Sunday, April 03, 2011

Meet me elsewhere...

With this blog, I set out to try once again a vegan diet. I wasn't committed to a fully vegan diet, and I went back and forth on whether I even wanted to try to get all the way there. I did finally transition to the full diet eventually, after reading Eating Animals, but I wasn't satisfied, and now I am back to where I started. By that, I mean where I started this project, not back to the fully Standard American Diet I was following before I started this blog, but it still means I am starting to feel this idea of a project is over.

I am not done talking about food, but I want to talk about other things, too, and I want to do it all at the same place. Therefore, I am moving my active blogging over to my more generic blog, Susan's Musings. I'll still be talking about food, and I will still talk a lot about books, which is what I mainly did over there before now, but I want to write about other things that interest me, too, and get a good writing habit going. My kids asked me recently what I wanted to be when I grew up, way back in the dark ages when I was a kid. Without hesitation, I said I had wanted to be a writer, and they said, "You could still do that, now." They are so right.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kids in the Kitchen

My daughter started middle school this past year. I went through parochial schools myself, with a K-8 elementary school followed by a traditional four year high school, and was not used to the idea of middle school. It seemed a bit scary to me, but she seems to be enjoying it, and she wasn’t nearly as worried about it as I was. One of the things she was really excited about was the chance to take two electives. Full year Spanish was a given (she loves Spanish), but then there were many choices for the other elective. I could see her choosing most of the choices (drama, art, chorus, orchestra, etc.), so we were glad to see that she could do shorter classes and take three choices over the year. I was surprised at her choices, though: Drama, FACS (Family and Consumer Science), and Shop. FACS and shop? These were not even options at my extremely small elementary school. We did English (which they now call Communication Arts, another weird thing for me), Math, Science, Social Studies, Religion, P.E, and once per week, Music and Art. My high school was all girls, college preparatory, and very small again, so the electives were limited to arts, advanced languages, or additional science type classes.

The feminist in me was pleased to see that my daughter signed up for both FACS and Shop. No feminine limitations on that girl! But, since I know how much she wants to attend college, and her insistence, so far, on an Ivy League school (“I want to go to Harvard, like our president”), her great enthusiasm for these classes is a bit disconcerting to me.

“Did you know that in high school, you can take semester long FACS classes? Sewing, or cooking or child development,” she told me excitedly soon after the second trimester began. No, I didn’t know, but surely she wouldn’t want to take these classes in high school! I suppose it makes sense in a way—she is a smart girl; her academic classes often seem very easy to her, and these classes are challenging in a different way. Other than the cooking section, where they made things that she had already made at home many times (pizza, cookies, scrambled eggs, tacos), she was actually picking up some new skills she hadn’t practiced before. Still, she could get all of these skills outside of school, and save her school time for more challenging coursework, coursework that will look good on a transcript being sent along with a college application. So, I told her that she could take a semester long FACS class in eighth grade, but no high school classes, and we would look into doing some of these things at home.

The easiest thing to implement was the cooking. I have done real cooking all of her life, so she is not a stranger to concepts like menu planning, grocery lists, and planning out your cooking tasks, but this has been very much on the edges of her awareness until now. She was a somewhat active participant in the menu planning, as I asked her and her brother what they would like me to make during the week, but mostly she was just aware that I was doing the planning. Now, though, she is responsible for dinner on Thursday nights. I consult her on the menu, reminding her to include plenty of veggies, and have her look in the pantry to see which ingredients we have, and which we need to buy for her dishes. Before she starts cooking, we go over everything and discuss the order that she should do the work. Sometimes I do step in and remind her to do certain things, or help her with the vegetable chopping, but as time goes on, I have to do less and less of that. She is still working on the concept of having everything ready at the same time, even with my reminders, but there is no substitute for experience in learning this sort of thing. She just needs to keep doing it until it becomes more natural to her.

The boy has been helping in the kitchen more, too. At 8, he is still too young to be cooking entire meals on his own, but he seems to like helping with the cooking, so I am encouraging him in that. He is very excited that I am letting him do some chopping. So far I am only letting him cut up soft things (no carrot slices or onion chopping), but it is all exciting to him. He is proud to be trusted with a knife, even if I am watching him closely, and I figure he’ll never learn how to use a knife safely if he doesn’t get to practice. I have him taste the food with me and judge the seasoning levels. It is so cute to see how seriously he takes this! He takes a bite and holds it in his mouth thoughtfully, usually pronouncing it could use a bit more spice. He even helped me make a Dijon mustard sauce, tasting and expressing an opinion, despite the fact that he did not use the sauce on his own dinner. “I like it,” he said, “but I want plain mustard tonight.” He is an adventurous eater already, but he is even more likely to try unusual things when he helps me cook them.

