Converting meat eaters is no easy business. When Sarah Matheny decided to go veggie, she knew that her husband and two daughters would be reluctant converts. To sweeten the newly meatless pot, she went to deliciously extreme measures, concocting dozens of recipes, 85 of which are represented in this lusciously illustrated cookbook. The goodies include Tried and True Whole Wheat Pizza, Curry in a Hurry, Indian Shepherd's Pie, Vegetarian Pad Thai, Skinny Elvis Sandwiches, Crack Wrap, Banana Chocolate Chip Millet Muffins, and Fabulous French Toast. Family friendly fare.
Former attorney turned mommy blogger Matheny's collection of over 85 meatless recipes manages to inform and irritate in equal measure, proving that what works in a blog doesn't always translate to the page. However, offering vegan-friendly dishes for all tastes and mealtimes gives the collection breadth and depth, particularly when dietary and ingredient restrictions are taken into account. While Matheny includes the expected recipes for smoothies, guacamole, African peanut stew, and tempeh chili, she also offers vegan-esque takes on French toast, Reuben sandwiches, lentil-based meatballs, homemade tortillas, Thai veggie burgers, and mango cupcakes with coconut cream icing. Even carnivores will want to try her flavorful Thai crunch salad, cashew carrot ginger soup, and Indian shepherd's pie. To get to these recipes though, readers must wade through a few too many shots of her daughters in dance costumes, long-winded stories only tangentially related to the dish, and references to Matheny's husband as "Pea Daddy." If readers can get past the cutesiness, they'll find practical, tasty vegan fare along with helpful nutritional information and clear directions. (July)
Peas and Thank You is a wonderfully accessible cookbook designed to help kids learn to love veggies from day one. But recipes for things like Thai Veggie Burgers and Spicy African Peanut Soup aren't what I'd call 'kid food' just good food.
Even meat lovers will want to take a seat at her table.
From the Publisher
"What a fun and colorful book! This will breathe new life into your kitchen."
-Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of Veganomicon
"Even meat lovers will want to take a seat at her table." -Babble.com
"Peas and Thank You offers up creative and innovative recipes that are sure to please family and friends of all ages, whether carnivorous or not."
-Brendan Brazier, bestselling author of The Thrive Diet.
"Good for your health and I am all for that" -Tosca Reno, New York Times bestselling author of Your Best Body Now and The Eat-Clean Diet
"Peas and Thank You is a wonderfully accessible cookbook designed to help kids learn to love veggies from day one. But recipes for things like Thai Veggie Burgers and Spicy African Peanut Soup aren't what I'd call 'kid food'- just good food."
–Grant Butler, The Oregonian
A former divorce lawyer and popular food blogger shells out veggies and sweets in abundance.
Meet the happy Pea Family. Matheny—Pea Mama—dishes up a premiere vegan cookbook with more than 85 recipes and gorgeous full-color photographs, in which she provides a pantry stock list and cute stories about hubby (Pea Daddy) and two adorable little pea girls. There's even a pea kitty in the family. Yes, it's corny, but it won't take long to realize that Matheny'sThai Veggie Burgerswill coax even the most zealous carnivores into eating and actually enjoying healthy food. Matheny is obviously a concerned mother trying to inspire her kids to eat well—and her solution is to make it fun for all involved. She breaks it down by meal, beginning with mouthwatering breakfast recipes that include a variety of to-die-for fruit smoothies andLife's Not Fair Blueberry Scones. Flavorful and meatless lunches range fromSpicy African Peanut Slow Cooker Soupto Skinny Elvis Sandwiches(almond butter and strawberries replace The King's beloved peanut butter and banana pairing), while Seitan Lettuce Wrapsare appetizing sources of dinner protein with the flavor and texture of meat. Also found here are plenty of sides, sauces, snacks and desserts—e.g.,German Chocolate Cakeand soft "mall" pretzels. Ingredients can be easily sourced at the local market.
Matheny's easy-to-follow directions, garnished with lively anecdotes, will have more readers adding the author's meatless recipes to their repertoire.
