Meatless Monday with Mindy
Welcome to the third Meatless Monday with Mindy. My apologies for last weeks faux pas. I thought I had the link system figured out, but alas I still don't have a clue. So I will continue to try and figure out the link system, but in the interim, I won't leave you hanging.
I have to confess something before we go any farther....
I go meatless every day.
Although I'm not new to the idea of meatless, I decided to take the plunge just this year.
For many reasons which I will eventually share on Meatless Monday posts, I have decided to try and cut out all animal protein from my diet. Forgoing meat wasn't as difficult for me as I imagined it would be. After all, I helped my daughter understand how to become a vegetarian when she was a teenager. Not that I had any desire at that time to become one myself, I just wanted to make sure that if she was going to become a veggie, she was going to do it right. And on those times where my honey was out of town, we would eat vegetarian together. It was nice not to have to prepare 2 meals and I loved losing a pound or two while he was gone.
But, now that I am eating plant strong, I am rather enjoying the fact that I can get a much leaner protein without all the fat of say, a piece of chicken or even fish. And I'm loving exploring new recipes and am even creating some of my own recipes. It's so easy to cook creative this way.
Clinton Kelly of "The Chew" show said this of their January Meatless Monday segment. " It’s not about depriving yourself of meat; it’s just about opening yourself up to new things.” while his co-host Daphne Oz said "“the goal here is to get you to enjoy and sample tons of flavorful veggies, tons of flavorful dishes.”
People tend to think meatless is flavorless. Now, I have been cooking for a very, very long time, and I have to say, cooking meatless is quite contrary to that opinion. Over my years I have challenged myself with different styles of cooking. If you don't believe me, just browse through the TONS of cookbooks I have.
In my early years I collected all purpose cookbooks. Later collections started getting more precise in whatever I was interested in learning from bread making to yogurt, and wild meat to wild rice. Still later my collections starting manifesting cuisines from Cowboy to German and Amish to Irish. I have enjoyed learning what makes these styles unique with their flavoring combinations and styles of preparation.
Like most Americans I also have cookbooks to help me loose weight. If you've always struggled with your weight and/or you're over 35 you probably totally get me. DON'T eat those foods, DO eat these foods, eat ANY food you want just carry a calculator..... you know those, most of us have at least one.
I tell you all this to help you realize that I am no chicken when it comes to exploring flavors and foods and styles of foods, and I'm not a novice. I have a husband who is a PLEASURE to cook for. He LOVES food, and I love cooking. We are a match made in heaven. (And surprisingly, neither one of us are obese!!)
Cooking meatless....not just meatless, but plant strong, is opening my eyes, and my palate, to a whole new level of exploring flavors, textures and food combinations. I hope you enjoy walking down this relatively new path with me.
So with all that said, what are you going to prepare for Meatless Monday?
A typical breakfast for me is a smoothie made with greens such as spinach, kale or romaine, fruit (whatever I have fresh or frozen), and a small handful of some type of nut or seed. Then I'll top that off with water or non-dairy milk or sometimes green tea. Other days I may have a bowl of cereal topped with fresh or frozen fruit and non-dairy milk or toast spread with a nut butter (almond and cashew, oh yeah!) layered with banana and drizzled with honey.
Lunch, I have to admit, I'm not good at. When I was working in the corporate world I would take my frozen meals with me everyday. It was mindless, and pretty much tasteless, but I didn't have to think about it. I just nuked it and ate it while taking phone calls or answering emails and it made my stomach stop growling. I've never been good with stopping to eat lunch. With that said, when I make time for lunch, I have found that bread spread with hummus and topped with any veggie I have is my favorite "go to" lunch these days. Otherwise I'll heat up some left overs or eat a salad.
One meal that I have made a few times now is a Hippie Loaf with mashed potatoes and sautéed kale. I made this recently for my baby girl's first 29th birthday where carnivore and plant strong sat side by side and enjoyed it all.
The Hippie Loaf and Brown Gravy recipes are from The Happy Herbivore cookbook. This easy gluten-free meatless loaf can be made with basic staples that we all tend to keep in our pantry or you can get at your local grocer.
15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
1 whole onion, diced
2 whole garlic cloves, minced
1 whole carrot, minced
2 whole celery stalks, minced
1 cup mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
3 tbsp brown rice flour (or whole wheat)
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp tamari or low sodium soy sauce
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a standard bread pan and set aside. Mash black beans in a large bowl and combine all ingredients until evenly combined. Transfer to pan and pat down firmly and tightly. Bake 45 minutes to one hour, until firm and browned on the outside. Allow the loaf to cool and firm up before serving, about 15 to 20 minutes.
I made the kale by starting out with a small amount of olive oil in a hot pan (about 2 Tb) . I then added 3 cloves of minced garlic and sautéed that until just soft. Be careful not to burn the garlic or it will make the kale taste bitter. I added about 1/2 of a large bag of pre-chopped kale and stirred until the kale was mixed well with the garlic and just starting to wilt. I added about a 1/3 cup of veggie broth and put the lid on to wilt it farther, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. This is truly simple and yummy.
I made the mashed potatoes using Yukon Gold potatoes, vegetable broth and non-dairy milk for creaminess, with no butter (scary, I know, but you can do it), and because our son-in-law LOVES gravy on everything, I had to make gravy to cover, well....everything.
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
In a small non-stick skillet, whisk nutritional yeast and flour together and toast over medium heat until it smells toasty, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium saucepan and whisk in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and allow to thicken as desired. Add salt and pepper to taste. For an even thicker gravy, mix 1 tbsp of cornstarch with 2 tbsp of water and pour it in to the gravy.
Now I have to admit, the nutritional yeast doesn't smell all that wonderful when you prepare this gravy, but I assure you, the flavor is pretty darn good. Our son-in-law was a happy camper.
Share with us what you are going to do for Meatless Monday.
Hippie Loaf and Brown Gravy comes from the book The Happy Herbivore. Lindsay has many more good recipes in her book as well as on her blog http://happyherbivore.com