Posts Tagged by vegetarian

Lentil Tacos Remix

To be completely honest, I probably shouldn’t even be posting this. I mean, it’s hardly a recipe, and it doesn’t even look pretty. But the truth is, this pile of mush is the most delicious dinner I’ve had in awhile. And I’m the type of person who, once I’ve discovered a new combination, has a strong urge to share it with the world as if I’m the only person in the history of the earth who has ever thought to mix these things together. So let’s just pretend I am for a minute, okay?

Lentil Taco Remix

It started out just like any other night. I had a strong craving for lentil tacos, so I took out a pot to boil some water. But somewhere along the way, I got distracted by the sweet potatoes in the cupboard, and I suddenly needed to have one immediately. And that, my friends, is where creative genius was born.

Since I employed my favorite cooking method (the dump and pour), there really isn’t a great recipe to share. But I assure you, this is one of the easiest things you could ever make. The toughest part is waiting for everything to cook! Not only that, but the ingredients are inexpensive, and it’s a nutritional powerhouse! Packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins…and extremely low in fat. What more could a person ask for?

Lentil Taco Remix

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What You’ll Need

  • 1/2 cup cooked lentils
  • 12 oz can of black beans
  • 1 sweet potato
  • Spices
    • Salt
    • Paprika
    • Chili powder
    • Cumin
    • Dash of crushed red pepper

Directions

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash sweet potato and poke with a fork several times. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and place directly on oven rack. Bake until soft, or about 1 hour. You’ll know it’s done when you see little bubbles of liquid coming out of the holes (that’s the sugar!).

2.) Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil to cook the lentils. For a tip, see my no fail lentil prep – it works great every time! But the secret is to use a lot of water. Cook the lentils like pasta — don’t worry about having extra water at the end. It’s also helpful to cook extra lentils all at once, to have them on hand for the rest of the week.

3.) When the lentils are close to being done, place about 3/4 of the can of beans into a small pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until heated through.

4.) Remove sweet potato from the oven, take off the skin, and mash.

5.) Once lentils are soft (after about 30 – 45 minutes), drain excess water. Place about a 1/2 cup in a bowl with sweet potato and black beans.

6.) Now it’s time to season! I honestly just wing it, but the trick is to use a lot of paprika and cumin, slightly less chili powder, and just a dash of crushed red pepper — unless you like things extra spicy. It’s really up to you. Everyone has a different “spice tolerance” so feel free to taste-test as you go. I’m told all the best chefs do it. ;)

**Hint: if the sweet potato is taking too long to cook for your liking, you can always put it in the microwave. Microwaving a sweet potato is so easy! Just poke holes as you would if you were going to bake it. Place on a paper towel and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Flip over and repeat. You’ll know it’s done when it’s soft and bubbly.**

Enjoy! Depending on how you serve it, this can definitely make enough to serve two. Use as filling in a burrito, combine with other taco fillings, eat plain as a side dish (or meal), or enjoy as a salad!

Lentil Sweet Potato SaladMassaged kale (drizzle of olive oil + salt), tomato, lentil taco remix, and cheddar cheese

It’s delicious no matter how you eat it. Just get creative…that way maybe you can convince people that your meal took forever to make and should probably be considered a culinary masterpiece for all the work you put in.

This might become a new obsession. I’ve already decided how I’m going to use it next.

Lentil taco saladd

By the way, if you’re actually looking for something substantial to read, I suggest you read my very strong opinion about convenience store drive-thrus and weigh in here! There are definitely some great thoughts in the comments.

A Thankful, Turkey-less Thanksgiving

14 years ago, my mom gathered up her daughters, sat us down, and made a very important announcement: she and my dad had decided to become vegetarians. After explaining her reasoning and telling us why she thought we might want to give up meat too, one question burst from my lips:

“But what about Thanksgiving??! Could we still eat the turkey??”