Read an Excerpt
I GREW UP IN YOUR AVERAGE AMERICAN HOUSEHOLD. WE
ate cold cereal for breakfast, ham and cheese sandwiches and potato chips for lunch, pork chops and applesauce for dinner, and homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert. It was a different time, and eating healthy meant adding just one teaspoon of sugar to a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, eating the crust in addition to the innards of a Wonder Bread sandwich, and drinking a large glass of milk to wash down that chocolate chip cookie.
I don't fault my parents for feeding me something close to the Standard American Diet. It was, after all, the standard. My mom was, and still is, an excellent cook, and with my chin eagerly perched on the kitchen counter, I watched in awe as she moved around our tiny kitchen. From my waist–high view, I learned how to slice vegetables with my fingers curled under, to not overmix my cake batter and that a canister of whipped cream makes excellent "Christmas trees" on an outstretched index finger. But of all the food lessons I learned from my family, the most important one was the value of eating dinner as a family almost every night. Sharing a meal that was lovingly prepared by my mother around a table with my brothers and my parents was more important than what was on our plates.
Even so, I made the connection early on in life that some choices are healthier than others. My dad was a smoker when I was born, and you can bet, as soon as Daddy's Little Girl figured out that they weren't called "cancer sticks" by chance, all it took were a few tears and an "I love you, Daddy" to change minds and hearts. My husband ("Pea Daddy") has had many similar experiences as a father, most often involving something pink, frilly or an impossibly small waist, blond hair, and feet that were just made for high heels. After my appeal to my dad that night, I awoke to find a carton of my father's cigarettes in the trash can. He never smoked again. This was my first lesson in the power of tears as a tool of manipulation, to be used less sincerely throughout my childhood and adult life. More important though, in that moment, seeing my dad's Marlboros sticking out of the can underneath the kitchen sink, I realized that parents aren't perfect and sometimes have to admit that they are wrong.
That lesson hit home in a different way many years later while having a snack with my daughter Gigi. She was happily munching on some orange wedges that were not–so–happily dripping down her face and onto her Gymboree shirt that I paid far too much for. As I sipped my third Diet Coke of the day and munched on a handful of Sweet 'n Salty Chex Mix, she did what all kids do and begged for what I had. I told her no, that soda and junk food were bad for her. I cringed when I thought of caffeine, aspartame and artificial coloring streaming through her tiny body. Suddenly it hit me: I was a hypocrite. I had a long talk with myself in hushed tones that night, poured out my diet soda cans and put them in the recycling bin. Then I finished the bag of Chex Mix and recycled the bag, too. (There was no point to just wasting food, right?) After that processed–food breakup, it wasn't long before my dietary choices moved on to even greener pastures.
I wouldn't necessarily call myself an animal lover. We had pets growing up, including a fox terrier who chewed his way through a gas barbecue hose, a hot water heater, a piece of plywood and a five–pound chocolate bar that he found under the tree on Christmas Eve. Having your dog go into cardiac arrest kind of puts a damper on Christmas morning. I liked our dog okay, but lived in fear that he would do something to upset my dad, who after cleaning up the kitchen trash strewn all over the living room for the sixteenth time had nicknamed him "POSGE" (pronounced PAHS–JEE), an acronym for "Piece Of S*&# Garbage Eater."
When I started my own household, I wasn't in any big hurry to get a pet to destroy my things. That's what kids were for. And I certainly never intended to become a vegetarian, let alone a vegan. Until one night a friend sent me an email with a video of Sarah Palin visiting a turkey farm in her governor capacity to pardon a turkey for Thanksgiving. The irony of the video was that as the rogue politician declared one turkey free, another turkey was refusing to die (much like Ms. Palin's political aspirations) and was being violently slaughtered in the background. My stomach turned, my mouth dropped and tears sprang to my eyes. I'm not sure what dream world I was living in, but apparently I thought that Tinker Bell came and sprinkled magical sleeping fairy dust over live turkeys and they somehow ended up on a platter in my grandmother's dining room with a side of the most delicious mashed potatoes I would ever taste.
