Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ruminations on Food

A family member recently asked us how to get started with vegetarian eating. While we certainly do not feel compelled to tell other people what to eat, we do feel strongly about the importance of healthy eating (of any kind). In the spirit of that, we thought we'd share the snippets below more widely. 
Here's some stuff to get started on:  (or any of the Moosewood cookbooks. Moosewood is a famous vegetarian restaraunt in Maine)

A couple of things to focus on:

1) Learn how to cook grains (brown and wild rice, spelt, millet, quinoa) and beans and integrate them into your cooking. Learn how to flavor your food with spices, peppers, onions, garlic, sauces and marinades (rather than salt, butter and fat).
2) Learn how to make your own pie shells (so that you can make veggie pot pies - you can put all sorts of stuff in pie shells).
3) Lean how to cook and use squash (butternut is the best to start with) in your cooking. You can buy this in the freezer section if you don't want to process fresh squash. Pureed squash is sweet and makes a great "matrix" for burritos and pot pies.
4) Ethnic foods such as Mexican and Indian lend themselves better to vegetarian eating than do the traditional american "home cooking". For example, you can make a huge batch of beans/rice/cheese-based filling for burritos, pre-roll and freeze a bunch and then just bake them when needed. You could also just buy bean burritos but they won't be as good as home made.
5) Your likelihood of success at any kind of healthy eating is greater if you cook your own food and greatest if you also enjoy cooking your own food. Quality over quantity (in both your ingredients and your portions sizes) will go a long way to helping you to dispel the myth that quality food "costs" more.
6) Share your passion for healthy eating with others. Hang around people who share your passion for health.
7) Experiment wildly with your cooking. What have you got to lose?
8) Have fun when you cook. Eat slowly. Share meals with others.
9) Look for quality ingredients at food co-ops, Whole Foods stores or the organic/health food sections of major grocery chains. Buy organic food and ingredients as much as possible. If buying quality food seems "expensive" then don't eat out and use the savings from that to "subsidize" your new found habit of supporting sanity in agriculture. Soon you will realize that this "subsidy" is really just paying the true cost of healthful food.
10) Spread the word about how good you feel (physically, emotionally, spirtually) since you've reclaimed your palate and energized your mind and body with GOOD FOOD!

Transitioning to a plant and grain-based (yes, we eat eggs and dairy but as condiments, proportionally) diet is one of the most life-changing things we've come across. Give it a go, be patient, be open, have fun!


  1. Jennifer and Steve,
    Love this post! Thanks for the great info! We're not vegetarians but live on a largely veggie, fruit and whole grain diet. I'm on day 5 of a juice fast to reboot my system far, it's been good! I can't wait until the garden is in full swing so I can cut down on the organic produce bill, but it's worth it in health gains, so I really feel I have no other choice. With the kids, they've eaten largely organic since they were born and now I feel a big responsibility to keep that up for their health. Seems to be a whole lot of their friends have ADHD, and I firmly believe there is a connection between that and dyes in food and pesticides as well as the additives in processed food in general. Organic has really fed our family well in every sense of the word.
    Are you getting the gardening itch yet?? I know we are! But it's -11 degrees here in NH today with the windchill! I think I will pull out my High Mowing catalog today and make a cup of tea and dream of warm dirt and seeds. ~Vonnie

  2. Nice to meet other Ohioans. With a diagnosis of high colesterol, I too have been focusing on nuts,and beans and grains. Not a bad choice. Thanks for sharing.

  3. HI S&J...I am not a vegetarian, but much of my diet is based around grains beans peas lentil, fruits and veggie and such...I have been told by my doctor that I do need to eat at least once a week fish ,salmon my favorite and or chicken because of a health issue. I do eat eggs !!
    Living alone is the hardest for me when it comes to eating period... I don't eat junk food, canned food,or frozen dinners ( I have never bought one) People say it would be so handy for you being alone...daa.. read the label of content (sodium my pet peeve) !
    I have been to a once a month free veggie cooking classes. No dairy eggs and etc strickly vegetarian..very yummy tasting after..amazing what you can do with out all the other "stuff" lol!!
    I will shut up now lol ; }
    Ok I will shut up...
    Bravo to you both,

  4. Thanks very much for encouraging a vegetarian lifestyle. FYI Moosewood Restaurant is in Ithaca, NY. It's changed over the years but I still really like the cookbooks. There are some great restaurants on this online guide: Vegetarian Journal's Guide to Natural Foods Restaurants in the U.S. and Canada at: They are also open to suggestions so send them your favorites.

  5. Just browsing your older posts and found this one. I started eating a vegetarian diet in 2003 and found it quite easy...then in 2008 I went Vegan and its even easier!
    The best part is my Mom who is now 88 made the change with me, and when she has her bloodwork done her DR is always amazed! I personally think its important to stay away from processed as much as possible. Great post chock full of good advice!


We love to hear from our readers! Please share your thoughts.