All in all, this is such a great idea, I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier. Well, I do know—the girl wasn’t interested, and it is easier to just get in there and get it done. However, I know adults who were never allowed in the kitchen while their mothers cooked when they were children, and they are completely helpless now. They can barely feed themselves the most basic foods, and certainly cannot put together balanced meals for a week. Like all skills, cooking takes practice. I feel good about doing my part to make sure my children grow up to be self-sufficient adults who don’t rely on fast food and heat and serve convenience foods for most of their meals. We do occasionally use the convenience foods, because some nights are just that hectic (or I am totally not in the mood!), but most of our meals start with whole food ingredients, and I want my children to learn how to do that when they are on their own, too.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Not Really Vegan, Again

I have been thinking about absolutism, community, and perfection lately. This applies to many things, but most pertinently here, it applies to my diet and the diet I feed my family. On the one hand, there is the horrible, cruel factory farming/livestock industry, plus all the health issues associated with the consumption of animal products, not to mention the allure of a sub-culture. Who doesn’t want to be a part of a club, especially when you really do agree with club members? On the other hand, there is the isolation of disagreeing with so many people that take an absolute stance as an affront, and the difficulty of social occasions, plus the risk of what my Catholic background calls the error of scrupulosity: focusing so much on the details that you forget the big picture, why you are doing what you do.

I have gone back and forth between strict veganism and a nearly totally Standard American Diet all of my adult years. The fact that I am allergic to cow’s milk has always made vegan choices safer for me anyway, and I do feel better when I don’t eat meat. The main thing that draws me out of a vegan diet and straight back into a standard diet is the community aspect, or what I have called the problem of eating at other people’s houses (and restaurants, come to that). I would slip out of my vegan diet for a meal or two, and then feel so guilty about abandoning my principles that I would just dive back in to the standard diet, not making any effort to moderate the health or humane-ness of my food choices. It was all or nothing—if I couldn’t be a real vegan, why even try? I would still make the occasional meatless meal with a recipe I particularly enjoyed, but I would eat lots of meat, buy my eggs from the grocery store, and even eat the occasional dairy product, although I knew I would pay for it later due to my allergy.

Lately, I have been trying veganism all the way once again, and once again, it really isn’t working for me. My kids are used to me being all about the vegetables and healthy foods, but they aren’t vegetarians, and they have been missing what I had cut out. They like fish and eggs and goat cheese. The like several of the vegan dishes that I make, but they missed the other things. Truth to tell, so did I. So, I am backing off the full vegan thing again, but this time I am doing it more thoughtfully. I am thinking about my reasons for my diet choices, and what I am going to keep from the vegan experiment, and what I am going to get rid of.

I really like that being a vegan helped me to focus on eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. Not all vegans or vegetarians do this, actually, but I had health benefits as one of my major motivators, so I really make the effort to include as many fruits and vegetables in my diet as possible. There is no reason this needs to change because I am adding in a few more animal products, we will still be eating a lot of produce.

The environmental benefits of eating low on the food chain were a big benefit of veganism for me. It started out as a nice little extra, and moved into greater focus as I started thinking about environmental issues in general more and more. My backyard garden was a great way to address both the desire to get more fresh produce in my diet and the environmental impacts. There is nothing that reduces food impact like being able to go out your back door and pick dinner ingredients. I have had the garden for two years now, and I am loving it! The first year I didn’t use as much as I could, and I still bought a lot of supplemental produce, but the second year I used a lot more of what I grew. I feel so good about what I did last summer that this year I am doubling the size of the garden, and moving my herbs up to a dedicated herb garden by my patio. I am also planting more fruit trees (fig and peach this year, and maybe apple and plum next year), and I am planning to learn to can my output. I am very excited about this! Again, there is no reason that this will not continue, and continue to grow in impact in my diet, no matter what else I eat.

