Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Meatless Meals

I am by no stretch of the imagination a Vegetarian. I love eating a chicken casserole, a homemade burger, or grilled fish, but, I can definitely see the health benefits of eating meat, especially red meat, in moderation. According to WebMD (and a million other online sources) sticking to a Vegetarian diet that consists mostly of fresh fruits, veggies, legumes, and nuts can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. It also can improve blood sugar levels and help those with Type 2 Diabetes control insulin levels.

Now, if you were to ask Hubster, I am a health fanatic. Apparently eating the recommended daily intake of fruits and veggies and taking a multivitamin is just WAY over the top ;) Really,
I just focus on the little things (watch my portions, take my vitamins, eat my Spinach, exercise) to improve my health. Believe you me, I can down a package of cookies in one sitting just as well as the next girl!

One way I focus on improving my health is by trying to eat one meatless meal every week. Not only does this help to control how much meat Hubster and I consume but it is good for the wallet. Buying and preparing meat is expensive and time consuming! By cutting meat out of just one meal every week we save a little on groceries and get to try new recipes.

Last night, I whipped up one of our favorite meatless recipes Four Cheese Bow Tie Pasta. Why do I love it? Two words: cheese and tomatoes. Two of favorite ingredients. Now, this dish isn't exactly low calorie but it is delicious and filling; two musts when steak-and-potatoes-need-more-chicken-men are involved with meatless meals.

Why is this font so big? I don't know.

Hubster gave me grief for taking too many pictures of our food so here is the finished product with the recipe and special instructions below.

Four Cheese Bow Tie Pasta
{The original recipe is in black, my additions/change are in red.}

2 cans (4.5 oz each) diced tomatoes 1 1/2 c. milk
1 pkg bow tie pasta 1 1/2 c. shredded Mozzarella
1/4 c. butter 1 1/3 c. grated Romano
1/4 c. flour 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan
1/4 t. salt 1/4 c. crumbled Blue or Gorgonzola
1/4 t. pepper 1/2 c. fresh parsley
1 1/2 c milk

Instead of combining that whole list of cheeses, I use 2 1/2 c. Italian Blend Cheese. You can find it pre-shredded in the cheese aisle. It usually consists of Mozz, Parm, Romano, and a bunch of other delicious cheeses.

Instead of finding fresh parsley, I usually use 1/2 c. of dried Parsley, Italian Seasoning, and Basil. Using this much dried spice gives the dish a real kick. If you're not a big fan of spices, use less.

The dish is delicious with spinach also! Yummy! I cook my spinach until its barely tender and then add it with the cheese and parsley.

Drain tomatoes, reserving 1 1/4 c. juice; set aside. Cook pasta according to package; drain. In saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth; gradually add milk and reserved tomato juice. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. In large bowl combine pasta, sauce and reserved tomatoes. Stir in cheese and parsley; toss. Place in greased 3 1/2 qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, @ 375 for 30-35 minutes (I usually only cook for 20-25) or until golden and bubbly.

Please excuse my terrible food pictures. Just trust me - it is yummy!

And for your eating pleasure, here are two more of our favorite meatless dinners.

Five-Veggie Stir Fry
2 T. Cornstarch 2 c. broccoli
2 T. Sugar 2 c. cauliflower
1/2 t. ground ginger 4 t. olive oil, divided
1 c. orange juice 1 c. fresh mushrooms
1/4 c. soy sauce (low sodium) 1 c. fresh/frozen snow peas
2 garlic cloves, minced 4 c. cooked white or brown rice
2 large carrots, sliced

Combine cornstarch, sugar and ginger. Stir in orange juice, soy sauce and garlic until blended; set aside. Stir fry carrots, broccoli and cauliflower in 3 t. oil for 4 -5 minutes. Add mushrooms, peas and remaining oil; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Stir orange juice mixture and add to pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened. Serve over rice.

Mac & Cheese
1 1/2 c. cooked elbow macaroni 2 T. flour
1/2 tsp. salt 1 t. chicken bouillon granules
1 c. milk 1/2 t. salt
2 T Margarine 1 c. grated cheddar cheese

In a frying pan melt margarine on medium heat. Add flour to butter and stir. Add milk, salt and bouillon to margarine mix. Stir until thick; when thick like butter, add grated cheese. Stir until melted. Pour over noodles. Stir and serve.

{What are your favorite meatless recipes? I would love for you to share!}


Questions about the recipes? Leave a comment here or on Facebook.

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