I often make meals without meat, but it’s usually when my husband isn’t here. He just seems to think you need protein in each meal, but I don’t think it has to be animal-based. After reading Mark Bittman’s recent article in the NY Times I guess I’m not the only one who thinks that way and my husband’s not the only who eats his way.
How much meat/protein is too much? I’ve noticed often parents will be happy if their kids get protein through chocolate milk and yogurt but not give as much consideration to the kids’ vegetable (especially green veggies) or even sugar intake. “At least they’re getting their protein.” is a common mantra. But is it right?
Milk, yogurt, chicken, beef, eggs, cheese, and protein-fortified food and drinks. I think my generation got a little obsessed with protein and overlooked the vegetables.
We don’t need more than a few ounces of protein a day. An 8 oz. burger is 4 or 5 oz. too many and especially if that’s not the only protein that person has had that day… And that’s the recommended amount (around 3 to 4 oz or about 100 grams) per day for an adult.
We are told we should be giving kids about 5 to 9 servings of whole* vegetables and fruits (*I just mean with the fiber of it; not just juice) daily. So, the fruit flavored yogurt, fruit snacks or juice don’t count. I found the best way to figure out what a “serving” is, is it’s about a fist-full. A child’s fist is their serving size and an adult’s fist is our serving size.
So, following in the footsteps of Meatless Monday, I’ve decided to serve some Meatless Meals (Whatever the Day). And also try to pay some attention to how much protein we’re taking in during a day or week.
One was meal was Eggplant Parmigiana that I totally cheated on and lied about. Cheating part was that I got frozen eggplant cutlets from Trader Joe’s which I baked first (according to package directions) then placed in oven-proof dish topped with their Organic Tomato Basil Sauce and shredded mozzarella. Baked it until cheese was melted and sauce hot. Served with roasted cauliflower and tri-colored radiatore tossed with olive oil, butter, sea salt and a little garlic powder.
My kids have never been big fans of eggplant unless it’s in ratatouille or a similar dish. So I lied. I had one try it first and when he said “Yum, what is it?” I lied. I can’t believe I did it, but I knew the others wouldn’t even try it if they knew it was eggplant. So, I said chicken. CHICKEN!?! Later on I let them know it was eggplant, but that was after they’d eaten most of it. They kind of noticed when the breading was off that it didn’t look like chicken. Hey, I never said I was perfect or that I don’t resort to tricks at times. I got them to eat it and most amazingly my youngest liked it the most. Now I can make it and tell them what it really is.
½ head cauliflower, broken/cut into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Bring ½ cup of water to boil and add cauliflower, cover. Steam/boil for several minutes until cauliflower has softened slightly. Shock with cold water. Drain and toss with oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place in preheated oven at 375ºF for at least 20 minutes until cauliflower has golden brown crispy top. Toss with parsley to finish.
Only my middle son and I loved the cauliflower. He told his friend’s mom last night that cauliflower was his favorite vegetable. My eldest said it was “Good.” but he didn’t want more than one piece. My youngest refused to try it. It was so good, maybe next time.