We’re so used to thinking of veg as “just a side dish”. But there is a new trend, a new viral hashtag in town: #MeatlessMondays.
Born in an effort to help the environment, the endless benefits of going one day without chicken, pork, beef or any other delicious meat cannot be overstated. No meat lover will be forced to go full vegetarian here, but here is a few tips and tricks on how to get started on this hearty habit, that helps the world, your health, and your wallet.
Cooking for a family can be tough, especially when there’s kids involved.
Too often we will just go for the easy way of throwing a delicious lasagna in the oven (especially when it’s so handy to pre-make them and freeze them, or to provide the little ones with yet another portion of chicken nuggets.
But for one day only, let’s flip it around.
How about creating a colourful display of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheeses, breads and hummus and take a hike indoors.
Put the best snacks into a picnic basket and abandon the dinner table for a feast in a fort made of pillows?
How about throwing all caution to the wind and eating carrot sticks while fighting imaginary dragons.
Children are often not too keen on fresh veggies, so making their consumption an adventure can lighten up the mood and make them completely forget that they are having dreaded HEALTHY things (ewww, right?).
Hardly any child will shout the dreaded “mooooooom!” or “daaaaad!” when presented with a brussel sprout disguised as a frog’s treasure.
It doesn’t have to be this much effort every week, of course (ok ... did you exhausted just reading the above paragraph?).
“Sneaking in” a vegetarian day can happen gradually.
Maybe replace the ham sandwich in the kids’ lunch boxes with a jam one, and voila: a meatless meal.
Then, create a casserole with lovely sweet potatoes and substitute the chicken for tofu, chunks of haloumi or paneer, and season it with our delicious and freshly crafted seasoning blends.
It will taste heavenly, warm you up to your core and still provide you with plenty of protein.
Chickpeas, beans, avocados, grilled cheeses from all over the world, tofu - all these are excellent and versatile substitutes.
And in most cases, children won’t notice if one meal is switched.
If they do, go with it. Try again a year later, when their taste buds may have changed. It’s not a science and everyone has to choose what’s best for their family.
Another idea is to switch multiple mealtimes to meatless (apologies for all the big m-words - it’s just so much fun).
Maybe you don’t feel like going a whole day without a bit of bacon on your BLT? That’s totally fine! But how about trying to switch three meals a week instead of three meals in one day? Sounds manageable, right?
If your family is used to having meat at dinner time, try to switch all your non-dinner meals and snacks for a week and see how that feels.
The main thing here is, every day you try to go meatless should not be about the challenge, the hashtag, or even any of the other benefits. It’s about discovering new ideas, new recipes, new ways of loving the food you create for your family. The side benefits are just an added plus.