This violent and abrupt realization of where my food came from impacted my choices from then on. I read literature about factory farms and learned that the terrible conditions in most threaten the safety of our food. I decided I was no longer willing to eat meat. I started preparing more and more vegetarian meals for myself while continuing to serve up abnormally large breasts (the only abnormally large breasts in our house) to the family. Meanwhile, memories of my "jilted lover," Diet Coke, and ridding my life of its grasp came back to haunt me. I had banned aspartame and artifi–cal flavorings for the household, but served daily meals of animal flesh washed in ammonia?
On a more practical level, my family missed seeing my face at the dinner table while I cooked up a steak for Pea Daddy, steak fries and nuggets for the girls, and a tofu steak for myself. After a few weeks of cooking three dinners a day, Pea Daddy surprised me by volunteering to follow my lead at dinnertime and become a vegetarian himself. I was thrilled. While his announcement wasn't an exhilarated "I'll have what she's having" moment out of When Harry Met Sally, once he saw that he could enjoy a meatless meal (and multiple times a day, at that), Pea Daddy was excited for all of us to make the transition to vegetarianism.
It wasn't long until Gigi asked why we were no longer eating chicken. I started to explain that it was important that we not hurt animals, and didn't she agree that we wouldn't want to hurt the chicken that we saw at local farmstand last weekend? "Not the kind of chicken that lives on a farm, Mama!" she scolded me. "The kind of chicken that you EAT!" I wasn't sure if I should hug her for being so naive, or immediately put a helmet on her to prevent further brain injury. It was time to have "the talk," and I spent the next twenty awkward minutes acting out the most macabre scene to ever have been depicted using a Fisher Price Little People farm set. I'm afraid she still has nightmares about Farmer Jed.
From then on, it became my mission to transition my family from the Standard American Diet to something better, but I knew that I couldn't change who I was in making the transition. I wasn't going to make my own soap or sew our clothes. I can't even sew a button. I wasn't about to trade The Bachelorette and my flatiron for a PETA rally and dreadlocks. I'm too addicted to reality TV and straight hair for that. Though I enjoy a nice bowl of granola, I'm no "granola" mom, and I don't have to be "perfect" to lessen the environmental impact I have on the planet.
I want our foods to be fresh, organic when possible, meat–free and, for the most part, free of all animal products. But most important, our meals have to be delicious. I want my children and husband to come to the dinner table each night with the same feelings of excitement and anticipation that I had as a child, and to leave the dinner table with the same contentment and satisfaction. Ideally, I still want to be the mom interested in the dinner conversation and not the food police interested in laying down the law.
Through trying new foods and recipes and having a sense of humor about the entire thing, we've done it. We've learned to respect animals by eating foods that have not gone through fear or pain, as the animals on factory farms do, but by enjoying delicious, plant–based recipes that keep every member of our family happy. In return, we've learned to love our bodies more and accept them the way they are. We appreciate them for the things they can do rather than what they look like. As a mother of girls, this is a lesson that is especially important to me.
We've also experienced the beneficial side effects of saving money and reducing waste. More important, we all have improved energy and overall health. We are sick less often and have more motivation to get up and out to play. We aren't "skinny bitches"; we're a fit, fun family, who enjoys life and what we eat. I want to make it easy for you to do the same.
This book is not going to try to label you as a vegetarian or a vegan or make you become one. Nor is its goal to make you feel guilty for those nights when you can't bear to cook and order a pizza instead. I'm just giving you another choicesimple plant–based versions of your family's favorite meals, most of which can be prepared and served in forty–five minutes or less. Take what you can from it, whether it's trying a new meat–free recipe once a week, or just reading the ridiculous stories about navigating life with two young girls, the days when the closest thing I get to a shower is a baby wipe and a fresh coat of deodorant, and when dinner is last night's leftovers. Again. But at least I know that those leftovers didn't have a mother, and I always serve them with a side of peas.