Family-Friendly Vegetarian Cooking
BY Neal D. Barnard, MD
Q: I’m the only vegetarian in my family.
Can you suggest how to cook one meal that makes us all happy?
A: Great question. If you’re able to cook one meal that works for the whole family, you’re doing everyone a huge favor. They will all eat as healthfully as you. This is especially important for children: growing up with a taste for plant-based foods gives kids an advantage they will carry with them for life.
Even so, many people balk at unfamiliar foods, and children in particular spurn new tastes and textures. Still, plenty of vegetarian foods—pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal with cinnamon and sliced bananas for breakfast; bean burritos and guacamole for lunch; spaghetti or lasagna with a robust tomato sauce for dinner—are popular with just about everyone. Most people also like minestrone and butternut squash soups. Another way to keep everyone happy is to serve faux meats. Some taste so close to the real thing that your family will be amazed. I’m thinking of chunks of tempeh or seitan in a chili or stir-fry. Or how about taste-testing several brands of veggie burgers or veggie sausages? Cook them up, and ask which everyone likes best.
Now, some faux meats are highly processed, with many ingredients you don’t need, and it’s probably best not to make them a habit. That said, they are still more healthful than the products they replace. Your family is lucky to have you looking out for them.