By: Amy Miknis
I grew up on a farm. A cattle farm. In fact, at this moment, my parents have about 20 cattle roaming around the pasture behind the house I grew up in. (They belong to a farmer down the road, and my dad boards them every summer. Dad gets his pasture grass eaten and kept manageable without having to mow, and the farmer gets great grass-fed beef.) So, going meatless one meal a week was only something we ever really did during Lent. My dad is a real meat and potatoes guy, and that's how his family ate, too. Getting "enough protein" to me was always some sort of meat, but that has definitely changed.
My husband and I have been enjoying working more vegetables, beans, and whole grains into our meals. We still feel full and satisfied even without the previously obligatory meat on the plate. We are definitely throwing beans into many more dishes and trying new recipes. I'm a teacher, so over the summer I have more time to spend on each evening's meal—rather than needing to throw together something quick when we both get home from long days at work. It's been great fun to take time and experiment with new recipes and ingredients.
I started making my own hummus to use for snacks, something we had previously only bought at the store. I love being able to make my own versions, playing around with different spices and add-ins. We either dip in our CSA veggies or I bake up some pita chips using whole grain pitas for a satisfying snack. Cheese sticks and almonds (I'm partial to the cinnamon roasted kind) are also delicious ways to make sure you get enough protein during the day.
Some of our favorite dishes have been when we've really been able to use a lot of our CSA veggies. Grilled vegetable lasagna, complete with homemade ricotta—I told you I love trying new things over the summer!—was a knock-out dish! It would also be easy to prep on a weekend for easy-to-reheat meatless lunches all week. We've also found that canned beans can be tossed in to nearly anything as a quick way to add in protein and round out a meal—salads, pasta, rice dishes, even pizza, the list goes on and on.
Beans also work well with many different ethnic foods, which we like to try cooking for ourselves at home. I've made some Indian spiced chickpeas, which were great with a saffron rice and naan. One of Zach's favorites was a black bean burger we made. I served it along with oven fries using some of the many potatoes we get from our CSA each week. He hasn't yet gone in to check his cholesterol, but his yearly appointment is in September, and I expect his numbers to drop!
See More: Cooking Light's full collection of Healthy Vegetarian Recipes