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When she explained that no, being a vegetarian meant that you didn’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving or ham on Easter, or any meat any time, I was shocked. How the heck could you have Thanksgiving without the turkey?? And more importantly, why would you want to? That was seriously going to make me think twice before committing to this vegetarian thing.

That was 1996, and vegetarianism wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. However, to this day, the number one question I get around the holidays when I tell people I’m a vegetarian is the same as the one I had all those years ago: “But what about Thanksgiving? What do you eat? And year after year, I explain to people what I quickly found out that first meat-less Thanksgiving – I eat the side dishes. And I never go hungry!

But the fact remains that turkey is the center-piece of America’s Thanksgiving feast. When people first hear of a Thanksgiving without the main attraction, their gut reaction is the same: question how one could possibly survive the biggest eating day of the year without it. I’m sure once they take a moment to think about it, they realize how silly the question is (though they still may have their doubts about why you would want to experience Thanksgiving without turkey…but that’s another story!).

Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell of turkey. Walking in the door of a home where someone has been cooking all day and smelling the freshly baked foods is heaven. But you tell me, does the meat really taste as good as it smells?? I would bet not (that smell sets the bar pretty high). ;)

Most of my meat-less Thanksgivings have taken place with extended family, where I am not in charge of the food. I don’t bring my own specially prepared meal. When it comes time for dinner, I simply help myself to the side dishes and happily dig in. The plates of everyone around the table are made up of little (or not so little) piles of all the wonderful dishes. No turkey just means I get to help myself to an extra scoop of sweet potatoes, or a larger pile of butternut squash casserole. And it means I’ve always got room for a slice of pie…or two.

I know many out there never want to imagine a Thanksgiving without turkey. But if you’re considering it, I promise you it’s really not all that hard. There’s usually so much other great food to eat that after the first time, you won’t even think twice. I’ve survived 14 Thanksgivings without turkey. This year was my first without my family, and I can guarantee you that I missed them more than I ever missed that turkey.

Finally, I know I’m late in saying this, but I have so much to be thankful for this year. Even though I missed being at home surrounded by 3 great sisters, 2 awesome parents, 2 crazy cats, and a sweet little pup, my day certainly was not lacking in love. The past year has been filled with a lot of change and growth. I’m thankful for all the wonderful experiences I’ve had and the friends (both old and new) that I’ve shared them with. And of course, I’m thankful for all of you who read this blog of mine. Whether you read every day, or simply like to stop in from time to time – thank you. Thank you for taking interest in my ramblings, and for all the support you’ve given me these past months. It means more than you could ever know.

Before I end this post, here are just a few of the things I am thankful for:

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Cait&Kol

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LB&Dad_cheesecake

Mom&DadHongKong

LB&Ev_Buble

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I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend filled with love, laughter, and of course, amazing food. As we enter into this holiday season, don’t forget to take a minute to give thanks for the blessings in your life.

Delicious Delicata

Even though it means that winter is coming, I truly love the fall. The changing of seasons means the breaking of humidity, and I love the start of cool, crisp days that are perfect for running. I love watching the leaves change and the world bursting into a sea of fiery colors.

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I love throwing on comfy jeans and a sweatshirt, and being able to walk the dog without sweating profusely.

And of course, I love the food. Apples and pumpkins and squash and the smell of warm desserts baking in the oven (or at least in the house of my dreams).

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One meal that I love to make in the cooler months is stuffed squash. There are a lot of easy varieties you can try, and it can make an extremely hearty, healthy meal. There are many different types of winter squash that taste delicious stuffed, but my newest obsession is with a little squash I didn’t even know existed until a few weeks ago: Delicata.

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I came across this interesting looking squash at the grocery store a few weeks ago, and knew I had to give it a try.

Delicata squash is different from other winter squash because it has a really thin skin. So thin, in fact, that after cooking you can eat it! (It tastes good, I promise!) It cooks up in about 30 minutes, and is delicious with just a little bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper.

