Take your family's food preferences into consideration when you are planning your meals. If they've always hated eggplant, don't make baked eggplant--if they didn't like it before, they will not like it now. If everyone isn't on board right from the start, try to prepare enough of your meal for everyone to share so they can at least try the dish.
An easy and not so intimidating dish is bean burritos, they can be served buffet-style. Start with corn and wheat tortillas. Set out small bowls of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sprouts, beans, salsa, and rice. They won't even miss the meat. Or, make homemade pizzas---I had some roasted vegetables left over, (onions, mushrooms, zucchini and squash), took a whole-wheat wrap, spread some tomato sauce on it, put the roasted vegetables on top, added some Italian spices, and baked in the oven until hot and bubbly...it was absolutely delicious and everyone, including my meat-eating husband, loved it! The more vegetables you use, the better. It's not about the foods we are cutting out of our diet, it's about all the foods we are adding to it.
Leave a bowl of fresh fruit out on the counter...cut up vegetables and store in ziplock bags so you can just grab them for a quick snack next to a container of hummus or prepared vegetable dips. There are so many recipes for bean dips that are really, really good. This does not have to be difficult or complicated, it's just a matter of planning.
I got home last night and took some dinosaur kale, (my absolute favorite, found it at Fresh Market) and cut it into small pieces, chopped up an onion and sauteed the onion in a small amount of water, added mushrooms, sprinkled some red pepper flakes, thyme, salt and pepper on the mixture and cooked it for a couple of minutes. I then added the cut up kale and threw it on top of the mixture in the pan with a cover on it to let it steam. I cooked it for a few more minutes, and WA LA, done. It was delicious!! The whole process from start to finish probably took 20 minutes, probably less. Kale is probably one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Once you start cooking like this, in time it will become second nature. You will surprise yourself...I did.
Here is a recipe I found from the website, VegKitchen.com. I'm going to try it tonight...I'll let you know in my blog tomorrow how it was. This recipe called for oil to cook with...however, I substituted water for the oil, you will NOT miss the calories or saturated fat!
PASTA WITH GREENS, CHICKPEAS AND OLIVES
10 - 12 oz whole-wheat rotini, rotelle, or cavatappi pasta
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
10-12 oz chard, kale or spinach, or any variety
3 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
15-16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 c sliced pitted olives (such as Kalamata)
1 T fresh oregano leaves, or 1 t dried oregano
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 t red pepper flakes, (optional)
Pine nuts, optional
- Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
- Tear leaves away from stem if using chard or kale. Coarsely chop leaves. If using spinach, use the whole leaf.
- Saute the garlic and bell pepper in a small amount of water until the garlic turns golden and the pepper is soft, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes if using.
- Add the greens and stir, add a small amount of water if needed. If using kale or chard, cover and let cook about 2-3 minutes until the leaves are wilted and bright green. If using spinach, cover and let wilt for about 30 seconds or so.
- Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, olives and oregano. Stir together and cook, stirring frequently for about 3-4 minutes, or until everything is heated through.
- Combine the mixture from the skillet with the pasta in the serving bowl and toss together. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle pine nuts over the pasta and serve.