veggiefueled.

adventures of a plant-based athlete


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You’re having WHAT for dinner?!

Sometime throughout history it was determined that dinner should consist of a meat, a grain/starch and a vegetable (or at least that was my impression). In fact, growing up I was a huge fan of those divided plates… you know, the one’s that ensured none of my food would touch any of my other food because THAT would be disgusting and I couldn’t possibly eat my potatoes after they were contaminated with vegetable juice…but I digress… Even when you google images of “what should your dinner plate look like” you’ll see an array of divided plates.

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Unfortunately, this rule of how a dinner should be served causes some problems for new vegetarians/vegans. I remember when we first started our meat-free lifestyle it was very difficult to find recipes that I felt were appropriate dinners. I was desperately searching for a main course in a world of what seemed like side dishes. The most ironic part was that I was determined to have my plate look a certain way because I felt it was healthier. Oh and don’t get me started on how worried I was to make sure we had a replacement protein source… *slaps hand to the forehead*

Luckily, it didn’t take too long to breakaway from this dinner plate stereotype. Thanks to the wonderful, delicious and nutritious brussels sprout… the vegetable that saved the day (or more so the dinner plate). We had a great brussels sprouts dish at a restaurant and decided to try them out at home. (Check out the recipe here, just leave out the parmesan cheese to make it vegan – it rocks!) We planned on the sprouts being a side dish for our dinner, but they were done a little earlier than expected. We started to munch on them until dinner was ready and next thing you know… we ate them all, the entire 1lb. bag between the two of us! We topped it off with a little green juice and we were good to go for the night.

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And that, my friends, was the start of the random “whatever we’re in the mood for” dinners. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a typical divided plate meal every now and then, but we no longer stress to have a traditional plate planned. Here are some things we’ve been known to chow down on for dinners:

  • Bowl of roasted brussels sprouts
  • Roasted cauliflower with buffalo or barbecue sauce
  • Just juice
  • Guacamole, taco seasoned veggies and chips
  • “Tapas” style leftovers
  • Random vegetables (either in salad or non salad form)
  • Cereal (not too proud of that one…)

Just remember, a dinner (or any meal for that matter) can be anything you want it to be as long as it consists of whole, natural and plant strong foods!

Speaking of stereotypes… My husband was at WholeFoods the other day purchasing The Complete Vegan Kitchen when the cashier said to him “You’re not a vegan, are you?” Well, maybe he’s vegan, maybe he’s not… but what exactly does a vegan look like? Can we break that mold too? By the way, he was surprising me with a new cook book! Isn’t he wonderful! 🙂

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Work Late. Eat Great.

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It’s all in the planning. Taking a little extra time to plan and prep one day a week will help save time later and ensure that you still eat delicious healthy meals for lunch and dinner. Time and convenience may be one of our biggest enemies when it comes to eating well.

Trust me, I completely understand what it feels like to get home from work late and be completely unmotivated to cook (or do anything you need to do). I’ve been known to chow down on bowls of cereal (notice I said bowls not bowl) instead of nutritious meals because I simply can’t bear the idea of having to cook and clean after a meal! Not to mention that I’m usually famished when I walk in the door.

So, I’ve come up with a few ideas that seem to help keep me on track and have provided for about of month so far of home-cooked meals.

Menu Planning – Think of your kitchen as your family Café. Plan a menu for the week and try your best to stick to it. Make sure to be realistic with the amount of time you want to spend prepping and cooking for the week. Also, we like to include a date night (or night eating out) so that we can have a break from the cooking and dishes.

Menu planning also helps with staying creative and finding new recipes. If you don’t know what to make each night and you simply go by the ingredients on-hand, you’re likely to fall into making the same old thing, week after week.

Strategic Recipes – When making your weekly menu, try and keep prep and cook time in mind. Save the extravagant gourmet meals for the weekend and look for quick, easy and healthy meals for during the week. Found a recipe that requires rice? Make the rice the night before you plan on eating that meal. Then you can prepare the rest of it right when you get home from work instead of having to wait on the rice for 40 minutes.

