Veggy snacks, greens, quesadillas, and Meatless Monday fact

 I’ve been writing about vegetarian menus for Meatless Monday for about 3 months now. I’ve been realizing that this is one of my favourite blog projects.  Why?  I’ve been a vegetarian for many years— or almost vegetarian, because in recent years I started eating fish. However since I began this blog series, I’ve looked at the fish question more closely and decided that if I maintain a diverse vegetarian diet, including lots of essential fats (omega 3, 6, and GLA), I’ll be healthy and ‘sane” without fish.

Meatless Monday gives me an extra incentive to plan  home meals and cook on the weekend;  as an additional bonus, I usually have leftovers that last for at least part of the week.

Meatless Monday Fact—According to a 2006 UN study, global livestock operations generate 18% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Livestock farming involves five GHG emitting sectors: agriculture and forestry, land use, industry, energy and waste.  Deforestation for pastures and feed crops, manure, and “enteric fermentation”, aka digestive gas, are major sources of livestock emissions (Source: Livestock’s Long Shadow—Environmental Issues and Options, report by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2006).

Snack Bars—Protein bars are convenient quick snacks that can be carried with you while you are out and about.  This week I tried a peanut butter granola bar recipe which I will make again.  Very easy to prepare and bake, the ingredients are peanut butter, honey,oil, rolled oats, wheat germ, raisins, and chopped dried apricots.  I excluded the dried fruit and used slivered almonds instead (that’s what I had on hand).  Recipe link:  Peanut Butter Granola Bars.

Cooking Greens—Eating green vegetables is important every day.  This recipe includes beans, adding extra protein.  Cooking fresh vegetables takes a little effort—washing and chopping is part of the bargain.  However I find, once I get into it, the process and results are rewarding. 

Collards are big leafy greens with sturdy stems (the picture shows asian kale, similar, but with softer, narrower leaves).  I prepare them by soaking in water and vinegar, rinsing, cutting out the stems, rolling up each leaf and slicing the roll in ¼ to ½ inch strips, resulting in long green ribbons.  Like any greens, collards can be steamed or sautéed in garlic, ginger or onion. 

Recipes that combine collards or kale with beans, with or without tomatoes, provide delicious and satisfying results—the starch of the added beans complements the vegetables.  Recipe link:  Collards with Lentils, Tomatoes, and Indian Spices.  Yesterday I cooked this using white kidney beans, instead of lentils, and leftover tomato paste, instead of chopped tomatoes.

Swiss chard is a sweeter, lighter green leafy vegetable.  For preparations tips and a swiss chard quesadilla filling, take a look at the video at the end of this blog.

Dinner/ Lunch Selection: Quesadillas

Last week the bean burritos were so successful I decided to continue on the Mexican theme with Quesadillas.  These foods are suitable for lunch or dinner, hot or cold.  Bite size pieces can be used as appetizers—something to keep in mind as we approach weekend celebrations for Easter and Earth Day (April 22).

What’s a quesadilla?  It’s a grilled tortilla sandwich—a tortilla is topped with a filling, such as cheese, vegetables, or refried beans, followed by another tortilla and then fried on both sides, like a grilled sandwich.

I’ll be trying two or three of these recipes on Monday: 

Guacamole and Refried Beans Quesadillas 

Corn Tortilla Quesadillas with Summer Veg (zucchini, red pepper, and cheese filling)

Swiss Chard Quesadilla—the video below shows swiss chard being harvested from the garden, and cooked for quesadillas, with full recipe details.   In this approach to quesadillas, the chef folds one tortilla in half for frying, rather than using two tortillas—it looks delicious.

View the video by clicking on this link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BzuPPIFkRk

Bon Appetit!

Burritos Refried Beans Vegetarian Sandwich Spreads

 Meatless Monday is on its way.  Here are some ideas for lunch and dinner.  I’ll be having veggie pate sandwiches for lunch and refried bean burritos for dinner.

Vegetarian Bean Burritos are great for lunch or dinner, hot or cold.  A hot variation is refried beans and brown rice.

For lunch, make burritos at home or purchase premade frozen bean burritos–it won’t be as hearty as what you’d make at home, but sometimes there isn’t enough time to make everything.  For homemade burritos, the basic ingredients are:

  1. tortilla wraps
  2. refried beans or other filling
  3. “fixings”, such as grated cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and chopped green onions
  4. condiments–perhaps salsa and sour cream.

For a Vegweb recipe,  click Refried Beans.  This recipe includes tomatoes–which could be optional—in the past I haven’t used tomatoes–the key ingredients are pre-cooked beans fried with lots of garlic, onions,  hot or sweet pepper,  and seasonings, such as oregano and cumin.  The beans are partly mashed as they fry and taste best the next day when the flavours have deepened.

