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Family Matters: Hunting to become a vegetarian

Growing up, my father and brother hunted all the time. They still get out to our land as often as possible, although I think they are napping in the stands more than they are hunting these days.

Hunting is not for me, but I do love to shoot skeet. One day, when I was about 10 years old, my brother drove me out to our hunting land to shoot targets, not animals…so he said.

My first clue that my brother was up to something should have been when he told me—holding his deer rifle—that we needed to check out one of the stands and make sure it was all cleaned and ready for deer season.

We had not been there a minute or two when I saw a beautiful white-tailed doe walk across the field. I pointed her out to my brother like an idiot, and before you can say “Bambi,” the rifle was up and the deer was down.

It was a traumatic experience for me, one that involved hitting and kicking my brother for days, as well as not eating meat for a long time. I still like to take a step back from the butcher on occasion and fill my plate with other delicious foods instead of meat. I think the experts label people like me “less meatatarians.”

I don’t think I can ever give up meat all together, but I will say the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles require mindful eating. During the times when I was not eating meat, I realized that I couldn’t just run through a drive-thru window and grab a burger. This attention to my diet forced me to stop, plan, prepare and enjoy time in my kitchen more often. We ate more family dinners during that time than we ever had before.

Here’s our favorite vegetarian lasagna, and I promise your meat lovers will never miss the meat!

Vegetarian Lasagna

9 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (14.5-oz) can vegetable broth
1 (14-oz) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 (28-oz) jar purchased tomato pasta sauce
3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
4 oz feta, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook 8-10 minutes until done but not soggy. Drain water. Spray large skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium. Sauté onion and garlic three minutes. Stir in broth.

Boil and add artichoke hearts and spinach. Reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes. Add pasta sauce and stir. Spread1/4 of artichoke and pasta sauce mixture on bottom of dish. Top with 3 cooked noodles. Sprinkle 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese over. Repeat layers twice, ending with artichoke mixture and Mozzarella. Top with crumbled feta cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes until bubbly. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving or cutting.

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