Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love

Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love

by Sarah Matheny

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Over 85 Recipeas, One Very Happy Family

When Sarah Matheny, creator of the popular blog Peas and Thank You, decided to eliminate animal products from her diet, she knew there'd be skeptics. Her husband was raised on the standard American diet. Her grandpa was a butcher. Her mom was the best home cook around, with a generous pat of butter here and a crumble of bacon there. But now Sarah is a mom who wants to feed her children right.

Out went the diet soda. In came the smoothies.

Out went the "nutrition" bars. In came the nutritious cookies.

Out went a tired, caffeine–fueled mom. In came Mama Pea.

Peas and Thank You is a collection of recipes and stories from a mainstream family eating a not–so–mainstream diet. Filled with healthy and delicious versions of foods we've all grown up enjoying, but with a Mama Pea twist—no meat, lots of fresh ingredients and plenty of nutrition for growing Peas. From wholesome breakfasts to mouth–watering desserts, there's plenty here to satisfy the pickiest Peas in your life. It's easier than ever to whip up crowd–pleasing meals that will have the whole family asking for, "more, Peas."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781459209008
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 07/26/2011
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Sarah Matheny, a former divorce and custody attorney, left the practice of law and meeting the demands of billable hours and is now practicing patience and meeting the demands of a toddler and preschooler. Matheny’s humor and crowd-pleasing recipes have drawn tens of thousands of loyal readers to her popular blog She lives in Salem, Oregon, with her family.

Read an Excerpt


ate cold cereal for breakfast, ham and cheese sandwiches and potato chips for lunch, pork chops and applesauce for dinner, and homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert. It was a different time, and eating healthy meant adding just one teaspoon of sugar to a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, eating the crust in addition to the innards of a Wonder Bread sandwich, and drinking a large glass of milk to wash down that chocolate chip cookie.

I don't fault my parents for feeding me something close to the Standard American Diet. It was, after all, the standard. My mom was, and still is, an excellent cook, and with my chin eagerly perched on the kitchen counter, I watched in awe as she moved around our tiny kitchen. From my waist–high view, I learned how to slice vegetables with my fingers curled under, to not overmix my cake batter and that a canister of whipped cream makes excellent "Christmas trees" on an outstretched index finger. But of all the food lessons I learned from my family, the most important one was the value of eating dinner as a family almost every night. Sharing a meal that was lovingly prepared by my mother around a table with my brothers and my parents was more important than what was on our plates.

Even so, I made the connection early on in life that some choices are healthier than others. My dad was a smoker when I was born, and you can bet, as soon as Daddy's Little Girl figured out that they weren't called "cancer sticks" by chance, all it took were a few tears and an "I love you, Daddy" to change minds and hearts. My husband ("Pea Daddy") has had many similar experiences as a father, most often involving something pink, frilly or an impossibly small waist, blond hair, and feet that were just made for high heels. After my appeal to my dad that night, I awoke to find a carton of my father's cigarettes in the trash can. He never smoked again. This was my first lesson in the power of tears as a tool of manipulation, to be used less sincerely throughout my childhood and adult life. More important though, in that moment, seeing my dad's Marlboros sticking out of the can underneath the kitchen sink, I realized that parents aren't perfect and sometimes have to admit that they are wrong.

That lesson hit home in a different way many years later while having a snack with my daughter Gigi. She was happily munching on some orange wedges that were not–so–happily dripping down her face and onto her Gymboree shirt that I paid far too much for. As I sipped my third Diet Coke of the day and munched on a handful of Sweet 'n Salty Chex Mix, she did what all kids do and begged for what I had. I told her no, that soda and junk food were bad for her. I cringed when I thought of caffeine, aspartame and artificial coloring streaming through her tiny body. Suddenly it hit me: I was a hypocrite. I had a long talk with myself in hushed tones that night, poured out my diet soda cans and put them in the recycling bin. Then I finished the bag of Chex Mix and recycled the bag, too. (There was no point to just wasting food, right?) After that processed–food breakup, it wasn't long before my dietary choices moved on to even greener pastures.

