Tag Archives: meatless monday

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers

20 Feb

How was your weekend? Ours was packed – Chris and I had date night on Friday at Odd Duck, one of our favorite restaurants in Milwaukee. The food was amazing, and the dessert was even better! We checked out two new breweries afterward for some tasty beer to cap off the night. Saturday was full of fitness and more beer – it’s unseasonably gorgeous outside (61 degrees in February in Wisconsin is unheard of), so I went for a run, followed by yoga at another local brewery, and a walk around the neighborhood with Chris. At night, we poured beer at Food & Froth, a beer festival/fundraiser for the Milwaukee Public Museum. So, all the housework and my long run was left for Sunday.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Left: Date night with Chris, including an amazing flourless chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse. Right: pouring beer at Food & Froth at the public museum – got to hang out with the Eskimos!

I’ve finally jumped on the Sunday food prep bandwagon. I’m not sure what’s taken me so long, as the routine of cooking and baking a bunch of food on the weekend is actually quite relaxing. It’s also satisfying to know that most of the week’s meals are ready to go.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

But you can’t forget a delicious Sunday dinner! Craving something naughty, but wanting something nutritious, I combined the best of both worlds. The flavors of a cheeseburger are packed into these stuffed bell peppers. Traditional stuffed peppers are made with rice, but to reduce the carbs and increase the veggie intake, I replaced rice with shredded zucchini and carrot. You can’t tell the difference and it is SO much better for you! You can’t forget the cheese, and these peppers use two kinds for a delicious meal you can feel good about. It’s high protein, low carb, vegetarian and gluten free; make this vegan with dairy-free cheese!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers, adapted from Skinny Kitchen

Serves 4

  • 4 bell peppers, washed, tops sliced off and ribs removed – I used a variety of colors, but use whatever you prefer!
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 10 oz Beefless Ground – tempeh would work if you crumble it up
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup – such as True Made Foods, whose condiments are made with all veggies!
  • 1 tbsp mustard – any kind works – I used beer mustard
  • 1/3 C Bloody Mary mix or tomato juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 C shredded mozzarella
  • 3 oz shredded aged cheddar – I prefer 5-year aged

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash the bell peppers and slice off the tops. Clean out the seeds and ribs. You may need to also slice just a bit off the bottom of the peppers, if they don’t stand up on their own. Place them in an 8×8″ or 9×9″ baking dish; set aside.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil and saute the onion with the shredded zucchini and carrot. Cook until everything is nicely browned and the water has cooked out from the veggies. Add the Beefless Ground and cook another 5 minutes, to brown.

Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard and Bloody Mary mix. Then, mix in the mozzarella.

Use a spoon to pack the cheeseburger mixture into each pepper. Pat down the filling and top each pepper with shredded cheddar cheese.

Carefully pour a cup of water into the base of the baking dish. Sounds weird, but this will help steam the peppers so they’re nice and tender! Bake at 400 for 40 minutes.

Gently remove the baking dish from the oven and use tongs to serve. These taste amazing with beer-soaked oven fries, which can conveniently bake at the exact same time!

Confessions of a Mother Runner

I’m linking up with Confessions of a Mother Runner and A Whisk and Two Wands for #MeatlessMonday!

Apple Cornmeal Protein Muffins

4 Apr

I’ve been doing a lot more cooking that revolves around running nutrition. I have to consume more carbs, more protein and more fat…and I love it! I’m always hungry and always thinking about food. So I really have no problem working more food into my daily diet. As I train for my upcoming half marathon, I continue to eat as unprocessed as possible, eliminating chemicals and additives. But I’m always looking for ways to add carbs, protein, and fat. On those short run days, that’s pretty easy to accomplish. But on long run days, replenishing those calories can be challenging.

Apple Cornmeal Protein Muffins | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

While I’m hungry all the time, I can only fill my stomach so much. Which is why nutrient-dense foods are a must-have. And thus, I present these apple cornbread protein muffins! They’re full of protein, healthy carbs, and plenty of fiber. They’re also vegan, gluten free, oil free, and free of refined sugars. So, kind of the perfect snack or breakfast. Oh, and they’re completely moist, with a bit of crunch to them thanks to the cornmeal. Naturally sweetened, these muffins will hit the spot any time of day.

Apple Cornmeal Protein Muffins | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Make these scrumptious muffins for a week’s worth of breakfast, an easy snack pre- or post-workout, or just a healthy treat to enjoy when you want something on the sweeter side. Throw a few in the freezer to pull out when you need to refuel after a hard workout (just toss into a 350 degree oven for a couple minutes to warm up from a frozen state).

