Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Chipotle Nachos
As my taste buds grow accustomed to distinct flavors and I push myself to try unconventional ingredients, I have also been making an effort to think about food and meal planning differently. I was born in the Midwest and my grandparents owned a meat packing company, so it’s safe to say that I grew up in a home where meat was clearly emphasized and everything else was served “on the side”. Our meals were structured around a protein source of some type which is typical of the Western diet, I think. Even as a teenager, when I decided to become a vegetarian for many years, my meals were still unbalanced as my focus was a meat-substitute (think of the green packages in your grocer’s freezer) and carbs. As I’ve gotten older and started making meals for myself, I have mirrored this habit.
Since I started blogging, I have become increasingly aware of food trends such as the local and organic movements. While I am certainly no expert on the subject, it is hard to ignore the impact our collective eating habits have on our bodies and the environment. There is a plethora of information available on these topics in every form of media from movies to books to internet sites and beyond. In fact, there is so much data out there, some of it conflicting, that it can be challenging to know what to believe and overwhelming. For me, I feel almost helpless. I want to lessen my impact on the Earth and make the best decisions for myself and my family, but I didn’t know where to start – it seemed almost an insurmountable task. So, I decided to start small.
First, I started incorporating vegetarian meals as I felt like it without much thought as to how often we were eating them. I’ve slowly been adding more beans and vegetables to our menu which has helped transition us away from eating as much meat, and I’ve been cutting back our portion sizes when we do eat meat. These were all small steps that felt effortless. Now that I’ve been ruminating on it for a while and feel comfortable with the changes I have made so far, I’ve decided to commit to reserving one day a week to maintaining a meatless diet. For those of you who are familiar with the initiative, I am referring to Meatless Monday.
Meatless Monday is an international campaign whose goal is to encourage people to make healthier choices at the start of every week. According to Wikipedia, reducing meat consumption by 15% (the equivalent of one day a week) lessens the risk of chronic preventable illness and has a strong positive impact on the environment. There is a wealth of information on MeatlessMonday.com about how going meatless for even one day can improve your health as well as many, many recipes and tips. So if you are interested in participating, be sure to check out this invaluable resource.
Now, like I said, I’m not an expert nor do I assume to know what is best for your family. I enjoy meat as much as the next person and don’t envision myself going vegetarian on a long term basis again, but I am enjoying this new challenge that I’ve set up for myself. I like to stretch my own personal comfort zone, especially in the kitchen, so I am looking forward to trying out various recipes, ingredients, and ways of cooking which with I wouldn’t have experimented otherwise. I can’t promise to post a Meatless Monday recipe every week as I will likely turn to veggie burgers or other quick, easy standbys every now and then, but when I do have a meatless recipe to share with you, I’ll be sure to point it out with a Meatless Monday tag as I have with this one.
Did you all stick with me through all that? OK, good :) I’ll keep the review of this recipe short: it turned out really well! I was hesitant about using the meatless crumbles because I hadn’t ever had them before, but they were much better than I expected. I would probably prefer to have used another can of beans in their place, but I am the only bean-lover in the house so I felt they were a nice non-meat compromise. I didn’t notice them adding much of a flavor at all, and the texture was pretty close to finely ground meat. The mixture is quite versatile – I enjoyed this as much the next day over a salad as I did the first night as nachos, and it would also be good in tacos or burritos. I’m pretty sure even die-hard beef fans would enjoy this… at least the one in my house did :)
Vegetarian Chipotle Nachos
1 cup bell peppers, chopped
1 cup onions, chopped
12 ounces meatless crumbles
1 tablespoon Chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped
15 ounces reduced-sodium black beans
14 1/2 ounces diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
6 ounces tortilla chips
2 cups lettuce
1 medium avocado, diced
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 ounces reduced-fat pepper jack cheese, shredded
6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper, chopped onion, and crumbles; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chile, sauce, beans, tomatoes, garlic, basil, and oregano to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro. Arrange 1 ounce of chips on each of 6 plates. Top each serving with 1 cup bean mixture, 1/3 cup lettuce, about 2 1/2 tablespoons avocado, 2 tablespoons onion, 3/4 ounce of cheese mix, and 1 tablespoon sour cream.
Source: Cooking Light
6 servings | 9 POINTS