Meat Free Dishes

It’s been a few weeks since I really have spent much time in the kitchen cooking dinner. Tired, busy and really just no motivation dirty the kitchen put together a meal. Since my physical I am reevaluating how I eat. I’ll be honest, my diet is not good, but it’s not too terribly bad. I know, I don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis and probably drink a bit too much beer on my days off. But I really avoid sweets and don’t over eat, which seems to be a common problem in the U.S.

In the past I have prepared a few recipes from Cooking Light and happened to pick up the most recent copy at the supermarket. I did some further reading about cooking to reduce cholesterol, but not lose flavor or enjoyment of cooking. I started out with a few vegetarian dishes that really lost none of the flavor without including meat.

Last week I started with a Vegetarian Chili that featured black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans. I mixed this with diced garlic and an onion, as well as a green and yellow pepper, some roasted, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. The flavor was very good, the chili was quite chunky. My wife believes I should have cooked the peppers a bit longer, as they did have a bit of a crunch to them. Still, it had a good flavor and is definitely something I will experiment with in the coming months.

Last night I found a Mexican Casserole, again from the vegan section of Cooking Light online. Instead of ground beef, which is standard in chili this recipe uses veggie type, soy patties instead. I tossed them in the microwave and thawed and chopped the patties and then tossed them in the skillet to brown them with a bit of olive oil, garlic and onion. Once sauteed and the meatless patties crumbled and browned I added that to a Pyrex casserole dish I had lined with tortilla chip (cholesterol free chip in fact).

Adding a bit more oil I added black beans and pinto beans to the pan and began mashing them, stirred in a little lime juice until I had a good consistency akin to refried beans, but a bit chunkier. To this I added roasted, diced tomatoes and diced, green chilies. Once this was mixed I added cilantro, chili powder and cumin. This mixture was the next layer over the meatless layer. On top of that I added another layer of tortilla chips, topped off with some jack cheese, sliced black olives and green onions. I baked it at 375 degrees for 13 minutes.

Much like the chili there is good flavor, some of the reviews complained of the casserole being “dry” mine was anything but. I believe that’s because I added the diced tomatoes. Sure there was about 20mg of cholesterol in the jack cheese, but cholesterol is fine since it’s something your body produces naturally.

Just how good was it? Unlike the chili my wife had two good sized helpings and did not mind that it was meatless using the soy patties. I too enjoyed the flavored of the dish and will probably end up making this again as a alternative to some of the other Mexican dishes I enjoy cooking. Now if I could only dress up tofu a bit more so my wife couldn’t fully taste it, but unlike the soy patties, tofu has a unique texture. Might not be so easy…