Friday, February 11, 2011

A Little Nudge (and a wink) in the Right Direction (Sesame Soba Noodles, Veggies and Tofu and Cashew Stir-Fry)

My kids and I have always leaned towards the vegetarian side of life.  I am extremely lucky to have kids who are adventurous eaters, willing to try anything new, and they love their veggies and fruits.  When I told my kids that we are going to be eating less meat and more vegan meals, they responded with "Cool.  Can we play Legos?"  Kids are on board the voyage.

But it hasn't been so easy getting my husband to join me. You see, my husband is a very manly man.  He drinks beer.  He wears camouflage.  He hunts and kills. He celebrates his hunting and killing with big cigars.  He is tough and strong.  He is a man. He eats MEAT. (Insert your own grunting, scratching, and chest-beating here.)  So you can imagine the look on his face when I said, "Honey, we're going to be eating less meat and more vegan meals."  It wasn't anger or nervousness or even disgust.  It was (in the most manly way) sad.  His big beautiful eyes went all soft and his face drooped like a little hound dog as if to say "Why don't you love me anymore?"

I explained to him that I DO love him and that is exactly why I'm doing this.  I quoted the books and the medical professionals and all the reasons why other people do it.  But he still wasn't buying it.  It was only when I explain that I love him so much that I want him to be around a long time that he started to listen.  And I don't want him to just be around.  I want him to be strong and healthy and "active" (nudge nudge wink wink) for a long, long time.  ("How long are we talking? Like, an hour?")  I quoted my new book that says a plant-based diet provided better blood circulation for an "active" life.... I'll spare you any more details of the conversation, but anyway you get the idea.  He started to listen!  And he agreed to give it the ol' college try.

I figured going with eggplant and tofu right off the starting line might not go over well with him. For his sake, I felt the need to ease into it a bit.  Special thanks to my friend, Tim, for lending me his vegetarian recipe books.  I found a recipe with cashews (my hubby loves them) and stir-fry (my hubby loves it).  This was certainly not our first vegan meal in this house, but it was the first since we've made a real choice/decision as a family to eat in a more healthful and mindful manner.

The menu was Sesame-Soy Soba Noodles and Broccoli/Carrot/Tofu Stir-Fry with Cashews and fresh Strawberries.  Overall, the fruit and veggies went quickly (everyone loved them), and the noodles were "pretty good" for the boys (son didn't like the onions, hubby thought too much ginger).  I loved them both.

(NOTE:  I will write what I made, which is usually tweaked from original recipes.  I usually go with a list of ingredients and wing it from there.  But I will attempt to write the recipe and process here.  If you want originals or more info on prep, just let me know.)

Sesame-Soy Soba Noodles
1/2 lb. soba noodles
1 1/2 T. vegetable oil
2 t. dark sesame oil
3 T. low-sodium soy sauce
1 T. honey
2 t. grated fresh ginger
3 green onions, chopped
2 T. toasted sesame seeds, for sprinkling on top
(I also added chili garlic sauce to mine at the table for heat.)

Cook noodles according to directions.  Mix all other ingredients except sesame seeds and toss with cooked noodles right before serving. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Broccoli, Carrot, Tofu and Cashew Stir-Fry
1 lb. firm tofu, blotted dry and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 T. vegetable oil
2 T. low-sodium soy sauce
1 T. rice vinegar
2 large heads broccoli, cut into florets
1 pkg baby carrots
1/3 c. cashews, chopped
(served with extra soy sauce at table)

Heat oil and soy sauce in wok or skillet. Add tofu and stir-fry 2-3 minutes. Add vinegar and veggies.  Toss together, then cover and steam for 5 minutes over medium heat. Cook uncovered then until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with cashews as you serve it.

A couple notes: First, we could not eat all that was made.  It served my daycare girls the next day for lunch and they loved it--all ate thirds!  Secondly, I keep a few cooked chicken breasts in the freezer.  I baked them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, then froze in individual serving sizes.  It makes my hubby feel better to know that he can grab a hunk of meat if needed to accompany his meal.

Overall, it was a hit.  Everyone was FULL (yes, you read that correctly) and we all enjoyed the meal.  If you have any requests for ingredients/recipes, let me know.  We love to try new things!  Thanks!

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