Apple Cornmeal Protein Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

  • 2 large apples, shredded
  • 1 C nondairy milk + 1 tsp lemon juice (to curdle)
  • 2 flax eggs (or two large eggs if not vegan)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 C cornmeal, medium ground is best
  • 1/2 C oat flour (note: measure after grinding oats into flour!)
  • 1/2 C vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Optional: 12 walnut halves

Preheat oven to 350. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spread the shredded apple in a single layer. Let dehydrate in the preheating oven for 5 minutes. This will help reduce some of their moisture.

In a large measuring cup, combine the milk and lemon juice. Let sit 5 minutes to curdle. Then add the flax or chicken eggs, vanilla and honey/maple syrup. Whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, oat flour, protein powder, baking powder & soda, tartar, salt, and cinnamon. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry mixture and whisk again, making sure to combine well so as to hydrate the cornmeal and oat flour. Fold in the shredded apple.

Spray 2 silicone muffin molds with olive oil PAM; place molds on a large baking sheet. Scoop batter into the molds, filling to the top – these will not rise very much. Press a walnut half into the top of each muffin, if desired.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Then, turn off the oven and let sit inside another 2 minutes with the door closed. Remove from the oven, and transfer silicone molds to a cooling rack. Let sit 10-15 minutes and then carefully pop out the muffins to let cool completely on the rack. Enjoy warm, or store, cooled, in an airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days. These can also be frozen for up to 3 months!

Apple Cornmeal Protein Muffins | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Linking up with Running on Happy & The Fit Foodie Mama, and Confessions of a Mother Runner & A Whisk and Two Forks for #MeatlessMonday! Also linking up with Running in a Skirt for Best of the Blogs!

Creamy Mexican Quinoa Bake

5 Aug

Quinoa is clearly a big deal these days. So what do I do? Play into the hype, naturally! I was out of the healthy grain for quite some time, and then I went to my local Outpost store and stocked up, for cheap! And then I made this casserole – a perfect dish to either feed the entire family a healthy meal, or to make for yourself and roomie and then dine on leftovers for a couple days. Yay for being smart AND frugal!

Give this one a try, and let me know how it goes! If quinoa is still foreign to you, or your first time with it ended in disaster (mine did, that’s for sure!), read up on how to cook perfect quinoa the first time, and every time, thanks to The Kitchn.

Tip: Don’t let the long ingredient list scare you. I had all of these in my cupboard & fridge, after a week of not grocery shopping. Missing the black beans? Leave ’em out! Don’t have diced tomatoes? Sub in tomato sauce, or even jarred salsa! Like it spicier? Add some tabasco sauce. Bakes and casseroles are really about YOUR tastes, so make it yours! I promise it’ll turn out regardless. Go with your tummy and be rewarded 🙂

Creamy Mexican Quinoa Bake

Hot and cheesy, just like anything tasty is!

Creamy Mexican Quinoa Bake, adapted from The Iron You

Serves 6

  • 2 C cooked quinoa (which is about 1 cup uncooked – see above for instructions)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (or 2-3 plum tomatoes)
  • 1 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed well
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked sea salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 C plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 C shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese
Creamy Mexican Quinoa Bake

Ingredients ready to go!

Prepare quinoa first, if you’re not cooking from leftovers. Follow the instructions on your package, or from The Kitchn. If you like, make more quinoa than this recipe requires – it stores well in the fridge, and can be used in breakfast dishes, cookies, salads whatever!

Creamy Mexican Quinoa Bake

Perfect, fluffy, tender quinoa.

Preheat oven to 375°F and spray an 8×8 baking dish with PAM.

In a skillet over medium heat add oil, garlic and onion. Saute for about 3 minutes, until onions become translucent and garlic is fragrant.

Add chopped tomato, canned tomato, black beans, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir and let simmer on low heat for 7 minutes.

Creamy Mexican Quinoa Bake

Mmmm, veggies (something I say often)

In a dry nonstick skillet over medium high heat, toss and toast cooked quinoa with paprika, chili powder and cumin for 2 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl – glass or stainless steel is best – and set aside.

Creamy Mexican Quinoa Bake

Seasoned, toasted quinoa!

In the same skillet over medium-high heat, place the diced peppers and let them get a little brown on the skins. Wait 2 to 3 minutes before stirring, then let them roast for another 2 minutes before removing from the heat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine tomato mixture, quinoa, bell peppers, and Greek yogurt.

Transfer quinoa mixture to greased baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Serve into bowls and devour!

Creamy Mexican Quinoa Bake

Quinoa close-up

Note: This version is an upgrade from the original because it: adds black beans (fiber & protein), Greek yogurt (protein), and reduces the cheese (less fat), making it overall an incredibly healthy, satisfying meal!

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

28 Jan

It’s Meatless Monday again! And the star of the show is a vegetarian version of French onion soup – made in the crock pot! Ok, I actually made this for Sunday night, but there are so many leftovers, and the soup is just so delicious, that I’m eating it for lunch again today. Besides, it was sleeting and raining ice yesterday. There was nothing better than a warming soup whose pleasant aroma wafted throughout the house all afternoon. My roommates adored the smell, but it was agonizing to wait for it to finish! Worth it, though, because the end result is delicious.

