Archive for Back to School Healthy

6 Tips to Help You Embrace Meatless Monday

In my house, we have a big challenge that we are faced with every day, and I’ll bet you struggle with something similar in yours.

There are two of us living here; and we have different diets. My son is a bacon-loving omnivore, and I am a vegetarian (though I do still sometimes eat sustainably harvested fish). How many of you have a similar dilemma? Maybe someone has allergies, or is gluten-free, or perhaps you, too are a carnivore living with a vegetarian.#MeatlessMonday

It’s a tough one. Because I’m the one that buys the groceries and cooks the dinners, we basically don’t have meat in the house. Michael gets his fill of burgers when we go out. But the challenge is coming up with dinners that are satisfying enough to someone who likes to eat meat, while still being vegetarian.

There are lots of reasons why people choose to be vegetarian, but for me, the most compelling one is the environment. Raising livestock puts a much heavier stress on the environment than growing vegetables or grains does. Additionally, livestock contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. 

I’m not suggesting everyone go vegetarian, those are just my reasons for doing so. BUT if everyone gave up meat just one day week, it would save “99.6 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions. This would be the equivalent of removing 46 million round trip flights between Los Angeles and New York, or taking 19.2 million cars off the road for a full year,” says the Huffington Post.

The Meatless Monday movement was born out of this concept. You basically choose to not eat meat on Mondays. Great! Then what do you eat??

Here are some tips to help you embrace Meatless Monday.

  1. Find a good grocery store. This is key. I find that if I have to run all over town and go to 7 grocery stores to find what I like, that seriously puts a damper on things! I’ve been shopping at Save-On a lot lately, and have been really impressed by their variety of vegetarian-friendly products. They have tofu, as well as meat subs like veggie burgers, Tofurkey, Yves and Field Roast products. They also have the best selection I’ve found of Gardein products, which are our favorites. Michael happily eats them. We especially like the Porkless Bites, the Mandarin Orange “Chicken” and the Crabcakes. Bonus: you can order online and they will deliver to your house, or they’ll do the shopping for you and you can just pick up your groceries on the way home from work. So convenient!

    We eat this about once a week. So tasty!

  2. Eat a (Veggie) burger, man! My son, the carnivore, loves veggie burgers. Try a bunch of different ones until you find one you really like, or experiment with recipes online. We have them in our freezer at all times.
  3. Pasta! Pasta makes a hearty and filling meal, and is pretty darn healthy to boot. We have a vegetarian pasta with Caesar Salad at least once a week. I throw a bunch of vegetables in there, some pesto, maybe a tomato sauce? You could add in some veggie meatballs if you like. Try some of the newer gluten-free pastas for a bonus shot of protein: many of them are made with quinoa or beans.
  4. Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit: speaking of beans, those things are the bomb! They are cheap, tasty and filling, you can prepare them a million ways, and they are packed with protein.

    These tacos are made with lentils!

  5. Eat ethnic: many culture’s cuisines focus more heavily on vegetables than others. Indian cooking, for example, is very vegetarian friendly, as can be Asian cuisine, especially Thai or Vietnamese. Or just think a big ol’ stirfry with tofu, rice and a yummy sauce, served alongside vegetarian potstickers or egg rolls.
  6. Breakfast for dinner: who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? We love quiches, waffles or pancakes for dinner. I keep frozen pie crusts in my freezer all the time, making it a matter of minutes for me to cook up some veggies and whip those together with some eggs and cheese to make a delicious quiche. Makes a great leftover breakfast or lunch the next day, too!
  7. Comfort food: grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup? Mac ‘n’ cheese? A big ol’ casserole? Ooooh yeah. Delicious, comforting, and very vegetarian friendly.

So there you have it! 6 tips to help you embrace Meatless Monday!

Do you participate in Meatless Monday? I’d love to hear what your families’ favorite dishes are. Please share in the comments below.

This post is sponsored by Save-On Foods, but the opinions are my own.

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DIY Frozen Pizzas

Back to school. It’s time has come.

