DISCLAIMER: All photos in this post (except the top one) are from their respective blogs. I'll include links!
I don’t know if you know my husband, Ike, but he’s adorable. And I’m not just talking about that boyish grin. I’m talking about the way he approaches life. His thought process goes something like this:
“I eat too much at work”
“I should be a vegetarian”
“Being a vegetarian is the BEST THING I’VE EVER DONE.”
Me: “Wait, what??”
As far as our couple dynamic, Ike is the adventurous, spontaneous spender. I am the cautious, change-adverse saver. And because Ike is also a cheerful adapter, the Peters family operates mostly on my speed. Happily scheduled and budgeted. #HappyWifeHappyLife
So when Ike (inspired by a Corey Booker podcast interview) decides that he wants to be more intentional in his eating and by that he means eating/cooking vegetarian for a month, at first I tried to go the Alexis route. Change? No thank you. Especially when I’m the predominant meal planner/cook.
Not that I’m a big meatasaurus. When it comes down to this commitment, I feel like I will only miss bacon (which I decided to like only a few short years ago) and Chick Fil A. I can live without the rest. Except for maybe chicken fajitas. Te Amo. And the occasional burger. But other than that, piece of cake!
Then, I was worried about the boys. Would they get the right nutrients? I actually consulted with my dietitian pal, and she said as long as we don’t drop eggs and dairy (I would NEVER...step away from my milk...and cookies) then they will be fine!
Next, I was worried about doing vegetarian the fatty way. You can eat french fries and slurp Frappuccinos and be a “vegetarian.” So, I applied my rule-following ways to this vegetarian adventure.
Limit carb/vary fillers: My biggest worry was all the carbs. So I decided that only 1 pasta, 1 rice and 1 bread-based meal would make it on the menu each week. We don’t have to use all the carb options, but we can’t use 1 more than once. Bonus points for whole grains!
Vary protein options: I, for one, cannot eat beans everyday (or no one would want to be my friend). So, we can have a 1 bean meal, 1 egg meal and fill in from there.
To kick us off, I had Ike pick out some recipes from our regular cookbooks and from interesting-looking blogs. We had to balance our adventurous spirit with the need for our toddler to continue eating. And I hate to brag, but so far, everything we’ve made has been delicious! And E is eating just as much or more than he was before the switch.
Here was our menu from last week:
This recipe is from Cookie + Kate, our new favorite vegetarian blog. Her recipes are easy to follow and full of FLAVOR. Check her out for some healthy, meatless ideas! As far as the finished product, we loved it! Filling, quick and I got to use my spiralizer! We already had a lot of quesadillas in our life, so adding sweet potatoes was an inspired touch. We paired it with homemade guac.
This was another recipe that had amazing flavor and came together quickly. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to cook with 2 small children in the house, but minimal prep is key to sanity and ever eating dinner. Ike absolutely loved this one, and E gave it a good try. I was very proud, although, he did not seem into it for a lunch redux. Thanks, Naturally Ella!
Santa Fe Scramble
Guys, who knew that adding some green chilies and avocado to scrambled eggs could transform them to SCRAMBLED EGGS LOVE OF MY LIFE. So good, so easy and felt oh so fresh. Plus, it's from Pioneer Woman so YOU KNOW it's good!
This is our “throw the toddler a bone” selection of the week. This recipe has been in our rotation for a while. A meal with cheese, pasta and broccoli is a win-win-WIN in this mama’s book.
Yep, this is cheating. BUT we got invited to eat at a friend's house. So we decided not to force people to change their menu for us! Maybe this blog post will let people know, though...
Guys, I’ve decided that Saturday is pizza day. And Kale Pesto Pizza was an amazing first entry into our veggie pizza canon. So much flavor without all the heavy pizza feelings I get from even a beloved bacon pizza.
For lunches, I made some homemade granola in the crockpot, bought some low fat yogurt and berries. Ike and I had parfaits a few times. It was so good! I also broke my double bean rule and made a black bean salad one day with the leftover avocado dressing from the quesadillas. Worth it.
Vegetarian Menu Week 2
This week is what I lovingly call a “cheap week.” That’s when all of our fun money is gone and some of our grocery money seems to have evaporated as well. We had about $50 to work with, so this was the plan:
Eggs + Refried Beans + Potatoes = Simply delicious. I even got to make the Simple Roasted Potatoes from the Breakfast book Ike got me for Valentine’s day. My only complaint was the bean factor. After some black beans last week, these refried pintos were not too kind to my tummy.
Grilled Cheese w/ Chipotle Salsa
We spiced up a Grilled Cheese with my favorite salsa recipe from the Pioneer Woman A Year of Holidays. Love the smoky flavor. I planned the week’s entire menu around being able to eat it every day. Mission Accomplished.
Stayed strong by just eating bread & cheese from a deli sandwich spread. Guess I am getting more serious about this commitment. Just don’t invite me to Chick Fil A, I will buckle. I warn you, I. WILL. BUCKLE.
This recipe was the only one that I had to throw leftovers away from, but that’s not to say it wasn’t delicious. It was! I really enjoyed the Mexican twist on a baked sweet potato. However, I made the mistake of including yet another bean meal. I just couldn’t take it. And as much as I think I like sweet potatoes...maybe I don’t. The smell of baking sweet potatoes was the only thing that almost made me gag when I was pregnant with Ira. What gives, body? I didn’t think I was supposed to have aversions toward healthy food...hmmm?
Waffles + Homemade Thin Mints
And no...I haven’t lost any weight during this experiment...why do you ask? This was a fun brinner that was cheap and I knew would make E happy after another week of meat-free meals. And I was right. We were all really happy after this meal. And the Homemade Thin Mints (from Ike's favorite, Sally's Baking Addiction) were delicious and are currently calling my name from the freezer. Lots of work, but lots of Friday night fun (if you like baking, that is).
For lunches I made a kale salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, strawberries, oranges and feta. Apparently kale is a green you can make into a salad and let sit without it getting gross. The strawberries got gross. But not the kale. I cannot wait to try out some of these bad boys from Cookie + Kate.
Ok, these things taste great...but how do we feel?
Ike feels great! Empowered! The first week he had to turn down deli sandwiches and Chick Fil A TWICE at work. He did it!
I feel ok. The bean factor got me down this week, so I think I will need to readjust our choices and maybe never eat pinto beans again.
I also don’t know if it’s breastfeeding, T-25 Beta Cycle or the lack of every sitting down during the day that leaves me HUNGRY a lot. Would some more meat help? I don’t know. But it has made me eat a few more mini Snickers that I usually would. So I need to make sure I have healthy snacks to grab.
What’s Cooking Next?
Other than some fun kale salads, we’re planning on trying stir fry, veggie lasagna and more scrambles. I’ll share our week 3 menu and a few pics of my new “Mom jeans” soon. Stay tuned!