Friday, April 8, 2011

We used to be omnivores, now we're flexitarians!

That's the new "it" foodie word right now.  It kind of makes me giggle and think it sounds a bit more like a sexual preference than a way of eating, but whatever.  
I understand and totally respect vegetarians and vegans, it just would not be the right option for me.  Personally I think we have teeth for plant matter and teeth for meat, and digestive systems that can handle both, so that should tell us something.  I tend to bring everything back to caveman times, so let's go there - meat would have been on the menu, but sparingly.  Our ancestors ate a lot more vegetable matter, seeds, nuts, and fruits and saved the meat heavy meals for the lucky days someone speared a mastadon.  So our digestive systems and bodies have evolved from that "starting point" to meat 3x a day, refined sugar-heavy diets, and food who's origin more often than not is unknown.  
It always makes me grit my teeth with frustration when someone says "Healthy food is more expensive!  I'm not rich, I can't afford it!"  Well, if you are talking about a box of prepared food (mac n' cheese, cereal, cookies, etc) than yes, the product made with the good stuff IS more expensive.  But how about the starter ingredients?  A huge bunch of kale will run you about $1.  Kale chips, kale soup, biscuits stuffed with kale, stir-fry.  A ginormous butternut squash will run you about $2.  That is butternut bisque  which will make enough for several meals, or if your kids won't touch it, bake & puree it and use it to fortify breads or soups they do like.  Did she say bread??  Yes, bread.  Bake it yourself.  Not only is it incredibly satisfying and makes your house smell heavenly, it tastes 1,000 time better than anything you buy at the grocery store.  Invest in bulk grains, bulk ingredients in general - you will save money and motivate yourself to feed your family in a more conscious way.  And if you think you won't have the time, it just takes some planning.  I woke up this morning at 5:30, went for a run, started some bread and left it to rise, then defrosted some cauliflower puree and whisked it into eggs which the girls ate on whole-wheat bread I baked Wednesday.  I work 30 hours a week and have a husband who thinks housework is a 4-letter word.  You can make it work.
I came across a package of wheat berries at the Co-op and was intrigued.  I love a good food challenge.   I googled "wheat berries" and came across a bunch of farro recipes - they are both whole wheat grains, and there is debate about whether they are an exact match or not.  Either way, they are prepared the same.
 We had absolutely gorged on beef bourguignon the night before, so I felt the need to lighten us up for the rest of the week.
  But damn, that bourguignon was food of the gods.
I had also bought bok choy earlier in the week, which I had never cooked.  It was one of those nights of "Hmmm, want to make something, but what?  Well, I have these wheat berries and this bok choy, and some sweet potatoes, and ooh that homemade ginger sauce would be yummy here, somehow"
So here is my creation, and the recipe for you to try:

Ginger-Glazed Vegetables Over Wheat Berry Risotto
1 c wheat berries
1 c vegetable stock 
1/2 med. onion, chopped
4 Tb olive oil
1 lg sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 c snap peas, ends snapped off
1 lg head of bok choy, rinsed and chopped

1 Tb corn starch
1/2 c water
2Tb soy sauce
1Tb brown sugar
2Tb fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2Tb grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

First, heat 2 Tb of the oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the onion and cook until translucent, then add the wheat berries.  Stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add the vegetable stock.  Lower heat to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed.  As soon as it is, add 1 c water.  Repeat process until this is absorbed, then add 1/2 c water more and repeat.  Add Parmesan cheese, if using.
In the meantime,  add 1 Tb olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat.  Add the sweet potato and cook for about 5 minutes, until the outsides are slightly browned.  Add enough water to the pan to slightly submerge the sweet potatoes, then cover.  Allow to cook for about 10 minutes, until sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.  Drain and set sweet potatoes aside on a plate. 
In a small bowl whisk together corn starch and the 1/2 c water.  Add soy sauce, brown sugar, grated ginger, sliced garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Set aside.
Add remaining olive oil to pan and add bok choy and snap peas.  Cook about 2 minutes, then return the sweet potatoes to pan with the ginger sauce.  Stir and cook until sauce thickens and vegetables are tender, then serve over wheat berries.

We all loved this, even the Mister

Happy Flexitarian-ing!! *giggle*


  1. mmmmm this looks wonderful! If i never ate a piece of meat again, i wouldnt care. hubby is a meat and potatoes man. lol about once a week i slip in an all vege dish and either he eats it or makes a sandwich!

  2. I get hungry for plain simple foods. If we go through a spell of eating complex casseroles or saucy things, I will have a day when all I want is a little piece of meat and some seasoned vegetables. Love bok choy (anything in the cabbage family, really) and a friend of mine makes an incredible salad with wheat berries, diced fresh tomatoes and chopped basil. I will see if she will share the recipe.

  3. It is so wonderful that you feed your children in this manner. So many mothers these days are shoving raw hot dogs into their kid's faces and calling it a meal. I applaud you and your smart planning!

  4. I'm game for anything. I'd try that.


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