Mama Pea and Josephine.

Eating as little meat as possible has become very important to me over the past year or so and believe it or not, has even entered into Josh’s radar as well. I fully believe that if 5 guys didn’t exist I could go without meat for good, but since those delicious, juicy burgers with crispy buns beckon for me on occasion, being semi veg, or flexitarian, works best for me and my family. Out of all of us, Theo is the closest thing to a true vegetarian. He naturally just doesn’t enjoy meat and would absolutely choose a peanut butter and jelly sandwich over a chicken nugget happy meal any day of the week. Parker, on the other hand, seems to be a full out carnivore. He loves burgers, meatballs, hot dogs, chicken wings, pork chops, bacon, ham, turkey, and just about any other type of meat that he’s ever had, which is why I was so shocked to hear his take on our vegan dinner last night. After taking his second bite of the vegan version of sloppy joes (sloppy josephines 🙂 ), he exclaimed, “This is so good, I could eat it every night for the rest of my life!” I couldn’t help but smile, of course because I was thrilled that he complimented my cooking, but also because he was loving a food that was nourishing his body and not just filling his belly.

Photo courtesy of Mama Pea. I didn’t get a picture of mine.

So what is a sloppy josephine you may ask? It is a sloppy joe made with lentils rather than beef. I came across a recipe for these about a year ago and tried them one day for lunch. I thought it was absolutely delicious but for some reason just never got around to sharing with my family. However, last week Mama Pea‘s new family oriented vegan cookbook was released and sloppy josephines just so happen to be one of her specialties. You can find the recipe for them on her blog – which I highly recommend, if not for the recipes, for the ridiculous sarcastic, sometimes inappropriate humor. I made some slight adjustments like omitting the tomato paste (the sauce was enough) and using green lentils. Also, her recipe says that it yields 4 sandwiches but the same amount gave us enough for leftovers as well.

Aside from the “recipeas” and the humor, I thoroughly enjoy what her blog brings to vegan eating. Attainability. Being someone who has tried vegetarian/vegan diets for a few years now, I’ve often found it to be a hard accomplishment, not because of my own cravings (excluding 5 guys of course), but because of the social challenges and the wants of my family. While Josh sees the benefits of meatless life, he also sees Tuesday night wing night. And while I have to force myself to remember that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing to be healthy, I also know that doing more than just meatless Mondays is important. That’s where Mama Pea  steps in. She has taken typical American meals (some not so healthy) and turned them into not only meatless versions, but healthful versions that won’t clog your arteries, are low calorie, low fat and full of flavor. We’ve also had her Summer succotash quesadillas with nacho mmmm sauce. These, I could eat everyday. And the nacho mmmm sauce? A very interesting combination of healthy real food that tastes like queso dip but includes zero cheese. The boys could have drank this stuff.

There are so many benefits to cutting meat out of your life a few days a week, whether it’s economical (the serving of lentils that were eaten last night cost 25 cents as opposed to the $6 that I would have spent on a pound of bison or organic beef; the zucchini that was made into succotash for the quesadillas cost 50 cents as opposed to the $7 that I would have spent on organic chicken), environmental, or for health reasons (ALL of the lentils that were eaten consisted of 140 calories!!! 1 gram of fat, 0 cholesterol, and 63% of your daily fiber intake!!! 1 lb of 80/20 ground beef consists of 1136 calories, 96 grams of fat, 320 mg of cholesterol, and 0 fiber). If you’re interested in trying out some vegetarian or vegan options definitely check out Mama Peas‘ blog.

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