A very good friend had us over for dinner some months back and quickly realized he had no idea what to cook. He managed to scour the kitchen and put together a very good, if slightly unconventional, mix of side dishes. Like others, this friend was baffled by the "what to eat?" question when meat was taken out of the equation. It was kind of amusing to me, and I thought it was incredibly sweet that he would even try.
I can see how eating less meat can seem restrictive, but really, doing it opened up my eyes and my tastebuds, not to mention my arteries. You can make chicken into seven very different tasting meals, but you'll still be getting the exact same nutrients day after day. Choosing to eat vegetables has helped me be more creative and venturous in my cooking and eating.
So, how 'bout it? Can you go meatless once a week? To check out the benefits, click on the top link. It's easy to find vegetarian recipes on the internets, but I'll recommend one on the occasional Monday.This one was inspired by a recipe in my red and white checked BHG cookbook. It is called "meatless tacos" but Clark objects to it every time I propose it for dinner, so at our house, they're just "tacos" and we love 'em. An added bonus to the deliciosity - these tacos are quick to make and they're super cheap. In fact, lentils are basically free. And if you made your own tortillas or even if you used store-bought corn tortillas, you'd be eating for pennies. (Something for your meat-eating maw to chew on :-)
This image is of the tofu taco original. The recipe below is the "inspired by" version sans tofu.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 12 taco shells or tortilla - if you use a whole grain tortilla like corn or wheat, the meal will have complete protein
- 5 teaspoons taco seasoning mix- make your own taco seasoning - it's so easy and it will have a gazillion fewer grams of sodium (esp. important if you are using canned ingredients)
- 1 cup black beans (either canned or soaked & cooked)
- 1/2 cups shredded lettuce
- 2 tomatoes, chopped and separated (or a can of diced tomatoes)
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese optional
- 1 avocado - or, if you're like me, 1 per person or taco
1. In a medium/large saucepan combine water, lentils, black beans, one tomato, taco seasoning, and onion. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until lentils are tender and liquid is absorbed.
2. Spoon into taco shells. Top with lettuce, tomato, and cheese and avocado. If desired, serve with salsa.
Makes about 12 tacos.