Meatless Monday! Easy Summertime Meals that are Healthy and Light for Busy Families!

Summertime around here has meant a huge flurry of activity.

The hot and steamy weather hasn’t slowed us down much but appetites tend more toward light and flavorful rather than rich and filling.

And the schedules are all over the place! From sport activities to musical gigs, weekend getaways and family gatherings I find that preparing and serving nutritious meals is more challanging than ever.

Especially when I am not there to supervise everything!

Well, I’ve learned to “let go” and create easy, ready to prepare and assemble food for my family; even the picky ones.

I have been in the habit of keeping a big container of cooked brown rice in the fridge.

I also will sautee corn with cilantro and onions and keep that around.

In addition, I’ll chop green onion and fresh cilantro and keep that in the fridge, also.

There are always cans of organic vegetarian beans or refried beans in the panty.

I also make sure to keep stocked up on ripe avocados and limes.

By having these ingredients handy eating on the fly is healthy and quick.

Even the little ones can do it; even the chronically lazy!

We also like to garnish with fresh salsa and a tangy homemade yogurt or sour cream.

This meal and it’s many variations has become a summertime staple that everyone can enjoy and customize to their own preference.

Burrito style for those who are always running late and eating on the way or pizza stlye with a little Manchego cheese for weekend movie night.

So, don’t get frustrated get creative!

These budget friendly meals are flexible. Use what you have around and get fancy when the budget allows.

They are built in to be nutritious so you just can’t go wrong!

With only healthy options even the least culinary inclined among you can’t help but choose something delicious and nutritious while you enjoy a little fun in the sun!

Celebrating Winter Sunshine with Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Green Curry Coconut, Red Pepper and Asparagus!

074green curry soba noodles

This is not so much a recipe as one woman’s quest for a fresh and spicy meal on an unusually warm and sunny winter day!

079green curry soba noodles

A trip to the neighborhood grocer yeilded fresh ginger, avocados, limes a jar of green curry paste, soba noodles….
You get the idea.

033green curry noodles

This dish is quick and easy to prepare.

I can’t get everything cleaned, cut, chopped and sauteed before the noodles are finished cooking.

You will want to time it so that you don’t overcook them.

I sliced some ginger with the red pepper and asparagus and added a little coconut oil to lightly sautee the veggies.

051green curry noodles

You can put this together pretty fast.

Squeeze fresh lime juice over everything before serving, it really brightens the flavors!

Toss chopped cilantro into the draining noodles to gather just enough heat to bring out the herb’s pungent aroma!

055green curry noodles

Fresh avocado is creamy and perfect with the spicy green curry and coconut sauce.

073green curry soba noodles

I also made a batch of whole wheat linguine but the soba were slightly better.

Not in flavor but in texture.

076green curry soba noodles

Try this for a nice meatless meal that is flavorful and filling.

Vegetarian Chili! Healthy, Delicious and Easy!

031vegetarian chili

068Vegetarian Chili

Although I am not a fan of “fake meat”; TVP, or any other ersatz animal products I must admit that Texurized Vegetable Protein works really well in this chili.

The secret to this amazing chili is the copious use of fresh cilantro! Added at the end of cooking to ensure fresh and intense flavor.

I also soaked the TVP in vegetable broth for and hour or so before adding it to the chili. This adds flavor to something which basically tastes like cardboard. The good thing is that it soaks up the flavors of everything around!

002Vegetarian chili

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 sweet onion
5 cloves garlic
4-5 Tbspns chili powder
2 cups TVP soaked in broth or water then drained
1-1/2 cups fresh cilantro chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cans dark red kidney beans
Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe provided chili for a crowd. You can always adjust the amounts and vary the beans to include your favorites.

I also missed an opportunity to add fresh corn!

005TVP vegetarian chili

Method:

Soak the TVP in 2-4 cups of broth or water
Sautee the veggies in 1/4 of olive oil until soft
Add the tomatoes, beans, and TVP
Allow to cook for about an hour on medium heat and add the fresh cilantro
Allow to cook for about another hour then serve with cornbread or rice or anything you like!

Sauteeing the TVP with the veggies adds more flavor.

011garlic vegetarian chili

Tuna Tartare, Passion Fruit Martinis and a Magical Night at Le Colonial, Chicago!

033chicago

Le Colonial, Chicago is a treat for the senses.

The exotically luxurious atmosphere is the first hint that you are in for something special.

041drinks at Le Colonial

These Passion Fruit Martinis were incredibly fresh and delicious! Floral and fruity yet light and refreshing on a warm summer night.

049tuna tartare at Le Colonial

Tuna Tartare with wonton crisps was light and satisfying and tasted fantastic with our cocktails….round 2!

044Le Colonial

Romance was in the air so sharing an entree of vermicelli and seafood in coconut curry seemed like the right thing to do!

038drinks at Le Colonial

What put this dish over the top for me were the copious amounts of fresh basil and cilantro; a garnish, I know, but for me a side dish or side salad!

The aroma of fresh herbs and the delicacy of the spicy coconut broth made my tastebuds tingle!

053vermicelli with fresh cilantro and basil

The music, the martinis, the warm summer breeze…

069vermicelli with coconut seafood

Taco Roll-Ups! Summertime Snack for Kids to Make and Enjoy!

078taco rollups sliced

This is an “easy-peasy” recipe which kids can easily make.

Not only will you be able to ply them with vegetables but you will also be able to keep them busy for a while!

006taco rollups

All you will need is:

8-10 flour Tortillas

2 8 oz. pkgs of cream cheese, softened

2 pkgs of taco seasoning mix or make your own as we did with chili powder, garlic salt, cummin, and a little cayenne and paprika

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 8 0z. can black olives chopped

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

031taco rollups

You may have to chop for the younger kids but mixing can be done by even the youngest of children.

