Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent which is the 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter. Lent is supposed to be a time of reflection and preparation for Catholics, but for my entire life it has always meant answering the dreaded question “what are you giving up?”
While I prefer the idea of doing something good in preparation of Easter, and that is still something I promote with my children, my Catholic guilt always brings me back to picking some kind of sacrifice.
So, my dear readers, I’ve picked something this year that I think might benefit you in the long run. I’ve decided to give up meat. Yes, that’s right, I will avoid eating all beef, pork, chicken and turkey…although I will be able to eat fish. And since I’m not going vegan, I can still eat eggs and dairy products. I also will allow beef broth for soups, etc. because I think this is going to be change enough and I don’t need to be a purist to feel the challenge.
Now, some of you who are vegetarian might think this is no big deal. But I also cook for a family who is not taking on this same challenge, so I say “oh yeah, this is a sacrifice.”
On the upside, I’ll be sharing some of my meatless meals with you. Even if you have no interest in ever giving up meat, going meatless two or three days a week can not only be healthy, but it can be less expensive and kinder to the environment.
One of my favorite TED talks is Graham Hill’s speech about becoming a 2-day Veg(etarian). Even Meatless Mondays have become a trend that some families adopt as a way of easing into the notion of serving a meal without the need for meat.
And most recently, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that a vegetarian diet is beneficial at reducing blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease. With the anticipated rise in meat prices predicted this summer, this might be the perfect opportunity to keep your grocery bill in line while improving your heart health.
So join me, or experiment with going vegetarian just one or two days this week. Either way, I’ve got some yummy recipes to share that will keep you satisfied and not missing the meat at all.
Creamy Squash and Carrot Ribbons
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped
4 large carrots, cut into ribbons using a mandolin
2 summer squash (can substitute zucchini), cut into ribbons using a mandolin
Salt and Pepper
Pinch dried basil
3 ounces neuftal cheese (light cream cheese)
3 tablespoons vegetable broth (more if you prefer a thinner sauce)
¼ cup pine nuts
Carefully cut the squash and carrot ribbons using a mandolin. If you don’t have a mandolin, thin slices work fine too.
Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until softened. Add squash and carrot ribbons, salt and pepper, and bail; sauté until softened.
Remove the squash and carrots from pan. Add the cream cheese and broth to the pan, stirring to help the cream cheese melt. Add more broth if needed.
Once the cream cheese has softened, add pine nuts to the pan. Heat for a minute, then return carrots and squash.
Fold to coat the vegetables in the cream sauce. Serve immediately.