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Need recipes for my picky vegetarian DH

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I have a really limited repertoire of dinners my DH will eat.  He likes things that can be made into a sandwich with cheese.  Right now we only have about five dinners he genuinely enjoys, and two of them are a stretch to call dinner:


- pesto portobello 'burgers' (on bun with cheese), oven fries

- eggplant parmesan (on bun with cheese), oven fries or chips

- spinach pie with Greek yogurt, bread

- omelettes (on bread with cheese)

- grilled cheese, chips


He's not big on most beans or lentils.  Doesn't like pasta.  He'll choke down minestrone, fried rice (he picks out the broccoli), and certain sauteed veggie dishes (butternut squash with Greek yogurt on tortilla, sugar snaps with garlic/ginger/sesame and rice) but they aren't his faves and if they show up too often he'll find an excuse not to eat dinner at all.  Won't touch green salad or any raw veggies generally except an occasional cherry tomato.  He loves pizza but I really prefer to keep that as an occasional treat, for nights when I can't handle cooking.  He loves avocados and slices them onto whatever else he is eating pretty indiscriminately.


The kids are much better eaters than DH and right now I usually make two dinners: I feed the kids a healthy, balanced meal with protein and veggies around 6, and DH and I eat a DH-approved meal around 8 (he gets home late).  As they get older I'd prefer to merge the dinners but I really do not want the kids eating nothing but bread and cheese.  They already eat way too much of that since whenever DH has to feed them a meal (weekday breakfast, occ weekend meal) he tends to default to bread and cheese in one form or another.  So I'd like to increase my repertoire of things that DH will eat, that are acceptably healthy, and that are easy enough for me to prepare after work with a 1- and 3-y/o running around.  I know I'm asking a lot!


Would really appreciate any simple, fast, reasonably healthy recipes that would appeal to a bread and cheese fanatic.  TIA!

post #2 of 19

What is the issue with raw veggies? Is it texture or does he find them difficult to digest? 


Would he eat something like roasted sweet potato salad with bell peppers, pecans and goat cheese? 


What about tofu, pressed and marinated in teriyaki and briefly grilled, with rice (or quinoa or couscous), some veggies, toasted almonds and peanut sauce (a big hit around here - I use grated raw carrot and beets and spinach leaves for the veggies but you could use roasted veggies instead). You can fold it all in a tortilla to eat it as a wrap.  


Soups and stews? 


I made a tasty quinoa side dish last week, but it would work as a main. I sauteed onion and garlic in a little olive oil, then added some turmeric and oregano. Then I added a cup or so of rinsed quinoa and stirred it for a minute before adding in 2 cups of stock and a half-cup of dried cranberries and some saffron threads. I brought it to a boil, then turned it down to simmer and added 3 cups of broccoli florets. It took about 20 minutes. I served it garnished with toasted almond slices.


Oh - just re-read your OP and saw that he doesn't like broccoli. You could substitute a vegetable that he does like - asparagus or green beans or whatever. 


Corn fritters are another favourite here. You can make veggie fritters or cakes with a lot of different things - zucchini, potato, quinoa, sweet potato...  

post #3 of 19

He doesn't like beans but will he eat things like chili with corn bread? Tortilla casseroles? Tacos?


I have no real ideas but I feel for you! That sucks!!!hug.gif

post #4 of 19
What about baked potatoes topped with veggies & cheese? Try heating up a jar of salsa with can of back beans, fill/top the potato with the salsa mix & then a little melted cheese and avocado? A veggie stew or chili could work too and you could figure out toppings to work with sweet potatoes.

Do you ever try to make your own pizza at home with whole wheat pizza dough? Try using pesto sauce with mozzarella & fresh chopped tomatoes or ricotta cheese & veggies.

What about making stuffed peppers filled with a grain (rice, barley, quinoa, pasta), mushrooms, veggies & beans, topped with a little cheese? Consider pureeing beans or mashing them with a potato masher too change up the texture them a bit less distinguishable in recipes.

I get a lot of great & easy vegetarian recipes from EatingWell.com. It will likey be more helpful than my suggestions above.
post #5 of 19

Breakfast for dinner?  Eggs, quiches, frittatas, biscuits and gravy (TVP stands in for sausage), and the best homemade TVP sausage patties I have ever eaten.

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hey thanks for all the ideas everyone!


The thing about the beans is more their digestive impact than their taste.  As such, disguising them won't help.  I've been trying to get him to use beano more often - it seems to help when he does - so if I get a really good recipe and it happens to have beans in it it may work out.  The raw veggies, I think he just doesn't like the way they taste.  (Too bad because I love green salad and so does our ODD.)


I've thought about trying homemade pizza but I really would like to get away from the bread/cheese thing.  It just feels so easy for wheat/dairy to take over our family diet completely, and while none of us have any particular problem with either of those, I'd like to work on keeping a good variety of foods on the table.


The stuffed peppers sound promising but I have yet to see a recipe for them that isn't over my 'effort' limit right now.  If anyone has a super easy one to share I'd love to hear it (and I will try the recipe websites for one as well). Otherwise I will keep it in mind for when the kids are a little older and more able to ditch the human-leg-warmer routine when I'm trying to prepare dinner.