The biggest reason I went to the stricter diet this most recent time was animal cruelty. I still hate what animals go through to give us meat or eggs or dairy, but I am just not there yet on completely abandoning the animal products. I did find several places where I can get eggs from chickens that are truly free-range, which makes me feel much better about that. When I read Eating Animals, Foer decided to forego the truly free-range chickens, because he believes driving down the total demand for eggs would reduce the factory chicken farms more effectively. At first, this made a lot of sense to me, and in some ways it still does, but on thinking further, I find that I want to encourage the people who do raise chickens humanely by showing that there is a market for that. The thing is, I am finding a local source for my eggs, and that takes me outside of the industrial farming system, which I like.

In fact, a lot of the things that I like about the vegan diet—the environmental benefits and anti cruelty aspects especially, but the health benefits to some extent, too—are also benefited by moving to a more local economy. I like to support my local community as much as possible in everything, not just food, but it is nice to see how it fits into my diet as well. By growing a lot of my own food in my yard and supplementing as much as possible with foods from local farmers, I reap environmental benefits from the reduced travelling of my food, I reduce animal cruelty by buying from small farmers who treat their animals well, and I get the health benefits from food that is very fresh. Plus, I support my local community rather than some rich corporation.

Part of me feels very good about all of this, and like I am continuing to live my life in a way that supports principles that I feel strongly about. Part of me feels like this is all a cop out, and if I really cared, I would be 100% vegan all the time. However, I need to be realistic about what I want to do, and what I can do, and not beat myself up for not being perfect. So many times, we think of issues in extremes, as if any decision is all or nothing, and that there are no benefits to going partway. I don’t think this is a healthy way to approach life, though. Eating vegan 75% of the time and being conscious about finding more humane sources for the animal products I do eat reduces animal cruelty quite a bit over eating a standard diet. Similarly, sourcing my foods locally as much as possible and eating fewer animal products (and less of them) reduces my environmental impacts, even if I keep buying oranges and coffee and avocadoes and other produce that won’t grow locally, and continue to eat some animal products.

Forgiving myself for not being perfect is a healthier way to live, and one that allows me to continue to do a lot to promote local economies, animal welfare, the good of the environment and good health without the danger that I will give it all up as being too difficult. American culture has a strong puritan streak that often causes us to view large sacrifices as good for us, and people who cannot make those sacrifices (especially if they just don’t want to) as weak. I do agree that self-discipline and training myself to do without everything that I want right when I want it is important for a healthy lifestyle in so many ways. At the same time, making myself miserable by trying to make such sacrifices permanent isn’t healthy either, and just sets me up for failure. For me, being a strict vegan is too much self-flagellation. I know, that is a strong word, and it definitely does not apply to all vegans. Many people are perfectly happy to be vegans, and I say more power to them. But that isn’t true for me, and I don’t think it makes me any crueler or less dedicated to the environment or my health than people who go all the way. I’d even go so far as to say that if a majority of people changed their eating habits to be more like mine—with a big reduction in animal products (even if they ate meat other than fish, which I don't plan to do), and an attempt to eat locally whenever possible—a lot of the problems with our modern food production systems would be reduced, if not eliminated, without people having to entirely give up the things that they enjoy. It seems to me to be a much more sustainable choice for society as a whole, and one that I can feel good about supporting.

Getting back to the point about community, I have been writing this post for over a week now. Part of the reason for that is that I wanted to think this through thoroughly, and really articulate what I am thinking. Part of it, though, is that I strongly suspect that many people who look at this blog for vegan ideas will consider this a total copout. I feel like I am totally on the edge of the vegan community, and this won’t help. I know that I do not participate in vegan groups as much as some, because I have many other interests that take up my very limited online time, too. But I do love reading the vegan blogs and talking to the people I have met online through veganism. I suspect that I am writing this blog mostly for myself anyway; although sitemeter tells me that I get a steady stream of visitors, most of them seem to be looking for a vegan African peanut stew recipe or vegan camping ideas. So, this won’t likely change much, and all the people I like to read seem like nice people who won’t care anyway. This probably gets back to my feelings about perfectionism more than anything.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A short menu

I am only planning for 4 days this week, because the kids will be at their dad's this coming weekend. Plus, I will find out what my raise is going to be on Friday, and I am hoping I will have cause to celebrate!