I wouldn't necessarily call myself an animal lover. We had pets growing up, including a fox terrier who chewed his way through a gas barbecue hose, a hot water heater, a piece of plywood and a five–pound chocolate bar that he found under the tree on Christmas Eve. Having your dog go into cardiac arrest kind of puts a damper on Christmas morning. I liked our dog okay, but lived in fear that he would do something to upset my dad, who after cleaning up the kitchen trash strewn all over the living room for the sixteenth time had nicknamed him "POSGE" (pronounced PAHS–JEE), an acronym for "Piece Of S*&# Garbage Eater."

When I started my own household, I wasn't in any big hurry to get a pet to destroy my things. That's what kids were for. And I certainly never intended to become a vegetarian, let alone a vegan. Until one night a friend sent me an email with a video of Sarah Palin visiting a turkey farm in her governor capacity to pardon a turkey for Thanksgiving. The irony of the video was that as the rogue politician declared one turkey free, another turkey was refusing to die (much like Ms. Palin's political aspirations) and was being violently slaughtered in the background. My stomach turned, my mouth dropped and tears sprang to my eyes. I'm not sure what dream world I was living in, but apparently I thought that Tinker Bell came and sprinkled magical sleeping fairy dust over live turkeys and they somehow ended up on a platter in my grandmother's dining room with a side of the most delicious mashed potatoes I would ever taste.

This violent and abrupt realization of where my food came from impacted my choices from then on. I read literature about factory farms and learned that the terrible conditions in most threaten the safety of our food. I decided I was no longer willing to eat meat. I started preparing more and more vegetarian meals for myself while continuing to serve up abnormally large breasts (the only abnormally large breasts in our house) to the family. Meanwhile, memories of my "jilted lover," Diet Coke, and ridding my life of its grasp came back to haunt me. I had banned aspartame and artifi–cal flavorings for the household, but served daily meals of animal flesh washed in ammonia?

On a more practical level, my family missed seeing my face at the dinner table while I cooked up a steak for Pea Daddy, steak fries and nuggets for the girls, and a tofu steak for myself. After a few weeks of cooking three dinners a day, Pea Daddy surprised me by volunteering to follow my lead at dinnertime and become a vegetarian himself. I was thrilled. While his announcement wasn't an exhilarated "I'll have what she's having" moment out of When Harry Met Sally, once he saw that he could enjoy a meatless meal (and multiple times a day, at that), Pea Daddy was excited for all of us to make the transition to vegetarianism.

It wasn't long until Gigi asked why we were no longer eating chicken. I started to explain that it was important that we not hurt animals, and didn't she agree that we wouldn't want to hurt the chicken that we saw at local farmstand last weekend? "Not the kind of chicken that lives on a farm, Mama!" she scolded me. "The kind of chicken that you EAT!" I wasn't sure if I should hug her for being so naive, or immediately put a helmet on her to prevent further brain injury. It was time to have "the talk," and I spent the next twenty awkward minutes acting out the most macabre scene to ever have been depicted using a Fisher Price Little People farm set. I'm afraid she still has nightmares about Farmer Jed.

From then on, it became my mission to transition my family from the Standard American Diet to something better, but I knew that I couldn't change who I was in making the transition. I wasn't going to make my own soap or sew our clothes. I can't even sew a button. I wasn't about to trade The Bachelorette and my flatiron for a PETA rally and dreadlocks. I'm too addicted to reality TV and straight hair for that. Though I enjoy a nice bowl of granola, I'm no "granola" mom, and I don't have to be "perfect" to lessen the environmental impact I have on the planet.

