is the Eat to Live diet affordable and kid friendly? (part 3 - dinner)

I'm wrapping up my series on doing the Eat to Live diet as a big family on a budget. Part 1 (on breakfast) is here and part 2 (on lunch and grocery shopping lists) is here.

I had exactly zero pictures in my camera roll of any Eat to Live dinner I've ever made (and I've been doing this since November). Why?


Unless you're the baby.

I've been inching my way up a mountain the past four months with the ultimate goal of having THE BINDER. What is the binder? It's a collection of about 15 Eat to Live dinner recipes that we've made, liked, and would readily eat again. I knew I couldn't really do meal planning again until I had about 2 weeks' worth of dinners. I'm finally to that point.

But getting there took plenty of blood, sweat and chopping. Geeze that sounds gross. It actually took zero blood and very little sweat. But yes to the chopping.

I don't think I can post every recipe that we now use for dinner, but I can point to the cookbook that holds them all:

Holy grail.

The Eat to Live Cookbook: 200 Delicious Nutrient-Rich Recipes for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Reversing Disease, and Lifelong Health

Biggest takeaways from this dinnertime aspect of this nutritarian journey:

- I don't "crave" meat or meat dishes like I used to. Sure, I still will HAPPILY and readily eat a plate of my mom's famous meatloaf. Yes, I love getting a meat dish at a restaurant on date night. But as for cooking dinners at home, I'm much more content cooking with beans and vegetables than I ever thought I would be. Meat on the whole isn't something I miss. (For Sean, it might be.)

- There's no getting around it: To make nutritarian meals taste great, approximately 20 ingredients need to get thrown in a bowl. Taking salt out of the equation means that flavor needs to be derived from  other sources. And taking meat out of the equation means that bulk and substance need to be derived from something else, too.

For example: hamburgers. Ground beef + salt. Grill them. That's it. That's all it takes to eat some cow--two ingredients. The nutritional value of that meal is basically protein and some iron.

To make chickpea burgers, however: mash chickpeas with natural peanut butter, shredded zucchini, diced onion, cumin, garlic powder, pepper, steel cut oats, vinegar, a little ketchup. Then serve that on butter lettuce with avocado, mustard, more onion, tomatoes and sliced bell pepper. YUM.

More than 10 ingredients, plus all the nutrients (and plenty of protein) from all those plant sources. I eat about 2 1/2 of these and am totally stuffed.

- Making all of these recipes the first time is harrowing. It's defeating. It's 45 minutes of throwing together foods I've never thrown together, all the while knowing that my kids will HATE IT. Heck, I'll probably hate it.

But. I've been surprised (deeeeeeeeply surprised) many times over by the fact that not only are my kids eating the food and not complaining--I'm eating the food and not complaining! I'm actually loving the food!

The key to success? The binder.

In the binder I've got recipes for following typical American family meals, but all with nutritarian recipes:

- burgers (chick pea and veggie/pinto)
- enchiladas
- spaghetti
- lasagna
- corn chowder
- cauliflower soup
- chili
- taco salad
- thai curry
- fish stew

I'm not going to post the recipes, because I think that would be pointless. In a taste test, which will win: "lasagna" made with noodles, pork sausage, heaps of mozzarella cheese, salt and ricotta, OR "lasagna" made with zucchini noodles, tofu mashed with nutritional yeast and lemon juice, sauteed vegetables and fresh basil?

The lasagna from the SAD (standard American diet) obviously wins the taste test. But eating this way is realizing that the real test--indeed the one that should dictate what we eat 90% of the time--is the nutritional test. And in that test, the zucchini lasagna leaves the other one in the dust.

Plus: really! this stuff is good food. Making this change has been a blessing to our family and a commitment toward taking care of our health long-term. It's my hope that this is something we continue through the years as our family grows.

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