Well over a decade ago, long before we were married, and long before we actually for real considered the possibility of having children, Paul and I got into a ridiculous fight, in a bar of course, about whether or not our hypothetical future children would be raised vegetarian.
The details are fuzzy, but I recall the fight starting about whose last name our children would have (Niko has both of our last names) and I told Paul that we could use his last name so long as our children were vegetarian. The fight blew up, as they do, and I stomped out of the bar, walked home in the rain, all the while drunk-dialling my friends on my Nokia flip phone to rant about the patriarchy.
I clung to my wish of having vegetarian children for a really long time. But the reality is that this is a mixed household. I am vegetarian (lacto-ovo if you want to get technical) and Paul is not. Having said that, Paul isn’t a meat-every-night-of-the-week kind of guy. He often has fish on Fridays and a steak on Saturdays and other than turkey slices in his sandwiches, that’s pretty much it. We prepare vegetarian main dishes and if he’s in the mood he does meat on the side. It isn’t complicated and it doesn’t bother me.
When it came to introducing Niko to new foods, once we graduated from purées to more solid things, I was of the opinion that, within reason, whatever we were eating in front of him he should be allowed to try. And on the matter of meat, it didn’t feel right to tell him that he wasn’t allowed to try something that his father, or another family member, was eating.
And so, here we are. I have a child whose two favourite foods appear to be pretzels (I scrape the salt off as best I can) and Swedish meatballs. On a night when all other food is getting squished between his little fingers and dropped on the ground, I can put a bowl of meatballs in front of him and he will eat them with great gusto. And honestly, it makes me happy. He’s exploring food, he’s figuring out who he is, and his tastes will change over time. Ultimately it’s more important to me to raise an open-minded eater than one who follows a specific set of parameters, especially parameters that he did not choose himself.
He does also eat veggie nuggets enthusiastically (really, anything bound together with cheese and egg and breadcrumbs is a hit) and is a fan of beans in many forms. He loves the black bean ragout featured here, and this vegan chili, loaded with vegetables, three kinds of beans, and quinoa, was a big hit.
Vegetarian chili is one of my favourite things to make a big batch of and stash in the freezer. Lucky for me, this recipe makes a lot! It’s such an easy and comforting meal, and having the beans, veggies, and quinoa all in it together makes it a one-pot meal. I love having big bowls topped with avocado and cilantro, with corn chips for scooping up bites of the flavourful stew. It’s also great on a baked potato, as the filling in a vegan sloppy joe, or even as the base of a spicy breakfast bowl with an egg on top. And it freezes like a dream, so you can always have chili on hand for a busy day.
Head on over to Oh My Veggies for the recipe!