For instructions on how to roll a tortilla, take a look at “How to Make Bean Burrito Bites” a video by Expertvillage.  Burrito bites are a cold variation that are presented as an appetizer, but also would work for lunch.  The burritos are spread with cream cheese and filled with refried beans,  chopped cilantro,  raw pepper slices, and cucumber strips.

More Lunch Ideas

 In a previous blog I introduced the idea of buying or making  vegetarian pate for sandwiches.   Since then I made the Vegweb veggie pate  recipe, as I was unable to find a premade version in the store.  It was fairly easy to make, once the ingredients were assembled (as is often the case). 

The pate consists of ground nuts, grated raw vegetables, oil, soy sauce, nutritional yeast and other seasonings.  A coffee grinder is handy for grinding the nuts.  Nutritional yeast adds flavour and texture.  The mixture is spread in a large baking dish and baked in the oven.  The result is delicious hot or cold.

I experimented with a variation of the recipe, accidentally and on purpose.  I used only ground sunflower seeds and now realize that the recipe also calls for ground sesame.   The recipe uses shredded carrots, beets, and zucchini.  I used shredded carrots, mushrooms, and bok choy stems—what I had on hand.

Another quicker idea for a luncheon spread is to mix tahini (or another favourite seed or nut spread) with grated carrots, nutritional yeast, mayo, and chopped green onions.  For proportions, take a look at “Vegan Sandwich Recipes” on  the Toronto Vegetarian Association website.  As usual, improvising is the way to go.  If you don’t have nutritional yeast on hand, try a small amount of soy sauce and reduce the mayo.

Nutritional  yeast is  sometimes referred to in recipes as brewer’s yeast, torula yeast or engevita yeast—it’s not an active yeast that would be used in bread making.  I used “debittered” brewer’s yeast from a local natural food store. Yeast deepens flavours for spreads, soups, stews, and sauces etc.–it also has nutritional qualities as a source of protein, iron, and vitamin B.   I’ve tried it on popcorn with spices, instead of butter and salt.

Enjoy your vegetarian meals for Meatless Monday–experiment with new foods, but keep it simple!

Vegetarian Pate and Deep Dish Vegetable Pie 03.26.11

As I plan for Monday vegetarian meals, it occurs to me that  Earth Hour, tonight, is an opportunity for people to pledge to reduce meat consumption—it’s one of many ways we can reduce our carbon footprint.  Just a thought.

Vegetarian lunch can be challenging for people who are used to sandwich meats and cheese.  One vegetarian option is Veggie PateThis is one item that I purchase premade now and again. The kind I buy is firm and can be sliced like cheese–great for sandwiches.  It’s delicious with mustard and lettuce–look for it in a large grocery store near items such as hummus and other dips–or just ask.  Veggie pate is also sold at natural food stores–great if you have a reliable one nearby. 

If you’d like to try making a veggie pate, take a look at the veggie pate recipe on vegweb.com.  I don’t have time to make it this weekend, but I’m printing it into my OneNote recipe notebook for future use.

For dinner, I’ve decided to make a muffin-topped deep dish vegetable pie, based on a recipe in one of my home cookbooks: “Nikki & David Goldbeck’s American Wholefoods Cuisine“.  This will be perfect for me this weekend as I have alot of  frozen veggies I need to use up—since my fridge broke down! 

If you are a confident cook, you may be able to create the dish yourself without the security of a recipe.  The filling is 8 cups of any bean and vegetable mixture  with a white, cheesey, or veg gravy sauce.  Spoon into a large 2 quart baking dish or into individual serving size dishes.   Make one half of a standard savoury muffin batter and spread spoonfuls on top for the crust.  This will serve 4 people. (Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes).

Perfect Veggie Pot Pie  posted on vegweb.com is another example of a vegetable pie recipe–make it as presented or use it for inspiration for a vegetable  pie filling– buy a readymade crust or try the muffin top idea. 

Bon Appetit!

Meatless Monday Menu Featuring Peanut Noodles and Lasagna–03.21.11

It’s that time again—time to think about what we’ll be eating on Meatless Monday.  If you’d like some inspiration for reducing meat in your diet, take a look at the YouTube video below.

This week, for Meatless Monday lunch, I’ll prepare Peanut Noodles, a favourite in my household.  The recipe is from the American Meatless Monday campaign website. Tasty, hot or cold, this dish can be taken to work, even if there is no microwave. Matchstick cucumbers and carrots add crunch and colour.

