Monday, May 3, 2010

Introducing Meatless Mondays

In our house, we have been trying to go meatless every Monday for a while now.  It's fun but it can be a challenge to find a variety of vegetarian meals that are pleasing to the 4 and 6 year old palate.

My husband and I dabbled in vegetarianism for a few years before we had children.  That was during a simpler time when two incomes and no picky kids to consider made it easy to have a huge grocery budget to prepare all kinds of cross-cultural, vegetarian culinary delights.  We would travel all over the the comforts of our own kitchen, sampling the unique vegetarian dishes of each culture.  We especially enjoyed borrowing from the East Indian palate.  At the time I worked with several East Indian women and would pick their brains gathering the "how-to's" of East Indian cookery.  I wasn't above pulling out a notebook (usually reserved for taking down pertinent patient information during report at the start of my shift) to feverishly take notes while my co-workers gave me verbal instructions.  Measurements were purely approximations and some details were left out for me to discover on my own through trial and error.  I was forced to decipher instructions for methods that probably evolved over many generations and were likely passed down through word of mouth by women during actual meal preparation; not sitting around a staff room table explaining the process while sipping tea and munching on a bagged lunch.  It was truly an adventure.  I felt very lucky to have such a rich cultural, culinary resource available to me.  I would often bring left-overs to work the next day to have my "teachers" taste my interpretations of their time honoured dishes and offer advice on improvements.

Home made pakoras accompanied by a cilantro-garlic salsa were a staple for us.  And I became a fan of a dish known as Bindi - oven roasted okra in a garlic masala mixture of my own creation.  Nothing dresses up okra like garlic and masala spice.  

No dish could ever be replicated exactly because no measuring took place.  This is the true heart and soul of cooking, in my humble opinion.  I have strayed just a little from this adventurous style of cooking in an effort to please my young children.  But I feel it might be the right time to start gastronomically globe-trotting again.  My girls are no longer fussy toddlers and I think they just might enjoy the ride.  

I've recently stumbled upon this site:  Introducing Meatless Mondays.  It's a great site that helps motivate people to abstain from eating meat one day a week by offering vegetarian recipes, cooking videos and nutritional tips.

I'm looking forward to enriching our annual gardening endeavours with some interesting new cooking methods and flavours.  Furthermore, I am excited to teach my children more about social responsibility and stewardship of the Earth.  Reducing our meat consumption reduces our footprint on our over burdened planet.  Not to mention the moral and ethical issues regarding the abhorrent conditions in which many animals bred for food are forced to exist.

Above is a picture of a veggie kabob grill we did a couple of Mondays ago.  We served them over brown rice and garbanzo beans with a light sprinkling of soy sauce.  My girls were involved in the assembly of the kabobs and were very proud of their colourful creations.  I mean, look at these beautiful vegetal delights!  What kid could resist?

There's no denying that vegetables are healthy.  We all could stand to ramp up our consumption of veggies. Perhaps you'd like to climb on board this Meatless Monday band-wagon.  And if you know of any kid-friendly, healthy recipes, or any links to other great vegetarian sites don't be shy.  Share!

By the way, this is an excerpt from the welcome email I received from the "Meatless Mondays" site.  Notice how they are careful to make the "type-2" distinction - a small detail, but to those with type-1 diabetes, it means a lot given the amount of misinformation out there.:

Did you know: In Canada, it takes seven times more land to feed a non-vegetarian than a vegetarian. Also in Canada, rates of type-2 diabetes and levels of overweight and obesity have reached near epidemic proportions. About 1.8 million Canadians aged 12 and over, or 5.5% of the population, have been diagnosed with diabetes and 90% is type-2 diabetes; almost 60% of adults ages 18 and over, or 14.1 million Canadians, are overweight or obese.  
Going Meatless just once a week can reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. 
So pat yourself on the back. You are making a difference! times more land?!  That is definitely food for thought, pardon the pun.

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