Traditionally French onion soup is made with beef broth, which is not at all vegetarian. In the spirit of Meatless Monday, and because I don’t keep beef broth in our pantry, I went into kitchen improv mode, and created a vegetarian-friendly beef broth substitute. The soup is also a healthified one! The only source of fat is from the cheese that’s melted on top just before serving. And if you buy good, quality cheese, that still counts as being part of a healthy diet 🙂 At least it does in Wisconsin! You can’t go wrong with cheese here.

I based my concoction off a recipe created by Dashing Dish, but put my own vegetarian flare on it. I replaced the traditional beef stock with a homemade (aka make-shift) flavorful vegetarian stock, and included the traditional use of toasted bread or baguette slices as well.

Vegetarian Crock Pot French Onion Soup

Makes 8 servings – low fat, low sodium, low sugar. High in flavor and protein.

  • 3 yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and chopped
  • 2 packets Stevia, or other natural non-sugar sweetener
  • 1 package dried onion soup mix (if you can get low-sodium, that’s even better!)
  • 1/2 C red wine – I happened to have an open bottle of sweet red, but whatever you have should work
  • 7.5 C water
  • Couple dashes of low-sodium soy sauce – I didn’t measure, but I’d guess it was close to 1/4-1/3 C that I used
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • A few grinds of freshly cracked salt & pepper
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • Thin slices of Gruyere cheese, or other flavorful white cheese (I used Gouda)
  • Optional: toasted French bread

Combine, in a large bowl, the Stevia, onion soup mix, red wine, water and soy sauce. Give it a stir.

In a non-stick pan, add onions, garlic, and one cup of the broth mixture. Saute onions until the broth has completely evaporated, and onions begin to caramelize. This replaces the butter that would otherwise be used in sauteing, without reducing the flavor profile of the soup.

Spray crock pot with PAM (or don’t, but I swear this makes cleaning it MUCH easier), and pour in the rest of the broth mixture, the sauteed onions, and the thyme, vinegar and salt & pepper. Stir it all up and cover with lid. Turn on “high” and let it cook for 4 hours (or, if you want to prepare this in the morning for dinner that night, set it on “low” for 8 hours).

Once ready to serve, preheat oven to your highest setting, or turn on the broiler. Ladle soup into oven/broiler-safe bowls, and top with cheese. If using the toast, place that on soup, and cheese on top of toast. Place in oven for 2-3 minutes, allowing the cheese to melt. It helps to put the bowls on a baking sheet, for ease of transportation. You can also throw this into the microwave to melt the cheese, especially useful if you’re taking it to work as leftovers.

Enjoy hot, and be glad you’re inside curled up on the couch with blankets, rather than out in the freezing temps and icy storms! Have a happy Meatless Monday!

Vegetarian French onion soup

Sorry this is such a bad picture. But it tasted amazing!

Meatless Monday

14 Jan

Happy Monday! I know most people don’t like Mondays. Sometimes I’m even one of those people. However, I like to look at it as a fresh start. Whether I lounged around all weekend, or did a bunch of things with a bunch of people, Monday is a good time to get back at it, assess the next steps to success, and just “git r done!” Certainly, a cup (or two) of highly caffeinated coffee helps put me in this mood. As does delicious and nutritious food! The combination of meatless + Monday is exactly what the doctor ordered to complete this equation. And here’s what today has in store!

Breakfast: Cookie Dough Baked Oatmeal Cupcakes

My work day starts at 7:30 AM during the week. Because of that, I bring my breakfast to work, as there’s no way my stomach can handle food any earlier than 8 AM on a regular basis. And because that’s just early in general, I prep my breakfast the night before (along with my lunch). Previous posts can inform you that I eat oatmeal religiously, and today is no exception. So, last night, in my attempts to prepare food ahead, for TWO days of breakfast, I whipped up these oatmeal cupcakes, posted by Chocolate Covered Katie (whose blog & recipes I HIGHLY endorse!).

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cupcakes

Ready for the oven! Enough banana to make 6 cupcakes

I didn’t have 2.5 C mashed banana, so I just scaled the recipe down to the amount that I had, added flaxseed meal, cinnamon and shredded coconut, and baked away! I made enough for two servings – today, and tomorrow! That means less work for me tonight! #winning.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cupcakes

Threw them under the broiler for a bit – the chocolate got nice and toasty!

They turned out quite delicious (3 cupcakes equals one serving) and taste like an oatmeal version of a chocolate chip cookie. What’s better than dessert for breakfast, right? Also, they’re both meatless AND vegan, so everyone can enjoy them! How wonderful 🙂

Here’s Katie’s recipe, to make 24 “cupcakes”

  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 cups over-ripe mashed banana, measured after mashing
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 stevia packets
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • optional add-ins: cinnamon, shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, ground flax or wheat germ, raisins or other dried fruit, etc.

