For the two years or so, Josh and I have been on a journey to better health. Both of us grew up with very little boundaries when it came to what we ate, but happened to both be active in sports so weight was never an issue back then. At least until the “freshman 15” came to me with fiery revenge. We exercised, so that meant we were healthy, right? I remember many days in high school of eating my beloved Chick-fil-a for THREE MEALS A DAY. A Fried chicken biscuit in the morning before school, a friend chicken sandwich AT school (yes, Chick-fil-a basically runs my home town) and then whatever my heart desired after Wednesday night church when my whole youth group would meet at the restaurant. This was combined with so much sweet tea it makes my teeth ache just thinking about it. What I wouldn’t give to have that metabolism back.
Since moving to Austin, I’ve been so challenged by the dedication of the people here to exercise and eat right. It’s hard to believe that a city dripping in queso and alcohol could actually be a motivation for me to cut back. Don’t get me wrong, we have had our major moments of gluttonous indulgence, but we are trying to take it one day at a time here, and see our health as a big-picture issue.
Eating less meat has been on our radar for awhile now. Seeing films like Food, Inc and Forks Over Knives has played a role in this goal, but I can’t say we have done much about until now. Josh had the notion recently to switch to a “whole foods, plant based diet” until Easter. Well, since that meant I couldn’t eat cheese or yogurt, I decided to counter offer with simply going vegetarian. We figured Lent would be a great time to try, since there is a definite start and end date, plus we can be mindful as we go about the process of our dependance on God and the responsibility we have to glorify Him with our earthly bodies. Josh reluctantly agreed to the compromise, and we have been meat free for 9 days now. This is by far the longest I’ve ever been without it, but I have to say that it has been surprisingly easy. We’ve been eating oatmeal or yogurt/granola in the mornings (typical), PB&J’s with fruit for lunch, and I’ve been trying out a bunch of meatless dinners I’ve never had the willpower to try. I’ve been completely blown away by how DELICIOUS some of these dinners have been. And I promise you that it’s not because of any cooking skills I might possess. They are foolproof! We feel so great after meals too. We feel so satisfied, without the nasty overstuffed sensation that tends to happen later.
Besides ridding our bodies of the hormones and excess harmful animal proteins and yadda yadda, I feel much less guilty about being the cause of many animals suffering in the world. Poor little cows 😦 I don’t intend on giving meat up forever, but I am temporarily feeling like a better human for cutting it out of my diet. Umm, except that statement alone makes me a terrible human…anyway…
Here are a couple great recipes we have found to be a wonderful vegetarian solutions in case you care to try them. You have my assurance that they are EXCELLENT.
Stacked Roasted Veggie Enchiladas
1 poblano chile, cut into matchsticks
2 red bell peppers, cut into matchsticks
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, halved and slivered
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
3 T heat-safe oil like grapeseed or coconut
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups homemade or store bought salsa/pico de gallo
2 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 2 big handfuls)
9-10 corn tortillas, halved (try making homemade tortillas!)
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a cheddar-Monterey Jack blend)
sour cream and thinly sliced scallions (green onions) for garnish, if desired
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a large shallow roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet.
Place poblanos, red bell peppers, cauliflower, sweet potato, onion, and corn kernels onto cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle the cumin and minced garlic over top. Add a generous pinch or two of salt and black pepper, then use your hands to mix everything together. After everything is coated well, spread the vegetables evenly in the pan. Roast for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are tender and begin to brown in spots. Stir or shake the pan every 10 minutes for even roasting. Remove pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Prepare an 8x8x2 or 9x9x2-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, stir the cilantro into the salsa. Spread 1/4 cup of salsa into the bottom of the baking pan. Add a layer of tortilla pieces, to completely cover the salsa. Top with 1/3 of the vegetables, a handful of spinach, and 1/3 of the cheese. Make a second layer of tortilla, salsa, vegetables, spinach, and cheese. Top with with a layer of tortillas, salsa, vegetables, and cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and everything is heated through.
Let it sit for 5 minutes and cut into squares. Serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of sliced scallions.
Mushroom and Wilted Greens toast with a Fried Egg **Great for lunch!
Ingredients: (serves 2)
2 slices whole wheat or multigrain bread
-Toast (using your favorite method) the bread and go ahead and arrange each one on its own plate.
– In a medium sized skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until faintly shimmering. Add in the minced garlic and saute until soft but not brown – 1 to 2 minutes. Add in the mushrooms, stir to combine and cook until they begin to release water. Throw in the chopped greens and stir again to get everyone mixed up. Stir in the bit of mustard and allow the greens to cook until tender but not mushy – 2 to 3 more minutes.
– Meanwhile, heat a small skillet with about a half a tablespoon of butter, and crack an egg onto the melted butter once the pan is nice and hot. When the egg starts to separate from the pan and can be flipped, flip it over, keeping the yolk in one piece. Cook for another minute or so until both sides a slightly brown and the center is still runny. Repeat to make a second fried egg.
– To serve, divide the greens mixture into two and top the toasted bread with it. Place the egg on top of the mixture. Season with a bit of fresh ground pepper and serve immediately – the joy of this is the runny egg so be speedy in serving & eating it.
What are you guys giving up for Lent? This is my fist year every practicing the tradition so I’d love to hear if anyone else out there is doing it!