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Trying(failing) to change our eating habits

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 



I'm sure you guys get this alot, and I have read alot of the older post, but I need some help or advice for my situation.


We live in a small town in OK, and our nearest farmer market is over 45 mins away, and the nearest health food stores are over an hour away. Hubby and I broth grew up eating alot of processed food. My mom made alot from scratch when I was young, but as I got into my teens she and I both turned to "cheaper" easier meals from a box. And Hubby's mom got cancer when he was a young teen, so he's been in charge of his little sisters meals since then and had no one to teach him, so all he ever knew to cook was boxed meals with directions. His father is a long haul trucker.


So since march we've been trying to eat much better, and in fact go mostly vegetarian/vegan. I'm trying to avoid animal products, but hubby is convinced veganisim is evil. lol He thinks all vegan are crazy and dont eat or go over board. I'm not sure he just goes crazy any time I tell people I'm trying to go vegan so around him I just say vegetarian.


So my main problems are I don't have any friends near by who are really healthy eaters, and I've never done this. My shopping options is a very small commissary and Walmart, unless we want to drive for over an hour. I'm pregnant, and really really trying, and I'm pretty good at eating alot more fruits and veggies, but hubby tends to pull me down. He wants kraft mac and cheese so I give in, or he surprises me and bring home fast food. And while if I think about it it disgusts me, but I give in.


And like I said before, both of our families ate pretty bad growing up, so when I try to think of dinners for a week it's very hard for me to think of a meal without a meat.


Thanks for any advice.



ETA: I wanted to let yall know that I'm a stay at home wife, soon to be mom, and don't have problems with meals made from scratch and preperation time. I'm sure once the baby comes I'll value quick meals more, but for now I don't mind.

Edited by RayN - 7/21/11 at 2:59pm
post #2 of 15

I think it's awesome you're trying to eat healthier!!

Since you're just starting out I would encourage you not to worry too much about pushing straight through to veganism and start with just eating wholefoods and as much fresh produce as possible. Stay away from processed stuff and just load your kitchen with potatoes, grains, beans, any veggies you can get your hands on.

I wish I could think of a good book of the top of my head but most of my knowledge is acquired via Google. Learning how to combine your foods is extremely important in figuring out how to get enough protein -especially because your'e pregnant!  

corn & beans make a whole protein

quinoa has great protein

soy milk is great!


Since you're transitioning, how do you feel about eggs? My DH isn't as health concious as I am but I can always get him to get into a really good omlette filled with veggies and a baked potato (i know its not what people think of for supper, but its packed with protein and doesn't heat the whole house up!)


I hope someone comes along and recommends some good books, sorry I'm drawing such a blank.


Good LUCK!


post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response. I'm not too strict on the animal products, I say mostly or primarily vegan because I decided to go vegan/vegetarian for health reasons not moral reasons. I feel bad for the animals, but I still buy meat and such for hubby anyways so I don't think my diet will really change them that much.


Also I wanted to put out that I'm a stay at home wife, soon to be mom, and I'm not at all against making meals from scratch with preperation time. My problems are usualy thinking whats a good meal besides meat. lol


Thanks again.

post #4 of 15

Do you have any good cookbooks? You can make excellent healthy, whole-foods meals without fancy ingredients. It sounds like the bigger problem is that you maybe don't know where to start, right? Here are some of my favorite veg-type cookbooks:

-Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson

-Short Cut Vegetarian by Lorna Sass

-Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson


Those all have tons of excellent recipes that don't need unusual ingredients. I would just look through those, find recipes that look appealing, and plan your menus around those. It will get a lot easier as you get some practice. And if it makes it easier, you can just do baby steps. You don't have to be all perfect right away. Just try to have a few meals a week that are healthier, and as time goes on and you get better at it, you can increase the proportion of healthier foods and decrease the fast food and meals from a box. That might help with getting compliance from your husband, too. winky.gif

post #5 of 15

Trying to come up with vegetarian meals is hard for me too. Some of my current ideas are (you can google these recipes or pm me for them):

tuscan beans and greens with whole grain bread (I make from scratch because I can't buy multi grain french bread here)

red beans and rice

green beans and corn bread (for my southern craving :) )

baked sweet potato and salad

pinto beans and cornbread

refried beans and spanish rice- can be a meal in and of itself, but I usually also make black bean enchiladas or bean and cheese quesadillas