Preheat oven to 380 F, and line (or spray with PAM) 24 cupcake tins. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir very well. In a separate bowl, combine and stir all wet ingredients (including banana). Mix wet into dry, then pour into the cupcake tins and bake 21 minutes. I also like to then broil for 1-2 minutes, but it’s optional. These oatmeal cakes can be eaten right away, or they can be frozen and reheated for an instant breakfast on a busy day.

Lunch: Almond Cream Pasta & Mustard Vinaigrette Green Beans

I had no need for dinner last night. 4 PM found me with a bunch of friends at a new sushi bar nearby, where they have all-you-can-eat sushi! Oh, it’s so good. Except for the fried frog legs. That was gross, but at least I tried it! And it left me feeling full until I was ready for the above breakfast this morning. But I still cooked last night. Why? Because I knew that I would otherwise have to scramble around for something to eat for lunch today! So I went vegan. One of my favorite recipe collection sites, Finding Vegan, produced these two recipes for me as I perused through page after page of scrumptious, vegan concoctions (note: I’m NOT vegan, but do enjoy many vegan dishes).

Mara’s Pasta (@maraspasta on twitter) graciously sent me a 3-box set of 100% whole wheat pasta to test out, rate and review last week. And boy is it good! Just as light as semolina-based pastas, this was perfect. And it cooked up rather quickly as well; 7 minutes in boiling water and it was done. I can’t wait to give the spaghetti and linguine a try soon.

Mara's Rotini Pasta

Desiring to use some of Mara’s pasta, I chose this almond cream pasta recipe, from Hotpot Meal.The rotini was ideal for this cream sauce, as it had just the right amount of crevices in which the cream could hide. Making this dish with whole wheat pasta upped the nutritional value, and the flavor! Thanks for sending me some!

I’ve never blanched almonds before, or used them to make a cream sauce. So this is two new things at once! I googled a “how-to” for the process, and came up with this link, which proved very helpful, however deceptive in the amount of time necessary. I failed to take into account that it would require a good amount of time to “slip off the skins” of 3/4 C almonds. However, I persisted, knowing that my health and well-being would be the result. And I’m glad I did!

Below is the recipe for the sauce. It’s delicious, and if you plan on feeding vegan-skeptics, I’d suggest you lead with this. With the inclusion of garlic and red pepper flakes, no one will guess it was made with raw almonds. My mouth is watering just thinking about it 🙂

Almond Cream Pasta Sauce – makes 3 servings

  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Water (or more, as needed) – for the sauce

Soak the almonds for an hour in lukewarm water, using a bowl that can handle boiling water later. Blanch them (drain, pour boiling water over until just covered, let sit for a minute, drain, rinse in cold water, drain again, pat dry, slip off skins). Grind the almonds with the garlic to a smooth paste, using a food processor.

Boil pasta according to package instructions, until crunchy enough to bite. Drain through a strainer; do not rinse.

In a large saucepan, heat oil and red pepper flakes. Add the almond paste with some water (not the entire 1/2 C). Let it boil for 5 minutes in medium flames. If it thickens, add more the water. Add the drained pasta and mix well. Cook for 5-10 minutes. (It only took 5 minutes for me. You want the sauce to be creamy, not like a paste, so add more water if needed). Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the pan.

Mara's pasta in almond sauce

Serve hot or cold. The longer the pasta sits in the sauce, the better it will taste. Which is why I made this the night before!

And now for the green beans! I love green beans, especially when they’re still a little crunchy. Usually, I roast them in the oven with some Parmesan cheese, olive oil and herbs. But I didn’t want to wait an hour for them to cook, so I used this recipe instead, from The Tolerant Vegan! This comes together in no time at all.

Green Beans in Mustard Vinaigrette – serves 2-4

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed off, rinsed and drained well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar (I used honey, which isn’t exactly vegan, but tastes great)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring a large pot of water to boil and boil the green beans for 2-3 minutes, until the beans are tender.

While the beans boil, fill a large bowl with cold water and 8-10 ice cubes.

Once the beans are tender, remove them from the heat, drain, rinse with cold water and place into the ice bath. Let them sit until completely cooled.

In the meantime, combine the oil, mustard, agave (honey), balsamic vinegar and lemon juice in a bowl and stir.

Drain the beans and toss them in the vinaigrette.

Green beans in mustard vinaigrette

That’s it! As for dinner, I think I’m meeting up with some family friends visiting from out of town, at a Mexican restaurant. Perhaps a veggie burrito or veggie fajitas are in my future to round off my Meatless Monday. I hope your meatlessness is just as tasty! Guten Appetit!

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