A sneaky vegetable – Spaghetti squah

This past week I snuck a vegetable in on my six year old daughter for dinner. I replaced her ordinary noodles in a pasta dish with spaghetti squash.

It looks uncannily like angel hair pasta, though it has a different texture. If you put sauce on the spaghetti squash before you serve it to a child they may not realize the difference, at least not by sight.

I did make one mistake. I used an Alfredo sauce that was milder than a tomato sauce. So about half way through her dinner my daughter realized what I had done. Had I used a stronger sauce she may not have noticed, or at least gotten further along before she noticed.

Of course when she realized it wasn’t “real pasta” she didn’t “like it” anymore (though she had already eaten half of it ;-)). But it leaves me hopeful for spaghetti squash in the future. Think I just need to use it in a different dish.

If you’re unfamiliar with what spaghetti squash is I’ll try to add a link or picture later. Blogging from my mobile today, which is somewhat limiting.

African Black Eyed Beans

African Black Eyed Beans (no the beans aren't from Africa, just the recipe 😉

Last night I tried Lois’ African Black Eyed Beans. 1I did not mean to do two of Lois’ recipes in a row, but that’s what I had in the storecupboard 🙂 Barbara was just back from Tauranga and I had them ready with rice, Barbara did not know it was a competition recipe but said the beans were delicious without prompting 🙂 I adapted the recipe for Repentant Carnivores (rather than Vegans) by cutting the fat, especially the bad fat in the coconut cream, halving this works fine and still tastes deliciously different.

  • 1½ cups black-eyed beans. Start these cooking for 30 – 45 minutes.

Make the sauce with:

  • 2 chopped onions Sautéd in a little oil until they’re softish.
  • 1 small can tomato paste (or chopped tomatoes but then you will need to “reduce” 2That is boil to remove some of the water. the sauce a bit).
  • ½ can coconut cream
  • 2 tsp paprika 3I used smoked, it adds a nice depth to the warmth – as I also used less chili.
  • ½ tsp (or more or less) chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Stir together till combined, if necessary reduce to thicken, but if you keep the beans warm in the sauce before serving it will thicken up a bit then.

When the beans are cooked, drain and mix the sauce into them.

Serve with rice. This is would serves 4 as a main meal. 4Lois or Alison reckoned 4-6 but the 6 would all need small appetites or to eat desert as well 😉

Lois gave credit to Alison Holst, the beans taste interesting and different as most Westerners are not used to the coconut and bean combination, which worked very well. Once again the recipe risks looking plain, I think (in the Capsicum season at least) some thin Jullienne strips of green Capsicum might lift it… I am sure this dish, especially if it was enhanced by some appropriate (or better still inappropriate) story about the African origin of the recipe, would go down a treat with most children – though definitely reduce the chili (like I did) in that case.

Like the previous two entries I’ve tested this is likely to stay on my regular list, so far it is going to be hard to choose who gets the prize 😉

Notes   [ + ]

1. I did not mean to do two of Lois’ recipes in a row, but that’s what I had in the storecupboard 🙂
2. That is boil to remove some of the water.
3. I used smoked, it adds a nice depth to the warmth – as I also used less chili.
4. Lois or Alison reckoned 4-6 but the 6 would all need small appetites or to eat desert as well 😉

Baked Potatoes

You can usually avoid this by stabbing the potato viciously with a thin blade before cooking (Photo by Robert S. Donovan)

Lifehacker prompted this post, they linked to a page of Kitchen Myths. Most of the list was pretty boring, stuff I either knew (that microwaving does not cause food to become radioactive 😉 or was not really interested in (like whether “real chili” could contain beans) there was one I’d qualify. The author says:

The microwave oven certainly has many legitimate uses, but baking potatoes (or anything else) is not one of them. Sure, you can cook a whole potato in the microwave, but what you get is a steamed potato. The crispy skin and fluffy interior of the genuine baked potato require a long cooking in dry heat.

