Welcome to week 2 of the Meatless Monday Challenge, oh Fearless Ones! We got some great feedback from last week’s menu, with my favorite comment about the healthy fries and gravy being, “I’d have these for a Friday cheat night!” Thanks, Cheryl Loder, we are so glad you liked them.
This week, Susan and I have decided to offer you more options, so we have each prepared our own menu. You can try either menu, mix and match the two, or just go to the links that we gave at the end of last week’s post for something entirely different. Click HERE for Susan’s menu.
Before I present the meal ideas for this week however, I would like to have a word with you about quinoa.
A Word About Quinoa:
I will admit: before I traded in my Diet Cokes and Doritos for a spinach salad and lemon water, quinoa was a foreign word to me. But as soon as I decided to go healthy, quinoa advocates from around the world were coming out of the woodwork, suggesting great ways that I could cook this tiny super-seed. “Cook it?” I thought, “I can’t even pronounce it!” (By the way, it’s pronounced “Keen-Wah”). So I set out to vegucate educate myself about this phenomenal powerhouse of a plant food!
Quinoa provides the full spectrum of nine essential amino acids, and therefore is one of the few plant based food which is considered a COMPLETE protein. So, it’s a really great choice for people who don’t eat meat. It is also rich in lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body, and it is a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber.
So, if you have not yet tried this versatile food, pick yourself up a bag and give it a whirl (I buy mine pre-washed from Costco.) You can serve it on the side, like rice or couscous, or make it part of a delicious recipe, as I have for this week’s dinner choice.
Breakfast: Berry Delicious Smoothie
I start every morning the same way: with a “Berry Delicious Smoothie”. You can do any variation on this recipe, using different frozen fruits, berries and fruit juices. Here is my favorite:
-1 cup frozen blueberry/blackberry/strawberry mix (potent cancer fighters!)
-1/2 cup cooked quinoa (this is optional, but will give your smoothie a boost of protein)
-1 cup cranberry juice (be careful of the sugar content! I usually half my fruit juices with water, which cuts the sugar in half while giving me two juices for the price of one.)
-1/2 cup almond milk
-1 tablespoon ground flax seed OR soaked chia seeds
Throw all ingredients in a blender (or trusty Magic Bullet) and blend until smooth.
Mid-Morning Snack: Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
As much as I love my smoothies, I find that by mid-morning, I need something a little more substantial to fill me up. One of my faves is a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich. Here is how it’s made:
Take two slices of multi-grain bread. Thinly spread margarine on the outside of the bread, and generously spread peanut butter (or almond butter) on the inside. Chop a small peeled banana in half, then cut the two pieces lengthwise, to give you 4 pieces. Lay these on the peanut butter side and press together. Grill in a frying pan (preferably iron). Guaranteed to banish the hunger pangs!
Lunch: Thin Crust Pizza
This thin crust pizza is as easy to make as it is delightful to eat. Here is what you need:
-Large whole wheat tortilla (this is the thin crust)
-1/4 cup chopped onion
-1/4 cup chopped green pepper
-1/4 cup chopped tomato, seeds removed
-1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
-a dash of Italian seasoning (or mix basil and oregano)
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-2 tablespoons pizza sauce
-2 tablespoons Nutritional yeast OR 1/4 cup grated parmesan if you eat dairy
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a frying pan, saute veggies in olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender. Add a dash of Italian seasoning.
Spread pizza sauce over tortilla bread. Add veggies. Top with nutritional yeast OR parmesan. Bake on pizza pan at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Great with a leafy green salad on the side! (Cheryl, this pizza is so good, you might want to save it for a cheat night!)
Dinner: Cheesy Fiesta Mexican Casserole
This casserole is so good that my cheese-loving daughter, Kaitlyn, could not believe that it contains NO cheese! (Credit for this recipe goes to http://www.cookingquinoa.net/)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons whole wheat OR gluten free flour
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (a little more if you like it really HOT)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (yep, here it is again, the secret ingredient)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups unsweetened almond milk OR milk of choice
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 15 ounce can black beans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch casserole dish.
Cook Quinoa according to package directions and set aside.
Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet and heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, and tomato and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender.
Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add flour, chili powder, paprika, cumin, nutritional yeast and salt. Mix all ingredients together. Add in milk and cook, stirring often with a whisk, until thick. (This is your “cheesy” sauce.)
Place quinoa and black beans in a large bowl. Add vegetable mixture and toss. Add “cheese” mixture and stir until well combined. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle a little chili powder over the top.
Bake for 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with guacamole or salsa on the side.
-peel and cube two avacados and place in a bowl (most quac uses mashed avacados, but I prefer them cubed)
-add the juice of ½ lime, freshly squeezed, a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper to taste
-1 small clove garlic, finely copped
-1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
So there you have it folks! Delicious and nutritious. Hint: Left over “cheesy fiesta Mexican casserole” makes a great meatless tortilla filling for lunch the next day.