Cooking Recipe

Let’s talk veggies, plus a recipe

March 9, 2016

Alright ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk veggies. Yes, I mean we’re going to talk about vegetables, and I may say some unpopular things.

First off, I love veggies. I am not vegan (though I use some vegan products due to my husband’s issues with dairy) and I’m not even strictly vegetarian, I just eat little to no meat. So, as a proud supporter of vegetables, there are some things I take offense to on their behalf. These include:

  1. The notion that liking meat and liking vegetables are mutually exclusive.
  2. The idea that things that are healthy can’t taste good (new Bai 5 commercial, I am looking at you).
  3. The belief that vegetables have no taste.

Number 1 from the list above is it’s own issue. I have come across people who seem to think you’re either a vegetarian or a meatatarian, and that’s that. I refuse to even address that, as it speaks for itself.

Numbers 2 and 3 however, are more or less the same issue. Now let me be very clear, I understand that people have preferences and not everything is everyone’s cup of tea (or plate of salad, as it were). My husband doesn’t care for bitter vegetables and finds the taste of artichokes weird. Whether it’s a taste, a texture, or something else, I get it. Not everyone likes everything.

But an individual preference isn’t what I’m getting at here. Let’s look at first, “healthy foods can’t taste good.” You know what I’m talking about, the marketing ploys where the spokesperson says something along the lines of “something that tastes this good can’t be healthy!” or “so good, you’d never know it’s good for you!”

Slow your roll here, this is nonsense. I will concede that people who eat mostly processed, high sugar foods do likely have a taste for sweeter things than someone who eats more natural, low sugar things. It’s just what you’re used to. What I take issue with is perpetuating the idea that healthy food is gross and junk food is delicious. I will admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I like Goldfish, and I’m actually a fan of some junk food. But that doesn’t mean that a ripe strawberry isn’t just as awesome, if not moreso. There are so many things that are either actually healthy, or just “healthier” than processed, packaged alternatives that are downright amazing, that the fact that I hear this said over and over is just absurd to me.

Just for argument’s sake, if I bake a snack cake from scratch and use flour, real butter, good vanilla extract and organic eggs, sure it’s not “health food” but it’s a lot healthier than a Twinkie, and probably takes just as good if not better. And it’s not loaded with chemicals and preservatives.

Now, I recently saw comments regarding veganism, and one of the ongoing threads was along the lines of, “I like my food to have taste, so I eat meat.” I’m sorry, what are you eating?! I have known people who actually have a compromised sense of taste, like welders and heavy smokers, but otherwise…what? Seriously, if you think that your options are meat or iceberg lettuce and boiled carrots, we may have found the problem. Try buying fresh vegetables and cooking them in different styles. If you cook your broccoli until it’s falling apart, cook it for a few minutes less. If your green beans are grey and limp when you eat them, that may be your issue. If you can honestly say that across the board, vegetables have no taste, I’m sorry but you’re doing something wrong.

Sautee! Stir fry! Steam! Branch out from seasoning with salt and pepper; get yourself some garlic powder, some herbs, some dried shallots! The world or vegetables and healthy eating has so many options, varying tastes and textures that I absolutely cannot understand how a full grown adult can make these statements seriously, nor think it is fair or appropriate to pass these notions to our children. I could go further into how this affects kids’ eating habits and can feed into this nation’s obesity crisis, but I’ll leave that be.

That’s the end of my snark for today. I do have a pretty excellent recipe I’d like to share, but I want to remind you of something first…you know those food blogs that use such beautiful, evocative photos that you feel like you can practically smell the food cooking? This isn’t one of them.

The Meatloaf and the Meatless Meatloaf: a Basic Recipe

This is really quite simple. My assistant helped.

This is really quite simple. My assistant helped.

The other night I decided to make a simple meatloaf (ground chuck beef, an egg, breadcrumbs, diced onions and seasonings) with roasted potatoes and carrots for my husband and Little Miss. I wouldn’t be eating that though, so I got the idea for a meatless meatloaf. My mother has made a pretty crazy faux chopped liver in the past with canned string beans, so I though hmm, maybe that would work (this is the only time I’ve ever purchased canned string beans, by the way).

With quinoa, an egg and a sprinkle of Italian cheeses for protein and an assortment of vegetables, this came pretty excellent! It didn’t hold together in a loaf shape, so I spread it in my square Pyrex dish and it baked beautifully next to the meatloaf. I would consider this a main dish alongside some nice sides to fill out the meal, or it would make a lovely side dish itself. Plus I’m pretty sure you could put nearly any veggies in and it’d rock! My favorite kinds of recipes are the ones that serve as a guideline for you to customize, and I think this falls into the category. Here is the recipe as I made it. I chopped my vegetables after they were cooked, but you can also chop them fine then sautee them quickly if you prefer. This is also nice because you can prep it early, then just throw it together and pop it in the oven when you’re ready.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack white mushrooms
  • 1 can string beans
  • 5 leaves fresh kale
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • Salt, pepper, dried parsley, onion powder
  • 1 large egg
  • Sprinkle of mixed Italian cheeses (Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Provolone), if desired
  • Olive oil
  • Handful oatmeal

Instructions:

  1. Cook your quinoa as instructed on the packed. Wash your mushrooms and kale and rough  chop, then sautee in olive oil until fairly cooked (this doesn’t have to be perfect, it’ll be baked again). Set aside to cool to a manageable temperature.
  2. Place cooled mushrooms and kale in a chopping bowl and chop into uniform smaller pieces (I use a wooden bowl and mezzaluna blade). Remove into another bowl, open and rinse string beans and chop.
  3. In a large bowl, mix chopped vegetables, chopped beans and quinoa. Add in a sprinkle of salt, pepper, dried parsley and onion powder to taste. Add large egg and a handful of oatmeal (to absorb excess liquid), plus a sprinkle of cheese if desired, and mix it all up.
  4. Spread into a square Pyrex oven-safe dish and place in oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because I was cooking this alongside the meatloaf, I didn’t time it exactly; it cooked for about 40 minutes I believe, but could go for less because the only ingredient that needs to cook is the egg. It came out with a nice crispy top and I was overall very pleased with it – Little Miss even enjoyed a few bites!

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