Tag Archives: meatless monday

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!

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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!

Post-Workout Nutrition

20 Nov

My Meatless Monday ended with a kick-ass hour of Zumba. Pumpkin pie oatmeal for breakfast, sauteed chickpeas & raw veggies for lunch, and a baked sweet potato topped with sauteed onions, black beans, shredded mozzarella and spices was my dinner. Oh, and one of those delicious Caramel Delite brownies found its way into my diet 🙂

But after a sweaty and exhilarating Zumba session, I needed something to refuel and replenish. Sometimes I’ll make a veggie omelet, or oatmeal, or even just nuts and dried fruit. This time however, I went with a yummy and slightly sweet combination: plain nonfat Greek yogurt, some homemade pumpkin pie granola (LOVE this recipe), a thinly sliced banana, and a drizzle of honey. Packed with protein, fiber, potassium, carbs and natural sugars, this was perfect after an intense workout!

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What are your favorite post-workout snacks and meals? Anything I should try next time?

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