As much as I find my son’s decision to become a vegetarian overwhelming to my menu planning and cooking in the past three weeks I think I have eaten more vegetables than I have in the past year. I have noticed that all of us are eating less processed foods and less sugary foods even in between meals. I don’t know if it is because of the change to mostly vegetarian eating but it really has changed how we are eating, in a good way.
My son and I were talking about a study that showed that if children had recess just before lunch they ate 25-35% more fruits and vegetables with their lunch. We were discussing whether or not it was because they were hungrier and that was what was offered so the students ate it or if it was we, as humans, intrinsically making better choices in food after exercising. I know after a long walk or a swim at the beach I will be more apt to choose an apple or berries over a cupcake. Does our body just naturally do this if we listen to it? So, whatever is at play here we are all making better choices.
I have been avoiding using meat substitutes as my son really doesn’t like soy and there are so processed and that is what we are trying to get away from. But, not all of us are ready to become full vegetarians so I decided to try Textured Vegetables Protein. I thought maybe a flavorful dish would help us not focus on the texture of the food but rather on the flavor. Someone recently suggested Quorn products which I guess is mushroom based. I will have to check this out. Mushrooms are not my favorite so we will have to see how far I am willing to go.
This was an overall hit with everyone. There was tons of flavor so the texture of the dish was insignificant. The TVP didn’t seem like hamburger but it did help with the look of the dish. If gave it the meaty look my kids were looking for. The onion gravy added just the right amount of flavor to this dish.
I served this dish with corn on the cob and a small side salad.
For my mostly gluten-free son this dish was gluten-free so we did not need to make any substitutions for him.
- 1 lb. textured vegetable protein (TVP), if frozen thawed
- 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 8 oz. baby carrots, finely chopped
- 8 potatoes (about 2 1/2 – 3 lbs.) peeled and cut into 6ths
- 2 cups onion gravy (homemade, jarred or package)
- 2 tsp. garlic
- cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup butter
- splash of half and half
- salt and pepper to taste
- Boil potatoes until fork tender in a large pan of water.
- Drain potatoes and return to pot to mash with butter, half and half, salt and pepper. Using a potato masher or mixer combine ingredients until just smooth. Do not over beat or your mashed potatoes will become glue-like.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- In a large bowl mix TVP, corn, peas, carrots, gravy, garlic, and pepper to taste. Once well combined spread into the prepared casserole dish.
- Carefully scoop potatoes onto the top of the TVP mixture and spread to cover the entire top.
- Sprinkle the top of the potatoes with a bit of cayenne pepper for flavor and color.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes in oven until heated through and potatoes are starting to brown on top.
- Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.