Simplify | New way of eating

I have been a vegetarian for quite some time now and it has only recently dawned on me that maybe being a vegetarian isn’t quite so food conscience as I think it is. I love being a vegetarian and I think it is a super healthy way of living, but what I started realizing is that substituting processed fake meat really isn’t all that much better than eating meat. OK. That might be an exaggeration and yes, there is a major difference between the two, but because I am choosing not to eat meat I am then giving my money to some large corporation to eat processed food. Now, I don’t eat a lot of fake meat. It really grosses me out most times, but on occasion I do eat a veggie burger, Boca Chik’n patty, Morning Star sausages, etc… I do prefer fresh veggies, beans and leafy greens over fake meat but I am considering switching out those processed foods in favor of supporting local farms who are actually, in my opinion, raising animals in a way that is healthy for us and our environment.

I don’t think I will ever be a full force meat eater again, but I do think I am going to start eating less processed fake meat and supporting local farmers more.

*This is not a debate on vegetarianism vs. meat eaters. I am just sharing my thoughts for my own personal eating habits.

Now onto a Last Night’s Dinner Post…

I got the most awesome cookbook for Christmas. I love it! This recipe is from inside. It’s the perfect winter soul food…

4 Large round sweet potatoes
Olive Oil
1 Small onion, chopped
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 crushed red pepper flakes
4 oz. kale. Chopped.
3.5 oz. Firm Tofu, cut into cubes
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 375. Bake sweet potatoes on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. 55-70 mins. Remove from oven. When cool, slice top off and remove flesh from inside and create a little cubby hole. Reserve remaining flesh to add in to kale mixture.

2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, rosemary, salt, and crushed pepper. Cook until onion is soft. Add kale. Cook until kale has wilted a little. Stir in tofu, left over sweet potato and the water. Cook, stirring, until heated thru.

3. Spoon filling into sweet potatoes, cover with foil and bake until heated through, about 30 mins. Remove from oven and serve.

4. I had left over filling that I just piled high on the side of my plate because I am obsessed with kale. MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

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  1. i am in full support of standing by our local farmers. we are actually trying to find 3 or 4 families that want to go in on the purchase of a cow with us. the farmer we use for milk and eggs raises cows also and they are grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free. ive heard that once you have fresh, “real” beef you will never want to go back. too bad you guys dont live closer, we could split a cow. LOL

  2. This looks delicious! Def looking forward to making this!

  3. Love this thought process – supporting local farms over processed foods. I was just looking at my Whole Foods paper bag cut out with the fruit & vegetables calendar for my area, and I realized that the next few months don’t really produce much! It brings to light a difficult choice for someone who wants to be conscious of the food they are eating – sometimes eating healthy throughout the year causes a larger carbon footprint than we’d otherwise like to create.

  4. This looks super yummy! Would you recommend this cookbook for vegans? I scanned it on Amazon, and it looks like they have a section dedicated to fish, dairy, and eggs – is it incorporated throughout the book or just a small section? Thanks.

  5. Good for you!

    Funnily enough, I did a post about my nontraditional diet today as well.

  6. I love supporting local farmers. All my veggies and meats come from local farmers actually. Even my bread! This looks delicious! I love kale. I used to despise it and wouldn’t touch it for the longest time, but now I’m always making it.

  7. That looks delicious! I love seeing your Last Night’s Dinner posts πŸ™‚

    xo Jennifer

  8. I soooo understand your thought process regarding food. I have been vegetarian for 3 or 4 years and experimented with veganism over the summer. I have come to a similar conclusion, that I don’t want to support factory farming in general, not just factory farmed meat but factory farmed celery has its own issues as well! So I have started shopping more at the local farmers market including a local grass fed beef vendor which my husband is thrilled about. I feel so much better about these decisions than I did about not eating meat at all…. but as my blog shows I am constantly evolving as far as my food philosophy goes πŸ™‚

    Keep up the honest and wonderful posts, again I love the post you did earlier today! I think it is great how honest and open you are on your blog and I love it!

  9. Oh wow, that looks delicious! Thank you SO much for posting the recipe.

  10. WHOA!! This is seriously radical (awesome) thinking!! I love that you are challenging your own way of doing things, rather than being stuck in the “what i do is right” attitude. I am actually blown away over your concept of willing to eat meat to support ethical local farmers.