I want our foods to be fresh, organic when possible, meat–free and, for the most part, free of all animal products. But most important, our meals have to be delicious. I want my children and husband to come to the dinner table each night with the same feelings of excitement and anticipation that I had as a child, and to leave the dinner table with the same contentment and satisfaction. Ideally, I still want to be the mom interested in the dinner conversation and not the food police interested in laying down the law.

Through trying new foods and recipes and having a sense of humor about the entire thing, we've done it. We've learned to respect animals by eating foods that have not gone through fear or pain, as the animals on factory farms do, but by enjoying delicious, plant–based recipes that keep every member of our family happy. In return, we've learned to love our bodies more and accept them the way they are. We appreciate them for the things they can do rather than what they look like. As a mother of girls, this is a lesson that is especially important to me.

We've also experienced the beneficial side effects of saving money and reducing waste. More important, we all have improved energy and overall health. We are sick less often and have more motivation to get up and out to play. We aren't "skinny bitches"; we're a fit, fun family, who enjoys life and what we eat. I want to make it easy for you to do the same.

This book is not going to try to label you as a vegetarian or a vegan or make you become one. Nor is its goal to make you feel guilty for those nights when you can't bear to cook and order a pizza instead. I'm just giving you another choice—simple plant–based versions of your family's favorite meals, most of which can be prepared and served in forty–five minutes or less. Take what you can from it, whether it's trying a new meat–free recipe once a week, or just reading the ridiculous stories about navigating life with two young girls, the days when the closest thing I get to a shower is a baby wipe and a fresh coat of deodorant, and when dinner is last night's leftovers. Again. But at least I know that those leftovers didn't have a mother, and I always serve them with a side of peas.

What People are Saying About This

Brendan Brazier

Peas and Thank You offers up creative and innovative recipes that are sure to please family and friends of all ages, whether carnivorous or not. (Brendan Brazier, bestselling author of The Thrive Diet.)

Tosca Reno

Good for your health and I am all for that (Tosca Reno, New York Times bestselling author of Your Best Body Now and The Eat-Clean Diet)

Isa Chandra Moskowitz

What a fun and colorful book! This will breathe new life into your kitchen. (Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of Veganomicon)