035taco rollups

Spread evenly; roll and slice.

042taco rollups

These can even be done “cigar style”; roll and slice just 2-3 times for easy holding for little hands.

044taco rollups

081taco rollups

Roasted Eggplant and Lentil Spread with Roasted Garlic and Roasted Red Pepper!

091eggplant lentil spread

The secret to the delightful flavor of this dish is the roasting!

Roasted garlic, eggplant, rep pepper and sauteed leeks create a richness that makes this similar to a pate in texture and flavor.

002eggplant lentil spread

This recipe is also full of nutrition. Lentils are hardy and full of protein and fiber.

This is also light and when spread on whole wheat or flax crackers leaves you satisfied yet not full.

003eggplant lentil spread

It is also easy to make and can be whippped up on short notice.

Ingredients

1 medium eggplant
1 cup lentils
1 glove garlic
1 medium leek
1/2 cup olive oil
1 bunch cilantro
1 lime
1 roasted red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a 350 degree oven wrap in aluminum foil the eggplant cut in half with a drizzle of olive oil on the flesh.

In a clay roaster or aluminum foil wrap the garlic and place in oven to roast.

Both should take no more than 30-45 minutes.

In a pan add a drizzle of olive oil to sliced leeks and sautee until translucent.

Cook 1 cup of lentils in 2 cups of water until tender.

When everything is done and cooled for handling, place in the food processor.

Add the cilantro and puree.

Add enough olive oil to create the texture you desire.

For a creamier dip; just add more oil.

010eggplant lentil spread roasted red peppers

I then chopped the roasted red pepper, very fine, and folded it into the finished mixture.

I wanted little “pops” of sweet juicy flavor and the texture contrast.

I, also squeezed some lime into the finished dish and then gave it a good mixing.

Serve with your favorite crackers or breads or even crudites.

014eggplant lentil roasted red pepper

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, Roasted Red Pepper, Tomatoes, Scallions, Cilantro and Lime!

030quinoa salad bowl

We love quinoa!

It is a great alternative to pasta in that it delivers the same creamy, chewy, texture but is high in protien. A complete protien, as a matter of fact.

Aside from it’s nutrtious profile it is delicious and versatile.

We love this salad!

It is a power packed meal that delivers flavor and energy for very little expense.

Get creative and use your favorite fresh ingredients to create your own quinoa delights!

022lime

I used lots of lime in this dish. It compliments the cilantro and brightens the tomatoes.

014Quinoa salad

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water
5 scallions
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 roasted red pepper
1 cup black beans ( canned are fine )
1 cup corn
1/2 cup of finely chopped cilantro
2 Tbspn olive oil
1-2 limes

Method

Boil the quinoa. 10-15 minutes

Set aside and chop all the veggies

combine and add salt and pepper to taste.

Sqeeze lots of lime on the salad!

019quinoa salad

I mix the fresh veggies in when the quinoa is still a bit warm; it seems to bring all the flavors to their peak yet not cook them at all.

021quinoa salad lime

There is always room for more lime!

025quinoa salad

Garnish with avocado for an even richer flavor!

Leftovers! Black Beans and Rice with Chicken

025leftovers PD

What I had:

Leftover black beans, about 2/3 a can
2 scallions
the remains of a bunch of cilantro
1/2 breast of chicken

023leftovers PD

I made some white rice ( kids request ) and added some roasted garlic, also leftover from an eariler meal.

014leftovers

After the rice was cooked I threw in the chopped cilantro, garlic and black beans.

015leftovers PD

My daughter warmed the chicken then we plated everything and garnished with salsa, sour cream and scallions.

017leftovers PD

This couldn’t have been easier.

018leftovers PD

No waste! Perfect, because…

I am going grocery shopping tommorrow!

026leftovers PD

Southwest Salad for a Sunny Afternoon!

010southwest salad PD

Something light and “springy” was on my mind today.

A chill in the air did not stop the sunny skies from inspiring a salad full of all my favorites; avocado, black beans, corn, red onion, scallions and cilantro!

Lime and olive oil dressed this salad and allowed all the flavors to come through and keep it light.

006southwest salad PD

You can get really creative with tomatoes, olives, peppers…I used what I had on hand.

I tend to go heavy on the cilantro!
008southwest salad PD

Meatless Monday! Rice Pilaf with Pine Nuts and Garbanzo Beans

014Meatless Monday! Rice Pilaf with Pine nuts and Garbonzo beans PD

Meatless Monday! has become an event around here.

Often, I’ll have guests and serve cocktails.

The children are always looking forward to what the day will bring.

Today, I gave careful consideration to Meatless Monday! and decided that trading meat for copious amounts of cheese, eggs and cream wasn’t truly in the spirit of what I was trying to achieve.

The carbon footprint of Meatless Monday! could be improved.

Today’s meal is vegan.

It is a healthy and complete one pot dish.

You can look at it as a kind of cleanse from a weekend of dining out and a fresh start to the week.

005Meatless Monday! Rice Pilaf PD

The kids rolled in on a rainy cold afternoon and asked if there was something hot to eat.

This rice pilaf got rave reviews from my girls.

007Meatless Monday! Rice Pilaf PD

Ingredients

1 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups water
1 large carrot
1/2 white onion
3 scallions
4-5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cilantro
1 can garbanzo beans
1 cup corn
1 cup peas
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

010Meatless Monday! Rice Pilaf PD

Method

In a large saute pan add olive oil, garlic, onion, carrots, rice and pine nuts.

Allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Then add corn, peas and scallions.

Allow to simmer a few more minutes then add water and cilantro and allow too cook until the rice is tender.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with more cilantro

013Meatless Monday! Rice Pilaf PD

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