Wednesday, May 16, 2012

pleasing different palettes: veggie pasta night

If this is your first time visiting, you might want to see this post for a little background on why I'm choosing to eat this way. I would also really encourage you to read "Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease" by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, "The Engine Two Diet" by Rip Esselstyn and/or watch "Forks Over Knives" (available on And then, if you are a believer, weigh what you learn against Scripture and prayerfully ask God how He would have you apply this information, if at all, to your life. I've been praying through Romans 14 lately, if you too want to check it out.

I've fluctuated between loving the focus of this new way of eating and being really challenged by it. Especially with how not excited the kids are with some of the meals I serve. :) Thankfully, I've gradually incorporated more veggie dinners into our weekly repertoire over the past couple of years, but it's a challenge to get the kids, especially all four kids, to like the same things.

Cheese was always an equalizer...rarely did any of them turn up a dish when cheese was involved. So without this standby, I'm on a mission to find the "new" cheese. (FYI...if you've never tried soy cheese before, it's not a product I'd recommend. For me at least, it just doesn't cut the mustard when it comes to approximating the taste of dairy cheese. And you'd need to closely scan the ingredients to be sure it doesn't contain a milk byproduct).

If you have children, I'm going to guess that you same the face dilemma: finding good recipes that the majority of your family will enjoy.

Here's something I tried last week which seemed to be a success:

A Very Veggie Pasta Salad Night

It's so simple...all you need to do is:
  • Cook some 100% whole grain pasta (make sure the ingredients say "whole") and let it cool slightly
  • Tear up some lettuce into bowls (if you have a child that will fight you on the lettuce part, you can always leave it out)
  • Cut up an assortment of veggies in to bite-sized pieces. Consider incorporating one or two new ones every so often to build your child's veggie bank. Here's what I used: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, carrots, green pepper, kale and corn.
  • Place diced veggies on a plate or in several bowls and set in the middle of the table.
  • Spoon cooled pasta onto the lettuce and place on the table
  • Let everyone mix up their own salad and conveniently have adapted a meal to suit everyone's taste without cooking more than one dish!

A word on dressings:
If you're having a hard time getting the kids to eat their made-to-order salads because it's a new thing for them, try finding a dressing they like. If they don't like the plant-strong dressings (no added oils or dairy), maybe start out with small amount (to let the veggie flavors shine through) of "regular" dressing, but one that's lower in fat, salt and sugar.

The other night, I let Brianna use a regular dressing we still have on hand because it was the only way she would finish the salad. Small victories are important. Over time, I'm hoping to find a dressing she does like that doesn't have the oil in it.

And here's a recipe for dressing I modified from The Engine 2 Diet. If you like strong, tangy flavors, give this one a try (and I'd love to hear what you think if you do!). I was skeptical at first with some of the ingredients, but found it to be really enjoyable...especially on steamed kale.
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 T low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T prepared mustard
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T agave (or honey or pure maple syrup)
  • 1 T wheat germ
Mix everything together and add water to achieve desired consistency (to your personal taste).

Keeping it in perspective: Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. (Psalm 34:8 NIV 1984)

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