If you like to bake from scratch, try king arthur's white whole wheat flour- it is a lot less intense than normal whole wheat flour.

post #6 of 15

I would talk to managers at your stores.  Sometimes you can buy things in bulk.  Sometimes they are able to order in organic things such as produce but they dont because they dont think anyone will buy it but if they know you want it then they will.  a site I like is vitacost.com  they have lots of organic things including macaroni and cheese to make your DH happy and of course it does not have the synthetic colorings and GMO's like Kraft:)    They also have Garden of Life RAW prenatals which are the best prenatals out there.  And Carlson Labs DHA supps, also the best.


You might be able to find a farmer near you who has raw milk, who has a garden and will sell you some of their produce, etc.  Heck, take a drive and if you see goats or a milk cow or a large garden, stop in or look up their phone number by doing a reverse address lookup and call them, ask if they have anything they can part with.  Look for chickens too, you never know what you might find!

Another thing would be to grow a garden yourself.


There is likely a company that delivers organic items in your area in a refer truck, you just have to find out who.  I would post in the Finding your tribe area on mdc and ask about how to eat organic in your small town (all the foods that they sell will not necessarily be organic, but they will be health foods including refrigerated things). 

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys, these are all great suggestions. I've already found a good home made mac and cheese recipie from scratch, we'll test it out soon. I posted in the finding your tribe area weeks ago and no one ever responded, I took that to mean I'm the only one in this little ol military town.


I had a friend who was vegan who moved away, she's always been hard to get in contact with, but I'll try. 

post #8 of 15

Here's what a week's worth of dinners looks like this time of year for our vegan family:


Edamame LoMein (I usually add a couple handfuls of shredded cabbage to bulk this up a bit more)

Penne Pomodoro, cannelini beans with lemon, garlic and oregano, and a salad

Build your own tacos with refried beans, fajita veggies (usually cooked on the grill), avocado (when it is affordable), lettuce, cabbage, salsa, tomatoes

Quinoa tabbouleh, hummus, pitas, chopped up veggies, melon

Corn on the cob, barbecued tempeh (my 6 year old won't eat the tempeh, so she usually eats plain tofu or sometimes she wheedles a veggie hot dog), kale coleslaw, biscuits

Creamy tomato soup (made with cashews), bread, salad

Zucchini pancakes (these are made with a mixture of wheat, corn and bean flour, onion, a little non-dairy milk, frozen or fresh corn and shredded zucchini) , a salad, and french bread


Other than the tempeh, the bean flour,  and maybe the tofu or edamame, we really don't eat much that you wouldn't be able to find at an ordinary grocery store, a lot of beans, nuts, whole grains and veggies.


Come on over to the veg sub-forum, there's usually a meal-ideas thread going on, where you can pick up ideas for things to make. My husband SWORE that he would never go vegetarian, let alone vegan, when we moved in together. He's been vegetarian for 13 years now, and vegan for almost 2. He says he never realized how much awesome vegan food there was in the world until it started appearing on his dinner table.





post #9 of 15

Cathe Olson has an awesome cookbook called "The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook", which is really, really, really good. Really. My only criticism is that, in general, the recipes are quite low on the zip/spice, but that's really easy to remedy on your own. Some of her recipes call for more obscure things, like agar agar or tempeh, but you can always start with the more ordinary recipes. Her cheese sauce is really yummy over pasta as mac and cheese. Her quiche recipes are our favorites.

As you begin to change things up, and as you adjust to a new baby, don't be afraid of shortcuts. For example, pastry crusts are not hard to make, but it's even easier to pull one out of the freezer! Buy them from the freezer section if it means the difference between take out and home made quiche. It's ok. Really. You'll get on to making them yourself eventually. :)  

Also, 45 minutes sucks, yes, but it's still do-able periodically. We drive 25-45 minutes (depending on how good the ferry service is that day!) to the closest farmer's market every week, and it's my favorite part of the weekend! Even if you don't want to do it regularly, going once every month or two to that health food store in order to get things like tempeh, etc might be worth it. For the record, you can freeze tempeh. 

