Meatless Monday Challenge

IMG_2081Ah, yes, it is another Monday.  Have you heard about the Meatless Monday movement?  It is a challenge to make Monday’s meals meatless. So how can one go about providing wholesome complete vegetarian meals for their family?  By using beans or lentils of course!

Did you know that beans and lentils average 7 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup cooked serving?  That is why for this week of National Nutrition Month®, I am going to talk a bit about beans and lentils to help inspire you to break out of your comfort zone and give these wholesome high protein, high fiber staples a try.

An easy way to start increasing your bean intake is to puree the beans and then swap them for part of the recipe of some of your favorite dips.  No fiber is lost when beans are pureed, so next time you are making a salsa for your Mexican dinner, consider combining pureed black beans with salsa, cottage cheese, avocado and Mexican spices.  Serve the new bean salsa with whole grain tortilla chips and veggies and voila you have a crunchy, fun and complete meal that I bet even the kids would enjoy.  To add a protein punch to your artichoke-spinach dip, consider swapping in some pureed Great Northern white beans to replace 1/2 of the cream cheese you would typically use in the recipe. Lastly, let’s not forget about hummus.  Hummus is made from chickpeas and can provide about 4 grams of fiber per 2 Tbsp. serving.  Pair it with whole grain bread, lettuce, cucumber, red onion and tomato for a delicious and simple alternative to your regular ham and cheese sandwich.

Two of my favorite meatless meals are pasta fagioli and tomato lentil soup.  I have included the recipes at the end of this blog.  Both are easy to make and provide a beneficial amount of fiber.  You can serve either one with a delicious side salad and a crusty bread to make your meal complete and boost your fiber intake even more!

So this Monday, I challenge you to make it a Meatless Monday and give beans a try.  Beans are another great way to add fiber to your diet and keep your taste buds happy.  Bon Appetit!

Pasta Fagoili

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste, use to add 2 cans of water to mix
  • 2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt, couple dashes to taste
  • Pepper, fresh ground to taste
  • 1 can Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ pound of ditalini, uncooked

Preparation:

  1. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Remove garlic once onions become transparent.
  2. Add tomato paste, sauce, water, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add beans and heat
  5. Meanwhile boil ditalini according to the package instructions. Be sure to fill the pot with plenty of water. You will use this water to thin out the sauce.
  6. When ditalini is done, drain them out of the water, but reserve the water to add to soup.
  7. Add ditalini to the tomato and bean mixture. Mix well.
  8. Gradually ladle in the extra water from the cooked ditalini until desired “soupy” consistency is achieved. (I typically add a ladle full of the water, and mix, then repeat until the desired consistency of the soup is achieved.)
  9. Serve into bowls and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
  10. Serve with a hearty green salad on the side.

 

Tomato Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cans (35 oz.) plum tomatoes, with juice
  • 48 oz. low-fat, low sodium vegetable broth or low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¾ cup dried lentils
  • 1 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • ½ cup dry red cooking wine
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves

Preparation:

  1. Place oil in soup pot and heat over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and celery and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until veggies are wilted, about 10 minutes.
  3. Puree the tomatoes within their juices in a blender and add to the wilted vegetables.
  4. Add the chicken broth and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  5. Add ½ cup of the parsley along with the wine, garlic, pepper, salt, and cloves. Stir well and simmer for another 20 minutes.
  6. Add remainder of parsley and heat through for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
  7. Serve with a large spinach salad topped with craisins, sliced red onion, and sunflower seeds. Plus a few pieces (1-3) of thinly sliced whole wheat Italian or French baguette dipped in some olive oil spiced with Italian seasonings.

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