I have a confession to make.
I ate meat every day this past week. Chicken x three meals, then ham and potato soup, and the worst was the most delicious chili burger I’ve ever tasted in my entire life. God it was so good that just thinking about it makes me salivate.
But at the same time it’s been really awful too. My stomach certainly took a beating especially since I’ve primarily stuck to a vegetarian diet over the last six months and my general level of energy has been a bit off keel. It always amazes me to see how my diet impacts my mood and general well-being.
Sunday was the perfect opportunity to get back on the bandwagon though. In general, I haven’t felt like cooking and the very thought of taking a trip to the store just wasn’t appealing (hence the reason I raided my freezer where obviously most of what’s in there are the fixings for meat-based dishes). The biggest challenge I face with a vegetarian diet is the time it takes to prep and plan for dishes throughout the week but on Sunday I decided to man up and in the end I’m really happy with the baked lentil and spinach stuffed shells I made.
This meal was the perfect excuse to use up the rest of my lentils and homemade marinara sauce. The recipe calls for canned lentils but I’ve always had trouble finding those in the store and it’s really not that much more of a hassle to cook your own. I’m also no fan of reduced-fat cheese of anything so I ended up using regular ricotta. Other than that I didn’t really make any additional modifications to the recipe. Big deal, I know.
It’s certainly a meal high in fiber and an added bonus is the combination of my love for cheese and carbs. Plus, it makes for pretty great leftovers!
If you haven’t been able to gather from my absence in the virtual world, life has been a bit hectic in the Wallace household. I feel like this entire month passed by with the snap of a finger and yet surprisingly for having felt completely exhausted almost the entire month, I still managed to accomplish the majority of my goals. Here are some of the highlights of my month of well-being:
- I loved reading Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs. Not only did the book make me laugh out loud on more than one occasion, but it reminded me that being healthy isn’t just how you look on the outside, but how your body functions on the inside. It also served to remind me that health is holistic. While exercising and eating right (when I’m not in cookie monster mode) is a big part of my life, I also need to give equal attention to my mental and emotional health. If anything, I got a few ideas from the book on what to include in my own health regimens and I’m excited to start incorporating them into future monthly goals.
- The inspirational bedroom transformation is not complete but is certainly coming along. Not only did the room get a complete paint re-do, but I’ve been working on some decor projects as well. I bought a bright, cheery, and super fun rug that adds a healthy dose of spunk to the room. I also started a craft project that turns wooden block letters into yarn art (sounds weird, but looks way cool). I will admit I have yet to finish this particular project particularly because my loathe of crafting gets in the way of me actually finishing it, but considering some of my goals for April I figure I can carry this process over into next month. I’m also teaming up with a painter friend of mine who does phenomenal, original work for a reasonable price. The room needs a little bit of art in it and she’s my go-to girl so this particular item will be another thing I carry into next month as well. I keep having to remind myself that evolving is about relishing in the process and not always marking things off my to-do list. But while I like this rule of thumb for my year of self-improvement, I sometimes think I use it as justification for procrastination (more on that later).
- Between all the hustle and bustle, I still managed to carve out a lot of friend time this month. In particular, I hosted a couple of girls nights, a St. Patrick’s Day themed game night dinner party. and a few Skype dinner dates with my friends who aren’t close by. I have to say the friend love (and booze) was definitely overflowing this month for which I am extremely grateful.
- Also super exciting in the name of friend love – since I started writing more hand-written notes to my friends and family, I’ve been getting letters in return. This month alone, I’ve received four letters and I LOVE getting mail.
- Meatless Mondays have been my new favorite health regimen and something I’m going to continue to do. It usually means I end up going meatless for most of the week (no wonder there are health benefits) but I love that it makes me get outside my comfort zone and experiment in the kitchen a bit. Plus, it adds content for the blog and I can’t complain about that, especially considering my lack of other substantial content lately.
So there you have it – another month bites the dust! I almost feel like I could continue well-being part deux into April, but now that Spring is finally in the air I’m getting into nesting mode, which means I need to take advantage of the organizing and purging mood I’m in. Stay tuned for April goals!
So it’s no secret I’ve been behind on blogging, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t kept my end of the bargain on March goals. In particular I’m loving the meatless Monday venture and it’s something I’ll most likely continue to carry into subsequent months. Since going meatless on Mondays, I actually end up eating meatless dishes throughout the week as well – not only because of the leftovers but I’ve found my craving for meat to be diminishing. In the past two weeks, I’ve gotten to try four new meatless dishes and put my cooking skills to the test. I’ve made a sweet potato and black bean soup, vegetable quiche, black beans and rice, and a bean and tomato risotto (I’m missing the recipe links, but you can always do a google search for similar ideas!).
First, the sweet potato and black bean soup. An absolute hit and made with vegetable stock instead of chicken broth. I added in a mixture of vegetables as well to add a bit more substance to the dish. Overall, a great combination of flavors and very filling – perfect comfort food during one of our snowstorms this month.
Second, the vegetable quiche. I honestly can’t recall if I’ve ever had quiche before. I know they’re usually made with pie crusts but I decided to switch things up a bit. I opted to use sliced red potatoes for the bottom crust instead. While the flavor was different and unique, I probably won’t make the vegetable quiche again unless it’s for a bigger group of people (something that will get eaten in one sitting). It didn’t make for great leftovers and while I won’t make the vegetable quiche again, I’d be curious to try another kind like ham and cheese or sausage and kale.
I also ended up making black beans and rice – a simple, cheap dish that I was able to make with ingredients already in my pantry. I had a few leftover vegetables from the quiche so I spiced up the dish a bit by adding in a variety of bell peppers and a bit of hot pepper for a subtle kick. For the first time, I also used fresh bay leaves. I loved it so much and I practically use it with every dish I make now.
Lastly, I decided to try making risotto since I’d never had it before. I finally figured out why people love it so much – it’s a concoction of cheesy goodness in your mouth. While the original recipe called for white beans, I opted to use kidney beans and added in some shredded zucchini with the diced tomatoes. A filling dish and one that actually made me wish I had some meat to add to the meal – fish or shrimp would be a complimentary dish to this particular recipe!
I think the challenge with meatless Monday’s is not cutting out meat for one day a week, but keeping those recipes fresh and healthy. I didn’t want to go for the usual grilled cheese or pasta so for my first meatless Monday, I decided to go for something quick and easy but which was still fun to make.
One of my favorite comfort foods is pizza so I opted for a healthy grilled vegetable pizza. To save time, I ended up buying pre-made whole wheat, gluten-free pizza crusts and natural pizza sauce at the health foods store. Call me crazy, but I didn’t even use a recipe for this little adventure in the kitchen. If there is one thing I know how to cook well it’s vegetables.
I’m not a big fan of mushrooms but because of their health benefits I make myself eat them anyways. Like onions, I hate their consistency but if I cut them up small enough I hardly even notice they’re there. So on top of mushrooms and onions, I also added red and yellow peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, and basil. Since I don’t own a grill I actually ended up sautéing the vegetable mixture in olive oil and minced garlic instead, which turned out just as good in my opinion. What I loved about the end product is that it filled me up without weighing me down like so often heavy meat pizzas do.
Considering the extra veggies, sauce, and pizza crust in the refrigerator, I’m sure I’ll be making this again in the very near future!