Good. Simple. Food. Our journey to more veggies/less meat

You might be wondering how someone so blatantly honest about her lack of skill or interest in cooking would be blogging about it to such an extent. The answer is January. Or maybe it's winter. Either way, everybody needs to eat at least once a day, regardless the weather; so there's always food for thought. Or food for blog, in this case.

Wearing mayo, honey, and red wine vinegar. A can of black beans will complete the look.

But seriously, I enjoy reading recipe books, food magazines, and combing my favourite food web sites; and I can drool over the photos along with the best.

It's just that when it comes to planning ahead, shopping for ingredients, reading a recipe and following instructions, spending that much time in the kitchen... well, let's just say that my enthusiasm is short-lived.

All I really need is some good simple food, and, blessed woman that I am, hubby feels the same way, mostly.

Stir fry veggies with rice and plum sauce.

More than once, we've been accused of being vegetarian; and while that lifestyle wouldn't be much of a stretch for us, we do actually eat meat.

In the summer, we like to barbecue burgers (yes, sometimes they're veggie or black bean), roast hot dogs over the fire, or marinate chicken for the grill.

And because life is just better with bacon, we keep that on hand (pre-cooked and crumbled) and use it fairly liberally.

Salad and rice
Salad and rice. No, really!

So, how did we learn to eat like this without intentionally going vegetarian, you may wonder.

It hasn't happened overnight. In fact, it's taken the better part of three decades to develop this (almost) meatless and (mostly) vegetable habit.

And we have our daughter, a born vegetarian, to thank for the initial inspiration :)

Wholewheat pasta in saucy pork & beans.
Wholewheat pasta in saucy bacon & beans. Because some days are just like that.

At one time I considered myself the casserole queen, and for someone who thrives on simplicity and getting all parts of the meal to the table steaming hot, it was the ticket.

However, with a vegetarian daughter and a carnivorous son thrown into our mix, I was forced to rethink my casserole tendencies.

Bottom line: we ate a lot of pizza.

Actually, the initial switch in preparation was probably the most difficult transition, while eating less meat and expanding our use of the veggies just sort of happened over time.

For one thing, we discovered legumes, a fantastic source of both protein and fiber, which do a pretty good job of replacing meat in many dishes. I love their flavour, texture, and versatility, and can quite easily eat my half-cup-a-day portion straight from the jar! If you don't feel the same way about them, I grieve for you.

Now, I realize that the vegetarian (or near vegetarian) diet is not for everyone. If you are saying, "I just can't live without meat!" I hear you. I get it. It's just that, for us, that's not the reality. We have learned that we can take it or leave it.

So, we mostly leave it, because a) (and most importantly) our guts just feel better that way, b) it's a simpler way to eat and live (which is important to me, as you've probably ascertained by now), and c) we are feeling less and less confident in the quality of what we can buy from the grocery store meat counter and are not terribly interested in going back to raising/butchering our own, as the current trend seems to be.

Almost a decade now into this empty-nest stage has probably facilitated the biggest changes in our diet; however, hubby and I still can't agree on everything. For example, when it comes to spaghetti squash, olives, and black bean pasta, I'm on my own. And he still enjoys noodles smothered in rich cream gravy, on occasion.

Next steps will hopefully include switching out all that white rice and whole wheat pasta for wild rice and quinoa. Gulp!

Could take another decade.