Meatless Meal Recipe #1: Tomato Basil Soup, Whole Wheat Quesadillas and Mexi-Carrot Slaw

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m testing the waters on becoming a vegetarian. I’ve been eating significantly less meat and surprisingly, it hasn’t been bad at all.

I was initially worried that not having any meat on my plate wouldn’t satiate my appetite but I’ve actually been able to prepare meatless meals that my whole family has enjoyed.

This was a dinner that my family and I shared the other night, I thought you might enjoy it as well:

NORDSTROM-INSPIRED TOMATO BASIL SOUP

(Thank you to Blake Royer at seriouseats.com for this awesome recipe!)

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed
  • 3 28-ounce cans whole peeled Roma tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedures:

  1. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add carrots and onion and cook until beginning to soften, 10 minutes, then add basil and cook until vegetables are completely soft, about 5 minutes more.
  2. Add tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes, or up to 45 minutes if time permits.
  3. After allowing soup to cool somewhat, purée in a blender or food processor until smooth, doing so in batches if necessary. For a much silkier texture, strain the purée before returning to the pot.
  4. Stir in cream little by little over over low heat, until desired texture is reached and soup is just heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve warm.

WHOLE WHEAT QUESADILLAS

Ingredients:

  • 2 large whole wheat tortillas (I like Target’s Archer Farms Whole Wheat Tortillas)
  • 2/3 cup reduced fat Mexican Blend shredded cheese (I like Target’s Market Pantry Reduced Fat Shredded Mexican Style Four Cheese Blend)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Procedures:

  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Place 1 tortilla onto the skillet.
  3. Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the tortilla.
  4. Add garlic powder.
  5. Place the second tortilla on top.
  6. Cook until the bottom tortilla starts to develop a bit of color and starts to crisp, about 2 minutes.
  7. Flip the tortilla with a large spatula to cook the other side.
  8. Cook until the bottom tortilla starts turning crispy, about 2 more minutes.
  9. Slide quesadilla onto a cutting board, cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Feel free to add different ingredients to your quesadilla like corn, onions, spinach, zucchini, bell pepper, mushroom, or whatever veggies you have on hand!

MEXI-CARROT SLAW

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups finely shredded carrots
  • 1 cup crushed Tortilla Chips (I like Target’s Archer Farms Blue Corn with Flax Seed Chips)
  • 1 handful of pepitas seeds
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro-lime dressing (recipe below)

Mix shredded carrots, crushed tortilla chips, pepitas and dressing and place in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

CILANTRO-LIME DRESSING

  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 3/4 pkg dry ranch dressing mix
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth and creamy

I hope you and your family enjoy this meal as much as we did. We certainly did not miss not having any meat with this hearty meal! You must try the carrot slaw, it’s so good : )

DISCUSSION:

  • What were your first vegetarian meals?

Share your story, your story matters.

I Want To Become A Vegetarian

I’ve been flirting with the idea of becoming a vegetarian. Having a meatless diet has never been an attractive option to me before, but for some reason recently, my body has been yearning for more natural and plant-based foods. I’ve also developed an aversion to meat lately. No, I’m not pregnant by the way. I’m just curious about transitioning into a vegetarian-focused diet.

I’ve been studying the benefits of having a vegetarian lifestyle. One of the most helpful articles I read listed the following as some of the many benefits of being a vegetarian:

1. Lower risk of lung and colorectal cancer. A diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and fiber can help reduce the risk of lung disease and related illnesses.

2. Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is becoming more common with the rise of obesity around the world, and vegetarian diets may even prevent this disease by including complex carbohydrates and fiber that help the body manage insulin more efficiently.

3. Healthy skin. Diets rich in water-based and plant foods are a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins-ideal for healthier skin every season.

4. Chemical-free food. Meat-based diets take in animal cells and fats, along with chemicals and byproducts used on the animals during processing. This can include chemicals sprayed on the dead animal, preservatives, and other unnatural ingredients used for packaging and mass distribution.

