Over the past few months, I have been in the process of cleaning up my pantry. Although it was not a huge disaster, nutritionally speaking, there was certainly a little tweaking required to make sure my pantry staples were clean and better options. My pantry is now filled rice and pastas that are brown; my jars are filling up with nuts (raw, roasted and unsalted), lentils, dried beans and various seeds including my favourite, Chia seeds! I am slowly weaning the family off white refined sugar and introducing them to better choices like honey, maple syrup, agave and organic evaporated cane juice.
I am thrilled to report that my COMPLETELY plant based Bolognese sauce was a HUGE success. The family ate it all up and didn't seem to notice that the texture of the sauce was just a little different than my regular meat sauce. The lentil and mushroom sloppy Joes hit the spot for my 14 year old. I even had enough left over to send home with my eldest daughter who LOVED it too. I made my veggie pizza with 3/4 marinara and 1/4 cilantro pesto. I really enjoyed the change. I will definitely be doing this again. The family didn't try the pizza with the cilantro, but were quite happy with the usual tomato based veggie pizza - I won't complain, more for me! I cut back the shredded mozzarella cheese for this pizza too, and no one seemed to mind; yes... baby steps. Finally, the broccoli salad with the completely dairy free dressing was a big winner too. My husband thought it was super tasty, so I will be making this again for sure! I think this dressing will be a great substitute for the store bought poppy seed dressing I use on my kale, Brussels sprouts, purple cabbage, & broccoli salad; an unexpected PLUS!
So as I spend my evenings periodically perusing other blogs I come across, I have noticed that each writer typically has a theme of some sort. Food bloggers are plant based, gluten free, traditional meat based, etc. Other bloggers write about their family's exploits and adventures. As I have gone back and re-read my posts, I have come to the conclusion that my "theme", if you will, is basically how I try to improve my family's diet by incorporating more plant based choices in our daily diets; and how I "hide" these plant based choices while we transition from a fairly decent diet to an extraordinary one! Certainly, I can't be the only person who wants to eat better and drag her family along with her, even if it is on the down low!
So low and behold, this blog is for you, if you want
- to join me on a similar food journey by adding more plant based foods to your diet
- to be introduced to tasty meals that will keep your meat eaters happy and satisfied
- to take advantage of my learning curve on transforming your tried and true family favourites to more plant based meals
- to learn how to "hide your healthy" while minimizing your animal based products
- to learn about my budget tips for feeding your family
Since I am not ready or willing to commit myself to a completely plant based lifestyle, I have decided that I am going to eat the most ethical and clean sources of meat, eggs, and dairy as possible . All of this plus attempting to stay as local as I can. I have discovered that this is not so easy to do, especially if I want to stay within a 30 minute drive. This being said, I am thrilled to have found a local farm that does everything "right" but is not certified organic. In my books, if you do everything right but don't have the papers, it is still so much better than factory farmed for sure. Yesterday, I sent my paperwork in for my first half side of pork that is ethically raised and organically fed. I also had myself put on the waiting list for any extra ethical chickens for June and July. This ethical and clean meat is more expensive for sure, but since I have drastically reduced our meat consumption, I think the extra expense of the ethical meat should balance out in our overall food budget.
Now I am in search of some local, ethical eggs. I have a few phone numbers but I think I will need to take a visit to the farms to decide about the living conditions and find out what the feed is. In the meantime, I think my local supermarket carries Burnbrae Natureggs which are organic. When I was researching Burnbrae Farms eggs, I visited their site. I found virtual tours of the various ways chickens are raised. It helped me decide that I wanted to buy the organic free range eggs based on living conditions. Yes, these are large scale farms, kind of industrial, but the barn looked clean and the chickens looked like they were happy. Perhaps, not as happy as the ones on the little organic farm with only a dozen of these guys running around, but still, happy enough. Not the perfect situation, but since we can't all have a few chickens running around our yards, it is the better than the cages for sure.
So what is on tap for the next few days? Some slicing and dicing for my ginger, orange and garlic veggie stir fry. Still tweaking my recipe. Just for a change, I think I will hide some green lentils in it as well. On Thursday, I am going to try out a lentil/mushroom Salisbury Steak recipe. I have some roast chicken gravy in the freezer that will be lovely ladled over the steaks and with the mashed potatoes or maybe a cauliflower mash or maybe a combination? Hopefully the gravy will distract them from the "meatlessness" of the Salisbury Steaks. I am hoping they will be well received because I just realized that we have a Summer season coming (I hope). With Summer comes barbecue and barbecue means burgers and grilled everything. If I can win them over with a meatless Salisbury Steak, there is a chance that the grilled lentil veggie burgers I want to try might be met with less resistance!
Don't throw out your extra gravy. Save it in the freezer. I had some extra roast chicken gravy left over from my husband's birthday dinner earlier this month. I put it in a two 500 ml mason jars and popped them in my freezer. I let the gravy thaw in the fridge. I will put a 1/4 cup of water into a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and whisk in the thawed gravy, a little at a time until it is smooth and heated through. It will be as good as it was the first time around. Waste not; want not!
See you soon with my next round of updates. Perhaps I will have a new recipe to share or a favourite new discovery!
Eat well... be well!