Michael and I have been enjoying lots of time off. We went on a road trip, and have been spending lots of time at Second Beach Pool. But, with much trepidation, the time has come. He had his high school orientation yesterday, and school starts for real in a few days after the long weekend.

This is a big period of transition for us, from elementary to high school, from lazy days of summer with no schedules to busy days packed from morning to night.

diy frozen pizzas

The situation calls for one thing: comfort food. And not just any comfort food. It has to be fast.

Pizza is the perfect solution. On crazy nights when I know we won’t have much time between after school activities and homework, I set the oven to come on and pre-heat 15 minutes before I know we are going to walk in the door. Then, all I do is literally walk in the door, drop my stuff, pull a frozen pizza out of the freezer, and pop it in the oven. Add a few sliced raw veggies and dip, and 15 minutes later, dinner is served.

Now, you might be asking, “pizza, that’s easy, and cheap, why would I go to all the effort to make my own?”

Well, by making my own, I can control what goes in it, and what goes on it. And that means a more healthy final result.

When I make our own pizzas, I can customize it with veggie pepperoni, for example, or just put regular pepperoni on his half. We can also do some fanciful toppings you may not be able to buy in the store, like artichokes and olives. You could even make these pizzas individual-sized and have everyone choose their own toppings resulting in 98% less bickering.

It’s really all about control. I like a thin crust, I’m trying to watch my cholesterol, so I use lower fat cheese, you can use tomato sauce, pesto or even bechamel, and then load it up with toppings as you please. For the crust, you could easily substitute 1/2 whole wheat flour to increase the amount of fiber. If you’re vegan, use vegan cheese (the crust is already vegan).

Make a pile of these on the weekend, and pull them out for that one night of the week when getting dinner on the table is a nightmare. For us, it’s Wednesday.

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I saved myself more time and stress by ordering my groceries (including all the ingredients I needed to make these pizzas) online through Save-On Foods. I order the night before, drop Michael off at his after school activity, then jet over and pick up the groceries from the North Van Save-On. They load up the car for me, I have time for a quick coffee (ah, me time!) and then back to West Van to pick him up.

We go back over the bridge, and walk into the house–the oven is already preheated and ready to go. The pizza goes in, and you, my friend, have managed your Wednesday night like a boss.

frozen pizzas DIY

Our pizzas are loaded with artichoke hearts, olives, pesto, and lots of cheese.

DIY Frozen Pizzas

(makes 2 cookie-sheet sized pizzas, double if you want  to make 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ tsp yeast
  • ½ cup warm water (around 110 degrees)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cup aquafaba
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • pizza toppings as desired

Method

  1. In a large bowl, place the water and sugar and mix them together. Sprinkle the yeast over in a thin layer, then leave to bloom for about 10 minutes.
  2. After the yeast has activated, add the AF and the olive oil, and stir well. Now add in the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients, stirring until it becomes hard to stir, and the dough forms a sticky, shaggy ball. Get in there with your hands with and mix it until it becomes a cohesive ball.
  3. Sprinkle a little more olive oil on your ball of dough, and rub it over the top. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for about 20-30 minutes in a warm place.
  4. Prepare two cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper, and then greasing them with a little olive oil. You could also sprinkle some cornmeal. Divide your dough in half, and roll the dough out onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Push the dough out from the centre and form a lip all the way around the edges. You can brush the edges with a little more olive oil if you like.
  5. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Pop the pizza into the oven for 8-9 minutes. You want it to be set, but not done. Pull the pizza crust out of the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Now you can add your toppings. Start with a thin layer of tomato sauce, then any meats. Next top with cheese. Finally, add vegetable toppings like spinach, sundried tomatoes, olives, artichokes, etc.
  7. Place the pan, with the pizza on it, in your freezer, making sure it’s level. Allow to freeze overnight. Once it’s completely frozen, pop it off the cookie sheet, and double-wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Store in the freezer until needed.
  8. To cook: preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and bake the pizza (either on a cookie sheet, or a pizza stone) for about 10-12 minutes, until it’s brown on the edges, and the cheese is melty and gooey.

This post is sponsored by Save-On Foods, but the recipe and opinions are my own.

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