Thursday, March 05, 2009

If you give a kid a nugget...

...she's going to want more nuggets.

Here's a project for you: Find a mom who feeds her kids a steady diet of processed lard and salt, and ask her why. She will probably say that they won't eat anything else. It's an answer, but it isn't the true answer. My kids don't demand hot dogs or mac'n'cheese for dinner every night, and it isn't their great manners that keep them from doing it. It's because they are used to eating healthy, whole foods. Like almost all people, children resist the unknown.

If you want the real answer, you'll have to ask the real question, which why she started feeding them the unhealthy food in the first place. She may cite price, which is interesting because whole foods are so much cheaper per serving and per pound. However, I'm willing to bet that time has a little bit to do with it.

This is why I am going to start posting an easy, fast, and vegetarian dinner every Thursday. As a working mother/college student, time is not exactly in abundance. I find that vegetarian meals can be faster and tastier once you get used to working with the different ingredients. Like the majority of my family's vegetarian meals, I plan to post meals that are nutritionally complete and cost five dollars or less for a family-sized main dish. Here is my first:

Sweet and Spicy Lentils
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Hands-On Time: Less than 10 minutes

3/4 cup lentils (I like the red ones, but any will do)
1/2 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
tiny bit oil (olive is yummy)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup water

1. Put the lentils in a bowl of water to soak in the morning.
2. When you begin making dinner, drain the lentils. Prepare the onion and garlic and saute them in the oil. When they are translucent, add all of the other ingredients.
3. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for about a half hour, until lentils are soft.

**Note**This varies according to how old the lentils are. Older lentils will cook more slowly and require more water, so check every few minutes.

I usually serve this with brown rice (making it a complete protein), toasted bread, and a green salad. If you get things on sale, this entire meal can be made for under $5.