Oh tacos - for a while I was making a tofu-based taco filling he was OK with - I will have to resurrect that one.  Thanks for the reminder!


Quiches are another good idea - as I said he likes the spinach pie so he might go for a quiche - anybody got an easy one they like?   


More ideas welcome too.  In general he likes foods that taste rich - he responds well to recipes with coconut milk, avocados, pesto (and cheese as mentioned).  If he ever has to eat pasta he'll drown it in alfredo sauce (blech imo).  Doesn't do too well with things that taste 'light' or herbal.  Doesn't like tomato-based sauces.  My food background is more Mediterranean and while I'm not at all picky my favorite flavors are all the ones he dislikes unfortunately.

post #7 of 19

I usually just use a mash up of leftover rices/lentils/beans/sauteed veg or frozen veg. Even just store leftover in a tupperwear in the freezer when it looks like I have enough different "ends" I thaw it out saute some onion/garlic spices. Add the leftovers/my tomato sauce any other spices/frozen veg add ins and stuff the peppers. You can even cook them in the slow cooker. Use veggies that have no sauce or not a ton of sauce. You can rinse the veg off too before freezing. I love it to use up the tiny bits of grains/beans/veg that seem to happen. Not really a recipe BUT an easy way to make stuffed peppers and not waste food

post #8 of 19

I make these couscous greek stuffed peppers.  Haven't actually done them in a slow cooker - but even otherwise they're pretty easy and well-liked at our place.


These potato feta gyros are excellent too.  Unless your dh dislikes feta, you might get some more veggies in with this meal (he could be skimpy on the lettuce & tomato, and might still eat the cucumber sauce - it's still vaguely sandwichy).  


I've seen recipes for cheesy quiona and orzo (usually with broccoli - If super soft and chopped finely he might not mind it in something like that.  Maybe start serving it as a sandwich side, and then eventually for a full meal with side salad or soup?).  

I've also made cheesy zucchini (this is lightly sauteed grated zucchini, in olive oil with salt & pepper, and then you add a bunch of grated cheddar - it is delicious and tastes like scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes.  Might be a winner for you.).


Would he eat/like something like a thai pasta (with various veggies & etc cooked in coconut milk & curry paste for flavor?) or peanut sauce with veggies/rice/tofu?  What about fajita veggies?  I do peppers/onions and may sometimes add tempeh/mushrooms/broccoli to that mix.  Obviously you can also top this with cheese winky.gif.

Edited by mumkimum - 4/8/13 at 12:45pm
post #9 of 19

If you're looking to get away from dairy then maybe you might look into some vegan fake cheese recipes. There are some natural ones that can be made with tofu or cashews, among other things. Will he eat tomatoes if they are in a richer sauce? My DH loves to make creamy tomato recipes like veg curry made with passata, soymilk, and various veg, or creamy tomato sauce with passata, soymilk, onions, and garlic. Coconut milk would work for the curry as well. And if he really loves bread maybe you can work with him by substituting in healthy wholemeal bread or Ezekiel bread. HTH!

post #10 of 19

Also wanted to mention that there are recipes for healthy wholemeal pizza crust as well. It is a bit of a hassle to make them but if you double the recipe at the weekend the extra crust(s) freeze well. 

post #11 of 19

Will he eat polenta?  It takes awhile to make, but it's not labor intensive.  Perhaps making it ahead of time would be easiest, but it's easy to make on a weeknight, you just need to get started on it early since it takes 45 min to an hour to really cook well.  I use it in two different ways.  After the polenta is done cooking I add some butter and parmesan cheese.  Then:


1. Serve the hot polenta with lightly fried tofu or 1-2 fried eggs and a veggie.  We like it with roasted brussel sprouts, steamed broccoli, spinach or kale.  But any veggie will do.  I don't add any sauce b/c the polenta is cheesy as is and quite tasty.  


2. Spread the polenta into a pie dish, which will be the bottom "crust" for a veggie pie.  Saute a variety of veggies, add any herbs of choice, put on top of the polenta and bake at 400F for 10 min or so.  


The 2nd option also works well with leftover cold polenta.  I squish the polenta up in my hands to loosen it up b/c once it's cold it is too firm to spread without doing this.  Then I follow the rest of the procedure in #2, but I bake it for 15 min or so b/c it takes longer to heat up the polenta.  The cold polenta will have a grainy texture, but it softens up really nicely in the oven and makes for a lovely "crust". 

post #12 of 19

I don't know if I have many suggestions other than what have already been mentioned...I thought I had a picky DH, but my goodness! I sympathize with your frustrations.

My DH has Crohn's disease, so beans/lentils/raw veggies/salads are not tolerated in huge quantities, but at least he will eat them. We are recent converts to vegetarianism, and eased into eating more beans with a lot of soups. Maybe that helped accustom our guts to them, because I didn't notice any problems with bean/lentil digestion...do you think some people can just digest them and some can't? (I honestly don't know...but even my DH with digestive issues doesn't have that many problems with them).


