Less Meat Monday: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos {with Chicken}

“Less Meat Monday” admittedly doesn’t have quite the same ring as “Meatless Monday“, but it’s a huge step for some members of this household (read: Andrew :)).  Last week he acknowledged that he should probably be eating a little less meat and a little more fiber for his overall health, and he gave me the green light to try some new dinner recipes in which meat is not the star.

Naturally, I was thrilled—as Andrew puts it, I always have one foot firmly in the vegetarian camp.  Now, we are not going vegetarian, but I am planning to make Mondays “Less Meat Mondays”, and try new recipes in which I can cut the amount of meat significantly with beans, lentils, or some other form of plant protein.

Here’s what was on the table last night:

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos {with Chicken}

2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
½ lb chicken, cooked and shredded*
2 medium sweet potatoes
½-1 c salsa
olive oil
chili powder
cumin
salt & pepper
mixed greens
lime
cilantro
goat cheese
corn tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Chop sweet potatoes into ½-inch cubes.  Put in bowl, and toss with olive oil, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.  2. Spread sweet potatoes on a pan, and place in oven for 30 minutes, stirring/flipping halfway through.  3.  While the potatoes are cooking, combine beans, chicken, and salsa in a pot, and heat on low.  4.  When potatoes are done and beans are hot, place in tortillas with greens, cilantro, lime juice, goat cheese, and/or whatever sounds good :).

(*I actually cooked the chicken in a skillet as soon as I put the potatoes in the oven;  there’s plenty of time to do this and heat the beans, but if you have leftover chicken you want to use, this is a great way to do it!)

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The tacos were a hit!  Andrew said he did not miss the extra meat—typically we use 1- 1 1/2lb of meat for any given dinner, which will last us two nights, so only using 1/2lb of chicken was a significant drop for us.  You can also leave out the chicken entirely, and I doubt you’d miss it.

Happy eating to all! 🙂

-Do you observe Meatless Monday?
-Any recommendations for high-protein, meatless (or less-meat) dinners that I could try in the coming weeks??

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The Sandwich-Hater’s Lunch: Black Bean Salad

As you likely know by now, I am a sandwich-hater down to my bones.  I hadn’t posted on the topic or shared a sandwich-less lunch recipe in a while, but my my sister’s excellent guest post last week inspired me.  After a week on vacation eating a lot of heavy foods (hello, bacon every morning), I have been craving fresh, raw, whole foods.  Beans, rather than meat, have sounded like the most delicious foods in the world this week!  I made a big batch of this super easy black bean salad on Sunday night, and I’ve been working my way through it for lunches:

Black Bean Salad
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tomatoes, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
1 c corn (I used frozen)
Italian dressing to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Done.

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Friends, it’s really delicious.  Also, has anyone had Popcorners (pictured above)?  We buy some whenever we go to our wholesale club, and it’s a miracle if the 18-serving bag lasts a week.  I like to tell myself that Andrew is eating more than his share, but in reality I think I am the culprit.  Last Sunday we took a risk and bought two bags and agreed that no matter when we finished the first, we could not open the second until a week had passed since purchase.  This will prevent us from the entirely possible scenario of eating 36 servings of popcorn chips in one week.  Hah!

Have a great Thursday!

What’s been in your lunch box this week?
Have you tried Popcorners??

Ode to Orange- Sweet Potato & Carrot Curry

“When people say you should eat colorful foods, you know they mean different colored foods, right?” -Andrew

Sarcastic, but he had a point.  Our dinner last night was a delightful orange overload:  Sweet potato, carrot, and red lentil curry.

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It was also vegan, but more on that in a bit.

Ingredients:  2 sweet potatoes (peeled & sliced,) 1/2 bag of baby carrots (sliced,) a few garlic cloves (minced,) 1 c red lentils, 3 c vegetable broth, 1 can light coconut milk, 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 tsp ginger, red pepper/salt/pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in large saucepan (medium heat.)  2. Add sweet potatoes and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, adding garlic in the last minute.  3. Add all other ingredients to saucepan, and stir well.  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 25-30 minutes.

And, voila: a not very attractive, but nutrient-rich, tasty meal 😉

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With all the orange consumed last night, I thought I’d take the opportunity to briefly highlight the health benefits of (naturally) orange foods. Thank you, Dr. Oz (my source😉 I can take it from here.

Why You Should Eat Orange Produce

Beta carotene, which gives foods like carrots and sweet potatoes their orange hue, is an antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Vitamin A helps improve vision and boosts the immune system.

-Additionally, these foods contain other vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, all of which help keep our bodies healthy.

In other words, orange foods are tiny, disease-fighting machines.  Eat them.

