Calling All Vegetable People!

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This week we’ve been eating vegetarian. My other half’s cousin came to stay to get some work experience at the school where he works and, as he’s vegetarian, I was pleased to have another challenge to take on; to make a range of tasty meals that my normally carnivorous fiance wouldn’t sigh at.

Interestingly, so far it’s not been a problem. He’s incredibly good-natured and has been happily dealing with the lack of meat. It’s healthy to reduce the meat in your diet anyway, although I have been cheating. I get free lunches where I work and when the veggie option looks dull, I opt for meat, (yesterday was lasagna, you can’t blame me.)

So far for dinner we have had:

Monday – Stir fry (literally just frozen stir fry veg boiled in a pan with noodles, then tossed in a wok with hoisin sauce, sweet chilli and soy- 10 min meal)

Tuesday – Chilli with rice and nachos (didn’t realise that one of our friends over that night had never experimented with Mexican food before so this maybe wasn’t the smoothest introduction as the chilli didn’t have mince in it… The nachos went down a treat though!)

Wednesday – Pasta parcels (ricotta and spinach) with mushroom, peppers, courgettes and onion, all mixed with basil pesto.

Thursday- Risotto with mushrooms, courgettes, vegetable stock, soy and paprika (made by my other half, who forgot we have Arborio rice and used regular, but it worked just fine.)

Friday- Tonight is pizza night over at our friend’s house. Pizza comes in vegetarian too though so all good.

Saturday- Tomorrow I’m thinking Indian. I can made a curry from scratch and some soft rice (seems like an awful lot of rice this week!) and our guest apparently knows how to make some extra little bites to go on the side, which I shall report back on.

Now, a week is simples- not a problem for seasoned (get it) experimental cooks like myself. But now its been agreed that he will return to stay with us for another 5 weeks after the Easter holidays. That’s 5 weeks of trying my best not to repeat meals (I hate that), and I’m beginning to think that I’ll have to resort to buying the vegetarian versions of some things to broaden our menu. Normally I’m fairly against using Quorn substitutes where possible- not because I have anything against Quorn itself, it tastes just fine, but because I feel that if you are a clever enough cook there are usually alternatives you can use.

For example, burgers. I would prefer to use a bean burger than a quorn ‘chicken’ burger any day. Half the time I order vegetarian burgers when we’re out because they’ve usually got mozzarella in them, which is melty yuminess. Plus, if a vegetarian person has never eaten meat it seems silly to use a substitute for it.

However, now I’m flicking through my recipes books and beginning to realise just how many of the meals I make are tasty because of the meat or fish component. I would like to make the Swedish meatball sauce again, because it’s delicious, but we can’t have meatballs- oh but it goes with fish too, but we can’t have fish. How do people live like this?!

I know, I’m being melodramatic. If we had to, I’m sure I could eat purely vegetarian. My veggie sister sometimes sticks videos of animals under my nose because they’ve been freed from a farm or something and yes, I do feel guilty for thinking how much I’d like a burger whilst I watch them frolick, and I love the idea of being vegetarian… maybe one day. But right now, my fundamental make-up is driving my eating habits and you know what, I’m an omnivore- just look at my teeth!

I’m realising now that I’m going to have to start looking into alternative ways of getting the same amount of vitamins and protein into our diets without fish or meat. I’m actually missing the fish way more than the meat right now. (We usually have tuna or white fish once or twice a week.) Just doing a little research it seems that you can have nuts, beans, peas, lentils, aubergines and hummus (of all things) substituted into a meal to fill those dietary gaps. There are other things too like soy and tofu, but isn’t that just more fake meat? Correct me if I’m wrong- I’m still learning all this.

Complaining about the frustrations of this way of eating aside, I’m actually loving the experimental cooking that I’ll get to do. I’m already thinking ‘maybe I can use that Swedish sauce with pasta, beans and aubergines instead.’ I’m just hoping that the use of certain vegetables more than usual won’t become too repetitive if I keep changing up the carb component and the favour of the dish through sauces and spices.

If any of you have a favourite vegetarian dish that is healthy please post it below to fuel my imagination! And if any of you are interested in seeing any dishes or recipes that sound good just let me know, otherwise I’ll probably mainly stick with a brief description as above.

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