For Meatless Monday dinner, I’m cooking a Vegetable Lasagna using a recipe on Food.com as my guide.  I had a craving for a lasagna with broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and zucchini— and this one also includes cauliflower.  The author suggests adding an egg substitute (or egg) to the ricotta cheese, presumably as a thickening agent, but I would regard this as optional.

Lasagna variations—There are many types of vegetarian lasagnas to choose from.  Two main categories are white sauce and tomato sauce versions—I’ve chosen one with tomato sauce.  Lasagna recipes come with different vegetable combinations.  Some include spinach or eggplant.  

The Lasagna featured on Meatless Monday, called “Lasagna Floret”, uses broccoli and cauliflower.

Another  Lasagna option is thickening the tomato sauce with crumbled tofu or textured vegetable protein (TVP).

Tip—textured vegetable protein (TVP), a dehydrated soy product, is best purchased organic, in my opinion, due to pesticides and genetic modification of some conventional soy beans—soak the dried flakes in boiling water, drain, and add to the tomato sauce for protein and thickening.

Serving it up–Lasagna is practically a meal-in-one type of dish, including grains, veggies, and protein, but it’s nice to have a fresh salad and perhaps garlic bread on the side.  Enjoy!

In this video, uploaded onto YouTube in the spring of 2009, Dave Way, then President of Earthsave Canada, talks about how animal agriculture is linked to climate change.

Falafels and Eggplant Ratatouille

This weekend I’m pulling out an old favourite cookbook, Nikki & David Goldbeck’s American Wholefoods Cuisine.  I have the first edition, which came out in 1983, but the book is still on the market and came out in a second edition in 2006.

This is a useful book to have on hand, not only because of its complete collection of vegetarian recipes, but also because of its extra features, such as cooking techniques, vegetable chopping tips, and kitchen math information.  It also strives to be healthy—going for high fiber, low fat, low sugar, and low salt concoctions.

Another feature is that each recipe comes with menu suggestions.

What am I Cooking this Weekend?

I cook in advance on the weekend for Monday, for two reasons–I have time to cook on the weekend and  hydro rates are cheapest.  Usually I have leftovers for the rest of the week as well, which is wonderful!

Falafels (chick pea balls) served in pitas, with tahini sauce, and chopped lettuce.  I will be baking and briefly broiling, rather than deep frying the falafels.  The falafels can be made a number of ways:  with canned chickpeas aka garbanzo beans, from scratch with dried chickpeas,  or from a falafel mix.

To go with the falafels, I’ll follow the cookbook menu suggestion, and serve “Israeli Salad”, consisting  of chopped greens, green pepper, green onions, and tomato with a lemony olive oil dressing, and a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese on top.

For dinner, I’ll cook Eggplant Ratatouille, Brown Rice, and Gomasio.  I may also serve some baked beans as a side.  The Ratatouille is a baked vegetable dish with cheese.   Gomasio, ground sesame seeds with salt, can be sprinkled on the rice for additional flavour, protein, and other nutrients.

Other Sources

Falafels, ratatouille, and gomasio are basic recipes with many versions.  To find vegetarian and vegan recipes, look at these websites: Vegweb.com  and Food.com.

 

Power Foods: Green Kale and Orange Vegetables (Ontheland photo)

Minestrone Soup and Bean Spreads

    This photo is from a vegetarian meal we had last Monday–it shows black bean stew, red cabbage with walnuts, rice noodles with peanut sauce, and Mexican brown rice. All of the recipes, except the noodles, are from Cooking Vegetarian by Vesanto Melina and Joseph Forest.  It was an impromptu photo, so the balance is not “perfect” but the meal was good.
 
 
Here are my cooking plans for next Monday:
 
Minestrone Soup with Chickpeas or Kidney Beans
 
A Bean Spread, such as Hummous or a Northern Bean Spread
 
Steamed Kale with Red Pepper, oil, vinegar, and Sesame (or Sunflower) Seeds
 
I am using the cookbook I noted above as my guide, but I am sure similar recipes can be found elsewhere on the web.
 
Just as I did last week, I’ll cook up this chow on the weekend.  On Monday we’ll have lots of vegetarian food for lunch and dinner.  For breakfast we’ll have our usual tahini (sesame seed butter) or peanut butter and toast.
 
Vegetarian Thought for the Day:  Spreads are great for toast, crackers, sandwiches, condiments, and dips.  My favourites are nut or seed butters, particularly tahini (sesame seeds) and sunflower seed butter. Other options are almond butter and pumpkin seed butter.  Vegetarians also enjoy hummous and other bean spreads, which typically have a lower fat content.