    (not a vego or vegan)

  11. I am definitely trying to expand my cooking horizons this year. This could be a good recipe to start with!

  12. I couldn’t agree more. I was a veg for a long time but haven’t been for years. I always want to return to my veggie ways but it’s not right for my body. I very rarely eat red meat and when I do it’s local, Organic, etc. I try to make the best choices I can in regards to what I eat. I just posted a yummy vegetarian recipe on my blog for Celery Root Soup with Green Apple and Browned Butter! ( Happy eating!


  13. This recipe looks fabulous! We have tossed the idea around of going veggie one or two nights per week, so I made a vegan carrot soup the other night and it was so good.

    We’re both allergic to dairy, so it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to cut meat, but I like the idea of supporting local farmers as well, especially when I read that a lot of “organic” food isn’t what we are thinking it is. It pays to be choosy when it comes to food.

  14. Thanks for the cookbook suggestion! I just ordered it πŸ™‚

  15. This looks delicious! I love popping over to your blog for vego recipes, I am only learning the ropes and need all the help I can get πŸ™‚

  16. I totally hear you on the meat issue. I am a lifelong meat eater, but within the last year have become more conscious of where my meat comes from and how it is raised. I actually joined at meat CSA that delivers organic, grass fed meat to us from a farm in VT once a month. It’s amazing meat, and I love knowing exactly where it comes from and supporting local (NE) farms!

  17. tastymoog •

    the longer i am a vegetarian (10 years now!), the less militant i am about “no meat.” while i won’t go back to eating meat on a regular or even monthly basis, it’s more about where the product coming from and how it was raised/cultivated. i would never, ever eat a fast food cheeseburger, but a small piece of locally raised, organic turkey on the holidays? or an ethically-farmed salmon? or a little bit of real, artisan chourico instead of some soy/sodium bomb in my stuffing? ok.

  18. Nice! My boyfriend and I are very much meat-eaters, but have taken a liking to many vegetarian dishes in recent years. One thing that always confused us about vegans/vegetarians was how many of them chose to eat meat substitutes (veggie burgers, Morning Star sausages, etc.) which can be just as fake and processed as a Cheez-It! (Okay, maybe not, but you get my point :P)

    Our favorite vegetarian cookbook (from which we are using a recipe for chickpea curry tonight!) is Vegetarian Cooking: A Common Sense Guide.

  19. I got the cookbook “More with Less” for Christmas, and the intro alone changed my life. Ok, I haven’t quite cooked anything from it yet (still working on leftovers!), but it emphasizes less canned, processed, pre-made things and more good things from scratch, as well as more simple foods as a way of being a better steward of the planet. Another book in the series is “Simply in Season” with recipes for you to eat things from your local farmers markets instead of buying “fresh” tomatoes in January that took piles of fuel and chemicals to make it to the grocery store. They were put together by a Mennonite group, and I am not sure what your faith system looks like, but as a Christian myself I was very convicted to change what I eat!
    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  20. LooOooks SO yummy! Did you do anything special to the tofu before adding??

  21. Rebekah •

    I totally agree and love this post. Local is better then processed all of the time. It always struck me as funny when veggies, who were veggies because if the animal rights and environmental reasons, ate processed foods. So I just love what youre saying. It will be good for all the people who jump on fads to read and learn from your thoughtfulness. Thanks for being honest and open. I love that about this blog.

  22. i guess it all comes down to why a person is vegetarian. i am a lifelong vegetarian because i can’t fathom the thought of an animal dying for my dinner. however, i absolutely commend people for buying locally produced, free range meat because i know not everyone is going to be a vegetarian. it sounds like you are mainly vegetarian due to health/environment reasons (could be wrong) so in your case i totally get that you may want fresh meat instead the processed food. either way, i love that this type of mind set is becoming more and more mainstream. every little step counts!

  23. I’m glad to see you addressed this issue. No diet that incorporates processed food is green. ( Now that I write that it sounds like an attack on you. Totally not what I was going for. πŸ™‚ ) For health reasons, I cannot eat any processed food whatsoever and while it’s not easy it’s totally worth it. I used to be stuck in the processed food trap and it is really amazing how drastically my health changed (for the better, obviously) after eliminating all of it. Fresh food from local sources is the best option, meat or not.

