December 23, 2015

Spaghetti Bolognese | Why I Started Eating Meat Again

There are a million and one recipes for bolognese, and this one is by no means authentic, but it's definitely good!

I haven't eaten much beef since I began to incorporate meat back into my diet again, partly because it intimidates me and partly because I don't have a strong preference for it, however, I would eat this sauce over and over again! 

Some readers may know that I stopped eating meat for a while (2 ish years? I don't even remember when I stopped anymore!). The reasons for cutting out meat involved morality and health, but since going to college, my health has declined significantly in numerous ways. College food started out as decent, even good sometimes, but after a few weeks, it became inedible for several reasons:
  1. Too much salt (to the point where everyone would just gag -- the lettuce at the salad bar has even been soaked in salt water)
  2. Too much oil (and I'm talking about pools of it around your plate)
  3. A lack of healthy, palatable options (the same bad food all the time)
  4. A lack of sufficient protein sources for pescetarians/vegetarians/vegans
  5. A lack of fresh food (the mixed greens are wet/nearly moldy and the other salad bar items sit out all day long without being refilled/replaced)
  6. or simply a lack of food period. (this really doesn't require much explanation)
After speaking with two nutritionists, I took action on the big civil war that had been ongoing in my head for several weeks: I began to eat meat again. First with chicken, then turkey, and then I slowly moved to the occasional pork. As mentioned, beef has been a rarity, but chicken salad found its way back into my heart very quickly. 

Eating meat again has made me realize a few very important things, one of which includes the influence of animal protein on athletic performance. I love to run, and during the period when I had begun to eat meat again, I had been timing my 2 mile runs. 
Call this a placebo effect if you want, but certain amino acids found only in animal protein (which were not supplemented in my diet when I was a pescetarian at school) really do enhance athletic performance significantly because they have greater effects on muscle building, and I found that I was able to run faster within a day or two and I've felt a lot less tired when I started eating meat again (also partly because I wasn't being starved). I've also gained greater appreciation for what I've learned in biology classes about macromolecules, and reflecting on my daily protein/carbohydrate/fat intake has taught me to refine my habits and view certain approaches to food more critically/scientifically. 

Also, while I have been exposed to the variety of vegetarian/vegan foods/recipes/restaurants, the past few years have also revealed to me that it is still extremely difficult to avoid meat in a culture (or two cultures in my case) that is predominantly omnivorous or even insensitive to those who avoid meat. Many of the restaurants that I've gone to were not vegetarian/vegan friendly because there is nobody else in my family who avoids meat; with that being said, options were much more limited as these restaurants do not cater specifically to vegetarian/vegan demographics. On top of that, the restaurants and grocery stores that do cater to these demographics take advantage by raising prices, to the point that eating out as a healthy and balanced vegetarian/vegan is as expensive, if not more expensive, than being an omnivore. Furthermore, a calorie deficit on a vegetarian/vegan diet results in purchasing more groceries, which can result in a higher grocery bill than expected for someone who is no longer purchasing meat (which is contrary to what most vegetarian/vegan advocates claim). This is particularly important for college students to take note of; many of the vegetarians/vegans I know eat only potatoes and starches to fill themselves up, which is simply not balanced or healthy. Other filling plant-based foods, like nuts and beans, can only be eaten in moderation too. I had to go grocery shopping every week for the first few months because I wasn't eating enough through the dining hall, which made me spend a lot more money than I wanted to. Eating meat again has reduced the quantity that I purchase and the frequency at which I go grocery shopping, allowing me to save more from my paycheck towards other things that I value - trips, camera, other living expenses, etc.

The difficulty is that I'm still very torn about my own morals: while the school sources all meat products from local vendors who raise the animals as humanely as feasible for a college dining business, I still do not think that I can fully justify eating animal protein based on my views. However, I've decided that for the time being, I will remain an omnivore - I am healthier and more balanced this way, my body responds to this lifestyle more favorably, and it's simply easier and cheaper. All the while, I'm trying to consume only humanely raised products as much as possible to appease my conscience and to reduce my effects on the environment. (This doesn't mean that vegetarian/vegan recipes won't be gone from this blog! They will most likely continue to make up the majority of the recipes I post because I like experimenting in the kitchen and trying unique recipes!)

So with all of that being said, let's get into the recipe ;) :

Recipe: Spaghetti Bolognese
By: Hannah Claudia

for the meat sauce:
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 large, yellow onion
3 stalks of celery
2 carrots, peeled
1 1/2 cups of ground beef (about 12 oz.)

1 cup of almond milk
(opt: 1 cup of wine)*
2 tablespoons tomato paste
15 oz. canned tomatoes (if you get whole tomatoes like I did, you'll have to use your hands - or a blender - to crush the tomatoes)
about 3.5-4 cups of water

olive oil
1 tsp oregano
salt & pepper, to taste

for the pasta:
oatmeal spaghetti, boiled 
fresh rosemary/basil to garnish


1. Finely chop the onion, celery, and carrots (as evenly as possible to hasten the cooking process)
2. In a large pot (preferably with a larger base for greater surface area), heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil and saute the garlic for 30 seconds.
3. Add the chopped onion, celery, and carrots. Cook for about 7-10 minutes, or until the onions have softened.
4. Add the ground beef and use a wooden spoon to stir/break up the meat constantly. (A whisk may be helpful too!)
5. Add the oregano, salt and pepper.
6. When the meat is almost fully cooked, add the almond milk. Cook until the almond milk has evaporated (almost completely).
7. *Add red wine if you desire and repeat the almond milk process. (we didn't have any on hand)
8. Mix in the tomato paste.
9. Add the canned tomatoes to the pot. Use the can and fill it up with water twice, adding the water to the pot.
10. Bring the sauce to a boil.
11. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 hours, or until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
12. Taste and add more salt/pepper if desired.
13. Add the sauce to the spaghetti; toss to coat.
14. Plate and garnish with fresh rosemary/basil.

xoxo, han

No comments:

Post a Comment