Moving From “Oh, no, it’s Meatless Monday?!” To Embracing Pollan’s Rule 2: Mostly Plants

When you are feeding two teenage boys, and one picky teenage girl, implementing the mostly plants rule can seem impossible.  There are many nights when the eldest will sit down for dinner and groan, “Oh, no meat tonight? Guess I’ll need a snack later.” And, yes, we do try to observe a “Meatless Monday” rule in our house, although the meatless meals don’t always fall on Monday. Fortunately, the Family Foodie parents think that reducing meat consumption is an important goal, so we work together to make this happen. And we are making progress in increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables we are eating and reducing the amount of meat (although sometimes the pace of improvement sometimes seems to be more like that of the tortoise than the hare).

Here are some of the steps we have been taking, that I am sure you can do too!

  1. Join a CSA and shop at your local farmer’s market. Because of the CSA, we have tried lots of vegetables that we would not have typically purchased. Members of the squash family (both summer and winter), kale, collards, green beans, parsnips, turnips, green radishes come immediately to mind. Now these vegetables have become part of our regular shopping lists, and it’s much easier to take advantage of the variety we see. Expanding your food palate is the first step in moving to a mostly plants diet, and I have been amazed at the willingness of the kids to try new vegetables – especially if they come from the CSA or market.  The Picky Eater isn’t a hundred percent behind trying new veggies – but she’ll try most everything except cooked greens!                                                               
  2. Eat your colors. This is Pollan’s rule number 25. I think that this is one of my favorite rules in the book! There is nothing more fun than sitting down to a colorful plateful of food – not, however, one made colorful by the addition of food coloring L!  Again, the farmer’s market is central to this process. One of my favorite discoveries the year before last was a wonderful orange cauliflower – we roasted it and the sweetness of the dish convinced even the doubters at the table to ask for food. The colors available locally do vary with the season, and my goal for this year is to make better use of my freezer to store the bounty of colorful summer produce. I have some frozen blueberries from the market that I can’t wait to eat, but I only have one bag, and so I am waiting to use them…                             
  3. Cook around the world. We are blessed with kids who love to try different ethnic cuisines – and who love the challenge of making it themselves.  And we have access to many different ethnic grocers here in Northern Virginia. Recent explorations into international cuisine have involved making pho (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup), Tom Ka Kai (coconut chicken soup), and chickpea curry.                                                                                                                     
  4. Embrace your slow cooker. The slow cooker makes meals like chickpea curry a possibility during a crazy work week.  Buy your beans dry (and organic if possible), and just put them in the slow cooker with veggies, seasonings, and as much cooking liquid as needed. Turn it on and come home to dinner.  This is one the boys love, and I usually get a phone call, I mean a text, when they get home from school asking if they could have just a little bit of whatever is in the slow cooker…                                                                                                                                                                          
  5. Snack on fruits, veggies, and nuts.  This one is pretty easy to follow – the challenge for me is to keep enough fruits and snacking veggies (apples, cucumbers, carrots) in the house!                                                      

I’m looking forward to hearing about your favorite strategies that you use to help move your family toward eating mostly plants. Do share!

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2 Comments to “Moving From “Oh, no, it’s Meatless Monday?!” To Embracing Pollan’s Rule 2: Mostly Plants”

  1. I’m all about the fruits and veggies for snacks too. For me the challenge is chopping them while parenting a toddler. I like to make very skinny carrot sticks and just leave them out as a munchie and that keeps me out of the chocolate 🙂

  2. Modeling is one of the most important things we do as parents — but I do hope that you allow yourself chocolate sometimes!

    Prepping ahead of time is absolutely a challenge, even with the teens – apples don’t need to be sliced for them anymore, but if there is the option between something that is already chopped and prepared (like a granola bar) and carrots (that aren’t all ready to eat), the one that is ready to eat is ALWAYS consumed first.

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