
My favorite vegetarian meal was this cooksmarts meal I’ve made several times now enchiladas stuffed with sautéed chard and black beans!! Daily garnish’s sesame roasted vegetable salad is also soooo freaking good and I pair it with her blackened tofu. I love cooksmarts because there’s a vegetarian, paleo and gluten free version of each recipe.
Thank you so much for these great recipe ideas, Brittany!! 🙂 Sadly, I have some digestive issues with FODMAPs and need to be on the low-FODMAP diet right now, which is basically designed to thwart all plant-based meals, lol! FODMAPs cover a range of fruits, veggies, nuts, most legumes (including soy products), and mushrooms. But my husband and I have still been determined to reduce our consumption of meat and animal products for health and the environment. It’s just a matter of adjusting recipes to replace high FODMAP foods.
By the way, some vegan cheeses are just dreadful, but I just found a good one called Bio Cheese. Might only be in Australia though?
Are you allergic to meat or something? Grains are so inflammatory. I have autoimmune disease and a week of your diet would ruin me. Vegans are some of the most chronically ill people there are. My mom is a vegan and since her health has deteriorated. Corn and Soy are GMO crops that are heavily sprayed with the poison gycophosphate and will literally ulcerate the lining of your colon. Honestly, you should do some research. 😬
Also I should note that I totally bought into the vegetarian/vegan template for YEARS. At that time I was chronically anemic, had terrible joint pain, chronic fatigue and just overall unwell. A Paleo template is ideal for me, and after trying several different diets, I cannot IMAGINE being vegan again. I have kids and I would NEVER restrict them from eating meat, knowing what I know now.
Brittany Dixon says
I’m glad you found something that works well for you, Amie.
Thanks. Me too. The only reason I’m would even take the time to comment is because of the kids. I hope and pray that your kids are offered a variety of healthy foods a snack not forced to Be vegetarian or vegan as I was. It ruined my health.