Many people have a hard time adopting healthier eating habits because they're not the only ones living in their house. I've heard plenty of people say it's too hard to eat healthy or "diet" when their spouse/kids/parents don't want to eat the same foods. I completely understand! When I decided to give up meat last August, my hubby was very adamantly against going meat-less from day one. Fortunately, I stuck to my guns and haven't cheated at all, but I found it was harder to do so when I cut out dairy and eggs from my diet as well.
Starting out, it was pretty easy just to grill him a chicken breast while I had some tofu or tempeh instead. The harder part was when I began having to add cheese to his side of the pizza, but leave it off of mine. I don't know why it took me so long, but I finally figured out that it's okay to make more than one meal! Now, instead of being picky about his meat touching my side of the pizza, I just make my own, so I can eat as much of it as I want and not have to worry about accidentally ending up with any of the ingredients I don't eat.
Making two different meals for dinner every night did take some getting used to, but not much! If you decide to try it out (and I highly recommend you do, if it's been holding you back), don't be intimidated by the idea of cooking twice as much as usual. Once you get the multi-tasking down, it really only takes a few extra minutes, and in the end, everyone is happy!
I do have just a few suggestions for you if you decide not to let other peoples' eating habits in your house deter you from your own goals:
- Meat obviously takes longer to cook than veggie proteins, so start cooking it sooner. I usually start the meat a good 20 minutes before anything else.
- Make good use of your downtime by prepping any vegetables that need to be chopped and getting out all of your ingredients. I try to get these tasks done while water is boiling, the skillet is heating up, oven is preheating, or meat is cooking.
- It will probably take a few tries, but try timing it so everything, roughly, gets done around the same time. That way, you don't have to worry about food getting cold, or having one person's plate done and ready to go while the others are still cooking.
- You don't have to make two completely separate meals every day. If you're making grilled chicken and salad for someone else, just grill some tempeh and serve it with your own salad (minus the cheese, with veg-friendly dressing, etc.) instead of trying to find a specifically veg*n recipe to follow. You're essentially eating the same meal, just with a few variations.
All of this brings me to the recipe I want to share with you today! This is one of the dinner staples in our house; I make it all the time, because it's so easy and delicious. The non-vegan version is Chicken Alfredo -- chicken, green peppers, and onions sauteed, then added to some penne pasta and alfredo sauce. That is what I make for my hubby while I fix up this vegan version for myself. It's not technically an alfredo sauce, hence why that part of the name is in quotations, but it's the sauce I make every time we have this. It's a wonderfully easy weeknight meal and a great alternative to an already-yummy dish. I even think it might taste better the next day as leftovers!
makes 2 servings
- 3/4 C unsweetened almond milk
- 1/3 C raw cashews
- 1/4 C nutritional yeast
- 3 Tbs low-sodium Tamari or soy sauce
- 2 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- pinch of nutmeg
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 block of extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and diced
- 2 Tbs vegetable oil
- 1/2 C green pepper, diced
- 1/2 C yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 lb. whole wheat penne pasta
1. Boil a pot of salted water. Meanwhile, dice the onion, pepper, and tofu. Set aside. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
2. Prepare the sauce: pulse the cashews in a food processor for about 10 seconds. Combine them in a medium bowl with the almond milk, yeast, and Tamari or soy sauce. Add lemon juice, mustard, paprika, nutmeg, and garlic. Stir to combine. Set aside.
3. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Once the oil is hot, add onion, pepper, and tofu. Sautee until the vegetables are soft and the tofu is golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. When the pasta is done, drain and return it to the pot. Add the margarine and stir until it's melted. Pour the sauce in and toss to coat. Add the vegetables and mix. Sprinkle with some more pepper, if desired. Serve hot!
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 841 calories; 37g fat; 0mg cholesterol; 1129mg sodium; 110g carbs; 19.1g dietary fiber; 5g sugar; 40g protein; 78mg vitamin A; 39mg vitamin C; 508mg calcium; 8.2mg iron