Meatless Monday Recipes for Starters!

IMG_20140916_203133One of my favorites: Spinach, Feta & Potato Gratin with Carrot Salad (#4 below)

 

I started doing Meatless Mondays after watching the documentary Food, Inc. and continued research into America’s farm industry. If you haven’t seen the documentary on Netflix, here are the highlights. My mother grew up on a farm; her family raised their own cattle, pigs and chickens, which were slaughtered by a local butcher. She would tell me how the cows were like dogs, with big brown eyes and wagging tails. Betsy lived a good life before her slaughter. Those days seem to be long gone, and Americans are eating more meat than ever. To keep up with this demand, the family farm has transformed into the industrial farm.

What really bothers me most about industrial farming is the conditions animals are kept in, and the fact that they are not respected as animals, but are considered food from day one. They stand in their own manure, live in cramped areas, eat food unnatural to them, and are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. We are becoming too far removed from what we eat. There are also many other reason’s (more facts & sources) for going meatless: the environment, your health, and the welfare of farmers.

As much as Food, Inc. and other documentaries (Forks over Knives, Vegucated, Fresh) have convinced me that there are a multitude of issues surrounding meat production, I still love meat. Especially bacon. I’m an omnivore, and I don’t think I can change that. So, instead of beating myself up about not being a vegetarian, I decided that Meatless Monday was my answer. It has now progressed into about 2-3 days per week where our dinner contains no meat.

Most of the recipes here were successful for me and my meat-loving significant other for one BIG reason: we did not substitute the meat. No soy crumbles, garden burgers, or tofu. We just embraced the dishes we loved without meat. And boy were we surprised!!! Here are our favorites so far…

*most all of these are on my Pinterest boards

  1.  French Onion Soup with Gruyere-Sourdough Bites and a side salad
  2. Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole and Pioneer Woman’s Fresh Green Beans
  3. Nachos with cheese, black beans, refried beans, Mexican rice, avocado, pico de gallo, and sour cream
  4. Spinach, Feta & Potato Gratin and Carrot Salad
  5. Southern Dinner (one of my faves!): Pintos, cornbread or hoe cakes, yellow squash & onions, and greens. I do not have recipes posted for these, but if you want them, just comment below or search on Pinterest or the internet.
  6. Quesadillas with goat cheese, spinach, & caramelized onions and a side of black bean or corn salsa and sliced avocado
  7. Paula Deen’s Corn Casserole and a vegetarian chili
  8. Eggplant Parmesan with spaghetti and a side salad
  9. Homemade pizza (the vegetable & cheese topping combinations are endless!)
  10. Mediterranean “Tacos”: pita, hummus, artichokes, red onion, black olives, feta cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce & Greek dressing
  11. Caprese Summer Salad with Cannellini Beans and baguette
  12. Pad See Ew or Pad Thai without the meat
  13. Cheese Ravioli with Lemon Basil Butter Sauce and a side salad
  14. Vegetarian curry with noodles, rice or Naan bread (there are a bazillion recipes for these! My favorites are Thai and Indian)
  15. Cuban Black Beans & Rice and Spicy Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash
  16. Vegetable Kabobs with baked beans and macaroni & cheese
  17. Thai Coconut Soup  (without the chicken) and vegetable spring rolls or dumplings

That is all for now! I will be updating this page as I develop new favorites! For me, the key to getting on board with meatless was to embrace the dishes you already love instead of trying to substitute with fake meat. Think of it as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without the ham or turkey. We all love those sides and veggies, and I often wish during Thanksgiving that I could just load up on green bean casserole, cheesy squash, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce without even touching the turkey. Maybe give it a try once a week and see how it goes?

Please feel free to share your favorite meatless meals in the comments below!

 

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Cinnamon-Chili Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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I have completely fallen in love with mashed sweet potatoes. I discovered the idea a bit late in the sweet potato season, sometime in January. This recipe is simple and easy, but produces such an interesting flavor with the chili & cinnamon. A little cream cheese & butter turn them into pure whipped goodness without even using a mixer. Because of the recipe’s sweetness, I like to pair it with a bitter veggie like sauteed kale or asparagus.  I have served this with grilled chicken, pork tenderloin, and venison cube steak in the past–but it could really go with just about anything! I have also considered just demolishing the entire bowl for dinner without bothering to make a whole meal. o.O

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Ingredients:
-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
-1/3 block of cream cheese, softened
-2 tbsp butter, softened
-2 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
-1 tbsp chili powder
-1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Boil cubed sweet potatoes until tender, drain.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, add all remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl.
  3. Add boiled potatoes. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes & mix the other ingredients in.

Serves 2-4.