  24. Oh my goodness! Jen that looks amazing! Your pictures always make my mouth water. I’m going to attempt to make that as well. Wish me luck! πŸ™‚

  25. This recipe looks so delicious!! Kale is such an awesome vegetable. I also love your thoughts on food!! It’s hard for me being vegetarian because my husband enjoys eating meat and I’ve toyed with the idea of eating local organic meats from our farmers market to make it easier for my husband and I to share a meal, but I’ve totally lost the taste for meat!! I just can’t do it anymore for some reason. Anyways, I commend you on your honest post πŸ™‚ I look forward to more of your last night’s dinner posts as well. Those are awesome and give me so many good ideas for dinners.

  26. I love your take on supporting local farms. I believe the animals are raised in a much better environment making them beneficial to our health. πŸ™‚

  27. Right on Jen! We eat locally raised, grass-fed meat and it not only supports our awesome farmers, but also makes my body feel great! It’s funny how we somehow forget to check and see where our soybeans are coming from…I say, same rules for everything that goes into my body (local when possible, organic all most always, and the least processed possible).

  28. I recently got that cookbook, too! It’s fabulous! I’ve made a variation on these before, but have always sliced the potatoes length-wise and have never thought to do it wdith-wise, but am going to try it next time. It looks like it makes so much more sense (and a cute little potato cup).

  29. I’m luckt to live in an area with a year round farmer’s market, so it is pretty easy to buy local. The meat is so much tastier than the mass produced stuff, so there is more than one advantage to buying local.

  30. I am not vege but I am working on eating less meat, especially red meat! I totally understand what you mean about fake meat though, I am Seventh-day Adventist and grew up around vege food and sometimes the fake meat is just soooo icky haha! Those stuffed sweet potatoes look amazing though! Thanks for sharing!

  31. Just looking at this makes me feel nourished Jen, it looks delicious. I am not a vegetarian but pretty conscious about what I feed myself and my family. We are fortunate to live less than two miles from a farmers market, so I buy all my groceries and produce there. I also buy a few things from the local food mobile that comes by my son’s school once a week. Lovely post and thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  32. I follow you and your husband on twitter– you because I love your blog and him because I love his design work! So I have a question! He seems to like a lot of junk food/tv dinner type stuff. How do you balance that out? Does that make meal time hard in your family when you have different values surrounding food?

  33. Thanks for sharing Jen! Your veggie recipes help give me ideas, plus yummy food is yummy food. I’m always asked if I am a vegetarian but I do eat meat, I’ve just always preferred veggies and nice leafy greens. Last year my boyfriend and I got five hens for fresh eggs and it’s been great (the girls are very entertaining as well). I’ve read about how chickens are raised and it gives me peace of mind that I care for my hens and that they are happy. The girls thank me each day by giving us nice healthy eggs too!

  34. […] I am and justice will meet with the morning star, honest is key of David.Powered by Yahoo! AnswersDonald asksÒ€¦can you lose your salvation?You were once alienated from God Γ’β‚¬β€œ your very thoughts we…can you lose your salvation?You were once alienated from God Γ’β‚¬β€œ your very thoughts were hostile […]

  35. Hi Jen! You might want to think about a drive over to Predel’s Ranch in the Rexford area, it’s only about 15 miles/30 mins from Cohoes and you can take Rt 9 right over to Rt 146 (through Clifton Park), so it’s a fairly easy drive. This is a good article on the Ranch –> Mary Predel is also a Christian, so you’d not only be supporting a local farm, but also a fellow believer!

  36. This looks delicious! nice.

  37. Mmmm! That looks delicious.

  38. Thanks for sharing the recipe! I totally get what you’re saying RE fake meats – they’re totally processed, and kind of against the whole point of being vegetarian, if the point is to eat healthy, minimally processed foods. I will have to check out the book. Toughest part about eating veggies is the process of chopping all those bad boys, not helpful if you’re trying to make a quick meal, but it’s definitely good for your belly!

  39. This post made me think of my book clubs latest read: Animal Vegetable, Miracle. If you haven’t already you should check it out.

  40. I’ve been vegetarian my whole life. I agree with you that all processed non meat is no better than processed meat. I’m not sure if you have Trader Joe’s near you but I absolutely love their products. They are all organic and cheaper than regular supermarkets including the big Whole Foods. If you like spices you must try their Masala Burgers. Yummyyy! I’m going to try this soon. Thank you for sharing!

