Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vegetarian Time

Vegetarian tonight!

Tofu and Black Bean Skillet


1 block firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 cup black beans, cooked
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup chopped onion
1 tbsp oil (olive or canola)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp hot sauce (or to taste)
Handful or 2 of baby spinach
Shredded cheddar cheese as topping (optional)
Bean sprouts as topping (optional)

Fry the oil in a medium skillet and then add the tofu. Fry for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned, then add the onion and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes then ad sauce and beans. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes, then add all seasonings and mix in. Cook for 10 minutes, then add spinach and remove from heat. Mix in spinach until it is softened. Dish onto plates and top with cheese and/or sprouts. Makes 4 servings, or 6-8 sides.

This is a tasty and simple vegetarian recipe. I conjured it while deciding what to make for dinner one day with what I had available in my fridge at the time. I’ve served it to several people who aren’t veggie heads, and they liked it just as much as any herbivore would. It’s also easily alterable, so you can add anything you like to mix it up if you please, or to make it for omnivores, such as adding chicken instead of tofu, corn, Spanish olives, potatoes…you be the chef!

Before I became pregnant with Lily, I had been a vegetarian for years. It started when I was about 12 years old and then I got on and off the wagon about 2 or 3 times, but never for long. I made the choice to become a vegetarian because I became particularly aware of where the meat on my plate came from and I did not like it one bit. So, I decided to brave the ridicule of “being different” I was sure to get from my peers and face the questionable looks from my family, and dive right in to a meat-free diet, a diet I was able to maintain for quite a long time with no issues.

About 3 months into my pregnancy, I had a couple of friends over my place for a music festival and we were grilling in the backyard. Everyone was enjoying the usual beef burgers while I opted for my usual Dr. Praeger’s veggie patty. One my friends was sinking his teeth into his burger and I caught a whiff of it and suddenly felt an old craving I hadn’t felt in a very long time. After pondering the sensation over for a few minutes, I revealed to my friend and husband my sudden craving, and Paul quickly handed me his burger.

I told my OBGYN about the burger incident and she told me my body was probably craving iron and B vitamins that could only be found in meat, and that I should go ahead and eat meat whenever I craved it. I asked if I could just take supplements, and she said it was best to get it from food sources and if my body was craving it, then I needed it to help my baby grow and thrive inside of me. Ever since then, I have been back off of the pesco-vegetarian horse (or zucchini instead of horse to keep it veggie!).

I sometimes think about going back to vegetarianism, and I hope that I will. Not only did I feel better about my choices when I was abstaining from meat, I honestly felt better physically and spiritually, and weighed less too. It’s better for me and better for the environment in so many ways in that it helps to reduce the carbon footprint left by all the toxins raising livestock produces and also keeps antibiotics used on the animals out of my body. Organic-raised meat usually costs a lot more than conventional and often (from what I’ve read, anyway) is not always guaranteed completely organic, USDA approved or not.

These thoughts all ultimately lead to how I plan to handle Lily’s diet as she grows. As of right now, she has not tried meat or any animal products other than dairy. Paul and I have talked it over a few times, and although at first he disagreed with my wanting to raise her veggie, he did agree that it would be healthier for her to have a meat-free life. He was mainly worried about any teasing she might receive from her peers in school and also guilt she might experience from wanting to try meat, a situation he experienced growing up with parents who suddenly wanted him to eat vegetarian after he’d already gotten used to eating meat. I informed him I would give her the option to choose to go omnivore when she was older if she wished to and not pressure her or preach about the wrongs of butchering animals for food if she got curious about fried chicken. He has relaxed since then, but we are still undecided about how to proceed as of right now, so we are just taking it as it evolves.

Tonight Lily enjoyed her usual vegetarian meal, this time of

3 tbsp pureed spinach
3 tbsp pureed corn
1 tbsp brown rice cereal
1 tbsp plain yogurt

Warm spinach and corn and then mix in other ingredients. Make sure it’s not too hot before serving!

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