Monday, February 7, 2011

Meatless Monday's and Veggie Nachos

In the New Year, I am trying to be healthier, just like everyone else. I tried to start before the New Year in order to stick with it and not be jumping on the health bandwagon in January just to jump right back off in February … like most of us do. Trust me, I’ve done this many times before. So last November I signed up to an all female gym. I enjoy working out at a gym where I don’t feel pressured to look amazing 100 per cent of the time or feel like I’m being started at (in a good way or bad way) the whole time I’m there. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t even happen, but in my head it does and I feel like there is less of this happening at a gym for women only.  It helped that my co-worker goes there as well as she (unbeknownst to her) is my guilt button. She knows when I go, so I can pretend that she cares and feel guilty when I make excuses not to go. So I go more often that way. If I had a full on gym partner, I would be very loyal and go far more often … however, I don’t know many people here (yet) so this is as close as it gets. Unfortunately for me, my co-worker travels a lot so I get to make excuses far more often than I should.

On one of the rare occasions that I didn’t make up a reason (like I have chores at home) and was actually exercising on the elliptical at the gym, I saw an episode of Oprah that inspired me. If you haven’t been to a gym lately, you wonder how I could be watching Operah while exercising, but it’s how they stave off your boredom these days. They place all of the cardio machines in front of TV’s. At my all women’s gym, our TV’s are often tuned into shows like Operah, the food network and HGTV … also known as girl TV. Heaven!

Any ways, this particular episode was about Meatless Mondays and veganism. As Celiac with several minor allergies/intolerances I feel that there is no way I am willing to give up meat, eggs and fish. However, I could go meatless for a day or two out of the week. In fact I used to eat more vegetarian meals then meat based meals before my boyfriend and I moved in together. I always feel guilty that a vegetarian meal may not be filling enough for him, as he is a landscaper and works hard all day and needs the energy. Plus if I could make enough, most night’s he’d gladly eat enough for 4 people.

Going meatless one day a week is a good step. It can broaden your tasting experiences, but also helps in a lot of other ways. It helps reduce your carbon footprint. Instead of using our fields to grow grains for cattle and other animals, we could use our fields to feed ourselves grains and vegetables. This makes are precious food go farther, as we are running out of good quality farming land.  It helps or can help raise awareness around animal welfare and safety issues without destroying the industry. Buying less meat may seem counterintuitive to helping farmers, but if you are in turn willing to pay more for meat and eggs that come from sources that are guaranteed to have been treated humanely then that would work in the farmers benefit. The best reason of all to go meatless on a Monday (or any day) is simply the fact that you can consume more vegetables and perhaps become a little healthier. So many of us go days, or even weeks without eating any substantial fruits and vegetables, that haven’t already been highly processed and lost all of their nutrients. So being forced to incorporate vegetables into our diets is a good thing … it helps you with those pesky vitamins and minerals that you are lacking and helps regulate your digestive system. Something it seems that a lot of us need help in these days.

So after watching this episode and revisiting many of these concepts I knew already, I decided to try it out. My boyfriend was going to have to live with it, like it or not. Also, since I had talked to him about it and he played devils advocate trying to pooh pooh the idea; I decided to just pick random days instead of Monday. That way he’ll never see it coming. This week I chose Sunday and I chose vegetarian nachos. I based my idea off of the best nacho’s I’ve ever eaten at a gluten free vegetarian restaurant in Banff and you know what? My boyfriend loved them and didn't go starving! The first time I made them, I added beef to them, but this time I left that part out and really neither one of us noticed.

Go ahead, give these nachos a try and while you’re at it, feel free to tell me what vegetarian meals you like to treat yourself to …

Veggie Nachos

1 bag of GF Corn Tortilla’s
1 can of bean medley (kidney beans, chickpeas and black beans)
1 small head of broccoli, chopped
1 small head of cauliflower, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 red (and/or green) pepper
1 block of cheddar cheese, shredded
(Any other vegetables you may have on hand)
Sour Cream

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet in aluminum foil to make an easier clean up, then place corn tortilla chips in a single layer, followed by the beans and vegetables. Bake these in the oven for about 15-20 minutes (the beans can make the nacho’s soggy so this step helps prevent that and helps roast the vegetables). Remove from oven and top with a thick layer of shredded cheese. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes (middle rack) at the same temperature. Remove when all the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve right away with sour cream and salsa. Yum!

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