JOPLIN, Mo. —
I can't imagine a person so complete that she can't come up with a New Year's resolution or two. If she exists, I don't think we would be friends. If you're drawing a blank on how you can improve upon your own perfection, I have the solution: Meatless Mondays.
I like to have an obtainable resolution. I'm not trying to set myself up for failure. Meatless Mondays are simply a way to focus on healthier eating.
Eating meat is not inherently unhealthy, but choosing to go vegetarian at least once a week should force you to eat more vegetables. That life lesson has been pounded into your psyche for your entire existence. This year, make it happen.
I was a lazy vegetarian for 15 years. I love the idea of it, but I wasn't very good at it. To be a good vegetarian, one must hunt and gather. I ate far too much bread and cheese and not enough protein. It's a great way to go, but in order to be fit and healthy you must be diligent about your diet. As it turns out, I was simply too lazy to continue vegetarianism. Pitiful.
I'm older and wiser now. I pay more attention to my health. Having a kid will do that to you. I could be a good vegetarian at this point, but I've developed a taste for meat. I may go back at some point, but not yet. To compensate for my meat guilt, we go meatless a few times a week at our house.
Try taking a baby step toward a healthier year with Meatless Mondays, or Thursdays, or whatever works for you. Choose at least one day a week to really focus on what you're eating.
Unfortunately, I can't take credit for the concept of Meatless Mondays. It's been around for ages. It started as a campaign to reduce intake of resources during World War I, and has become a household term regarding our health and the environment. Meatless Mondays are now observed internationally, as well as in many schools and dining halls.
Try these family friendly vegetarian recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I'll bet no one will care what's missing.
1 cup torn baby spinach leaves
11/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a bowl, beat the eggs and stir in the baby spinach and Parmesan cheese. Season with onion powder, nutmeg, salt and pepper. In a small skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat, cook the egg mixture about 3 minutes, until partially set. Flip with a spatula and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes or to desired doneness.
Taco salad wrap
1 (151/2-ounce) can black beans or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 (10-inch) flour tortillas (whole wheat, of course)
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced 1/4 inch (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 large green-leaf lettuce leaves
1 avocado, diced 1/4 inch, for serving (optional)
1 mango, diced 1/4 inch, for serving (optional)
With a potato masher or fork, mash together beans, olive oil, cumin, chili powder and salt in a medium bowl. Spread 2 tablespoons bean mixture on each tortilla halfway between the center and bottom edge. Top with 1 to 2 tablespoons each diced tomato and cheese; cover with a lettuce leaf. Fold sides of tortilla over filling; roll from bottom to form a cylinder. Roll in waxed paper and fold ends over; tape to secure. Cut wraps in half diagonally. Serve with avocado and mango, if desired.
Aromatic noodles with lime peanut sauce
3/4 pound spinach linguine or whole-wheat spaghetti
2 cups (about 9 ounces) broccoli florets
2 cups (about 6 ounces) snow peas, trimmed (I use extra broccoli and chopped asparagus instead of the peas)
2 cups (about 6 ounces) sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 scallion, cut into pieces
3/4 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
Cook the pasta in a large pot of water according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water. While the pasta is cooking, put the broccoli in a steamer basket over a large pot of boiling water and steam it for 3 minutes. Add the snow peas and sugar snap peas and steam for 2 minutes more. Toast the peanuts in a dry pan over medium heat until they become fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set them aside to cool. Make the sauce by pureeing the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, lime juice, scallion, ginger, sugar and red pepper flakes in a food processor or blender until smooth. Right before serving, toss the pasta with 3/4 cup of the peanut sauce. Divide into 6 serving bowls and top each serving with the vegetables. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the vegetables. Coarsely chop the peanuts, sprinkle them on top and serve.
Have questions? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.