Leftovers – I’m not a huge fan of leftovers, but I’m willing to make enough for leftovers if its a meal that I really enjoy.  During my husband’s busy season (he’s an accountant) I would usually cook one night that way he could bring dinner with him instead of ordering food every night. The important thing with this tip is to find recipes that keep well – rice w/ beans, baked potato w/ grilled veggies or one pot pasta dishes. The simpler the better. You definitely don’t want a meal that makes a point of it to “serve immediately.” It’ll probably lose its luster if reheated the next day, yuck! Also, avoid things that should be crispy, as they will likely be soggy leftovers.

Afternoon Snacking -This is a big one for both my husband and me… and I’m assuming lots of other people. When I walk through the door with a growling stomach I’m very short sited and can’t envision how great it will be to eat a healthy home cooked meal. Instead I have the “I want it and I want it now” mentality. That’s when take out, cereal, or binge snacking occurs.

The way to combat this issue is to either eat a small snack (apple, small handful of nuts, larabar, etc) on your way home from work or to have “appetizers” planned to munch on while you cook. Having Mexican? Make some quick and easy guacamole (see our recipe at the bottom). Asian? How about defrosting some frozen edamame?

The trick is to make sure your snacks or appetizers are healthy nutritious options. That way if you do accidentally fill up on snacks and appetizers at least it was still nutritious.

Walk in and start – The number one trick I can think of is to start right away. Don’t change, don’t sit down. Walk in and turn on the oven (if it needs to preheat), or pick out all the ingredients that you need from the fridge and pantry. Then change into comfy clothes and continue cooking. Too many times I’ve become a prisoner of my couch; it usually goes hand-in-hand with my bowls of cereal. As exhausted as I am when I walk in, I’m always happy and proud of myself when I stay strong and cook anyways.

Unfortunately these tricks may only be useful if you enjoy cooking in the first place. If you despise cooking, you may require a little more motivation. It might be helpful to buy portions of your meal pre-prepared and cook part of the meal at home. Whole Foods has all their hot bar foods available in large or small portions in the refrigerators. You could always pick up some rice and beans and roast some veggies at home or make yourself a green salad. Start small and hopefully when you see the benefits of eating home cooked meals you’ll start to change your mind about cooking!

If you’re not quite as organized or a planner like myself, then maybe you’d be interested in having someone else plan your meals each week. So I figure, why don’t I share? I’m going to plan my meals each week anyways, how hard would it be to send you my file with the recipes, menu and grocery shopping list!

So here’s my offer: Send me an email at veggiefueledblog@gmail.com with your name and email address and I’ll send you my file each week. Feel free to rearrange when you cook particular meals, how many days you choose to cook, the serving size of the meal and when/whether you have a date night or family night out – but it should be helpful to have a general guideline of dinner ideas. I’ll try and have the list out by Friday night for you Saturday morning grocery shoppers.

What’s that? You think that’s such a nice offer that you’d like to do something for me in return? Aww shucks, you don’t have to do anyth… ok well since you offered. In return for those weekly menus I would love a follow on instragram and twitter @veggiefueled, on my blog http://www.veggiefueled.wordpress.com and to share my blog with friends who might be interested! Thanks!

Have any ideas that would help you stay motivated to make home cooked meals? Let us know!

Dylan’s Quick and Easy Guacamole

Serving size: 2 people (as a snack or appetizer for dinner) You may want to double, triple or quadruple for a party sized portion!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe haas avocado
  • 1 large spoonful of Green Mountain Gringo salsa
  • Green Mountain Gringo Sesame Blues Tortilla Chips

Directions:

Mash avocado. Mix in salsa. Enjoy!

*Note: Dylan wanted me to add that I was in fact very against the creation of this recipe. I had always made my own guacamole, with lime juice, spices, etc… and didn’t think there was any way mixing some salsa in with avocado would be any good. So here, on this day, I will put in writing… He was right. IT’S AMAZING!