Monday: Chickpea Cutlets, Dijon mustard sauce, buttered potatoes, steamed broccoli

Tuesday: Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Soup, from Veganomicon, brown rice, pineapple

Wednesday: Chili Pasta, pineapple, butternut squash soup

Thursday: Beanie Weenies (from McDougall's Quick and Easy Cookbook), steamed broccoli/carrots/snap peas, strawberries

This past week, I actually went out to eat one night while the kids were at their dad's, and found that I don't enjoy it as much as I used to. I still like eating out with friends, but I used to love eating out by myself, reading, enjoying some peace in the midst of people (not having to say "Be nice to your brother!", "Don't hit your sister!", "Sit down on that chair!") Now, I find it just takes a lot of time, is expensive, and isn't as good as many of the foods I make at home. It is good to find that I really have changed my habits.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What we have been eating

We have been pretty busy around here, what with the holidays and all.  Oh, and the new game I have been playing online.  I have been cooking though, and even taking some pictures.  Here is what we have been eating, starting back with the week of 11/29 and my last posted plan.

Monday plan:  Chickpea noodle soup, from Veganomicon, without the mushrooms, since I am the only one who likes them (and we were out anyway), leftover steamed green beans and spinach

What we had: 

Exactly as planned, with no mushrooms, and green things added to the soup.  Delicious.

Tuesday plan: Roasted butternut squash risotto, steamed broccoli

What we had:

Broccoli not shown, because we were running so behind this day, the kids' dad came to pick them up just as I was finishing cooking this.  I dished up a bunch to send with them, and ate alone that night, but at least it was delicious food.  Also, I tweaked this recipe a little--I didn't change the amount of broth at all, but I upped the amount of rice to 2 cups.  It was still plenty creamy and fully cooked, and made even more food, which is good for something that we actually like to eat the leftovers!

Wednesday plan:  Borrachos, whole wheat tortillas, sauteed turnip greens, steamed sweet potatoes

What we had:

Just as planned.  The tortillas didn't make the picture, and I added some guacamole with spicy pico de gallo from Trader Joe's in the back there.  This made a huge amout of beans--that isn't even all of them in the serving dish there.  I used pinto beans because that is the best I could find at the grocery store, but I am thinking I need to hit a winter's famers market soon to see if I can get something more interesting to try.  These were delicious, though, and, as I suspected they would be, even better the next day.

Thursday plan:  Fried rice/quinoa, cucumber wontons

What we had:

The kids decided to add some raspberry cocoa smoothies to this meal, which were very good.  I love that they seem to be so enthusiastic about smoothie making, although we get a LOT of cocoa powder when they are in charge of the recipes.  Not that they put too much in the smoothies, but all of their recipes seem to include the cocoa, is what I'm saying.  Still, there were bananas and raspberries and calcium-fortified soy milk, so it all evens out.

Friday plan:  Pizza, one with chickenless strips and pineapple, one with sausageless Italian sausages

I didn't get a picture of this, because we dived into the pizzas as soon as they were ready.  We did this a bit differently than planned, though.  We had veggie pepperoni in addition to the sausages, and my mom came over, adding her pickiness, so we had a bunch of different pizza sections.  One pizza had chickenless strips all over, and pineapple on half (my mom and the girl), and the other had pepperoni and Italian sausage on 3/4 of it and chickenless strips and pineapple on the last 1/4 (the boy and me).   I have been getting the pizza crust dough from Trader Joe's because it is only $.99, but we have discovered that you really need to cook the plain crust for 5 minutes before adding the toppings, or the crust doesn't get cooked all of the way.  The kids were helping with the crust rolling, so one crust went in before the other, and when I took out the first one to put the pepperoni and sausage on it, I accidentally turned the oven off when I meant to turn the timer off.  So, the chickenless pizza had a gooey crust, and we ate much later than intended, because I didn't discover the oven was off until I went to check to see if the pizzas were done cooking.  Hence the lack of pictures.

Saturday:  This was the big party.  I am not comparing the plan and actuals here, because it is a big menu, so let's just start with some pictures, shall we?

We had: 
 For dessert, we had:
  • cranberry upside down cake
  • maple cupcakes
  • some of my homemade mint liqueur
The mint liqueur was a hit, although very strong.  The mint in my garden has a fantastic flavor, though, so it tasted really good, and everyone liked it.

After the party, I decided I needed to save some money and clean out my kitchen, so we did not do a grocery shopping trip for this past week.  I had some extra stuff that I bought for the party and didn't end up using anyway, since a couple of entire families that were supposed to come got sick, and I didn't want to have FAR too much food (as opposed to the merely too much that we had, ;) ).  I don't have pictures of everything from this week, but here is what we had:

Sunday was leftovers.  We all ate our favorite things from the party, and barely made a dent in the mountain of food.

