Natasha Tandler / Daily Nexus

My boyfriend and I met while working as camp counselors in the Sequoia Mountains in California. From the moment that Sean (my boyfriend) and I watched the sunset from the top of the mountain for our first date, we became inseparable.

Sean and I are similar in so many ways. We both love artisanal tea, enjoy watching old black-and-white movies and share an intense (and probably unhealthy) obsession with Scrabble.

There were two main differences between us though. The first: Sean is more than a foot taller than me. While he is an impressive 6’5”, I am barely 5’2” inches tall. We navigated around this dissimilarity pretty well though, as I became his personal piggy back provider. The other difference dealt more with personal values than physical traits. It came down to the fact that Sean is a carnivore and I am a vegetarian. Although I am ashamed to admit it, I was one of those 16-year-old girls who watched some documentary about animal cruelty and the environmental impact of the meat industry and immediately adopted a new eating regimen.

However, I have never been an “evangelizing vegetarian,” a term that I use for those who try to convert everyone and their grandmother into vegetarians. I have always respected other people’s decisions to eat meat for either personal pleasure or cultural reasons. It really wasn’t until Sean and I finally moved into our first apartment together that I started to realize how significant our clashing eating habits were. Before this big step in our relationship, we could order separate dishes when we went out on dates. Once we moved into our own apartment, though, we had to start cooking a majority of our meals together.


Contrasting meals: Sean’s Carne Asada Burrito and my veggie spring roll          Natasha Tandler / Daily Nexus

Breakfast was easy, as it is the most vegetarian-friendly meal of the day since oatmeal, cereal, eggs, French toast and pancakes are meat-free. Sean made himself some bacon or sausage if he really felt like having his meat fix in the morning.

At first, making lunch and dinner meals that the two of us loved seemed manageable. We got creative with our food choices and made items like naan pizza bread, delicious homemade pesto pasta with fresh mozzarella and, of course, Annie’s White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese became a staple for us, too. Any chance you are seeing a common trend yet? All of our meals were centered on carbs. While Sean’s bottomless pit of a stomach was able to gracefully handle all of these delicious but heavy dishes, mine certainly was not. The protruding gut that I had quickly developed was evidence of this. Feeling more tired and lazy than usual, I also realized that my body was not getting enough protein.  After a quick pow-wow session huddled over my laptop, Sean and I found some inspiration from online recipes that had meals that would be easy to make, nutritious and scrumptious for both of us. So, for all of you carnivore/herbivore lovers out there, here are three of our favorite dishes that we like to make together.

 Stir Fry

This is a healthy dish that you can alter to meet each of your own dietary preferences. To get protein, vegetarians can simply add tofu while meat eaters can add chicken or beef.

To be honest, we don’t really follow one particular recipe for this dish. Instead, we just buy all the vegetables that we like and sauté them in soy sauce and teriyaki sauce. If you are looking to get a bit fancier than we did, I recommend looking at

1 lb chicken, beef or pork cut into bite-sized pieces

2 lbs vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tbsp aromatics, such as garlic, ginger or shallots (optional)

2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as basil or cilantro (optional)

Basic Stir Fry Sauce

1 cup broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
Whisk ingredients together in a medium-bowl.
Note: To make a thick glaze (like for sweet and sour chicken), whisk in one teaspoon corn starch and let sit for ten minutes before adding to the stir-fry.

Set a large wok or frying pan over medium-high heat and allow it to get screaming hot. Swirl in 2 tbsp of oil (1 tbsp if using a nonstick pan). Add your meat and cook until browned on each side (and cooked through if using chicken or pork). Remove the browned meat from the pan and set aside on a plate.

Transfer the densest vegetables (those that take the longest to cook, such as broccoli, carrots or bell peppers) into the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add in any quick-cooking vegetables — such as onions or snap peas — and cook for another minute.

Add the garlic into the stir fry last to avoid burning it. Return the meat to the pan and pour in the sauce. Toss well to coat all of the meat and vegetables. Let cook for one minute, until bubbling.

Turn the heat off and stir in your fresh herbs if using any. Serve hot with a side of cooked rice or noodles.

Courtesy of

Naan Pizza Bread Natasha Tandler / Daily Nexus

 Chef John’s Stuffed Peppers

We also discovered a terrific recipe for Tex-Mex-style grilled stuffed peppers. The only alterations that we make to the original recipe include using vegetable broth instead of meat broth and excluding the meat from my peppers.

Bold flavors like cayenne pepper and fresh tomatoes made the dish interesting for a vegetarian, while the Italian pork sausage definitely satisfies a meat lover’s desires.

1 cup uncooked long grain white rice

2 cups water

1 onion, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cups marinara sauce

1 cup beef broth

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 lb lean ground beef

¼ lb hot Italian pork sausage, casing removed

1 (10-oz ounce) can diced tomatoes

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 pinch ground cayenne pepper

4 large green bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded

1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C).

Bring rice and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed (20 to 25 minutes). Set the cooked rice aside.

Cook onion in olive oil over medium heat until onion begins to soften, or about 5 minutes. Transfer half of cooked onion to a large bowl and set aside.

Stir marinara sauce, beef broth, balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes into the skillet; cook and stir for 1 minute.

Pour sauce mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Combine ground beef, Italian sausage, diced tomatoes, Italian parsley, garlic, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper into bowl with reserved onions; mix well. Stir in cooked rice and Parmesan. Stuff green bell peppers with beef and sausage mixture.

Place stuffed green bell pepper halves in the baking dish over tomato sauce; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan, cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Remove aluminum foil and bake until the meat is no longer pink, the green peppers are tender and the cheese is browned on top, an additional 20 to 25 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of

Natasha Tandler / Daily Nexus

 Zucchini Lasagna

Sean and I also love making zucchini lasagna. It is super filling, but it doesn’t include all of the carbs that regular lasagna does.

Side note: We can’t figure out how to roll the zucchini like those faceless food magicians do in the instructional videos, so we just cut long strips of zucchini and add them on top of each other.

2 (15-oz.) containers ricotta

¾ cup grated Parmesan

2 large eggs

1 tsp garlic powder

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup marinara sauce

5 large zucchinis, sliced 1/8 inches thick

1 cup grated mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400°F. Make ricotta mixture: In a small bowl, combine ricotta, ½ cup Parmesan, egg and garlic powder and season with salt and pepper.

Spread a thin layer of marinara into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish.

On each slice of zucchini, spoon a thin layer of sauce, then top with a thicker layer of ricotta mixture and sprinkle with mozzarella.

Roll up and place in baking dish.

Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup Parmesan.

Bake until zucchini is tender and cheese is melted, or 30 minutes.

Courtesy of

These are just three of the many meals that Sean and I enjoy preparing, and there are honestly so many more excellent and exciting meals out there for cohabiting carnivores and vegetarians to cook together. So, go forth and find what works for you, my fellow foodies!