  41. I really love this post. I’m a very long-time reader but I hardly ever comment (but I am trying to get better since comments are what keep the social fabric of the blog world going round…)! Anyway, I know what you mean about these types of choices. I try not to eat wheat and sugar, but I find myself eating crazy amounts of other “healthy” things like nuts instead and it definitely occurs to me maybe it’s not usually as healthy as I thought! I am all for local and fresh and whenever we’ve made the effort to buy something at a farm stand for instance, I always think why don’t we do this more often??!! Thanks for the great post, as always! πŸ™‚

  42. thanks for this post! Those sweet potatoes look delicious. I am a recent vegetarian, and I also struggle sometimes with finding great, whole food, healthy meals – sometimes a veggie burger or a “chicken” nugget is far too easy!

  43. Yep, veg-fake-meat is pretty gross and not very healthy for you. Most of the time I can’t eat it. Either it tastes too weird or tastes too real. I’m often asked if I would eat meat if I knew for absolute sure the animals were treated well… but for me there are more reasons to be veg besides simply the welfare of animals. Like the amount of energy that is lost when you raise crops for animal consumption instead of direct human consumption.

    Anyways. I was excited by your recent post about no longer accepting sponsors. I hope more bloggers follow in your footsteps. It can be a bit overwhelming when your favorite blogs turn into ad-spaces.

  44. I understand your thought process. I’ve been a vegetarian for 10 years now, and I don’t particularly like “fake” meat, so I don’t eat it! I find plenty of variety for my diet without any “meat” substitute. I love to shop at the Farmer’s Market for fresh veggies, fruit, bread, and eggs. Farmer’s Markets are the best!

  45. This look SO delicious! I really want to give it a try! This meal is right up Scott and I’s alley. Also, I appreciate your thoughts on being a vegetarian. I myself have never fully committed to the title, but eating meat just does not sit well with me. It’s a personal thing and something I would never push on someone else, but I appreciate others who have a similar point of view.

    Have a lovely day<3

  46. Bethanne •

    Great post, Jen! I love hearing about others’ eating habits and what choices they are making to eat more healthily and consciously. I’d be curious to hear more about your personal thoughts on fake meat versus sustainably-raised real meat. Maybe you could do a blog post focusing on that topic, or just publish some reading suggestions, links, etc. for any of your readers who would be curious to learn more. πŸ™‚

    Love your blog, as always!!!

  47. Sometimes fake meat is too real and grosses me out but also I had stopped eating it for the same reason as you. I would rather fill up with beans and veggies. I have been really lazy about it lately since it is so easy to heat up fake meats but I hope to go back to cooking yummy meals like the one you made soon! Thanks for the recipe!

  48. Mmm… that looks DELISH. Thanks for sharing! Adding it to my ‘to try’ list for sure.

  49. Very good thoughts!
    And the dinner looks great. Might try it with our Okinawa Sweet Potato (only in Hawaii? Not sure-) We all love sweet potatoes!

  50. I’ve had the same dilemma over fake meat. I’ve been living abroad for the past few years, and the meat here is so much cleaner and healthier (local) that I’ve incorporated a limited amount into my otherwise vegetarian diet. I hardly ever eat any meat-replacement products now. Most of them are full of GMOs and all sorts of processed junk. So, when you can get clean, conscientiously raised meat, it can be a better choice for when you really want a little meat. If you are craving it, have it. Just be as responsible about it as possible, right? πŸ™‚

  51. Good for you Jen! I have had the same debate in the past and I think just trying to find the balance that works for you is the most you can do. I’m definitely going to try this recipe though – yum!

  52. Living in southwest NH, our family ONLY eats local meat. We know the farmers we get our meat from, know where the meat is processed, and know how the animals are raised. We don’t eat a lot of meat, but what we do eat is local, local, local! I just couldn’t give up bacon … otherwise I probably could be a vegetarian, too. πŸ˜‰

  53. I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time, and just recently started to realize the same thing. Good for you for trying to make the right decision for you, and your values! I know it’s hard to vocalize, or to try and describe to people, especially if they dont share your eating habits.


  54. […] been salivating over THIS since i read about it yesterday on JEN’s blog…we’ll be having it for dinner […]

  55. I was having this conversation regarding food processing today with my classmates. I think you are making a very smart decision. I am not a vegetarian, but I certainly don’t agree with how poorly animals are treated. The problem is the large companies who control most of food processing. I hope that people will make more informed food choices.