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White Bean & Kale Stuffed Delicata

The very first time I cooked delicata, I went in search of recipe inspiration. I came across a recipe for a simple White Bean and Kale Stuffed Delicata from CookLocal.com. The recipe called for ingredients that I already had on hand, so I excitedly got to work roasting squash and sautéing veggies.

I followed the recipe pretty exactly, except that I used extra breadcrumbs, canned white beans (I reluctantly gave up a can of cannellini beans usually reserved for these burgers for the cause) and boring old grated parm from the container.

All you need for this recipe is:

  • Delicata squash, cut in half length-wise with the seeds scooped out
  • Kale
  • White beans (I used cannellini)
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Spices: sage, salt, and pepper

And for the topping:

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Parmesan cheese (I’m sure freshly grated is much better, but I didn’t have any)

To view the actual recipe, click here. But basically, all you do is roast the squash, sauté your veggies and beans, then stuff and cook for an extra 10 minutes.

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This recipe was really good and super easy to make. I loved how the kale and beans crisped up in the oven. And the delicata — so soft, buttery, and amazing. I really think it’s becoming my favorite type of squash.

However, I’ve realized that I’m not the biggest fan of sage…and that my excitement in adding extra breadcrumbs actually made the recipe kind of dry. Next time I’ll use less sage and possibly nix the breadcrumbs altogether. I also think this would be delicious topped with some crumbled feta instead of the parm.

On the side, I made some Cinnamon Roasted Chikpeas. Another super easy recipe that is quickly becoming my favorite side (and snack!).

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Cinnamon Roasted Chikpeas

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chikpeas
  • 2 TBS maple syrup
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

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Directions:

Making the chikpeas couldn’t be simpler. Just preheat the oven to 350 degrees, dump all your ingredients into a bowl and mix well until evenly coated. Grease a cookie sheet and spread the cinnamon chikpea mixture evenly on the pan. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring regularly (I stirred every 10 minutes or so).

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The result: a delicious, hearty meal without much work!

I’ve also made stuffed delicata with a quick and easy mixture of quinoa (seasoned with salt, pepper, roesmary, and thyme) + spinach + freshly grated cheddar. And I’ve eaten roasted delicata straight up, seasoned with just a little butter, salt and cinnamon. It’s that easy, and that delicious!

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Have you ever tried delicata squash? If not, you should probably run out to the grocery store and pick one up right now. You’ll be glad you did!

Lazy Girl’s Lentil Burgers

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This week, I haven’t felt much like cooking. Blame it on a bad case of post-relay blues, or on being over-tired, or because I found a couple fleas on my disgusting, dirty, lovable furball the other day which has made me itchy ever since. Whatever the reason, when it comes time to make dinner, I’ve been feeling rather uninspired.

I could’ve gone out to dinner, or gone grocery shopping to find some new foods that might inspire a burst of cooking, but I’m trying to save money and put off the grocery shopping until the weekend. So instead, I’ve been surviving on simple, one-dish dinners, doing everything I can to avoid eating oatmeal for every meal.

It finally hit me last night how dumb I was being. Instead of trying to make a dinner from scratch every night, why not just cook a big batch of something simple and use that as the basis of my meals for the rest of the week? Essentially, Meal Planning 101, but hey…sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake.

So I filled a pot up with water and got to work boiling a nice big pot of lentils.

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pot of lentils

My original plan was to actually try Alex’s Lentil Meatballs. But a quick glance in the cupboard reminded me that I didn’t have any tomato sauce or paste or anything, so I changed my mind. Instead, I figured I’d whip up the next best thing: a lentil burger, because it’s quick and easy and because well, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’re probably convinced I eat nothing but Mexican food and veggie burgers. And why change that pattern now?

Making these burgers was super easy and just based on stuff I already had in the house. Earlier in the week I had made some Spicy Black Bean Avocado Dip, but used a little less avocado to give it a thicker consistency. I basically just mashed that together with some cooked lentils, breadcrumbs, and a little extra salt. Another super easy recipe for all you lazy cooks out there.