5. Hormone-free eating. Unlike many meats we buy at the grocery store, fruits, vegetables, and soy products are not injected with growth hormones and “fillers” that may harm the human body.

6. Increased energy. With the body spending less time digesting animal protein, an energy boost is a nice side effect.

7. Lower blood pressure. Vegan and vegetarian diets can be naturally low in fat and sodium, helping reduce blood pressure and improve circulation instead.

8. Improved digestion. Plant-based foods and fresh fruits are rich in fiber, improving the digestion and elimination process.

9. Lower risk of Diabetes. Steady blood sugar is easily achieved with a nutritious vegetarian diet. The cycle of blood sugar peaks and crashes is almost eliminated without the meat and unhealthy carb combinations.

10. Lower grocery shopping bills. By shopping the perimeter of the grocery store and stocking up on high-fiber, highly nutritious food, vegetarians can eliminate almost 25% of their food budgets without pounds of meat on the bill. In some cases this balances out if the vegetarian shopper chooses to buy premium vegetable brands and gourmet ingredients, but average costs do tend to be much lower per trip.

11. Toxin-free food. Some studies suggest that when animals experience fear, the adrenaline rush causes a release of epinephrine, steroids, and other stress hormones into the bloodstream. These are then ingested by the meat eater, presenting a range of toxins that can accumulate in the blood.

12. Healthy amino acids. Plant-based proteins (e.g. soy) can be an excellent source of amino acids that help with protein assimilation and metabolism.

13. Low or no saturated fat. Vegetarian menus typically use all-natural oils and cooking methods to enhance flavor. This is free of unhealthy saturated fat which can lead to a variety of heart problems and cardiovascular disease.

14. Increased life span. With the body in harmony and free of harmful toxins and chemical buildup, vegetarians may live longer than their fellow meat eaters.

15. Appreciation for simple flavors. After eliminating meat from the diet, it becomes much easier to differentiate flavors and get a real taste for fruits and vegetables. Palettes can become much more sensitive to different flavors, textures, and combinations.

16. Healthy cholesterol levels. Without unhealthy meat and fat sources in the diet, cholesterol levels of vegetarians can be considerably lower and easily fall into a healthy range.

17. Lower risk of cancer. With a diet rich in antioxidants, phytochemical, and vitamins, vegetarians naturally lower their risk of cancer and other diseases. Meat eaters, especially those that indulge in fatty meats are at a much higher risk of cancer.

Impressive right?!?

Just reading this list once makes me even more convinced and inspired to learn how to become a vegetarian!

To explore this new chapter of my life, I will be entering several posts in the future about how I’m learning to become a vegetarian. Here are some of the questions I will examine:

  • How do I become a vegetarian?
  • Should I gradually lean into becoming a vegetarian? Or just give up meat all at once?
  • Once I’ve eliminated meat from my diet, will my body experience withdrawals?
  • What does a vegetarian grocery list look like?
  • Will my vegetarian meals still be satisfying?
  • How do I supplement protein and iron in my diet?
  • Should I also only feed my toddler vegetarian meals? How will having a vegetarian lifestyle affect my child?
  • What are the good “starter” vegetarian recipes I should try first?
  • What if I only eat lean meat like turkey, chicken breast and fish? Will this be a more satisfying alternative to being a complete vegetarian? In other words, instead of converting to a meatless diet, is having a “less meat” diet just as healthy?
  • Or does eliminating meat completely from my diet really that much healthier?
  • What about becoming a vegan?
  • What are the added benefits of having a non-dairy diet in conjunction with vegetarianism? Should I consider having a non-dairy diet in addition to a vegetarian diet to really optimize my health?
  • What are the most helpful books, websites and magazines for vegetarians?
  • Can I really make the commitment to becoming a vegetarian?

I look forward to learning all the answers to my very curious questions about vegetarianism.

I’m not quite sure (yet) how to become a vegetarian, how to maintain a being a vegetarian, or if I will even like the vegetarian lifestyle.

