Flexitarian Favorites…so far

It has been almost a month since I decided to start replacing the meat in my diet for a couple of days a week. I shared this new lifestyle decision with you in my post titled “Less Meat!” I set the goal for two days a week and that has been completely manageable. In fact, I’ve even gone three days in some weeks. If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen posts about my Go Green Bake and my Eggplant and Heirloom Lasagna.

Those were my most involved veggie fixes so far, but I have a few other very simple but tasty favorites too.

I found a recipe for curried egg salad and I can’t get enough of it! I keep forgetting to take pictures of this one, but you can see the finished product in the original post. I’ve also used this as a filling in lettuce wraps instead of on toast just to mix things up a bit.

I am also a fan of flat bread veggie pizzas. Pictured is a pizza margherita. You can make so many different combinations and usually I just use this to finish some odds and ends veggies that are in the refrigerator before they spoil.

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I also tried a recipe from Martha Steward for a Tortilla and Black Bean Pie. It was very tasty! I suggest adding a little extra hot sauce to it. I also replaced the scallions in the original recipe with cilantro. This is what I’ve made for my food swap event coming up next week!

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I had leftover black beans from the pie, so I made Buffalo Black Bean Stuffed Peppers the next night. Basically, I just used 1/4 cup chopped red onion, 1 cup of black beans, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 6 chopped cherry tomatoes, and 3 tablespoons of buffalo sauce for the filling, and topped it with mozzarella and baked it until heated through. A great way to use the black beans in a different way!

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Go Green Vegetarian Bake

In last week’s post, Less Meat!,  I told you that I wanted to try going meatless a few days a week. Today was a meatless day. My breakfast and lunch were not creative, but I made up a vegetable bake for dinner. Maybe I should call it an “everything but the kitchen sink” bake. I had a lot of vegetables that needed to be used before they spoiled, so I grabbed everything green in my refrigerator.

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I loosely based the recipe on one I found on Pinterest for spinach artichoke chicken and my own chicken, mushroom, and broccoli casserole. They have become favorites around my house. It has made multiple appearances, so I keep artichoke hearts on hand. I added those to the green veggies above.

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So, what do I have in this mixture? It included:

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 minced garlic cloves

1/2 chopped green pepper

1/2 chopped jalapeno

1 cup kale

1 can artichoke hearts

1/2 head of broccoli

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Next, I added three heaping tablespoons of greek yogurt and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. I mixed it until everything was coated with yogurt and cheese.

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Next, I made a crumb topping:

1/2 cup of italian bread crumbs

3 tablespoons parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon cumin

a handful of chopped almonds

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I sprinkled the topping on the bake and baked it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

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I thought the dish turned out pretty well. The jalapenos, garlic, cumin, and cilantro gave it a lot of nice flavors and it wasn’t too spicy. I think next time I will try to add a little yogurt to the topping to make it a little pasty before baking it. It just didn’t get that shell like consistency and brown the way I had imagined before putting it into the oven. The only thing in it that could be considered unhealthy was the cheese, but it wasn’t that much cheese per serving. Also, the only thing that would prevent this from being paleo would be the bread crumbs, which could easily be replaced with a coconut flour mixture or a flax seed and almond mixture as the topping. I want to keep working on this one to perfect it, but I think it will eventually be a keeper. And there were leftovers for my other veggie only days this week!

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Less Meat!

I tried to go vegetarian once after watching a documentary about meat processing. It only lasted about a week.

There has been a recent movement called “Meatless Mondays.” Despite the name suggesting that this is only happening on Mondays, you can go meatless on any day of the week. There are lots of reasons for cutting the meat including health reasons and environmental reasons. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to go fully vegetarian, but I do think I can pull off at least two days a week without meat to improve my overall health.

Sounds easy, right? It is a little more difficult with my attempts at following the Paleo diet about 75% of the time. So, no veggie pastas, veggie tacos, veggie pizza, or other easy go-to ideas that may immediately come to mind.

Today was my first attempt at being a vegetarian. I personally find it hard to think of a variety of ways to spice up my diet without the proteins I grew up on, so I thought I’d start sharing my attempts at making vegetarian fun and healthy.

My first meal was breakfast and I had a boiled egg and cantaloupe (and coffee of course!)

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For lunch, I used portabello mushroom caps, brushed them with olive oil inside and out, and added a slice of tomato, red onion, and mozzarella fresca. “Fresca” is Spanish for “fresh.” Every ingredient used was fresh, so I’ll call this my Portabello Fresca Pizza. I baked it at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

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Finally, for dinner, I tried a recipe I found on Pinterest for Kale and Butternut Squash Saute. I did not have the dried cranberries, but it still turned out to be pretty good. In past posts I’ve made Butternut Squash and Chicken Curry and Butternut Squash Soup.

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There are lot of types of vegetarians (as I often hear in my students’ speeches). Because of the egg and cheeses used in today’s meals, I’d be considered a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. I found that the most vegetarians have trouble getting enough protein, so I think the egg and cheese is necessary. I also had an apple with peanut butter (more protein) for a snack.

And apparently the term for someone trying to be vegetarian sometimes, like my two days a week, is a flexitarian. So many terms! We’ll see how long this lasts…

Flexi-Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian signing off.