I was out today at the Farmer's Market at the Grove and I was definitely super bummed watching people eat their lunches. Watching people inhale plates of greasy chicken and fries and heaping plates of Brazilian beef definitely makes be sad. Most of the people were overweight and shoveling food with hardly any nutrition into their bodies. Most of them that were eating this type of food just looked unhealthy from inside out. Almost all of the plates were heaped up with animal protein and no veggies. I searched and searched to try to find something other than the salad because I was kind of salad-ed out that day and wanted something different. I came up to a Korean barbecue that offered Bibimbab which is my favorite Korean food. At a Korean restaurant is served in a hot bowl over rice, but here it was served with a side of brown rice but it was still delicious. Often times if I am out and cannot find anything vegetarian I end up with beans and rice and make sure I make veggies when I get home. I loved this choice and was full and satisfied when I was done with it. Coop was with me and had a California roll and edamame. I had given him the choice of anything that he wanted there and he chose that. There was meat galore there and he didn't want it. He is making better choices and it is so exciting. He told me when he was eating the roll, "mom you only have one body so you might as well treat it right." Love him and love that he is really trying.
He asked for ice cream on the way out and I said yes. Baby steps :)
I went to whole foods on a mission to find some faux meet that did not have gluten (I have nothing against gluten, I just can't eat it) and did not taste disgusting. Tempeh was not going to cut it because it has a consistency that is somewhat bean-y. I'm trying to stay away from isolated soy protein which limits a ton of what's out there. He was into Quorn when I made it, but there seems to be some controversy over the mycoprotein it is made of. To help England with coming up with a cheap meatless source of protein, the makes of Quorn came up with a protein rich fungus grown in vats. It has the consistency of chicken, but let me just say it again, it is a fungus grown in vats. Honestly, if you can get over that, it tastes pretty good, but it is best as a "chicken patty" which is breaded and definitely more processed than some of the other meat substitutes. I've tried seitan for JD (I can't eat it because it is gluten) and prepared it in a way that I thought he would like, but the consistency was too "spongy" for him. Honestly I find the consistency of seitan a bit off putting too, but I know a lot of vegans swear by it so I am not going to knock it for those that enjoy it. I may not be cooking it right either.
Enter Beyond Meat. I found it in the freezer section of Whole Foods in a very nondescript package and it's made of pea protein. Good start. It was the only one I hadn't tried so I decided to give it a go. Out of the package it didn't have a bad smell and it looked a heck of a lot like ground beef. I put it in the tiniest little bit of olive oil that I had already sautéed some onions, red peppers, zucchini and carrots in. I added some of our Rao's sauce and some basil right at the end because my family's in love with that sauce. In my opinion has a little too much sugar and oil in it, but we don't eat a ton of it so I'm not going to get crazy about it. It is also something that everybody already enjoys so I thought maybe I could pull the fake meat off in the sauce. I put it over some brown rice pasta and was anxiously awaiting the boys were about to dig into it. Dunc said, "this isn't meat... but I like it." Coop wasn't having it at all and yelled in his new teen loud voice, "why the hell can't we just have meat!!!" He is still having a hard time with this. I feel bad but I am not going to give up. He still eats meat He is missing burgers and steak which he used to eat a lot of. I do wonder whether he will continue to miss it this much while we keep going like this.
I was definitely holding my breath as JD tasted it because I knew the slam was coming. He took a bite looked up and said "this is freaking awesome. I can't believe it's not meat!" Oh my gosh. Score! I finally found a meatless protein source that he would actually eat. Such a score! I liked it a lot too though I am ok with throwing lentils in my pasta and don't need the fake meats.
I went online to live chat with people from Beyond Meat and learned that they are a local company based right here in El Segundo. The guy offered me a tour of the facility which I will take him up on for sure. I also learned that they have tremendous support from people like Bill Gates and Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams who have invested in their company.
Pretty stoked on Beyond Meat.
I also saw on the website that they had "chicken strips" so I bought them the next day. They are grilled chicken strips made from non-GMO soy and pea protein. I have to say that I didn't love them but I wasn't very creative in how I prepared so I will try to do better with it next time. I tried it at the store prepared as a vegan chicken salad and it was actually delicious. Since then I have tried the meat in tacos with mexican spices and it was great. Even Coop ate it even though he was mad at me because I had told him it was real meat, then after he liked it told him it wasn't. He said I was a liar and I guess he was right, but I knew if I told him it was fake he would prejudge. I will have to be straight up with him as I am learning that trickery does not go over well with an almost 14 year old boy.
This pic is pretty bad and does not do the dish justice but gives you an idea of what the "meat" sauce looked like.
It was seriously yummy.
1/2 c has 10 gm of protein derived from peas.
This one was the Beefy Crumbles. The consistency was good, though I will definitely cook veggies and everything first next time and throw this in last. I need to remember that these substitutes are not meat and do not benefit from longer slower cooking times as meat often does.
I wish this picture did it justice!
I personally never get sick of leaves . Greens of any type, served any way. Blended, steamed, raw, I don't discriminate. The boys on the other hands have had a lot of green fed to them this week and I think I kind of did them in. I think I got a little lazy or maybe a little excited that JD was not complaining about anything I served up... a couple of kale salads with farro, another chopped veggie salad with grilled tofu, and I re-purposed the kale salad by adding some other veggies and grains to it thinking that maybe he wouldn't notice. On the 4th night is when JD had had it, " What are we having for dinner tonight? I am SO FREAKING sick of leaves!!!" It hit me kind of hard as I had been trying my best to serve healthy food all week. As usual, I was adding animal protein to the kid's dinners to make sure that they were fed because I cannot get anything with the consistency bean into Coop. Dunc loves them so a lot of the time he is good with what I make. I ended up this night giving JD some chicken and he ate it happily. He had gone over a month with no animal protein.
He did feel kind of bad about eating it as once he sets his mind to something he sticks with it. In this case though he was starving and did not want leaves and went for it. I still struggle with the idea that having a small portion of chicken once a week is not okay. None of the studies looked at someone who had 4 ounces of chicken a week. I think the idea is people start slipping back into old habits and once you add animal protein back and it just becomes habit again. I have to say that I absolutely hate cooking chicken and having it in the kitchen now. It totally grosses me out. I will buy organic rotisserie chicken instead next time.
The fact that I'm not eating any meat, Duncan is hardly eating any, and Cooper and JD are eating so many fruits veggies and whole grains makes me super happy. The veggie quotient in our house has probably grown 5 fold of what it used to be, and we actually used to eat a lot of it. Headed out to search for some meatless "meat" that doesn't taste disgusting. Wish me luck!