I agree with the curry suggestions. Saute some onion/garlic, add your spices or premade curry sauce, maybe some tofu (my DH does not like tofu), then a can of coconut milk and carrots/other veggies, simmer covered for 15 minutes. We then add chopped chard/spinach/kale, cook for 5 more minutes, and serve over couscous or quinoa.


What about falafel or black bean/veggie burgers? (beans again, sorry)

Some of our regular recipes around here:


http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/tuscan-chickpea-soup-10000000231724/ - we add one more can tomatoes, and use one less of beans

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pumpkin-Shrimp-Curry-368281 - add more curry spices, leave out shrimp

http://www.flourishingfoodie.com/2012/03/creamy-avocado-pasta.html - avocado pasta sauce - healthier than alfredo. it is like eating gauc. on pasta, very rich

http://fitsuccess.blogspot.com/2013/02/healthy-snack-quinoa-pizza-bites.html - haven't tried this, but have been meaning to...it sounds promising, and a good alternative to actual pizza

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 

Gosh I love the polenta/veggie pie idea neptunemama.  What veggie combos do you usually put in it?  Would zucchini, mushroom, tomato, egg/ricotta be too wet?


Some other great ideas in here as well, I will be experimenting - thank you mamas!

post #14 of 19

Just noticed you were looking for quiche recipes too.  I love this cauliflower cheese puff.  It uses a whole head cauliflower, is easy to make and good cold as a leftover too.  Cauliflower is really well-disguised if you chop it a bit more first also. I've made the same thing with broccoli-cheddar as well.    

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hey I just bought a big head of cauliflower at the farmers' market yesterday because it looked so yummy.  I am totally making the cheese puff tonight (was going to try polenta and veggies but maybe I will do that tomorrow instead).  Do you think I could sub ricotta for the goat cheese?  (DH won't eat goat cheese.)

post #16 of 19

The more I've been thinking about it my dh is quite picky too. He claims he's not but the list of veggies he doesn't like is a lot longer then I'd like it to be.


I did get him to eat cauliflower after he swore he hated it by roasting it with olive oil sea salt and pepper. Now it's the only way we eat it here. Both dh and ds will ONLY eat it that way eyesroll.gif


He won't eat cooked carrots. I can slip them into soups or pureed into things but last night I cooked them with potatoes in the slow cooker with mushroom gravy and he acted like I was trying to poison him....the rest of the family loved it.


If you don't want to go thru the work of making polenta you can buy it ready made and sliceable. Corn bread casserole is really easy and you can make it in the slow cooker. Sort of along the same lines as a polenta casserole.

post #17 of 19
Originally Posted by mambera View Post

Gosh I love the polenta/veggie pie idea neptunemama.  What veggie combos do you usually put in it?  Would zucchini, mushroom, tomato, egg/ricotta be too wet?


Some other great ideas in here as well, I will be experimenting - thank you mamas!

I think that combo would be fine.  I usually add whatever veggies I have in the frig.  I saute onion or leek, some garlic if I feel like it.  I've added broccoli, green beans, spinach, carrots, squash, mushrooms and cauliflower (not all together) the various times I've made it and all have been fine.  The polenta crust is nice b/c it doesn't get soggy like a wheat crust does, so I think it can tolerate wetter items.  

post #18 of 19
Originally Posted by mambera View Post

  Do you think I could sub ricotta for the goat cheese?  (DH won't eat goat cheese.)

I think the recipe is really flexible, cheese-wise.  So use what you like - ricotta would be great.  I think a cream cheese would work well too (particularly with the cauliflower).

post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 

OK the cauliflower quiche was a hit.  I used ricotta and DH thought it was great.  Honestly it wasn't my own favorite (it was a little on the heavy side for me) but it was certainly edible and anything DH will eat is a big score in my book.  The kids ate it as well, and they don't usually eat roasted cauliflower (DH and I both love it that way but it isn't quite a meal on its own).  So, score! it will be going into the permanent rotation.  I can see it being good with other veggies as well.


The stuffed peppers were less successful but I think I didn't put enough thought into the stuffing.  I was trying to use up the leftovers so I sauteed some leftover rice/lentil mix with onions, then threw in a little ricotta and tomato sauce (based on a stuffed pepper recipe I found on the internet).  It wasn't a great combo and DH said he would be willing to eat stuffed peppers in general but he'd prefer a rice/pine-nut filling like he's had elsewhere.  So the using-up-leftovers thing probably won't work (I should have realized it wouldn't be DH's thing) but if I can figure out a better stuffing this might still be a winner.


The veggie/polenta pie was also kind of middling.  I sauteed onions and small-diced butternut squash for about 10 min with cinnamon/nutmeg/cloves, tossed in some extra butter, spread on the polenta base, topped with almonds and raisins and baked at 350 for 20 min.  It wasn't as good as I was hoping but DH did eat it (smothered in avocado slices), the kids ate it too, and it may be worth revisiting with some tweaks.  Ditch the cloves, maybe a longer cooking time, look for a better butternut (I think the one I used was a little underripe), and make the polenta myself next time (I bought premade just to try it out but I don't think it was a good idea, it had a little bit of a tart undertaste owing to the ascorbate they used to preserve it.)

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