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My family’s vegetarian adventure

Categories: Hacking Life, cooking, do more with less

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Back in the day—that is, long before he and I were together—my husband was a vegetarian. So much so that when his first child was born, back in the early 1990s, he fed her soy butter and “not dogs” and lots of tofu.

By the time his youngest child was born, though, in the mid-2000s, he was letting the baby lick steak off of a fork at the dinner table. So when the kind folks at Tribe Hummus and Veggie Patch offered to let my family try a bunch of vegetarian goodies in honor of October being vegetarian awareness month, I thought that perhaps those long-dormant vegetarian tendencies might surface again.

It’s a good thing some people are patient, because now it’s November, and I’m still keeping an eye out for those vegetarian tendencies. My youngest daughter, who tends to eschew meat in favor of any raw vegetable she can get her hands on, politely turned down several of my chipper “How about THIS for dinner!” suggestions, until I finally remembered that I’m the parent and cook and Chief Bottle Washer and set a plate of unfamiliar food down in front of her.

Luckily, November is vegan awareness month, so my family’s foray into vegetarianism is still somewhat relevant. But while my youngest kids were happy eating hummus and thought the Veggie Patch Broccoli Bites were some sort of cool, green chicken nugget, I couldn’t sell them on the veggie burgers, even though I renamed them “Krabby Patties” and offered to smother them in condiments. To them, they were neither meat nor vegetable, but some strange, grain-filled hybrid. My 5-year-old son asked for some more “green chicken things.” And my 7-year-old daughter politely ate hers and then looked up at me with enormous eyes, lip all a-quivver, and asked if she had eaten enough to earn dessert. (Answer: Yes.)

My husband, on the other hand, revisited his vegetarian past with pleasure. We stocked up on pita and taste-tested every type of hummus Tribe had to offer. His favorite: the hummus spiked with spicy cilantro chimichurri. I loved the more traditional Mediterranean version, with olive oil and paprika. My kids went straight for the traditional hummus, and ate it with tortilla chips.

Whatever. It totally counts as healthy.

In general, we treat meat as a side dish and load up on the veggies—except for special occasions, when steak is happily licked off of forks by all and sundry. But if you’re thinking about doing away with meat, even for just a meal or two each week, the offerings from Tribe and Veggie Patch get my family’s stamp of approval. And the bonus for busy moms? They’re pretty much heat-and-serve, which makes them a great addition to your beat-the-witching-hour arsenal.

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