One of the things that is important in doing fresh, natural, organic cooking at home instead of quick fix-processed foods is that you have to learn to be flexible. I’ve known this for a while now, since I’m trying to cook more and ‘buy’ less. When dealing with natural ingredients and limited shopping ability/time, you have to learn to adjust. What if you’re out of something? What if the tomatoes that were soft suddenly turn to mush and you don’t want to use them? (did you know you can juice or mash them before they start to mold and soft tomatoes you’d never use for a salad make a great juice or sauce?) Maybe your spinach is wilted or you find mold on your berries–or maybe you’re just out of something. What happens, you have to adjust and replan your meal, without it messing up your plans for other meals.
Of course, in the shopping, I always try to buy more things for a few ‘extras’ than I need, things I know I often run out of or things that store well but in a pinch can be substituted for something else. Last night, I knew we needed sweet potatoes to make the dish I wanted, but no one could make it to the store for me to buy the sweet potatoes I had forgotten. So, I had already made my black beans for the jerk sweet potatoes and black beans, but I had no sweet potatoes. I’m pretty sure when it’s in the name of the dish, I probably need to have the sweet potatoes.
So I scanned through my meal plans for another dish that had black beans in it, and I found something that was close to what I wanted, but I was missing ingredients for it too. So I finally threw all of that out and decided to go with a tweaked recipe from one of my family’s favorites. I make a green chile enchilada casserole, usually with chicken or ground beef, and cream of chicken/mushroom soup, green chiles, etc., and with tortilla chips. But I can’t do that, since I won’t do processed canned soup, won’t do chicken for the challenge, BUT I think I can do something with this concept.
So I finished off the black beans with some cumin, garlic, red pepper, chile powder and paprika. I cooked the black beans in my crock pot after soaking them overnight. If you want a quick fix, you can use black beans from the can. Don’t let the long list of ingredients on this one scare you, since they are mostly spices. This is a super easy recipe, and at the end, I give you some quick fix changes you can make to make it faster for those short on cooking time.
Now, for my recipes:
VEGGIE SCRAMBLE W/ AVOCADO
- 1/2 summer squash
- 2 tomatoes
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded, ribs removed
- 1/2 large white onion
- 2 green onions, tops and bottoms
- 1/4 red bell pepper
- 1/4 orange bell pepper
- 1/4 green bell pepper
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 raw milk
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 clove fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
Chop and dice all the veggies into whatever sizes you prefer. Saute all the veggies in coconut oil with the garlic, except the tomatoes and squash. Once veggies are tender, add tomatoes and squash and cook just long enough to blend flavors. Add spices and stir. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk and salt & pepper well. Turn up the heat on the pan and pour the egg mixture over the veggies so it’s evenly spread. Let the mixture cook until the edges of the egg mixture begin to firm and brown. Try not to scramble around too much, or you’ll end up with mushy, crumbled eggs. Tilt the pan slightly now and then to let the liquid egg mixture to drain to the bottom of the bottom and cook. Once the edges become firm, you can flip the mixture over in small batches. It’s a ‘scramble’ so don’t worry about trying to keep it whole, you just want to avoid making it all crumbly. When eggs are done, put on plates and serve. The proportions of this dish serve three people. Add avocado slices and sour cream on the side, and you can also serve with fresh salsa.
VEGGIE FRUIT MORNING JUICE RECIPE
- 4 apples
- 4 celery stalks, with tops
- 4 carrots
- 1 tomato
- two slices of pineapple
- 3 medium oranges
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 yellow summer squash
- 1/2 cucumber
This is a light, refreshing juice that’s perfect for the morning and went well with veggie scramble. It’s a lightly sweet juice, but fresh and refreshing. Makes three servings.
- 10 small sesame crackers
- thin slices of the other half of the cucumber from the juice
- 1 tablespoon raw milk chevre goat cheese
Spread cheese on crackers very thinly, just barely enough for flavor (we used a chipotle raw milk goat cheese chevre from a local farm) and top the cracker with a thin slice of cucumber.
Black Bean Mexican Vegetarian Bake
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (can use olive oil instead)
- 2 cup chopped tomato
- 1 cup chopped green onion (tops and bottoms)
- 1 fresh jalapeno
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 cups dried black beans, prepared
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper
- 8 soft organic corn tortillas
- Small bag of blue organic corn tortilla chips
- 10 ounces cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350* F. Chop onion and green onion, de-seed jalapeno and remove ribs then dice, dice tomatoes and keep their juices. Add coconut oil to pan and heat until melted, then add garlic, onion, green onion and jalapeno and all the spices. Cook on medium heat until onion is tender. Slightly reduce heat and add tomatoes and juices. Stir to mix all the flavors, then add the prepared black beans to the mix. Cook about 5 minutes more. If dry, add some of the liquid from the black beans. Add cilantro and stir, remove from heat.
