Rice-a-plenty.

by Adriana

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We ended up being the recipients of some leftover rice. I use the word “some” loosely, because we have a fridge full. It’s like when our very generous (and very talented) Italian gardening neighbours give us a zucchini that barely fits in our car. What do we do with all this generosity? Well, with rice, we try to muster up enthusiasm to have a different rice-centric meal every night. Night 1: rice with lentils, dates, and raisins (the same rice that was made about a week ago, but made by my mother-in-law and, without a doubt, more delicious than mine). Night 2: stir-fried rice, with tofu, zucchini, carrots, onions, garlic, mushrooms, peppers, and snow peas. I will let you know what Night 3 and 4 bring!

Let me say, I am learning as I go here, and am still very excited to try new recipes and new flavours, my husband is too. My children are not so inclined. I have seen my once mushroom-loving daughter now push them to the side of the plate. Zucchini she has always had an aversion to. So now when I am making stir-fried rice and I want to add zucchini, I take half the zucchini and cut it into pieces they can see (on the off chance they’ll try it on their own) and I take the other half and grate it into the rice. Once you stir-fry it, they really can’t even see it, and they eat it up. This makes me happy because I know she’s getting vegetables but the best thing is that we avoid the drama. This evening, she gobbled up the broccoli coleslaw because no one said it was broccoli and no one asked! If she knows, there is no way it’s going into her mouth.

Since becoming weekday vegetarians, we have done a lot of reading and learning in attempts to ensure that we are properly feeding our children and ourselves. My husband and I are almost reluctant to eat meat on the weekends, because afterwards, we don’t feel so great (and I have lots of weird, scary dreams the night we eat meat). My children do ask for it, and this doesn’t bother me but I am careful about what we give them. What bothers me a bit, is the constant questioning and teasing from people about what we’re doing. A lot of people think we are doing a disservice to our children because we have limited their meat intake. A lot more people think we are going to leave them malnourished and scarred from this lifestyle.

I spoke to our family doctor before we started weekday vegetarianism. When I told her we were becoming lacto-ovo vegetarians (meaning we would eat eggs and dairy products), she didn’t even flinch about the health of my children. She thought it was a good thing to pursue.

And, after doing a bit of reading about whether we are doing a disservice to our children, or if I am scarring them for life, I have to say I think it’s interesting that we have been made to believe that unless we eat meat, we will not be healthy. When you properly eat vegetarian, you can get all the nutrients, vitamins and daily requirements that you require without touching meat. 50 years ago a dinner plate was not centered on the meat on your plate – the meat was a small portion. More people ate vegetables and locally and organic (without it being called that) and they were balanced and healthy and content.

I have come to the resounding conclusion that my children, as weekday vegetarians, will grow up to understand how directly their food choices affect their lives, what food is and the importance of eating locally and organic and will not, for any reason, be scarred by this lifestyle (because they will choose when and if they want to eat meat. Don’t let the naysayers sway you, whether it’s lacto-ovo, vegan or pure vegetarianism you are pursuing. Already, after just 25 days, we feel better, have more energy and do not miss meat – much to our surprise.

If you’re interested, here is the link for the Canada Food Guide. There is a new part on their site where you can enter simple information about yourself and it will walk you through what a serving is and what your daily requirements are.

And, if you find yourself with a bunch of leftover rice, try out this rice dish. This recipe calls for you to start from scratch, but you could adjust it to use with leftover rice. As the Persians say “Noosh-e-Jan!”

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