Cauliflower: The Ninja Food

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I can honestly say that before becoming a vegetarian the only time I really ever saw cauliflower was on those vegetable party platters, the ones that no one ever likes but for some reason someone always brings… Not sure if I actually ever tried it before deeming it broccoli’s albino cousin and deciding that I didn’t like it?

But now this veggie holds a special place in my heart; oftentimes the MVP of my weekly grocery lists. When I first cut meat of out of my diet I thought I was doomed to a life of texture-less vegan “mush-mush.” My first homemade vegan burrito made me feel like I was eating baby food wrapped in a tortilla. Meat seemed to offer some texture, something I was desperately missing as a new veggie.  I mean sure, you could add other veggies but none of them really stood up to my expectations.

That is… until I discovered cauliflower. When roasted it has a nice sturdy texture and mild flavor. It seems to absorb seasonings and flavor, matching well with any cuisine. I started experimenting and came up with a few different recipes for my beloved cauliflower: Cauliflower Stir-fry, Buffalo Cauliflower Poppers, Cauliflower Picadillo and my favorite, Cauliflower Tacos.

Here’s the recipe for my yummy Cauliflower Tacos:

Cauliflower Tacos with Grilled Veggies and Black Bean Corn Salsa

Serves: 4 people

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Cauliflower (see directions for prep)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (sliced in thin strips)
  • 1 bell pepper any color (sliced in thin strips)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes (cut in quarters)
  • 1 cup non-GMO frozen corn (thawed)
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro (minced)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 avocado
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 2-3 tbsp Taco Seasoning (see homemade recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 corn/flour tortillas or taco shells

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, cut cauliflower into large pieces separating the top pieces from the stalk. Roast cauliflower for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut and prepare onion and peppers for grilling. If you don’t have a grill or don’t want to make a mess grilling just a few veggies, you can sauté the peppers and onions in a small pan with a little oil (you can start grilling/sautéing when the cauliflower is almost done in the oven).

Prepare the black bean corn salsa by mixing the beans, tomatoes, corn, cilantro and juice from 1 lime. Set aside to marinade.

When the cauliflower is done, remove from oven and let sit to cool for 5 minutes. Leave the oven on to heat the tortillas.

While cauliflower is cooling, heat oil in a large pan over medium-high, mince the garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until light brown and fragrant. Crumble (for “ground beef” texture) or chop (for “chicken” texture) the cauliflower into small pieces and toss in with the garlic. Cook the cauliflower and garlic for a minute, stirring to prevent sticking. Stir in taco seasoning and water to coat (adding more water if necessary). Bring mixture to a simmer and then turn the heat to low and cover pan. Let sit covered for 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the toppings.

Warm tortillas in oven. Mash avocado, leaving some chunks in a medium sized bowl.

For the perfect taco construction:

  1. Put avocado mash on tortilla
  2. Load up with cauliflower mixture
  3. Top with onions and peppers
  4. Don’t be shy with the black bean corn salsa

Taco Seasoning

Serves: who knows? Makes enough for a couple times of taco cooking

Prep Time: 5 minutes, if that

Cook Time: NONE!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Store leftover seasoning in an airtight container in the pantry.

IngredientsChopping onions and orange bell pepper Squeezing Lime Chopping Cauliflower IMG_1269 IMG_1273 IMG_1287

Get creative with your cauliflower mixture – burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos… the sky’s the limit! Bon Appétit!

Oh and I can’t leave you without this… If you’re in the South Florida area, you have to check out Sublime’s Frito Misto (fried breaded cauliflower with a asian orange sauce). Uh-may-zing! Not necessarily healthy, but it’s good vegan cheat food. http://www.sublimerestaurant.com

Let me know what you think of the tacos! Do you have any suggestions? Questions? Ideas? Let me have it… I’m here to learn while sharing what I know…

 

*Update*

Check out my recipe on the veggie nook’s Healthy Vegan Friday post.

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