Health and Happiness

We think these two go hand in hand, so we are having fun with the challenge of getting as many nutrients as we can while sticking to a plant based diet.  We eat a few cheeses, and bacon or chicken every now and then, but for the most part, we are vegetarian leaning people. Here is a link that details some of the health reasons (though there are countless others quite worth knowing) for which you might consider doing more plant based meals.  If you are a hard core carnivore (ahem–Dads) and think this sounds awful, how about doing a Meatless Monday?

I looked high and low for a meal planning site that catered to our diet specifics, but I didn’t find one that felt easy enough for me to stick to it.  For me, this means not having to stare blankly into the cabinets wondering what I can whip up for dinner, hoping it is healthy, whole food based, high protein, high fiber, and low in fats that aren’t terribly beneficial.

Since I am on maternity leave and I love to cook, it is especially fun for me to spend time thinking about the kitchen in any way.  I came up with a quasi monthly meal plan that works for us so far.  The following recipes have been rounded up on Google and Pinterest, largely, and most of them are here in my Pinterest: Nourish board.  The soups are mostly old favorites, so if you’d like one or all of those, let me know and I’d love to share.

Sunday:  Lentils!

Sundried Tomato, Feta and Carmelized Onion Lentils, Lentil Shepherds Pie, Curried Red Lentils, Buttered Green Lentils, and Sundried Tomato Lentil Loaf
(We had the Lentil Shepherds Pie last night and Tim raved about it both here and at work.  I added a bay leaf to the cooking beluga lentils and used real butter, but otherwise made it as instructed.  You can always substitute dark, French green lentils for Beluga/black lentils.  I order black lentils 4 pounds at a time from Amazon, but they are hard to find otherwise.)

Monday: Soup!

The Best Minestrone, Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato, Red Lentil with Mint, Classic Potato, Black Lentil Vegetable, Zucchini Basil, and Vegetarian Chili

Because it has been terribly popular and is so easy, here is the best potato soup ever.  You’ll never go back.  Based on its simplicity, I feared it would be bland or lacking in some way.  It wasn’t.  It is a thick, creamy, perfectly tasting soup.  We had it with bacon and a little cheddar. 

  • 5 lbs russet potatoes, diced, NOT peeled
  • 3-5 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 56-64 ounces broth or stock
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bacon, sour cream, chives or shredded cheese for garnish

Combine first 4 ingredients in your crock pot, cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5
Cook on stove top:  just garlic and onions for 5 minutes, then add potatoes and broth for 25 minutes or until potatoes are done.

Remove 1/3 to 1/2 of your potatoes and blend them with some broth from the pot.  Add in the cream cheese.

Stir back into the soup and serve topped with bacon, sour cream, shredded cheese or chives.

Tuesday: Pasta!

Sundried Tomato Pesto, Spinach Gorgonzola Pesto, Amatriciana (with bacon) and Lemon Basil Pasta with Vegetables.  Or try one of these for a healthier, more authentically Italian pasta dish.  We love pasta, and we eat Barilla Plus because of the nutritional kick of a chickpea flour base.  Super high fiber and as much protein as a chicken breast.

Wednesday: Salad!

Goat Cheese/Walnuts/Pear, Romano/Sundried Tomatoes/Basil, Feta/Dried Cherries/Walnuts, Chicken/Bleu/Apples, or any other combination that strikes us as we stare into the fridge.  We love to make a classic balsamic dressing, but we buy a champagne vinaigrette regularly as well.

Thursday: Quinoa!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (we used feta, cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil and it was lovely!), Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa, Quinoa Tabouli, Spinach Romano Quinoa, Quinoa Patties and Mushroom Quinoa Pilaf

Friday: Homemade Pizza! 

The nutrition here comes from a high protein, high fiber flour or no flour at all, thereby removing my usual guilt with pizza.  I have a few dough recipes I want to try, including one that uses only an egg, cooked grains (rice or quinoa or whatever you have) and parmesan, but I can’t find it.  I also want to do the cauliflower crust, but I fear Silas would despise me for it.
This week we are doing this one:

2 1/2 c. flour
2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 – 1 c. water
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add 3/4 cup water and oil. Stir with fork until blended and forms a soft ball. If dough is too stiff, add more water, a tablespoon at a time. It should be soft, but not sticky. Knead about 3 minutes on lightly floured surface until smooth.Cover with your favorite toppings and bake at 400F for about 15-25 minutes, or until bread is baked and cheese is bubbly.

Favorite toppings of ours include carmelized onions and bleu cheese on a garlic rubbed olive oil crust, sundried tomato with asparagus and goat cheese on a tomato based sauce, caprese, or a heap of vegetables leftover from our fridge.

Saturday: Gourmet Sandwiches!

Good sandwiches start with good bread.  This is a great article to help you get the most nutritional bang for your buck as far as grocery store bread goes.  Avocado, Spinach and Goat Cheese, Bean Burgers (we have used kidney beans and steak seasoning in place of black beans and seasoned salt–get creative!), Caprese melts, Sauteed Tomatoes and Spinach with Goat Cheese, Roasted Veggies, and Hummus and Fresh Vegetable Wraps.  Any great ideas for interesting sandwiches?  We’d love to hear them.


2 thoughts on “Health and Happiness

  1. Thanks for sharing! We just became full vegetarians at the start of the new year (well I have been a vegetarian off and on for life basically). It had been a bit of a challenge meal planning since we haven’t had this diet restriction during our relationship. I love the idea of having set food categories for each day to help structure the meals for the week. I am definitely one that needs to plan out the week or else we end up going out every night. Lets definitely be in touch with our favorite recipes – a shared Pinterest board perhaps? XO

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