Wednesday, February 22, 2012

meat and meatless

I have to say it like that, and then I always picture meat-loving Ron Swanson for some reason.

Just one tiny word can become such a hot topic!
Lovers, haters, and all the inbetweeners.
I have posted my thoughts on meat before, but like to revisit the topic every now and then.

Before I headed off to college, I had no problem with meat, and ate it any time it was placed in front of me. (and remember how I loved fast food.....yeah.)
Besides my love for a wendy's burger, I didn't eat a lot of meat my first year at school, simply because I couldn't afford it, and even if I could, I had no idea how to cook it.
Being married just a year later, not much had changed.....oh wait, we were even more poor, which meant even less meat.
A few years passed and we both had real jobs that allowed for us to purchase something meaty every now and then, and I was slowly learning to cook, I'd try my hand at beef. chicken. pork.
and I didn't like it.
Any if it.
Going a few years without it, it just didn't taste good to me anymore.
And if you have been reading a while, you'll remember my fat phobia....I figured my diet was just better without meat.
I stuck with mostly chicken dishes, and swore off burgers for years, always opting for a turkey or veggie option (what a shame!).

Over the last few years, I've started to educate myself more and more about meat, and re-introduce it into our diets. I truly believe that there were animals placed on this earth for us to enjoy.
but enjoy sparingly. 

I also believe that these animals should be raised as animals. 
in grassy green fields with butterflies and disney birds and a catchy tune playing in the background.

Well my friends, buying happy animals to cook for my family isn't the cheapest option, so we limit our meat consumption so we can eat
well raised
well fed
no hormone
no antibiotic

We have an small extra freezer so when I see good deals (even the farmers market will put certain cuts off beef on sale!) I can get extra to keep on hand.
We only eat meat 1-2 times a week.
I love finding new meatless dishes that are tasty and filling.
Here is one of them:
lentil fritters copy
Lentil and Bean Fritter Pitas
recipe adapted from Real Simple

2 cups soaked lentils
2 cups soaked garbanzo beans
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of cayenne (optional)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (or 2 slices of wheat bread, toasted and pulsed in the food processor)
1/4 head red cabbage, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
juice of 1 lemon
 olive oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more for serving
avocado slices (I took this photo, and then right before we ate I realized I had an ripe avocado. I fit perfectly with these.)
4 pocketless pitas, warmed (or homemade whole wheat naan)

In a food processor, puree 1 cup of the lentils with the garbanzo beans,cilantro, 1/2 cup of parsley, garlic, cumin and cayenne until nearly smooth. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the bread crumbs, the remaining  lentils, salt and pepper.  Form into sixteen ½-inch-thick patties.
In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, lightly mash the cabbage with a squeeze of  lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper; set aside.
 In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, a few squeezes of lemon juice 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, and crushed red pepper. 
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook the patties until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adding more oil to the skillet for the second batch.
Dividing evenly, top each pita with the patties, cabbage mixture, avocado (if using) yogurt sauce, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. 

I can't wait for summer when tomatoes and pepper are plentiful--I think they would be a great addition to this dish.

I think it's important to educate ourselves about all of the food we eat, whether we love meat or don't eat any animal products at all--it's always good to know where our food is coming from, so we can make the best choices for ourselves and our families.
If you would like to learn more about why it's important to eat "happy" meat, I always recommend the movie Food Inc. I think it's a good place to start.

What are your favorite meatless dinners?


Emily said...

hey! we made chickpea burgers for the first time the other night, in pitas w/ tzatiki sauce, w/ roasted parsnip fries on the side! a new favorite meal!

Maria said...

ohh yum! I also don't cook with meat often either. One of my fav and easy(!) things to do is rice, beans with a fried egg on top and some avocado.

whitneyingram said...

Like a prideful a-hole, I feel like I am a bit of an authority on meatless meals. We eat meat about as often as you do. I love being able to add new meals to my meatless list. The goal is to teach my kids that it doesn't have to have meat in it to make it a meal. And it doesn't. Know how to cook right and you won't know where the meat was supposed to go.

Kimmie said...

This was like taking a trip down memory lane...when my hubby and I were first married, we lived in an apartment that had the smallest fridge with an ICE BOX in the fridge that was the freezer, so, we ate many meatless meals and I realized the thrift of beans and legumes. We were able to eat SO good without eating much meat and we saved SO much money as well. I really enjoy making lentil sprouts AND my favorite is Lentil Stew served over a bed of brown rice.

I also really enjoy making Veggie Enchiladas, and a variety of salads. Split Pea Soup and Bean soups of any kinds grace our table quite frequently as well. I also make many vegetable soups from garden produce in the favorite was Radish Top Soup:

HOWEVER, I do think you hit on a key word "sparingly" and another word is "Moderation".

I do cook with a little meat, like when I make up Stir Fry or Chow Mein, I will add in 1 chicken breast to the PILE of veggies, I will add in 1/2 cup of leftover roast and make a delicious Vegetable Barley Soup, or Minestrone Soup. I really do feel that Moderation in all things is how to live have balance and to know that it's okay to splurge on a little meat every once in awhile.

