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Meatless Meals

Going meatless at least one day a week can improve the quality of your overall diet – no guarantee, of course. Cheese fries, diet cola, and chocolate-drenched packaged cupcakes comprise a meatless meal, just the same as tofu stir-fry! (In that case you’d be better off with organic chicken pot pie.) But, in general, opting for a vegetarian break leads most of us to eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

My meat-loving family enjoyed both of these vegetarian dinners and didn’t even miss the beef.

Saturday Afternoon Chili

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours
Cook in crock pot or on top of stove.

1 small onion, chopped
½ package (around ½ pound) soy crumbles (available in the frozen meat substitute section of the supermarket)
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 15-oz cans of beans (I use black, pinto, and kidney), drained, reserving liquid
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
¼ cup multi-grain rice (dry. It will cook with the chili.)
1 tablespoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper
½ teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon diced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt

In the crock pot: Turn crock pot on high, add olive oil, and cook chopped onion and soy crumbles, covered, for around an hour, until onions are tender. Add the drained beans, tomatoes, rice, and the seasonings. Add enough of the bean fluid to cover. Cook with lid on, on high in the crock pot, another two hours or so.

On the stove: Gently sweat onions in the olive oil until tender and sauté with soy crumbles. Add the drained beans, tomatoes, rice, and the seasonings. Add enough of the bean fluid to cover. Simmer, covered, another two hours or so. Add bean liquid as needed.

White Beans and Sage over Pasta
I make white beans and sage most often with the small white beans found in the Mexican food aisle at my grocery store. They are much cheaper than cannellini and just as good. You can also use navy beans, which are basically the same thing.

Prep time: 15 minutes (plus time required to cook dried beans, if you use them)
Cooking time: 15 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh sage (or equivalent dried rub sage)
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups cooked white beans (cannellini, navy, etc.) or 2 15-ounce cans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes, or 1 ½ cups of fresh tomatoes
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

½ pound whole-wheat rotini or shells

Start the pasta according to the package directions; cook al dente and drain.

While the pasta boils, sauté the garlic and sage in the olive oil until it smells good. Don’t burn the garlic. Add the beans, tomatoes, and lemon juice, sauté and warm thoroughly. Add the salt and pepper and serve over the drained pasta.

The Vegetarian Site at Bellaonline also has loads of great ideas. http://www.bellaonline.com/site/vegetarian

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