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Mar 14, 2011 11:26 AM

meat addict goes veg... help!

hi all... i have decided to take the plunge and cut meat out of my diet for a while, and i am already getting sick of what i have been making. i have been making lots of quinoa, beans and veggies.. but i feel like i need some variety. i like to bring lunch to work and make a big pot of something at the beginning of the week.. any recipe recos? or dinner staple recipes? i am willing to experiment, i really like everything and i have a lot of fun in the kitchen.

thanks in advance :)

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  1. I feel your pain. I had to totally change my diet and eliminate meat for health reasons a few years back, and I was frustrated at first. But in the challenge made me a much better cook (and it eventually made me a food blogger!)

    I've got a ton of ideas for you, but I'll start with this one. It's a staple in my house - vegan bolognese sauce for pasta.

    Vegan Bolognese Sauce

    3 T. extra virgin olive oil
    3 large cloves garlic, minced
    1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
    1/2 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
    1 small carrot, finely chopped
    1 stalk celery, finely chopped
    1 8-oz. package tempeh, crumbled
    8 oz. cremini or white mushrooms, chopped
    1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
    1 6-oz. can tomato paste
    1 bay leaf
    1 t. dried oregano
    1 t. dried basil
    1/2 c. dried red lentils
    1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
    1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, undrained, chopped
    1 c. dry red wine
    1/4 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
    1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 t. fennel seed
    1/2 t. salt, or up to 1 t., to taste

    Heat the oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven. Add the garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrot, celery and crushed red pepper, and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat up a bit, add the mushrooms and tempeh and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Lower the heat back to medium, stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the herbs, tomatoes, parsley and wine, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Add the lentils and cook until they just tender. This usually takes 20 minutes, but I’ve had some lentils take an hour – possibly because my tomatoes were salted, which can toughen the lentils. So keep tasting it along the way to determine when it’s done. If the sauce gets too dry, add a bit of water. Add salt at the end of the cooking time. Serve on whole wheat spaghetti or use in lasagna.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cathyeats

      This looks incredible. I have been experimenting with a bolognese sauce of my own... using the morningstar soy crumbles. this recipe is fantastic though, will definitely be trying it!!

      1. re: foodiewoo

        I've had chili with morningstar crumbles, it makes a great chili.

    2. I haven't read it yet but this cookbook is about helping with the transition away from meat - supposed to be pretty good and might be worth checking out. It may be a little hardcore because it is vegan and includes some "raw" recipes, but I find that these types of cookbooks are a great resource because they are incredibly creative!

      1. another thought in terms of specific recipes - here are some things that my meat loving husband likes:
        * Chili with beans, and you can add mushrooms for more meaty texture. put sour cream, cheese, crunched up tortilla chips, and avocado on top.
        * Rosemary Potato Pizza
        * Pasta with sauteed kale, mushrooms, parmesan, and drizzled in truffle oil
        * Indian spiced lentils (dahl) eaten with flatbread. There are a zillion recipes out there, pick one with lots of spices.

        1. is an invaluable resource for tasty, creative vegetarian food.

          Egg dishes like frittatas and tortillas and omelettes are easy and quick.

          1. Try cooking other types of grains- brown rice, wheatberries, spelt, farro. You can cook a large batch and season or dress single portions differently. Kashi makes a 7-grain blend that I like to cook with a base of peppers, onions, and garlic.

            Cheese (if you're eating it) is a great way to add something extra to a dish. I like to bring goat cheese medallions on a salad for lunch. Yesterday for lunch I had a salad with blue cheese, jicama, celery, beets, and pomegranate vinaigrette. Cottage cheese is nice for making tarts or quiche-like dishes without using a ton of grated cheese. My husband likes brie and green apples on a toasted baguette. Vegetable quesedillas with a little bit of jack cheese as "glue" is a quick and easy dinner to prepare. I prefer to eat a small piece of sharp or pungent cheese as it's more satisfying to me than a bland cheese.

            Tempeh, seitan, and tofu are great vegetarian proteins to experiment with. I prefer to buy all plain and unseasoned and season or marinate them myself. A favorite dinner dish is stir fried (fresh) chinese noodles with tofu and lots of vegetables- snap peas, broccoli, japanese eggplant, onions. Leftovers are great the next day cold for lunch.

            Another important thing to consider is how you're cooking your vegetables. Try to avoid falling into the rut of preparing vegetables the same way every night. Broccoli can be steamed, blanched, roasted, stir fried, sauteed, or eaten raw. Roasting is a great technique for most vegetables- I roast artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, turnips, japanese eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes..... pretty much anything in the fridge. You can eat them as is or turn them into something else- roasted butternut or cauliflower soup, roasted broccoli tart. Roasted cherry tomatoes are great tossed over pasta with olive oil or added to a homemade pasta saue.

            1 Reply