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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Veggie Mama: Salmon Cakes and Spinach Dumplings

A lot of us are trying to add more meat-free cooking to our family meal roster. But sometimes "going veg" with kids seems like the domestic equivalent of firing a volley across the nose of a hostile opponent: conflict is sure to result.

We ourselves are a "non-religious" vegetarian household, meaning that we cook vegetarian but we will eat meat if it's offered to us. One time when I mentioned we were having tofu for dinner, a friend commented with admiration, "Wow! How do you get your boys to eat tofu?" To which I replied, "I never said that my guys were going to eat it. Just that I was serving it for dinner!" Ha, ha.

But in serving my men-folk lentils and rice, beans of all types and, yes, tofu, day in and day out, I've learned that:
1. I have a 50-50 chance of my almost-five-year-old turning up his nose at pretty much anything I put in front of him (unless it's pizza or spaghetti) so I just need to have a thick skin;

2. repeat exposure changes attitudes (i.e. the first time I serve something new, often no one likes it; but by the third or fourth time, there are converts);

3. it doesn't have to be a big deal. There are so many ways to go veg that meals don't have to look "weird" or be obviously vegetarian.

I'll continue to share recipe ideas that have been a hit with my crew, but here are two to get us started:

Everyone really liked the Crispy Salmon Sweet Potato Cakes that I found in Parents Canada magazine in the March/April 2011 issue. (I should note that in addition to being a "lacto-ovo" vegetarian --meaning I love my dairy!-- I also cook fish. Not really vegetarian, but there it is.) You can get the recipe on-line here. They're also pretty low-fat.

If you don't feel like making patties, my mom made this recipe as a loaf. She boiled the sweet potatoes along with potatoes for another meal, then mashed all the ingredients together, including the breadcrumbs. Baked, and voila! Super tasty. (And it's also great as a cold sandwich filling.)

Another favourite was the Steamed Spinach Dumplings recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly book Vegie Food: Low-Fat & Delicious. (Yes, the Australian Women's Weekly --apparently they have the good recipe books, or so said the woman at the cooking paraphernalia shop where I bought this. And it seems they also spell "veggie" without the second "g.") The book is available on Amazon.

In short --and so as to not infringe on copyright-- you make balls from spinach, ricotta, egg, flour and seasoning and then steam them. 

I served these dumplings with a tomato sauce over pasta. Though my pre-schooler declined, my two toddlers inhaled them. In fact, the dumplings were so good that even my non-vegetarian in-laws asked for the recipe!

I give two thumbs up for this entire cookbook. If you feel like your vegetarian repertoire is in a bit of a slump, Vegie Food gives some really fresh ideas.

Anyone else have vegetarian recipe hits to share?


  1. I love "I didn't say they would eat it, just that I'm serving it!" Theo & Lily (the little girl from the family we nanny-share with) have turned their noses up at elaborate mac & cheese with pureed veggies & real cheese in favour of KD so many times it's hard to believe they don't have scurvy. Fave veggie recipes in our house are brussels sprouts shredded & sauteed with garlic, lemon juice & a bit of chicken broth (could use water, too). And I make a mean baked rice with a can of tomatoes, rice, chopped veggies & seasoning. Woo!

  2. Love the brussel sprout idea! I've just been discovering myself how sauteing some veggies makes them more appealing to some members of the family. (I like 'em just steamed!)


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