Monday I went with easy:

Whole wheat spaghetti, and butternut squash sauce from a jar, with spinach added as it cooked.  Very nutritious and delicious and easy.

Tuesday, when I picked the boy up from school at 5:30, he reminded me that he needed to be back at school by 6:30 for his chorus performance.  I had tentative menu ideas, but I don't even remember what they were, because we scrapped them in favor of leftovers again.  This, combined with all the lunches that I ate from the leftovers, meant that I didn't have to throw out any of that good food.  I was pleased that none of it went to waste.

Wednesday the kids were going to their dad's, and one of our neighbor's was over to do a school task with the boy (she is doing education classes, and she needed a practice student), so I pulled out a box of Road's End Organics Shells and Chreese, and prepared it with lima beans.  This is super fast and simple, and the kids are always happy, even when I use lima beans instead of the peas or edamame that they prefer.

By this time, I felt like I was really getting to the bottom of the options, so I thought I should try to do some planning ahead.  Wednesday night I went searching online for a good recipe for red lentil dahl, because I love that stuff, and I knew I had red lentils in the cabinet.  There were lots of good ones out there, but the one I went with came from the New York Times.  I also found a jar of masaman curry sauce in the pantry, so I went with a very non-traditional masaman curry on the side, with tofu, zucchini and carrot,s and brown rice and qyuinoa cooked with Bombay saffron rice spice from World Market.  I invited my friend Andrea over for this, because she likes Indian food, too, and I actually got a picture:

We also had some garlic pickle from a jar and a bit of mint chutney.  The kids made smoothies again, too; raspberry cocoa with some vegan chocolate chips.  These were good, but probably more dessert-y that smoothie-y.

Friday the girl was in a play, and work was crazy, so I gave in and took the kids to Crazy Bowls and Wraps.  I really want to avoid eating out as much as possible, but this is one time in over two weeks, so I feel pretty good about it.  We used to eat out at least once per week and sometimes more, so this is progress.  I should have planned ahead a bit better, though.  This involved a lot more driving and money and less vegetables than I would have liked.

Last night was my dad's birthday, so we went over there for spaghetti.  My dad had meatballs and sauce, and I doctored up a jar of garlic marinara with sauteed mushrooms, onions, sausageless Italian sausages from Trader Joe's and even more garlic.

My plan was to make a menu today and go to the grocery store, but it snowed overnight, and I am kind of a wimp about driving on snowy streets, so I am thinking I will try to find one more meal out of the pantry/fridge today and go to the store tomorrow.  I do need to do that plan, though.  But that is  topic for another post, after some more game playing...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Menu, 11/29 - 12/3, along with some Thanksgiving stuff

Last week, I didn't do a plan, and I didn't do much cooking.  I don't even remember what we did on Monday, Tuesday we went to my parents' house for an early Thanksgiving dinner, since the kids were going to their dad's for the holiday, Wednesday, we just had falafel with pita bread and tahini sauce, and the weekend I just kind of grabbed some leftovers or peanut butter sandwiches.  I did cook for my parents on Thanksgiving, but not as much as I have in the past.  I am saving my serious cooking for this coming Saturday, when I think there will be a lot of people here.  (Ack, I need to do a lot of cleaning!)  On Thanksgiving, I made cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes with maple syrup and margarine, mushroom gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts, seamed green beans, and a roasted buttenut squash dressing.  Here is a picture of the meal:

The dressing was based on the carmelized onion butternut roast with chestnuts from Veganomicon, but I didn't make it to the store, so I substituted walnuts for the chestnuts, a loaf of cubed cranberry pumpkin seed bread for the beans, and left off the breadcrumb topping, although I did add the seasonings to the casserole.  It was a huge hit--both of my parents loved it.  Also, since we had done the whole turkey dinner thing onTuesday (except I didn't eat any turkey of course), my dad didn't even bring any turkey, and we all ate the vegetarian meal,which was pretty cool.

Anyway, on to this week.  I actually didn't make the menu and get to the store until today, but I wanted to put yesterday on this menu, since the idea is to help with future planning after all.  I did most of this menu and the grocery list while the girl practiced putting contacts in and out of her eyes for the first time in the optometrist's office.  Way to plan ahead, huh?

