Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner?

By Stephanie Politte

I have gestational diabetes. Also, I’m not the weight I was in college. My husband suffers from a nasty case of acid reflux. I could add a few more points, but I don’t need to embarrass myself. Not all of this is directly our fault. Genes play a role, no question. However, we could stand to step up our game in the realm of healthy choices. As a mother of 4 1/2, (we are due with #5 October 1) I don’t have the time to exercise a lot. That’s certainly no excuse to forego it completely, but if anyone has a valid reason for having a hard time squeezing in a 5 mile run- it’s mothers of several babies/toddlers. I don’t like to use being a mom as an excuse, and I think that’s an easy trap to fall into. But my daily schedule just doesn’t have a lot of give. “Just get up early, before the kids.” Right! My kids wake me up at the crack of 5:45 as it is, these days. I have enough trouble trying to come up with a game plan for getting a shower. Maybe some of you can handle getting up earlier than that, but I am not cut out for dragging myself out of bed while it is still what I would consider the middle of the night.

That being said…no one has a legitimate excuse for not taking care of themselves, if they are able-bodied. This includes hygiene, diet, and physical exercise in some form. I do get some exercise, you should see how many trips up and down the stairs I make each day, usually carrying 1-2 children per trip. Then there’s the chasing I do. “Catch me, Mommy!” “Campbell’s holding Daddy’s coffee, Mommy!” “Adeline took yogurt up the stairs, Mommy!” Not to mention the number of times a day I sprint to save the poor 9 month old from the torture of any one of his toddler-siblings. I keep active.

As far as hygiene, I think we are doing a fine job in that category, assuming we’re talking about the days I do manage to work out a plan for getting a shower. I won’t lie, there have been several days that my shower for the day didn’t happen until the kids were in bed for the evening (I’m a shower first thing in the morning kind of girl.)

Now diet….I really have to say that I think we’re pretty well-rounded when it comes to eating. We aren’t health food gurus, but we love our veggies, and we don’t eat a lot of dessert, and our menus are generally fiber-rich. But this is the area I feel we can take the most control. Lucky for me, my husband is up for trying whatever I propose for our meal plan. He really notices the difference when we’ve been making too many unhealthy choices and starts to feel run-down. He’s come a long way from when we got married and his favorite food groups were bacon, sour cream and cheese. Don’t get me wrong, those still hold a special place in his heart, but he regards them now as “sometimes treats” rather than necessities at every meal.

So, in pursuit of feeling better, encouraging our children to make good choices, and preserving our health, I am on a quest to explore new culinary offerings. I am not one for extreme diets that are restrictive and that leave gaping holes in the variety that should compose our menu. (This is my way of saying I don’t have the willpower to cut something I like completely out.) But I do think that the way we eat as Americans is pretty far off from what our bodies are designed to consume. So, I’m proposing that we give some light vegetarianism a try. By that I mean I want to start making 2-3 meals per week that contain meat, and go meatless the rest of the time. Some of you are thinking, “She’s just now coming up with this idea? I haven’t eaten bacon is 8 years!” And others are thinking, “She wants to do wha?!? No way I’m gonna choose a garden burger over a big fat bacon cheeseburger!” I’m not ready to give it up completely, and I doubt that I will ever feel inclined to do that. (Believe me, as soon as this baby is born, I will be sitting down to a nice juicy rare steak at Longhorn the first chance I get.) But I truly enjoy meatless meals like black bean burgers, sauteed string beans and rice, or a tofu Triple Lindy from Moe’s (don’t knock it till you try it!).

Before you say, “That’s not for me,” give this a try:

Black Bean Burgers
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup diced red onions
1 tsp finely chopped jarred jalepenos
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cheyenne pepper
Mash beans with fork or blend in food processor
Using your hands, work all other ingredients into beans
Form 4 burger patties
Freeze between layers of wax paper
Grill on med/high heat 2-4 min per side
Serve on whole wheat buns with tomato, lettuce, red onion, avocado and
bean sprouts

So…I want to know what you think. Are you enjoying a vegetarian lifestyle? Are you a confirmed carnivore with no interest in exploring meatless options? Do you like a little of both worlds? As I venture out there in search of delicious dishes that don’t contain beef, chicken, pork or fish, do you have a recipe to share with me? This is controversial, but I want to hear you weigh in on the matter!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner?

  1. Mac

    I do this, too! For budget reasons, I try to make at least one day a week bean-centric. (A big step for a girl that has historically rejected the musical fruit.)

    In my healthy fitness books, they talk about how beans don’t have as many grams of protein as meat does, but their protein is absorbed so much more easily, it works itself out.

  2. Stephishungry

    That’s great! I love bean-centric dishes. Legumes are a fantastic source of protein. I’m thinking of trying a vegetarian enchilada meal. Pintos and black beans, along with lots of veggies. Yum.

