This month has reminded me that my biggest battle with serving a meat-free meals is convincing my mind that it is going to fill me up. I have to admit that a few years ago if I was served something like what I am sharing today, Asparagus and Cashew Rice Pilaf, I would have felt the meal was not compete unless someone served a piece of meat to go with it. But there is no reason why a bowl of this pilaf isn’t plenty to fill you up. It has your carbs, vegetable as well as protein from the cashews. So why is it that most people wouldn’t see this as a meal?
Personally I believe some of the issue is though our education with the food pie charts. You know the ones? It shows a plate divided into sections to show you how much of your plate should contain the different kinds of foods. Now there is nothing wrong with the logic of those charts but what it unconsciously does it convinces us that every plate we serve should have a little meat over here, some veggies over on this side and then some carbs. All separate and all measured out correctly. But that isn’t the only way food needs to be served up. I have had plenty of meals in my life that were healthy and filling and didn’t contain any carbs and if you want to get technical I have even served some very healthy dishes that didn’t even contain any veggies as the only ‘veggie’ in the dish was tomatoes and that is technically a fruit.
So why is it that for some people a dish cannot be satisfying without meat, well that is a mental battle that meat eaters are just going to have to fight. Personally the way our family dealt with it was to just go ahead and make the changes. I started to cook up meals like this and challenged both my husband and I to just eat it and be satisfied with it. We would wait an hour. If hubby or I were still genuinely hungry I would make us a healthy snack but I was surprised at how few times I had to do that.
You fill up with your eyes first, if you look at a plate and convince yourself that it isn’t going to be enough to fill you up then it probably won’t. You see the challenge to reduce the amount of meat your family eats doesn’t just benefit your budget but it can help you develop healthier eating habits because it challenges you to focus more on what you are eating. Challenging you to get creative in order to eat a well rounded diet that includes protein without meat. Our family doesn’t want to give up meat completely but we love that we can enjoy healthy meals, filling meals without meat.
Asparagus and Cashew Rice Pilaf
50g (2 oz) uncooked spaghetti
1/4 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
250g (1 1/4 c.) uncooked basmati rice
500mL (2 1/4 c.) vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
500g (1 lb) fresh asparagus, trimmed and
cut into 2 inch pieces
75g (1/2 c.) cashew halves
In a medium saucepan heat oil over medium heat, and stir in spaghetti, cooking until coated with the oil and lightly browned.
Stir onion and garlic into the saucepan, and cook about 2 minutes, until tender. Stir in rice, and cook about 5 minutes.
Pour in vegetable stock. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and cook 20 minutes, until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed.
Place asparagus on a baking tray, lightly spray with olive oil and some salt. Roast in an 200 C (400 F) oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender.
Chop up roasted asparagus and add to the rice along with the cashew halves, and serve warm. This can also be served as a side dish although we enjoyed it as our main dish.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 50g (2 oz) uncooked spaghetti
- ¼ onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 250g (1¼ c.) uncooked basmati rice
- 500mL (2¼ c.) vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 250g (1/2 lb) fresh asparagus, trimmed and
- cut into 2 inch pieces
- 75g (1/2 c.) roasted cashew halves
- Break the spaghetti into 1 inch pieces.
- In a medium saucepan heat oil over medium heat, and stir in spaghetti, cooking until coated with the oil and lightly browned.
- Stir onion and garlic into the saucepan, and cook about 2 minutes, until tender. Stir in rice, and cook about 5 minutes. Pour in vegetable stock. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and cook 20 minutes, until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed.
- Place asparagus in a separate medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender but firm.
- Chop up roasted asparagus and add to the rice along with the cashew halves, and serve warm. This can also be served as a side dish although we enjoyed it as our main dish.