What I do know for sure is that I want to live a long and healthy life so I can grow old and gracefully with my husband but also more importantly, so I can be an example of healthy and abundant living for our son. For these profound reasons, vegetarianism is certainly worth exploring.

Please come back regularly as I share with you my journey to becoming a vegetarian!

DISCUSSION:

  • How did you transition towards a vegetarian lifestyle?

Share your story, your story matters.

Glowing Green Slushie

I’m thrilled that so many of you have enjoyed my Glowing Green Smoothie recipe.

My family and I continue to enjoy this drink everyday, it’s just so darn good.

I recently found another way of preparing the smoothie – as a dessert : )

Place the smoothie in the freezer for a couple of hours and enjoy it as a SLUSHIE!

Once the smoothie is frozen, it gets this soft and creamy slushie consistency. Yummy!

I also place my favorite nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachio, even granola!) in the smoothie mixture itself (before blending) for added protein. Then after freezing it, I top my slushie with even more nuts for that extra crrrunch!

What a refreshing frozen treat on a hot day! I know the green color looks weird, but I promise you, you’ll enjoy it.

This Glowing Green Slushie is a healthy and delicious alternative to those fattening pints of ice cream!

Try it, you’ll love it! Even my son can’t get enough of it :  )

Toddler tested and approved : )

Take a BIG deep breath of FRESH AIR!

I make it a point for my son Evan and I to step outside and get some fresh air everyday.

Every morning we go outside to get our daily dose of fresh and clean air. As soon as he finishes breakfast, he quickly gets his shoes and socks, points to our backyard, and says with excitement, “Mommy, ou’ side! ou’side!”

Evan loves being outdoors. He enjoys watering the plants, running around the lawn, counting the airplanes passing overhead, picking flowers, pointing at the clouds, singing along with the birds, finding ladybugs in the grass, and splashing the trickling water from the hose.

As a family making ends meet on only one income, it’s important for us to offer our son inexpensive activities that he can still enjoy. I would rather that he gets in touch with nature anyway, rather than be too occupied with video games and toys. Here is an interesting article I read about some of the reasons why kids need fresh air.

Being outside doesn’t only benefit my son, I enjoy spending time outdoors just as much. Actually, I need to get some outside time everyday, otherwise, I’ll go bat crazy :  / I notice that whenever I don’t get enough time outside, I feel anxious and irritable. I’m also more prone to headaches, fatigue and exhaustion. Do you ever experience the same symptoms whenever you stay too long indoors?

That’s why being outdoors is such an important part of my WELLNESS. Getting fresh air helps refresh my mind, it improves my focus and concentration and helps me think more clearly. It also soothes my nerves, especially when I feel stressed. After a nice walk outside, I always feel more relaxed and more re-energized.

I encourage you Mommies to also get outside regularly for some fresh air everyday. I know as a stay at home mom, it’s easy to get caught up with all the household chores and the busy schedule from taking care of the kids. Before you know it, it’s 3 pm, and you’re still in your pajamas (I’ve had many days like that!) But I really make an effort to get outside everyday, weather permitting of course. Something as simple (and free) as fresh air can really improve your mood and your overall well-being!

Here are some other simple ways that you and your family can get more fresh air:

  • Take a walk after lunch or dinner (This will help you digest your food better).
  • Pack your food, pick a shady spot and have a picnic. (Don’t forget the music!)
  • Ride your bike by the water (Doesn’t being by the water always feel more relaxing?)
  • Place some fresh plants in your home (It will help improve the air quality inside).
  • Exercise outdoors (Jump rope or do a yoga session outside).
  • Drive with the windows down (Even open the sunroof!)

So get outside Mommies! Take a break from being in the house all day and enjoy some quality time with your loved ones outdoors. Being outside is fun for the kids and good for you too!

DISCUSSION

  • What outdoor activities do you and your family enjoy?
  • How do you feel when you spend too much time indoors and you don’t get enough fresh air?

Share your story, your story matters.