Here is a link showing how I make a chicken can see we get a little bit of meat, but much more veggies.

Anywho, you sure do inspire me SO MUCH Sheena! I'm going to "PIN" this to Pinterest so I can try making this yummy recipe up!!

PS...thought you may enjoy this shows some photos of our family out backpacking (scroll down and you'll see us cooking dinner in the backcountry:

Tiff said...

My favorite meal is white beans (great northern beans, cooked on the stove all day), spinach, oven 'fried' potatoes with onions and green peppers, and cornbread. Delicious!

Laura said...

This sounds like it might actually taste good.....I'm up for a new way to prepare lentils. :) Thanks!!

Brinn said...

love this. meat is such a hot topic especially in our house :) my husband is a meat lover, my son and I, not so much. I am slowly converting him, (with out him realizing it which is a trick in of itself). We are down to a few meat dishes a week, victory! Portobellos are my favorite meat substitute. I start salivating at the mere mention of their name. burgers, enchiladas, breakfast, or use them as the crust for a "pizza". anyway I love them. so much. we also do every sort of rice bowl you can think of... so cheap and so yummy.

kylie said...

sheena - is a food processor the same thing as a blender? (i might forget to check back here for the answer!)

Anna Scandinavian Cottage said...

I've never been a big meat-eater until recently when I gave up carbs for a while, my family always try to eat organic meat whenever possible (we're both students) and always eat organic, free range eggs.
My favorite veggie dish is lentil soup with a dash of yellow curry, chili and cilantro, can't beat it!

Sarah Hull said...

I just bought some pitas yesterday. Thank you for this recipe. I LOVE your food posts!!

Clandestine Road said...

Curried dal over jasmine rice or roasted butternut squash and roasted sweet potatoes with lentils and feta are my favorites. This looks excellent. Thanks for sharing. I second the person who said they love your food posts.

Unknown said...

we totally need to get better at this! i was just thinking today of how expensive meat is and how im sick of buying it for at least 5 meals out of the week. we are having swiss steak tonight because its my husbands favorite and its really easy. . . but the other night i made tacos a completely new way. i didnt realize how amazing it was until i was finished.

instead of using meat in tacos-i used a mix of sauteed bell peppers, onions and avacado. it was amazing! imagine all the amazing other veggies crammed on top of that. sooooo good....

Bridget said...

this is totally our deal too. eat good meat, eat it less often. since it's so dang expensive, of course!

lentil soup, stir fry (without meat), corn/black bean chili in the crock pot, veggie pot pie... some of our meatless options!

Hillary said...

We do the same! We've been only-local-pastured-grass-fed folks for about four years now, which means only meat a couple of times a week for us. Unless we're at a friend's house -- we eat whatever people serve. We buy our meat in bulk from local farmers and stash it in our 21 cu ft freezer in the basement.

We eat lentils a lot (we love them with coconut curry over rice or Mexican style cooked down and served on tostadas w/ avocado, pico, etc.) and we do a lot of veggie and bean soups. We do fish, too. Especially wild salmon. We also eat a lot of you. Sweet Annie Kale Salad is our family's favorite.

I've been trying to move our family toward paleo, but it's tough since we're so accustomed to beans and legumes as our protein source.

Tyler and Ariana said...

Favorite meatless dinner in our house is probably eggplant sandwiches. We could eat them once a week.

Degorge some eggplant slices (salt them, let em sit for about 10 minutes and then press on them with a paper towel to get some of the water and bitterness out), saute them in olive oil, and make a sandwich with sauteed onions and bell peppers, spinach or basil, any cheese we've got, tomatoes, all on toasted bread. It's really good if you put hummus on the bread as well...

Lady Cordelia said...

a fellow blogger opened my eyes to the fact that even organic, grass fed, hormone meat is all processed in the same slaughterhouses as non-organic commercial meat. and by golly those slaughter houses are horrible.
the best bet is meat processed by local you are right. that is your best bet. and that is all I eat now and feed the kids. my husband isn't quite on board as much as we are.....but some progress is better than none.
enjoying your blog.

Katyha said...

meat in Sydney is also pretty expensive and we try to limit our consumption but being from a Chilean background practically all our meals have meat (as it is cheap over there) :/ apart from meat we also use a lot of legumes. Plenty of lentils, beans, garbanzos the kids aren't too happy when legume day comes around :( but I also make a vegetable bake that they adore, I am pretty blessed having three boys that will eat everything I make, even the healthy stuff ;)

Meg said...

We've been trying to make more meatless meals too. My favorite is quinoa tacos. I cook quinoa with garlic, cumin, black and red pepper, in veggie broth. Then I add in black beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado. Serve it on corn tortillas with a little gorgonzola cheese... it's heaven on earth. Truly is... thanks for this recipe! I'll have to try it out!

Deena Mehta said...

This looks so good - love the purple cabbage!

jesica said...

thank's your information