Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cross Blog Conversation (CBC) with Family Foodies

I've never done this kind of thing before but when asked if I would have a CBC, cross blog conversation with Debbie at Family Foodies, I said, "Yes." Those of you who know me, know that my motto is, "I'll try anything once (but not animal products in my mouth, thank you)."

Debbie asks me how I suggest that a typical steak-loving, non-vegetarian transition to a more healthful way of eating?

Debbie, I consider this one of my specialties because I recommend that you include more vegetables every day. Then along with that, more other healthful plant foods that might be out of the realm of "normal" such as substituting quinoa or brown rice for white rice or potatoes.

Let me share the story about my husband who wasn't a huge meat-and-potatoes guy but he's also no vegetarian. I started giving him better salads, switching from iceberg lettuce to romaine. Then I included a mix of darker lettuces. I didn't do this all at once but over a month or so. He now loves the salad mix (minus the weeds, as he still doesn't like the bitter stuff such as arugula or dandelionand eats at least 3 to 4 cups of it each night. On his own, he asked me to pack him a container of fruit at lunch and a container of vegetables. So, he makes sure that he gets the recommended 9 servings each day, at least during the week. Once you're eating all that produce, and make sure that it's as fresh and local as you can get it, so it tastes best, you are likely to eat less of the other things. Or at least that's the hope.

You can also go the Meatless Mondays route, making sure that at least one day a week you skip the meat. Once you get a few good recipes under your belt, it may be easier to incorporate more vegetarian meals.

Confirmed meat-eaters often like dishes such as chili, which you can make in many meatless variations with a variety of different beans.

When I attend potlucks or other functions, I bring a dish that I want to eat which is often colorful and filled with vegetables. It might be something like a quinoa salad, sweet and sour summer squash or hummus and vegetables, soup or stew, depending upon the event and the meal. Fresh and vibrant vegetables are almost always a hit.

Unless there is meat in every dish, I find things to eat. But nothing bugs a vegetarian more than people hiding meat in dishes that could easily be meat-free such as a vegetable-based soup made with chicken or beef broth.

Some of my family's staples at holiday meals such as Curried Squash Soup, Roasted Root Vegetables and Fruited Wild Rice started out as what I made for me but now everyone eats them.

I think that you mentioned the key word: transition. Most people need to make changes over time to be most successful, especially with a big dietary change such as eliminating meat and other animal products. Get a few good cookbooks (guess this is when I plug The Veggie Queen cookbook) or look online at my website or other blog posts. I also have have colleagues and fellow bloggers who do great work. See my list on the sidebar here.

And, Debbie, keep making those salads but see how you might make them interesting without the cheese by adding little tidbits such as dried fruit, nuts, olives, capers or avocado. It's all a process and I encourage you to give it a try especially because it's good for the whole family. Children mimic what you do and if you want your kids to have a great start on health, it's through what they eat.

Now, my questions for you: what do you think really stops you from eating or trying more vegetarian foods? Is it the perceived time that it takes, or buying the stuff? Or maybe you think that your husband won't like it. I'd love to hear.

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