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These came out a little flimsier than your typical bean burgers, but are incredibly delicious. I love how hearty lentils are, and how they easily take on the flavoring of other things. They’re cheap, nutritious, and with a little side of veggies, provide a much more rounded meal than a bowl of oatmeal (as delicious as that may be).

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Lazy Girl’s (or guy’s!) Lentil Burgers

Makes 2 patties

Ingredients

Directions

Mash lentils and black bean avocado dip in a bowl with a fork. Once it’s well combined, slowly add in your bread crumbs. You want the mixture to stick together well enough to form a patty, but you don’t want it to be too dry (hint: if the mixture feels too dry and falls apart in your hands, add a little water. Just run your hands under the faucet and shape the patty with wet hands.)

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Cook on medium-high heat in a greased skillet (a little EVOO or Pam works about the same) for about 4 – 5 minutes until bottom is golden brown. Flip and repeat.

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DSCN1031Sometimes Koli likes to get in on the excitement

And there you have it. Another simple veggie burger recipe that took all of 10 minutes! Makes me wonder why I ever bothered buying Morningstar…

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To round out the meal, I had my favorite “lazy girl’s” dessert:

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Candy corn + peanut butter. Don’t knock it till you try it. It’s salty, sweet and downright addicting. And as an added bonus, it doubles as the perfect running fuel. ;)

The Meat-eater’s Guide To Vegetarians

Did you know? This week was Vegetarian Awareness Week! To be honest, I don’t really know what that means (was I supposed to give my non-vegetarian friends a speech about how great giving up meat can be?? Plaster signs on my cube? Or wear my No Meat Athlete shirt to work?), but I figure it’s as good a time as any to address all you meat-eaters out there. Because if it hasn’t happened already, there may come a time when you have to dine with/cook for/talk to your first vegetarian. And I know how overwhelming that can be. So to ease your fears and discomfort, here’s some basic words of wisdom to survive that first encounter*.

But first things first – we’ve gotta talk terminology. Most people who say they’re a vegetarian are what we call a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. These are people who don’t eat meat, but will eat eggs and dairy. Similarly, you may run across a lacto-vegetarian (someone who doesn’t eat meat or eggs but eats dairy) or an ovo-vegetarian (no meat or dairy, but does eat eggs).

Confused yet? Believe me, so are we! We don’t really like being put into all these boxes either. But we’re all human. And humans like to wrap things up into neat little boxes with a pretty little bow on top as a way to make sense of the world. So boxes is what we get.

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Anyway, here are a few more terms for you:

  • A Vegan does not eat any animal products – no meat, no cheese, dairy, or eggs. Vegans also avoid foods that have been made with animal-derived products (like the gelatin in jello and marshmallows), or foods that are made with any sort of animal product, even though they may not actually contain animal products in the end (some wines, beers, sugar, etc).
  • A Pescatarian does not eat any type of meat except for fish.
  • A Flexitarian doesn’t eat meat most of the time. This is also called semi-vegetarian, and basically means that the person considers himself mostly vegetarian, but still wants to be able to enjoy that delicious piece of chicken/Thanksgiving turkey/steak once in awhile.

So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are the answers to all your most burning questions – before you even ask them!

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1.) No, vegetarians do not eat chicken. I don’t care how white or supposedly healthy it is, meat is meat is meat. Same goes for fish. If confused, please refer to definitions above.

2.) Making a dish that contains meat and then picking all the meat out before you serve it does not make it vegetarian. Just because I can’t see the meat, doesn’t mean it’s no longer there. This is also true for soups. Making a vegetable soup with chicken or beef stock means that the soup isn’t vegetarian, even if it doesn’t actually have chunks of meat in it.