  3. Misty

    Here is one recipe that I love, very simple and you can modify and it still tastes yummy!

    Lentil-Barley Soup

    2 tsp. oil
    1 c. sliced leek (I used onions)
    3 c. vegetable, chicken or beef broth
    1 3/4 c. water (the recipe calls for 1 c. water & 3/4 c. beer so feel free to improvise as your conscience allows 🙂
    1 c. chopped carrot
    1 c. chopped celery (I never use)
    1/2 c. chopped parsnip ( I didn’t have that)
    1/4 c. chopped celery leaves (also never use)
    1/4 c. chopped fresh dill (I used 1 tsp. dried dill)
    1/4 c. uncooked pearl barley
    1/2 tsp. black pepper
    1/4 tsp. dried thyme
    2 bay leaves
    1/2 c. dried lentils
    1/4 tsp. Salt
    Heat oil in a big pot over med-high heat. Add leeks/onions to pan; saute 2 minutes. Add broth, 1 c. water, and beer (if using); bring to a boil. Add chopped carrots and next 3 ingredients (through bay leaves); return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in lentils; cover and cook 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
    Place 1 1/2 c. broth mixture in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters.). Blend until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan, and stir in salt. **If you don’t have a blender, just take the 1 1/2 c. of broth and try to smash it up as best you can with a fork, potato masher, or whatever.
    Return mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or til thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.
    Yields: 4 servings ( may want to double this to have left-overs!)
    Hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

  4. Misty

    Here is another I just rec’d from a friend but have not tried yet
    Nutty (Beef &) Barley Bake —
    1 medium onion, chopped, 1 c. medium pearl barley, 1/2 c. slivered almonds or pine nuts, 1/4 c. butter, 1/2 c. minced fresh parsley, 1/4 c. thinly sliced green onions, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, 2 cans (14-1/2 oz. each) beef broth. In a skillet over medium heat, saute the onion, barley and nuts in butter until barley is lightly browned. Stir in parsley, green onions, salt and pepper. Transfer to a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Stir in broth. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Yield: 6 servings

  5. Stephishungry

    Those BOTH sound delicious, Misty. I am definitely going to give those a whirl. Thanks for sharing! I love the taste and smell of barley, and the almonds and pine nuts sound like a fantastic combo in the second recipe. 🙂

  6. Laura

    Here is one of the ones I tried this week. I liked it, but my husband wasn’t too excited about it.

    Cheese Garden Casserole
    1 tbs lite tub margarine
    1/4 cup slivered almonds
    2 cups cooked brown rice
    1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
    2 tbs low sodium soy sauce ( I used more)
    2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped
    2 cups matchstick or coarsely shredded carrots
    1 med zucchini squash, unpeeled and cut into julienne strips
    1 cup cut green beans
    1 cup cauliflower florets
    2 cups marinara or tomato sauce
    1/2 cup shredded lowfat extra sharp cheddar cheese
    1/2 cup shredded lowfat Monterey Jack cheese (i used reg cheese not the lowfat ;o)

    Coat a medium skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat over med high heat. Add margarine and melt; add almonds and saute until lightly golden. Stir in rice, parsley and soy sauce. Spread rice mixture in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan coated w/ nonstick cooking spray.

    Combine all vegetables in steamer and steam until crisp-tender, about 5-7 mins. Drain vegetables thoroughly and spoon over rice mixture. Pour marinara sauce evenly over top. Cover and bake at 375 degrees F until heated through, about 30 mins.

    Combine cheeses and srinkle over casserole. Return pan to oven, and bake, uncovered, until cheese melts. Makes 10 servings (approximately 1 cup per serving).

    Time saver: Use frozen chopped broccoli, cauliflower and green beans- thaw before using in recipe.

  7. Stephishungry

    Oh, wow! That sounds good! Thx!!!

  8. Misty

    One more recipe we love, with no meat
    Brown Rice and Lentils
    1 1/2 cup lentils
    1 C brown rice
    1-2 onions
    1 1/2 tsp. cumin
    1 1/2 tsp. basil
    2 Cloves garlic
    pepper to taste
    6 C chicken or veggie stock
    2 cans green chilis (or I use 1 large can green chilis and 1 can rotel, also a friend of mine once added fire roasted tomatoes)
    1. Put ingredients in large casserole dish.
    2. Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2-2 hrs.
    3. Sprinkle with cheese and let melt
    4. Eat with whole wheat tortillas, salsa, sour cream, tomatoes, etc.

  9. So it’s a filling to put in tortillas? This sounds right upmmy alley! Thx for sharing it. And I am totally going to check out the cookbook you messaged me about!

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