  56. Looks SO good! Being a vegetarian, I am definitely trying this recipe!

  57. Is that 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes?

  58. I think it’s so big of you to admit that your diet may not be the 100% perfect choice. We can be so defensive about things we are accustomed to doing. Everyone evolves and so should your diet? And these habits will definitely help your daughter and give her a choice in what she consumes as an adult.

  59. Chrissy •

    good for you! I never was much of a meat eater myself growing up in New England but after moving to the west, I soon found myself eating a lot more red meat. I have similar beliefs about processed foods and found myself seeking out a local farmer who raises sustainable beef. Every year we buy a 1/2 cow (we split it with friends) and its SOOOO much cheaper than the grocery store, the butcher wraps and packs it all for me exactly how much I want per pack, how many lbs, etc. Its grass fed, we know exactly what it ate, where it lived, etc and I feel so much better about eating it. If you haven’t seen “Food Inc” I suggest you get a copy and watch it! Its so very informative and will make you much more aware about where food comes from!

  60. I have thought about being vegetarian for awhile. All my life I have always preferred fresh veggies and fruit over greasy foods. In elementary school I was that one girl on the lunch line who got the green beans. πŸ˜‰ I don’t think I can fit a vegetarian diet into my life, because I’m still pretty young & you need protein for growing…yada yada yada…and I like certain chicken. Chicken is really the only meat I like. Chickens are cute though. I’m sorry chickens. πŸ™

  61. Hear, hear, Jen! I’ve been trying to eat more locally for the past year, and now the majority of my produce comes from local farms. As a bonus, most of the locally-grown produce is grown using organic methods, regardless of whether the farm is certified (certification is quite expensive). I buy a whole, locally-raised chicken about once a month and use every part of it up (including the bones to make broth). It’s lovely knowing exactly where your meat comes from, for example the locally-raised cows can be seen grazing in gorgeous valleys on the scenic drive to one of our local vineyards. I am so glad to hear your thoughts on humanely, sustainably grown meats over processed meats, and to see how many of your readers agree! Only by voting with our dollars together can we change the entire food system for the better.

  62. I share your sentiments exactly! I was a vegetarian for 14 years and had to give it a rethink due to dietary issues (turns out i’m rubbish at absorbing iron and B12!). But it also got me thinking about things a bit more. I now support local farmers and buy my meat and dairy products locally and free range, supporting the local agricultural industry and more sustainable methods of farming. I’m planning on getting some chickens for my backyard soon to lay eggs!

  63. this looks amazing thanks for sharing this recipe!

  64. Wow that looks really good!! Note to self don’t blog surf while hungry, haha just kidding. I definitely want to try to make these!

  65. Interesting… I am thinking a lot about stuff like this too. We don’t eat much processed stuff but I don’t really know how reputable the places where we get our meat are. I am sure there are lots of places out here where I can find better meat and I am going to look into that. I might even get some chickens (for eggs), lol, serously. Can you guys have a garden? We love having a garden.

  66. I was a vegetarian for 7 years and I also ate a lot of processed food to supplement my share of veggies. I thought I was eating a balanced diet, but looking back, this was the most unhealthy period of my life. Then I married an avid hunter and fisherman and changed my diet to clean eating – all whole foods with the occasional organic, locally raised meat. I think my hang up with eating meat was more centered around the horrors of factory farmed meat, but like you, I realized the injustice of commercially grown produce and decided to devote myself to local, whole foods from reliable sources. Not only am I happier and healthier, but I feel a greater connection to the world and appreciation for the food that I eat. I’ve even gone as far as catching my own fish and “harvesting” a chicken. The most fun part is that eating whole foods and broadening the scope of what I’m willing to eat has caused me to cook more things from scratch and I’ve become a much better cook! Anyway, thanks for sharing. I think you’ve made a good move.

  67. I’m making this tonight! (just thought I’d let you know) and well, you know how I feel about supporting local farmers (veg or non-veg) so I really liked this post!

    My goal is to get back on track with more fruits and vegetables endless process as of tomorrow!

    Hope your flight went well! were you going to Canada?

  68. I echo everyone else’s sentiments – I’m so lucky to live in a place (los angeles) where sustainable meat and produce are EVERYWHERE (actually, I’m spoiled, not lucky. will never be able to move out of here!).

    I want to try this recipe looks awesome and i’m glad to see all the “importants” represented – superfood kale, superfood/carbs sweet potato, and tofu for protein! so many vegetarian cookbooks are carb-tastic, blech.

  69. bookmarked!!, I really like our site!

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