3.) Vegetarians don’t get all picky about Numbers 1 and 2 above just to make your life more difficult. Honest. Besides the fact that we just don’t want to eat meat (for whatever reason) is the fact that eating it can actually make us sick. After awhile, your body stops being able to digest meat – and so when a vegetarian unknowingly eats some, it’s not such a pretty picture.

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4.) Vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice, not a religion. I follow the Gospel of Jesus, not the gospel of vegetables, thank you very much. I promise that we don’t all want to preach to you, judge you, or convert you to our abstaining ways. Believe it or not, my friends and boyfriend are still happily eating meat – and I’m fine with that. As a matter of fact, we co-exist quite peacefully. Now, if at some point during our relationship you approach me and tell me that you’re thinking of eating less meat, I’m not going to lie — I’ll be thrilled. In fact, at that point I’ll be so excited that I may or may not start talking really fast about all the benefits of going meat-free and all the fun, delicious things you can make. But you’ll have to forgive me for that.

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5.) Because of #4, you don’t have to feel guilty when you eat meat in front of us. Go ahead, eat your steak. I promise I’m not shooting silent daggers at you as you chew. Most of us are just so happy we’ve found a delicious vegetarian option on the menu that we can’t stop thinking about it long enough to even focus on what you’re eating over there.

6.) You also don’t have to apologize for eating meat in front of us, or hide it from us because you think the very sight of it will make us sick. While I don’t particularly enjoy the look/smell of raw meat, I’m going to be honest with you – that bacon you’re eating actually smells pretty darn delicious. In fact, I may just lean over and breathe it in a few times if you don’t mind. But no, I don’t want to try it! I just want to experience the smell. Just like I inhale really deeply when I pass by a BBQ. Or if you found a really pretty flower or a delicious smelling candle. It’s not like meat becomes this repulsive thing the instant you decide to give it up. It’s just that after awhile, it stops being classified in your mind as something edible. Think of it as like a candle. You don’t want to eat it, you just want to appreciate it for its smell.

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7.) Believe it or not, vegetarians tend to have pretty hearty appetites. We didn’t decide to give up eating good food, just meat. So that plate with lettuce and carrots that you’re calling a salad isn’t going to fill us up. Sorry, but we need substance in our meals too. Similarly, just because a dish is made from a bunch of vegetables that have been stewed together, it doesn’t mean we have to like it. Do you like every single dish that’s put in front of you just because it contains meat?

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8.) Vegetarianism does not equal activism. Although some vegetarians (and vegans) use their food choices as a platform for activism, not all of us do. Giving up meat and being political don’t necessarily go hand in hand. So just like we’re not going to preach to you, we’re also not going to start picketing on your front lawn equipped with “Save the cows!” signs.

9.) I know you’re trying to make us a meal we can enjoy, but sometimes we actually feel more guilty if you go out of your way. I realize it can be overwhelming to cook vegetarian dinners. I get nervous when non-vegetarians are coming over and I need to make something everyone can enjoy. And I really do appreciate the effort. But if you’re coordinating a huge meal and I’m the only vegetarian guest, please do not make me a special dish, or fret that I don’t have anything to eat. To be honest, we’re sort of used to being flexible in these situations. And I know I said above that a bed of lettuce doesn’t make a meal, but if I have to make it work, I will. Just make sure you serve some bread and dessert with dinner and I’ll be a happy camper.

10.) All that being said, we sometimes may seem like walking contradictions. Food choices don’t always make sense. We may say we eat dairy, but then tell you we don’t drink milk. Or be totally okay with picking around meat in a dish. And you better believe that if there’s a campfire and you’re making s’mores, I’m going to want in, gelatin and all.

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But aren’t we all walking contradictions in some way? I mean, we’re only human after all. And we’re doing the best we can.

*The fine print: I probably shouldn’t have to say this, but I will…just in case. This post is meant to be tongue-in-cheek and not to offend any of you carnivores out there. Obviously I know meat eater does not equal idiot. But I also didn’t just make these things up. Just sayin…

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