I mentioned in a previous post that I have been reading Eat and Run by Scott Jurek–ultramarathon champion and vegan–and it has inspired me to eat fewer animal products.  I’ve been an on-again-off-again vegetarian since early high school, and I feel strongly that 1. Americans eat way too much meat, and 2. people can consume a sufficient amount of protein without it.  I am not planning to quit eating meat entirely, but I do hope to incorporate a vegetarian dinner into our week every now and then.

Andrew is extremely skeptical of a dinner that does not include meat.  Lunch?  Okay, but dinner must contain meat (in his opinion.)  I am hoping to open his eyes to some delicious, filling vegetarian dinners. 🙂  Yesterday evening as I was cooking, Andrew was getting ready to play ultimate frisbee with friends.  He typically eats a snack before he goes, then dinner when he returns.  This was our conversation immediately following his orange comment:

“What are you making?”

“It’s a sweet potato, carrot, and red lentil coconut curry.”

“Ooh!” (said in a “Isn’t that fancy?” voice)

“I made sure there was one leftover chicken sausage for you, just in case.”

“Okay… Oh.”

“It’s a vegetarian dish.”

“That’s why I said, ‘Oh.'”

He ate the chicken sausage before frisbee and the curry when he came home, and I heard no complaints.  Baby steps. 😉  I am looking forward to finding some more meatless, but protein-packed, Andrew-approved dinners!

Do you incorporate vegetarian dinners into your week?  Is your spouse/significant other on board?

Any good, filling vegetarian (and dairy-free) dinner suggestions?

College House Reunion

First, I apologize for being MIA for the last week;  it was pure laziness rather than busyness.  I am back!

Last Sunday-Monday I got together with my college housemates.  There were five of us that randomly lived in the same dorm suite our freshman year, and we quickly became best friends and rented a house together for the rest of our time at JMU–the Dollhouse.

Amazingly, all five of us still live in Virginia, so it’s not impossible to reunite a few times a year.  This week we traveled to Norfolk and stayed with Leah.  Before I left Andrew asked what we had planned for our time together, then said, “Wait, let me guess:  eat breakfast and talk…go to a coffee shop and talk…eat lunch and talk… find another coffee shop and talk…”   😀  It’s true; we’ve noticed that when we get together, we just talk as we move from one eating establishment to the next.

We all arrived around noon Sunday–two of us from Richmond, two from D.C.–and immediately drove to a coffee/sandwich shop near Leah’s apartment.  Then we walked around by the water for a bit.

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…And Sarah decided to test-sit a stranger’s boat…after climbing over a locked gate to reach it… 😉

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After a while we found a place to sit by the water and enjoy the day.  And talk.  And laugh. And talk.

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Leah, with Kate’s help, reenacted a scene in which she fell while on a run and was groped (she suspects intentionally) by a homeless man who helped her back up.  Hah!  (Leah, don’t kill me for posting this photo… you are hilarious :-D)

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From the water we headed to the grocery store, then back to the apartment to make dinner:  quesadillas and bell peppers…

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…+ homemade salsa and sangria

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I’d also like to mention that our quesadillas were vegetarian because, while none of us are vegetarians, we all decided that the packages of raw chicken were just too gross to touch, and we’d rather go without.  Andrew’s mind was blown by this, but it’s one of the millions of reasons that I love these girls. 🙂

It was a beautiful evening so we ate dinner on the back porch, then talked for hours about life and love and pranks we pulled in college (and a few we’ve pulled since…)  Then ate ice cream & half-baked cookies.  Then talked until we fell asleep.  Glorious. 🙂

Monday morning, Leah made us waffles with a strawberry syrup, all from scratch, with strawberries she’d picked herself.  It. Was. Delicious.  After breakfast, Hannah and Sarah went for a walk while Kate, Leah, and I went running.  If there are two things the five of us share, it’s a love for food and a love for fitness. 😀

After running/walking, we cleaned up and drove to the beach!  We took lunch to go from a cute sandwich shop and ate on the beach.

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It was awesome.  Beautiful day… At the beach with my best friends…on a Monday.  All I could think was, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”  Complete in-the-moment contentment.

That is, until Leah turned around and said, “Uh, check out those clouds…”

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To the East: perfect beach day.  To the West:  rain clouds of doom.  We sat in the sun and denial for a little longer until I finally said, “You guys, this really is coming towards us.  It’s probably already raining on the car.”  We packed up, and after trying to wait it out in the car, gave up and headed back to Norfolk.

In our final hours together we parked ourselves back on Leah’s porch, ate pizza (yes, I ate more dairy this weekend than I have in two months,) and squeezed in a few more laughs.

I miss these girls like crazy when we are apart, but thanks to regular life-update email chains, we are always able to pick up where we left off when we do reunite.

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(Our one, super-grainy, self-timer iphone photo group shot ;-))

Dollhouse ❤