Using a little bit of the broth/juice from the mixture, cover the bottom of a 9″ baking pan just enough so it’s covered. Layer four corn tortillas over the broth. Cover the tortillas with black bean mixture. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the mixture. Layer a thin layer of blue corn tortilla chips next, then spoon another 1/3 of the mixture over the tortilla chips. Sprinkle another 1/3 of the cheese over the mixture. Then layer the final four tortillas over the mixture, and put the last 1/3 of the mixture over them, then top with the remaining 1/3 of the cheese.
Pop into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted and bubbly. Serve with fresh salsa, sour cream, pico de gallo or guacamole, (or all of the above!). Makes four servings.
Quick fix tips: If you don’t want to do all this chopping and cutting and preparing, there are some quick fix tips to make it easier. You can substitute 2 cans of black beans for the 2 cups of dried beans and cut down on preparing time for the beans. The tomatoes can be replaced with a can of whole or diced tomatoes. You can also usually buy onions already chopped in containers at the store. You can also buy fresh minced garlic in a jar–squeezing garlic is so easy and garlic keeps well, but I admit to using the jarred minced garlic frequently.
VEGAN OPTION: Simply omit the cheese or use a vegan cheese substitute. I honestly would not have missed the cheese if it had been left out, because this had so much flavor.
To drink, I also had two glasses of hot green tea with stevia and 2 servings of a homemade organic lemonade.
FINAL VERDICT FOR THE FIRST DAY ON THE VEGETARIAN CHALLENGE
Well, I haven’t broken down crying because I miss steak yet, but it’s only the first day down. The breakfast was too sweet for me. The meat and the seasoning I’d normally put in the meat or the salt that comes with sausage or bacon that would go into a scramble would have added a savoriness to the veggie scramble that was missing. I almost couldn’t eat it, because it was so sweet. I’m not a sweets eater, but everyone else loved it. Avoiding this ‘sweet’ trap is going to be hard for me, since veggies are notoriously sweet. The black bean Mexican bake was really, really, really yummy. The question: Did I miss the meat? Well, yes and no. I mean, it was good and I didn’t technically miss the meat, but at the same time, I found myself thinking, “Man, this would be good with some fajita meat or ground taco beef mixed in it.”
So it’s a curve, and I’m still adjusting, but all said and done, I felt full and didn’t feel deprived and I like the flavors and textures. All in all, not a bad day.
The biggest hurdle of the day was not getting enough calories in. I had a huge wake-up call for how bad cheese is when I was entering the calorie information into FitDay.com and realized that the 10 ounces of cheese I used in the dish actually had more calories by itself than my entire breakfast did. The cheese in that dish had more calories just for the cheese than my entire serving of dinner without cheese. That adds up! But considering we were having trouble getting the calories up, the cheese helped to do that. I just can’t help but think for the same 650 calories the cheese added to the day, I could have had an entire complete other meal. Think about that the next time you’re putting gooey cheese all over something. Maybe cut your cheese in half and see if you don’t reduce your calories overall. I’m not sure I would have noticed the difference in 2 ounces of so of cheese, to remove a couple hundred calories–so moderation is, as expected, the key to healthier eating and losing weight.
Including the drinks and all the food, FitDay tells me that our calories today were 2211. This was a little higher than I had planned. For the girls, we wanted to aim for under 2000 calories. For the guys, we wanted to aim for about 2500-3000 calories, all of healthy stuff. So what could I have changed? Well, less cheese, to start. Just a few fewer ounces of cheese, like just reducing the cheese by 2 ounces, which I probably wouldn’t have missed, and I could have cut 200 calories. Also, we had homemade lemonade, which was made with Stevia, but I put the calories in for the full sugar lemonade, which increased our calories artificially (but the stevia one wasn’t on there, and the low-cal was only five calories, and that’s not right since I used real lemon–so I left it with the full-sugar one, instead of entering my own–but we had slightly fewer calories than our total showed).
I’m good with this for the first day. Really good with it. Anyone else doing this with us? How is you challenge going? Tomorrow, I’m going to try a grain of some sort or maybe a pasta… haven’t decided yet.
See ya later!
Love and stuff,