Having never really liked or enjoyed eating meat, ever since I was a child, I cut it completely from my diet a few years back.
It got to a point where I would only eat a little bit of chicken or meat at Christmas time or when served up in someone else’s house. I finally just thought: what is the point of me eating something I don’t particularly like or enjoy just to not be an inconvenience to others? When these days, opting to eat meat-free is really no issue or problem at all.
So I went vegetarian (for the most part, I eat a vegan diet, but I do still eat a little bit of cheese and full-fat Greek yoghurt here and there).
As for the rest of the family, my children have, from they started to eat proper food, always ate whatever I had for dinner, with some modifications sometimes – as I point blank refuse the whole notion of separate meals for children and adults of the household.
What this meant, of course, was that a lot of the meals we all ate were vegetarian anyway. And then the rest of the family went meat-free too
And then it got to a point where my little girl, who was eight at the time, just declared that she didn’t want to eat meat either anymore – and where she goes, little brother follows – always. So no more meat for him either – which I must admit, I had my doubts about, my low and behold – a year has passed, and we are all loving our current food and meals so much I can’t see any of us ever returning to eating meat ever again.
Mostly, we eat a very wholefood-based diet consisting of a lot and a lot of vegetables, beans, lentils, pulses, fruit, grains, nuts and berries, and I must admit, we are also loving testing out the ever-growing selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes, with yummy meat-free burgers, chicken-less chicken nuggets and no-meat mince (we made tacos with some the other day!).
I am forever on the hunt for inspiration when it comes to our meals, and love nothing more than getting into the kitchen to test out new recipes I have come across. I remember worrying briefly that I would struggle to keep meals fun and tempting, but honestly, we are eating more varied and flavour-full than ever before.
There are so many amazing cookbooks on vegetarian and vegan cooking, and more come out daily – so trust me, you won’t be lacking inspiration should you decide to take the leap to a meat-free lifestyle too.
Right now, I am loving these five, and am always using them in my own kitchen:
1. Love & Lemons Every Day
Having been a fan of Jeanine Donofrio’s blog, Love & Lemon, for years, I was quick to snap up this cookbook when I realised it was out.
In this book, Donofrio shows you how to make any meal, from breakfast to dessert, where produce is the star. Butternut squash becomes the best creamy queso you’ve ever eaten, broccoli transforms into a zesty green “rice” burrito filling and sweet potato blends into a smooth chocolate frosting. These exciting and approachable recipes will become instant additions to your family’s regular meal rotation.
This book is a real resource, filled with smart tips for happier, healthier eating.
Again a situation where I followed the blog first, then snapped up the book later.
If you have ever dreamed of living that free, gorgeous hippie life on the sunny coats of Australia, this book is for you – you can practically feel Elsa’s dreamy location and lifestyle jumping off the pages of this beautiful book.
Elsa’s Wholesome Life features more than 100 of her go-to dishes, from nutritious granolas and powerhouse smoothies to flavour-packed salads and soups, hearty curries and burgers, and drop-dead delicious sweets. A qualified dietitian and nutritionist, the author explains everything you need to know about adopting a plant-based diet, including how to: – get enough iron, vitamin B12 and calcium- achieve the right balance of carbs, proteins and good fats- shop smarter and get more organised in the kitchen.
I can’t remember where I first heard about this book, but I’m glad I ordered it.
Cafe Gratitude is a gorgeous vegan café in California with the simple ethos that joy derives from loving and being grateful for food, health, and good company. The dishes are named to double as affirmations of self. ‘I Am Fearless,’ ‘I Am Humble,’ and ‘I Am Open-Hearted’ nod to the restaurant’s core belief that food is just as much about spirit as it is about appetite.
The food is a celebration of the flavours of plants with organic, from-scratch, and healthy ingredients free of animal products, processed soy, and, in almost all cases, refined sweeteners. Love is Served brings Gratitude-quality meals to your table and the soul and mission of the restaurant to your home. Indulge in cafe favourites ‘I Am Awakening’ (Raw Key Lime Pie) and ‘I Am Passionate’ (Black Lava Cake) while cooking up hearty, nourishing dishes like Grilled Polenta with Mushroom Ragout (‘I Am Warm-Hearted’) and Radicchio, Roasted Butternut Squash, and Sundried Tomato Pesto Grain Salad (‘I Am Gracious’).
David and Louise are the Swedish/Danish duo behind the very successful Green Kitchen Stories blog. And now that the couple are parents to three young children, they clearly wanted to take their knowledge on how to cook yummy vegetarian food that kids will eat to the masses, launching their Little Green Kitchen cookbook last year.
In this book, the couple share their passion for cooking fun, modern, wholesome meals with kids’ palates in mind, but that also are interesting enough for adults to enjoy. Take your own inspiration from their quest to bring joy back to the dinner table: whip up a batch of Dino Burgers (made with spinach, quinoa, oats and peas), Spinach Waffles, or Stuffed Rainbow Tomatoes with black rice, feta, raisins and cinnamon.
All of the dishes are veggie-packed, colourful, kid-friendly and simple – with most taking under 30 minutes to prepare.
A real kitchen hero, this wonderful collection of delicious, nutritious and satisfying vegetarian recipes is divided into breakfasts, salads, soups, cocktails, feasts and sweet treats. I love how it is written in a friendly and reassuring style, and how the recipes are simple enough for the home cook to easily follow.
How about starting your day with a bowl of quinoa piña colada granola, washed down with a creamy cashew chai latte and followed by a Thai-style mango slaw or West African peanut soup for lunch? And if you’re hosting guests for dinner, this book will show how to make a roasted eggplant lasagna (or even throw a taco party). Those with a sweet tooth are bound to love her healthier peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and German chocolate cake.