Monday:  Chickpea noodle soup, from Veganomicon, without the mushrooms, since I am the only one who likes them (and we were out anyway), leftover steamed green beans and spinach

Tuesday:  Roasted butternut squash risotto, steamed broccoli

Wednesday:  Borrachos, whole wheat tortillas, sauteed turnip greens, steamed sweet potatoes

Thursday:  Fried rice/quinoa, cucumber wontons

Friday:  Pizza, one with chickenless strips and pineapple, one with sausageless Italian sausages

Saturday I am making a big meal for some friends.  I don't have a full menu yet, but here are some things I am thinking of making:

Main meal:
  • cranberry upside down cake
  • double layer pumpkin cheesecake
  • apple cranberry crisp
I hope it is enough food.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What we actually had for dinner 11/14 - 11/18 (with pictures and notes)

In order to help me plan better, I decided I should document what I actually do with my plans, so I can use that information for future planning.  So, I took pictures of our dinners each night this week, and I am gong to compare the plan with what happened, along with notes about what changes I made to the recipes.  The pictures are not that great, but I have hungry children waiting to eat when I put this stuff on the table!

Sunday plan:  Carmelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts, roasted Brussel's sprouts, cranberry sauce

What we had:

Exactly what was on the menu.  It was so delicious, too!  Okay, I was the only one who liked the Brussels sprouts, but I only made the kids eat two bites, and they survived, and I liked them enough for everyone.  Both kids like butternut squash, so that was helpful. This was the first time I had had chestnuts.  They were good, but kind of expensive.  We will be having this again.

Monday plan:  Mole Skillet Pie with Greens, steamed broccoli, orange/blackberry fruit salad

What we had:

Pretty much what was planned, except that Trader Joe's didn't have any blackberries, so we had blueberries instead.  I know, totally out of season, but I am making many efforts to eat seasonally, and sometimes I just crave the out of season stuff.  As for the mole skillet pie, did you go to the link?  It has chocolate in it!  It was awesome.  I used turnip greens from the garden, and I added a grated zucchini to the filling because I had a zucchini in the fridge and I wanted to use it before it went bad.  My mom was over for dinner this night, and she said I should definitely make it again, which I was already planning to do.

Tuesday plan:  Tempeh noodle casserole, steamed broccoli/carrots/snap peas, pineapple

What we had:

I volunteered at the elementary book school fair from 4 - 6, then we had to walk through the book fair and pick out some books, and then we walked home, and we had a pretty short amount of time to get dinner cooked, served and eaten before the kids were picked up by their dad.  Fortunately I had some gnocchi and a jar of sauce in the cabinet, which I can get on the table in 20 minutes from taking out the pot.  I added some frozen peas and a bit of baby spinach, and rounded out the meal with some steamed green beans and applesauce.  We all liked this, and it saved us on a busy night.

Wednesday plan:  Lentils and rice with carmelized onion tahini sauce, beets, steamed sweet potatoes

What we had:

I got this started, with onions carmelizing on the stove, and brown rice and quinoa in the microwave steamer, when I found that I was out of tahini!  How could this happen?  I definitely need to head to the international foods store for the big tub of tahini this weekend--that is the best part of the meal!  It was still pretty good, though, although the beets were a bit old, and neither the boy nor I liked them (the girl doesn't like them anyway.)  I spent all of the time that I would have used making the sweet potatoes looking for tahini, so we did without and I grabbed a bag of broccoli and cauliflower florets I could throw in the microwave for 5 minutes instead.

Thursday plan:  Peanut noodles, steamed green beans, green smoothies

We ate the green beans on Tuesday, so those weren't available tonight.  The peanut noodles had plenty of veggies, though, so I decided to just forget that element of the meal.  I made a double batch of the sauce, and used a tub of Healthy 8 diced veggies from Trader Joe's, along with a pound of extra firm tofu.  Personally, I think that if this was the only recipe I ever got off the internet, it would be worth it, because it is just so darn awesome, but the kids aren't really fans.  Of course, the boy said he didn't like it, but still had seconds; the girl didn't eat much.  We all liked the smoothies, though.  I used 2 cups of calcium-enriched orange juice, 1 cup of vanilla soy yogurt, 1 cup of blueberries and a bunch of baby spinach.  The girl does not like that they are green, but she does like the taste.

All in all, a pretty good use of the plan.  We mostly had what I planned on, with some slight changes in the side dishes and one wholesale substitution.  I think we did get a fair amount of fruits and veggies with dinner, and I ate a lot of leftovers for lunches, so I got plenty of veggies during the day.  The kids did bring some baby carrots, so they did get a bit more veggies, although we are still working on that.