Vegetarians eat salads and tofu, right? Well, not exactly. I grew up on a varied diet with meats from our own farm, breads baked by my very talented mother, and a huge supply of vegetables from Mom’s garden. I became a vegetarian about 25 years ago and cannot imagine ever returning. At that time, eating vegetarian at a restaurant meant salad bars, cheese pizza, or pasta. Home cooked meals were a challenge, but with the help of my first vegetarian cookbooks, The New Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook, New Farm Cookbook, and The Moosewood Cookbook. I learned to remake old family favorites and tread into new frontiers creating completely new ones. These books, along with Dean Ornish’s, Eat More, Weigh Less, and Dr. McDougall’s, The McDougall Plan, were great starting points for me and gave me a springboard from which to dive into exploring into even healthier choices.
Our family has chosen to continue a vegetarian lifestyle as we feel it is the original diet chosen for man by God and the healthiest. It is also less expensive and many believe it is better for the planet. So what exactly do vegetarians eat? Well, we do eat a lot of salads, but not iceberg lettuce dripping with oily dressing. Our salads are often a blend of fresh leaf lettuces and romaine, combined with greens such as spinach, mustard, chard, and kale. We usually set up our own salad bar with separate dishes containing sliced mushrooms, beets, onions, celery, olives, garbanzo beans, and so much more. Dressings are also self serve and might include a raspberry walnut vinaigrette, fresh honey mustard, and a creamy ranch. Our salad bowls are more the size of serving bowls and everyone enjoys creating their own custom salad. But salad is just the beginning. Our main course might be vegetarian swiss steak served with your choice of brown rice or egg noodles. Meatless chili is often chosen in the winter months, while grilled pita bread pizzas might make the summer dinner table.
Our family is vegetarian, meaning we do not eat poultry or meats, but we do include eggs and dairy products from our own dairy goat herd and our free range chickens. Some family members do eat fish occasionally when we eat out, but our home is vegetarian. Each week, I’ll include various recipes that you can adapt to your own meal plans. Even if you are not vegetarian, these can help you save a little money on the food budget, experiment with other food choices, and maybe find some healthy choices that you can weave into your lifestyle.