This is true, but misses the point. What you do is almost cook the potatoes in the microwave, then oil and salt the skins and finish them off in the oven. A saving in fuel as the oven is on much less long and time.

Baked potatoes taste great, loved by most children and are a great opportunity for creative stretching. Think baked potato with olive oil or peanut oil and a little tomato and bacon, for example.

But what suggestions do you have for fully vegan fillings?

Trying faux meat

Today was a bit of a hectic day.  I know Tim has elsewhere expressed his consternation toward “faux meat.”  😉 But, we are, in fact, working through this issue separately, though we are co-blogging our experiences.  So, I gave the stuff a try today.

For one thing, I was a bit intrigued.  For another thing, I thought it might be easy to try faux meat with my kids one day since it at least looks like food that they are accustomed to rather than reducing meat altogether.  As to that, we may see …

My faux meat experience was in the form of a Boca Chik’n Patty.  I suppose this is a bit of what the American diet is about.  We have been raised on fast and easy.  And, this certainly was on a bit of a hectic day.  Our oldest is in ballet camp and my wife is in midst of rearranging the house while I’m working (no summer off for me – my wife works as a school librarian).  On top of that I think the two year old is teething.

My impression was this – it wasn’t so bad, but certainly not the kind of thing you could live on.  Also, it is the kind of thing that is fine on a bun, but taken on its own I don’t imagine it would have been quite as palatable.  No wonder most of the faux meat offerings are burger shaped.  I realize that’s not quite a stellar review, but I realize not every meal is going to be ideal.

I’ll probably make use of the patties again if in a pinch, but I don’t think I could make a habit of it.  My next project is going to be trying to work my way through some recipes in The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen.  I actually bought the book a while back, but it lead to a fairly frustrating experience that I do not wish to detail.  But, I wanted to pick it up and give it another shot.  There are some really tasty looking pictures in there at least.  I’ll let you know if any of those work out.

Removing the Beam?

I suppose I should begin with an introduction.  My name is Jeremy. I normally blog here and, if you’re interested, you can learn a bit more about me here (though now that I’ve just looked I need to update some of that info ;-)).  After commenting on Tim’s post on being a repentant carnivore, he asked me if I’d be interested in co-blogging with him on this topic.  I thought this would be a worthwhile project so here I write.

I, like Tim, have become increasingly concerned about my own consumption of meat both from the standpoint of health and ecology, though I think Tim’s concern is primarily in terms of resources.  For me at least, it is not a matter of abstinence, as I don’t see any problems inherent in eating meat, but rather one of moderation.  If my meat consumption is at the expense of others, or if it is deteriorating my own health, then this failure to practice self-control is wrong, and I should amend my diet.

One issue that I will try to bring to the fore is one that Tim alluded to in his first post, namely that of trying to reduce meat consumption as well as the consumption of animal products with children in my home.  Not only children, but children who have been raised on an American diet.  They like pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, and … well, that’s about it.  They will both eat fruit if that is all we have to offer, but balk at vegetables.

The matter that I have been thinking about the most from the outset is what approach I should take with my children.  My wife is fully on board with reducing meant consumption; however, attempts at getting our children to make changes to their diet often lead to a great deal of frustration.

My dilemma is whether my wife and I should attempt to model a more meat-less diet for a time first and then attempt to bring the children along; something analogous to removing the beam from our own eyes first before we can try to help them.  Or should we attempt to have the children participating from the start?  I suppose the first option may seem a bit cowardly, but the initial frustration that may result from option two oftentimes leads to failure that can seem like a serious setback.

For the time being, I have started by trying to reduce my own meat consumption.  Today was entirely devoid of animal products for me.  And, I suppose that’s a start.

Has anyone ever tried this or something analogous with their children?  What has worked for you?  I’d be glad to hear your thoughts, and I’m looking forward to dialoguing through this experience with you.