Kudos to you for the changes you are making. Try not to get bogged down - it's a process! Even people who "know it all" in regards to nutrition are still constantly tweaking their diets. 

post #10 of 15

You can also google for recipes. I suggest start by looking for foods you're interested in. You mentioned mac 'n cheese, so I just googled "healthy macaroni and cheese recipe" and got nearly 2 million responses. Do you like eggplant? Google eggplant recipes. What about broccoli? You can also add the word vegetarian or vegan to it.


I do my grocery shopping based on my week's menu. So, the night before shopping I make my menu, make my list, and go shopping. I also keep a list of recipe ideas on my computer (I used to keep it written on a piece of paper on the side of my fridge, but the paper got lost so I started a computer list.) My list contains recipes that I know we like. So if I'm having trouble coming up with a recipe for my menu, I just look at my list to see if there's something I'm interested in. I also scan a lot of my favorite recipes so they're in the computer for when I'm making my menu.


You can buy a lot of foods from amazon.com. And some are available through subscribe and save so you save an additional 15% http://www.amazon.com/Subscribe/b/ref=amb_link_6331342_1?ie=UTF8&node=979895011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=auto-sparkle&pf_rd_r=0XPB3BE4Y5K9YH68NBPP&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_p=483381431&pf_rd_i=subscribe%20and%20save


Here's a recipe for mac 'n cheese with cauliflower blended into the sauce. I'm not sure where I got it, though I did find it on the internet. Also, when I make mac 'n cheese, I add carmelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, and sometimes broccoli:



Cauliflower mac and cheese

2 C. cauliflower

3 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. flour

2 ¼ C. milk

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

2 C. shredded cheddar cheese, divided, plus more for sprinkling on top

1 package (about 7 C.) firmly cooked pasta (macaroni, spirals, mini shells, etc.)



Microwave cauliflower florets with ¼ C. water until tender (about 8-9 minutes). Then, puree until completely smooth. Set aside. Next, melt butter in large pan, adding milk, then flour and salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add 1 ½ C. cheese, stirring until smooth. Add cauliflower puree; stir until well blended. Add cooked pasta; stir until well coated. Transfer mixture into a sprayed baking dish, while intermittently adding the remaining ½ C. cheese. Sprinkle desired amount of cheese on top. Cover and bake at 350 degrees, 25-30 minutes, or until top is slightly browned

post #11 of 15



Congrats joy.gifon the changes you are making. My husband has been a vegetarian for 16 years, however I just started. I have 5 kids in my home. My favorite website for meal ideas is vegweb.com. The kids and I still eat snapper, and salmon. Check out the website they have a vegetarian meatloaf that your husband will probably love.

post #12 of 15

Cant believe that I forgot to mention to check with your local hutterite and/or Amish colonies.  They will have meats, milk, produce, wool, breads, etc oftentimes.  Be sure to ask about their practices, because all the colonies have different values, and I have heard from others (I have not heard this from any of the hutterites themselves) that some of the colonies use things like antibiotics with their animals, some spray their crops, etc, so just ask, and if they say no, then you are good!  And make sure their chicken, turkey, etc have outdoor access and get to eat lots of grass and bugs! 

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the advice guys, it's helped so far.


@1love4ever: There aren't any amish collonies or anythign out here. the closest we have is a Slaughter house thhat wont do buisness with us unless we buy in bulk.

post #14 of 15

Ok it was just a thought, I dont know much about the locations of Amish or Hutterite colonies, but maybe this can help someone else!  Good luck, I hope all goes well for you!

post #15 of 15

I agree w/ pp who suggested going easy at first. If your DH is against going vegan, then continue w/ octo-lavo vegetarianism and when something is vegan - don't make a huge thing about it.  For example, re-fried beans cooked w/ vegetable oil is vegan. :)


If you want to learn to cook more from scratch and do so in a place where there may not be a lot of "organic" or "natural" food places, I would really recommend "The More with Less Cookbook"  by Doris Longacre- it's in it's second edition. It is written from a Mennonite perspective, but if that's not quite your cup of tea, the recipes & tips themselves are great.


If your DH still wants to eat meat, then I would suggest that you continue to try and make healthy from scratch versions of food that he might otherwise get as "fast food" - for example covering chicken w/ breadcrumbs and baking it instead of eating deep fried chicken.


Conventional healthy food cookbooks like those from the American Heart Association might also be a source, or cookbooks for diabetics - go and look in your local library.




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