Week 2: Meatless Monday Challenge

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

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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

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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

FiestaQuinoaCasserole2

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/)

Ingredients

Olive oil

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

Instructions

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.

 

Easy guacamole

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-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

Mix in:

-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.

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7 thoughts on “Week 2: Meatless Monday Challenge

  1. Hey Florence, I am ready to roll on Monday, however, I still don’t have Nutritional Yeast. We keep checking at Sobey’s, but to no avail. I guess I will use parmesan in my Cheesy fiesta Mexican Casserole. Will that be ok??

  2. Florence,The Menu for Monday looks delicious!! Congratulations to everyone who is taking steps to Take Control of their Health. If any one is looking to keep the fat intake low to lose weight, try the low fat version of the Guacamole. I have tried this recipe and guacamole was delicious. (source for recipe and information is from http://www.NutritionMD.org – This is a great website with 100’s of plant based recipes) Thanks to Dr. Neal Barnard and PCRM for creating and maintaining the website.

    http://www.nutritionmd.org/recipes/view.html?recipe_id=1183

    Low-Fat Guacamole Recipe:

    Makes 2 cups (10 servings)

    The peas in this guacamole help to lower the fat content and they are also rich in cancer-fighting fiber. Fiber helps your body get rid of excess cholesterol and cancer-causing compounds which are otherwise reabsorbed back into your bloodstream. Despite the addition of peas, this guacamole derives a good portion of its calories from fat. However, the total fat grams and calories are still quite low and when eaten with baked chips and as part of a low-fat, plant-based diet, overall fat intake will be within the recommended range.

    1 cup drained and rinsed canned green peas, or 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
    1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
    1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
    1 green onion, thinly sliced (optional)
    1 garlic clove, minced or pressed (about 1 teaspoon)
    1/2 cup mild salsa (commercial variety, or Colorful Corn Salsa)
    1 ripe avocado
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

    If using fresh or frozen peas, blanch peas by placing them in boiling water for 2 minutes to soften. Drain peas and immediately shock with cold water to prevent further cooking. Place in either a mixing bowl or food processor. Cut the avocado in half from stem to bottom. Remove the pit and use a spoon to scoop out the inside. For a chunky guacamole, mash avocado and peas together using a potato masher or fork. If a creamy texture is desired, use a food processor. Mix in salsa, garlic, green onion (if using), lemon juice, cumin, and cilantro (if using). Add salt and black pepper to taste.

    Guacamole is best when consumed on the same day. To prevent leftover Low-Fat Guacamole from turning brown, cover it directly with plastic wrap in the refrigerator, and it will keep for up to one day.

  3. My Cheesy Fiesta Mexican Casserole was a success, even though I still don’t have the Nutritional Yeast (substituted Parmasen cheese), didn’t want to, but had no choice. Both Ross and I enjoyed it. We didn’t want to use Salsa, so we had beets instead. Ross says he would like to eat some again tomorrow. Cool!! I didn’t try the pizza today, however, it is on for lunch tomorrow. Today I had a wrap with shredded cabbage, carrot, and 3 different peppers,and Hummus of course. I also used the gravy recipe from last week for a dip. It was delicious!!

  4. It’s me again!! Two meatless days in a row….I’m good!! I made the pizza for lunch today, as I promised yesterday, it was delicious. I even made one for my son, now he wants the recipe. Again tonight we are having Cheesy Fiesta Mexican Casserole for supper…The recipe makes a lot! My daughter-in-law took some for lunch today, and I gave some to a couple of my good friends to try.

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