Customer Reviews

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Peas and Thank You 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a secret stalker of the Peas and Thank You blog for several months now and a hoarder of cook books, I ran to the store to buy this book. It is not only hilarious but all of the recipes are truly simple. Even if you don't want to cook them you can stare at the gorgeous photos of them. I also love that it's a vegan cookbook without being preachy. I bought an extra copy for my meat-loving mother. You should do the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not a vegetarian, or a mom, or as witty as Mama Pea but I bought this book when it first came out and read it cover to cover in 24 hours. I am an avid follower of her blog so I knew I would LOVE this cookbook, but even if you don't follow her blog (YOU SHOULD) you will get so much from her stories and recipeas. She transforms everyday american meals and processed snacks into wholesome, organic, vegetarian dishes. Plus who can resist the pictures of her adorable little girls dressed in tutus and chocolate covered faces!
Rachel0402 More than 1 year ago
This book will have you crying from the hilarious stories Sarah tells and then rubbing your full belly from the delicious food you've made from her recipes. This cookbook is so much more then just recipes it is love and hardwork of one woman in an effort to feed her family in a healthier manner. It is good for meat eater and veggie eaters alike. A great way to inspire and guide you to eating more meat/animal product free food.
LaurenEB More than 1 year ago
Since I bought this book, I have not wanted to put it down. I love scouring each page, reading the delicious recipes and looking at the beautiful photos. And I AM NOT A VEGAN NOR A VEGETARIAN!! I simply bought this book to incorporate more plant-based foods into my rotation, and thought these recipes would be a great way to do that. More than just recipes, this book is a heart-warming collection of stories. Reading the hilarious quips and anecdotes that go along with each recipe brings smiles and laughter, not to mention a growling tummy! Buy this book, but be prepared to read it almost like a page-turning novel! You will be pleasantly surprised!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Peas and Thank You will surely become a household staple for any family with any dietary path (i.e., not just vegans!). This book is very beautiful--the colorful photos of Mama Pea's beautiful family and delicious food are simply enough to pick this book up! The recipes are easy to follow and many have numerous options for add-ins/subtractions that make cooking much easier for people short on time or short on ingredients. The stories that accompany each recipe make this more like a story book than a strict cook-book. The meals are accessible to everyone, vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike. What's so fantastic about this book is that Sarah's tone is not 'preachy'--she's not aiming to convert anyone to veganism; she's simply showing you the fun and easy ways you can incorporate meatless meals into your diet! This book is highly recommended to everyone!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this cookbook, and it's the only cookbook that I've ever read cover to cover! I bought this book based on reviews and I had never read the blog before, but since buying this book, I now also visit the blog. The recipes are easy and delicious and Mama Pea is very funny! I bought this book because I wanted to start eating vegan and I found it very helpful. Also, as someone allergic to dairy, I've gone my whole life without being able to enjoy things like lasagna and mac and cheese. These recipes allow me to enjoy these foods for the first time. I'm looking forward to the next book. One thing that I'd like to see in the next book is some more low fat recipes.
Molly Gapol More than 1 year ago
I have been a vegetarian for 15 years and after seeing the recipes in this cookbook, I am excited to make the transition to vegan! I have made the chocolate chip cookies and they were a huge hit in my family. I can't wait to try all the other yummy dishes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pengyxx More than 1 year ago
Mama Pea (aka Sarah Matheny) is a wonderful person and has her heart in the right place. You can feel the passion she put into this book, the same that she puts into her family and blog. Wonderful, easy recipeas that the whole family loves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read her blog since Sara started it and had to buy the book. The recipes are delicious, the writing charming and the photography beautiful. Carnivores or vegetarians alike will enjoy this cookbook!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mama Pea's hysterical blog is now in print form. This beautiful cookbook filled with side splitting stories, amazing and easy recipes, is a must for any kitchen. You don't have to be vegetarian or vegan to use this cookbook. The recipes are healthy, good for you, and scrumptious enough for all hungry mouths to enjoy. I have made her Chickpea Strawberry Mango Salad, Mmmm Sauce, and Dough balls. In the words of Mama Pea, "Oh. My. Peas!!" You are denying your taste buds of pure enjoyment by not getting this book! Go ahead, what are you waiting for?
MichelleW More than 1 year ago
Sarah's recipes are easy to follow and delicious for non-meat eaters and meaters alike. There are big beatiful pictures of food, family, and fun. The funny and charming commentary, inviting the readers into their life and home, is an added bonus! I highly recommend this cookbook!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of delicious looking dishes that will even have meat eaters drooling. More than just the recipes, Mama Pea brings the same humor, fun sensibility, and family stories that she shares on her blog to this wonderful book. Not to mention the gorgeous photos, great tips and tricks, and the way she somehow makes every recipe seem accessible to every eater - even though they are definitely not the standard meals that most of us grew up on. I cannot wait to make these recipes!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must-read! The "recipeas" will knock the socks off of ANYONE, and Mama Pea's writing will keep you chuckling all day long. Even better is the fact that when you have finished the book, there's always Mama Pea's blog to look forward to every day! Sarah truly has a way with words and is a truly gifted lady in the kitchen!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
VegLady More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to love this book, and was excited about some new and interesting recipes to enjoy with my young son. Instead I found a "cookbook" that appeared like a printout of a blog. There were long and convoluted entries before each and every recipe, and the recipes were not terribly original or interesting. I was hoping to purchase an enjoyable cookbook, but feel that I could find better recipes with an internet search. The recipes themselves were rather few and far between. I recommend passing on this book. If you own a Nook like I do and are considering this book, go to a store and flip through it first to see if it has enough decent recipes you would use. I regret I did not do that.