I don’t understand the American obsession with meat. Sure, I like a good hamburger as well as anyone. However, as a society, we’ve gone beyond a healthy association animal bi-products. We’ve formed a relationship with meat that is just plain weird. I’ve heard people talk about bacon more fondly than they talk about their children. We are so fully committed to meat, that the concept of turning a traditional meat-centered meal into something vegetarian is cause for distain and mockery.
This isn’t real food. This is the food that my food eats. (If I hear that joke one more freaking time…)
However, meat doesn’t always love us back. At least not in the proportions that we are used to. The effect of meat dependency on our bodies – our waistlines, our cholesterol, and our nutritional intake – has left us unsatisfied in this relationship. And, like in many unhealthy relationships, we can’t even pinpoint what’s making us feel this way.
How does our relationship with food manifest in how we feel on a daily basis? This topic fascinates me. As I head further into my 30s and still feel my body recovering from its recent pregnancy overhaul, this question has been gnawing on my mind with even more determination.
Adding fuel to my fire, I recently read Dr. Michael Greger’s How not to Die. Unlike any nutrition source that has come before it, this book compiles decades’ worth of scientific study on the effect of diet in relation to the top diseases killing us as a population. How not to Die looks at what we are eating that is causing these diseases, as well what we could be eating instead to fight back. (Spoiler alert: our gross intake of meat as a society is a primary culprit.) This book is fast-paced, fun, and engaging. It is impossible to make it from the front cover to the back without reconsidering some aspect of your diet. Yet, Dr. Greger makes nutritional upheaval seem obtainable and exciting. I won’t use this space to get into a whole book review, but I do recommend this read if you are in the midst of any kind of diet transition.
But what do you while you are still trying to figure out your own best diet lifestyle? Perhaps it’s time to dabble in the unfamiliar. Go ahead and do it. Cheat on meat. Bacon will never know.
However, if you’re going to cheat on meat, do it right. Don’t subjugate yourself to bowls of spinach if you hate the stuff. That’s just setting yourself up for failure. Eat something so good that you find yourself fantasizing about that vegetarian meal while in the middle of a steak several days later.
This quinoa chili is what does it for me. The quinoa is like a glue to keep all the hearty vegetables and beans together as opposed to being a punch of gritty whole grain to the face. This recipe is very forgiving. You can moderate how spicy you like it. Change out the vegetables. Use different beans. Eat it on taco chips or with a side of corn bread. Whatever you want to do – play with it. Meat will always be there for you if this just doesn’t work out.
Veggie-loaded Crock Pot Quinoa Chili
2 cups vegetable broth
½ cup uncooked quinoa
4 cloves garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 15 oz. can black beans
2 15 oz. cans kidney beans
1 large green pepper
Fresh chili peppers to taste (I use 5, which makes it pretty spicy. Use less if you don’t like the spice as much. But keep in mind this makes a big pot’s worth.)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 yellow squash
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Top with your choice: Cilantro, avocado, cheese or sour cream if not vegan
Read carefully … it’s complicated:
- Chop everything that needs a-choppin. Put everything in the crock pot. Cook on high for about 5 hours … or until the quinoa is plump and the veggies are tender. Stir every once in a while to make sure all the quinoa get soaked.
- Stuff your face without guilt.