5 am: 46°FCloudy

7 am: 43°FCloudy

9 am: 52°FMostly Cloudy

11 am: 64°FPartly Sunny

More Weather

It's easy to sneak vegetables into certain recipes

Apr. 25, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Getting kids to eat their veggies is quite often like asking kids to go to the doctor for a shot. However, finding ways to entice your children (and for that matter, stubborn spouses) to eat their veggies does not always have to be an unpleasant event. I discovered years ago the secret to getting my husband, John, to eat vegetables was to cook the veggies into a recipe that he already liked. Later, after our daughter, Madelyn, was born, I did the exact same thing for her.

Twenty-four years ago, when John and I were first married, there weren't cookbooks, much less the Internet or numerous cooking channels that taught me how to do this. I just did it by trial and error. Now, numerous celebrities and chefs alike are touting recipes and cookbooks with this idea. I started with easily disguised meals that included a variety of textures and spices and worked our way up the veggie food ladder. Now, John and Maddie both eat plenty of veggies.

Recently, we have tried eating vegan/vegetarian. What John and Maddie have discovered, though, is they still like to eat meat occasionally. We used to joke that this should be called "flexitarigans" until we discovered several cookbooks that used the term "flexitarian." While I am the one who does not eat meat, John and Maddie still eat meatless dinners four to five nights per week. Going meatless, we discovered, is easy and tasty.

Most of our favorite meat-based recipes can easily be converted to meatless meals, thanks in large part to meat-replacement products. Ground veggie crumbles were an instant hit at our dinner table. In fact, early into our meatless dinner process, I made a large batch of spaghetti sauce using the meatless crumbles product. My husband commented, "I cannot believe this does not have meat in it. It tastes so good."

Madelyn raised her eyebrows, "What do you mean it doesn't have any meat? No one told me it doesn't have any meat. I can't tell the difference. Taste like your spaghetti to me." She went on to laugh because she had secretly wondered why I had cooked spaghetti if we were going without meat!

The recipe I am about to share with you has become a family favorite, just like my spaghetti. I make this meal at least every other week. The recipe makes up plenty for a large family; and, two or more meals for a small family like ours. I love the mix of textures, tastes and colors. While it is a taco recipe, we eat this several ways. In addition to traditional soft and hard tacos, we make nachos out of this, tostados, enchiladas and taco salad. I usually serve it with a batch of homemade guacamole, baked tortilla chips and salsa. I eat it without cheese, but John and Madelyn definitely aren't shy about topping everything off with cheese!

Give this recipe a try sometime. I believe you won't miss the meat at all.

From my home to yours, I wish you healthy, happy, homemade meals.

Vegetarian Tacos

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced green pepper

1 cup diced yellow squash

1 cup diced green squash

1 package (12 ounces) meatless veggie crumbles

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno chili, seeded and chopped

1 cup frozen corn

1 can pinto or black beans, drained

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon dried cilantro

1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt

Place first four ingredients (chopped veggies) into prepared, preheated, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until onion is translucent and veggies are soft.

Add in rest of ingredients, gently stirring after each addition.

Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and an eighth-grade reading and writing teacher at South Point Middle School. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net.