Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Growing up I was a very picky eater and especially struggled when it came to eating meat. When I was old enough to make my own decisions, I cut meat out of my diet completely because I had so many negative memories attached to it. One day in University I was at my girlfriend's house for dinner and her dad was grilling steaks. He was so proud of his grilling abilities and I didn't have the heart to tell him I was a vegetarian. So I swallowed my pride and the meaty, BBQ morsels. To my surprise (and my father's dismay that it was not one of his steaks that broke me) I actually kind of liked it. I began eating meat once in a while. Eventually, it became a staple in my home and a lot of my meal planning included meat. Although, I am not sure why. I gagged while preparing it and rarely enjoyed eating it. I would always cut off the 'icky bits' and be left with a tiny piece of dried up meat.
In the summer of 2015, my husband and I had the good fortune (and even greater family members/childcare) to go to London on vacation. I love planning trips and I planned this one minute by minute, meal by meal, museum by museum. Most of the restaurants focused on really fresh food as well as Indian food (which is primarily vegetarian) and we had an amazing culinary experience while there.
When we returned home we dropped the meat from our lives and never looked back....well, my husband looked back and still does from time to time. I cut almost all animal products from our lives and we just felt so much better all around. My kids switched to a mixture of coconut and almond milk and I began cooking with a lot of beans, lentils, and tempeh. I began to really love cooking and finding unique ways to prepare these ingredients. My kids ate almost everything I cooked (my sister will still tell you it is because they are starving because I won't feed them meat) and developed a palate for most veggies and legumes. We eat tofu and 'fake meat' once in a while but mostly stick to using veggies as the forefront of dishes with lots of spices and flavour.
I love making dishes that would typically have ground beef or ground chicken with lentils and adding lots of veg and spices.
Here is my Super Sloppy Lentil Joe recipe:
2 1/4 Tbsp of active dry yeast or starter if you have it
1 Tbsp of sugar
1 cup of warm water
2 1/2 - 3 cups of flour (I try to use Italian flour as it has fewer additives and no GMOs)
1 1/2 Tsp of salt
Combine yeast, sugar, and water in a bowl. Let sit and rise for 5-10 mins. Slowly add the flour and salt to your mixture until you have a nice, slightly sticky ball of dough. Form the dough into a ball and rub olive oil around the outside. Cover with a tea towel for a minimum of 1 hour. Place dough on a floured surface and pull apart into 8 sections. Roll into balls and place on a baking sheet and cover with a tea towel to proof for 45 mins. Bake at 400 for 20-22 mins, until the tops are golden brown. Allow to cool before cutting open.
Ignore this crap and buy buns!
Sloppy Joe Filling
2 Large Carrots
3-4 Celery Stalks
1 small yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
6 shiitake mushrooms
Chop all the veggies into small pieces and combine everything into a frying pan with a little olive oil. Fry on medium and allow some pieces to get a little bit of char (extra flavour).
1 1/2 cups of red or green lentils (I like to use red for this)
2 cups of mushroom broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Bring broth and tomato paste to a boil and add lentils. Lower to low to medium heat and cover with a lid for 15 mins. Stir occasionally and add more liquid if needed. Remove lid and let simmer for about 5 more minutes until liquid is gone and lentils are soft.
If you love meat, replace the lentils with meat of your choice!
1/3 cup of ketchup
1/3 cup of favourite BBQ sauce
3 Tbsp of yellow mustard
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
3 Tbsp water
*optional dashes of hot sauce*
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan on low and cook for about 10-15 minutes until it is thicker.
1/2 a head of green cabbage (shredded)
4-5 green onions (sliced long and thin)
2 large carrots (peeled and shredded)
2 stalks of celery (sliced thinly)
Combine in a salad bowl with coleslaw dressing (recipe below)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp vegan mayo (I use Heinz)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
Combine and whisk and pour over coleslaw.
To put everything together, cut open a fresh bun and pile on the super sloppy filling (add cheese if you like). I like the coleslaw inside the sandwich but my kids prefer it on the side (without dressing). Give them the choice and they might be more likely to try at least one of them if they aren't mixed together. I usually cut them in half because they are big and messy. My oldest will eat the whole thing but I usually give my little guy a small portion, to begin with as to not overwhelm him. He can always have seconds.
This is completely my recipe through trial and error so make sure you taste test throughout and adjust to your family's needs and likes.
Some will like it and some won't. It's always worth a try. Introducing your children to new foods on a regular basis will slowly help break the picky eating cycle. The more we continue to serve the staples we know they will religiously eat, the further we push them into remaining the stubborn dinnertime monsters they have become.
Best of luck and Bon Appetit!
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