Monday, August 15, 2011

Meatless Monday Menu Ideas

A few weeks ago I signed a pledge to go meatless on Mondays.  The idea is that if everyone just went one day without meat, it will be better for the environment, better for our health and make our food budget go a little further.

I was a bit nervous about what the hubby would say, but he has been very sweet and supportive, though I'm sure he was a bit skeptical that we would actually feel full at first.

I think it's been three weeks now, so three Meatless Mondays later I'm thinking maybe I should share what I've done to help others get some ideas.

If any of you here have any ideas for meatless meals please comment or e-mail me. I'll probably be updating this every few weeks or so when I come up with new meals.

For this first one I had a few things I wanted to use before they got too old, but at first it seemed like they would all need some kind of meat to accompany them and make them into a real meal, then it occurred to me that many sides, side by side can make a meal.
Think deli or salad bar.

Meal Idea 1.  Cream of Mushroom soup (just from a can but dolled up with some fresh onions, celery and other seasonings.)  A green salad (Lettuce, tomatoes) and a side of sweet potato fries.

For the fries I just wash my potatoes  and poke them with a fork and then wrap them in plastic wrap or a damp paper towel and then microwave them for about 3-4 minutes each. Then I remove them and carefully unwrap them on the cutting board, slice them up to desired size and saute them in some olive oil (or whatever oil you prefer) over medium high heat until just crispy and golden.  Then I drain on a paper towel and lightly salt them. So yummy! (I crush regular table salt with a mortar and pestle to help the salt stay better, you could also do this with sea salt.  Steak seasoning is a great way to flavor regular potato fries.)

Meal Idea 2.  Veggie Soup (Canned, dolled up once again) and Cucumber Sandwiches.

Okay, so if you make cucumber sandwiches the way I do, they aren't dairy free, which I guess is sort of part of the pledge . . .
(And yet, eggs aren't? o.O)
I figure maybe I'll cut back on cheese more over time, but sometimes I feel like even with awesome veggies and legumes, one just needs a little cheese now and then.  Baby steps and all.

Here's my recipe for cucumber sandwich spread:

2 Tablespoons Sour Cream
3 Tablespoons Mayo or Miracle Whip
4 ounce of softened cream cheese
1/2 package of dry ranch or Italian dressing mix.

Blend all ingredients until smooth (or good enough for your tastes.  Sometimes the cream cheese is still a bit lumpy, but that doesn't really bother me.)

This is even better after it's been in the fridge over night.

Spread on bread and top with sliced cucumbers.  I find chunkier slices (about 1/8") to be yummier, the cool crispness is a nice contrast to the savory spread.  You can of course slice them really thin if you wish. The spread is quite flavorful so I find I don't need to slather it on. So for me, thin on the spread, thick on the cucumbers, but of course it is all a matter of taste.  Enjoy!

This last one was actually the first meal I did for Meatless Monday. I figured, if eggs are okay than breakfast for dinner was an easy solution.

Meal Idea 3. Omelets and hash browns.

This one also included a bit of cheese, I confess.  We did our omelets with tomatoes, green peppers, onions and some shredded cheese. We also made our own hash browns from fresh potatoes, which honestly, we'd never done before. They turned out a bit sticky, but they were good. I do however, recommend looking up a recipe. (Unlike me.) :}

Meal Idea 4.  Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers
(Shared by my sweet Sister-In-Law Megan)

We really enjoyed this recipe! Even my little girls at it up! Really tasty and also fun to look at and eat. Thanks Megan!

Another Recipe I've found and enjoy is from a Rachel Ray Magazine that came in the mail.  I was able to find it online luckily so I can share it with you all . . . It's called Chickpeas and Spinach, and is an Indian recipe.
The only really unusual ingredient is Garam Masala, which is a spice mix kind of like curry except this one is more sweet smelling as opposed to savory, (you know like nutmeg or cinnamon sort of.)  I found it at Smiths Marketplace in the aisle where they have all the spices and dry goods in bulk. It was kind of expensive, like $18 a lbs or something, but of course, I didn't buy a whole pound.
I should note that while I did go out and buy the garam masala that I've never made it with the ground coriander, but have just substituted cumin instead.  You could also probably use curry instead of garam masala and it would still be really good, though it would taste entirely different. :} 

My friend Lorri Love shared this recipe with me, and since I love sweet potatoes and black beans there was no way I wasn't going to love this!  

It's truly delicious, though if you aren't a huge fan of cumin, you might want to go light on that ingredient for the dressing, or substitute something else.
Anyway, it's from Better Homes and Gardens and is called Vegetable Bowls with Yogurt-Lime Dressing. 

So there are a few more delicious meatless meals!  

Happy eating!

~Julie :}