Healthy and Sane

Meatless meals

February 9th, 2011 · 52 Comments · sweet potato, vegetarian meal

Last post was a bit heavy so I’m going to keep this one a bit lighter. Actually I need your help!

We’ve been spending waaaaaaaay too much money on groceries lately and since I refuse to reduce my quality of food standards (and I do plan on continuing cooking!), there is only one way to save money. Less meat. [We bought over 3lbs of raw meat this past week, plus bacon and deli turkey – that really added up!]

The problem is that I always feel like if I’m going to make something vegetarian, it has to be super comfort foody (yes, I just made up that word) to make up for the lack of meat. I feel like a vegetarian dish has to prove something, which can only be made up by excessive amounts of cheese or crusty bread. Lean (meat or seafood) protein just seems so much healthier in comparison!

So I’d like to build a library of healthy meatless meals that I can make over and over again. Adam said that because I rarely cook anything twice, he’s always a little scared before I serve dinner (especially if it’s vegetarian). Here is this week’s meatless contender…

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Kale and bean enchiladas with sweet potato sauce (which Natalie actually linked to in my go-to recipes request post… see, I listen to your suggestions!!).

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I didn’t have any zucchini on hand (and of course omitted the onions) but I had mushrooms and a bell pepper so I tossed those into the mixture. I also used black beans because Adam has a not-so-secret obsession with them. Lastly, Natalie’s pumpkin sauce became a sweet potato sauce because Adam is also not a fan of pumpkin (although I really think it would work well here… and it would be zero points!) Side note: have you ever tried pureed canned sweet potatoes? This was my first time and I’m IN LOVE. So sweet and amazing. I think I’m going to buy a few cans and eat it straight up for dessert) The result:

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OMG, you guys. This was seriously incredible!! I used Trader Joe’s low carb tortillas and the recipe made 7 enchiladas for me (they were basically like mini-burrito sized) – 5 Points Plus each (I reduced the amount of cheese to a little over 1/2 cup and used light cheese). The greens, bean and veggie mixture was super garlicky and the sauce was creamy, slightly sweet with a bit of heat… and more garlic. I LOVED this. Adam said it was good but does not deserve to be on the favorites list. Ugh. I could eat it every day, but you know – I have a husband to please. Winking smile

SO, help me find more healthy and balanced meatless meals! I promise to try them if onions are not the star ingredient. 😆

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52 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Lauren

    I do like sweet potatoes from the can, but prefer the freshly baked puree – I could eat sweet potatoes every day! On that note, here’s a recipe for baked sweet potato soup: http://tinyurl.com/4kedpbh

    Some other meatless recipes include Eggplant Parm Pizza: http://tinyurl.com/5wbey36, Potato Pesto Pizza: http://tinyurl.com/5ryt2kk, Wild Rice & Sweet Potato Croquettes (omit green onions): http://tinyurl.com/4vo2fyr, Roasted Red Pepper & Parmesan Risotto (omit shallot): http://tinyurl.com/466bxb2, Tex Mex Mac & Cheese: http://tinyurl.com/4muzjte, & Stuffed Shells: http://tinyurl.com/4slb4nd.

    I hope some of those dishes appeal to both you and Adam!

  • #3 - Lizzy

    That looks fabulous!! I made something similar over the summer. I try to cook vegetarian 3 to 4 times a week…I love it. Last week I made sweet potato tofu loaves that were really good…you could easily make those into burgers…my kale pesto recipe is amazing…tonight I’m making spinach greek feta burgers and I made black bean butternut bulgur chili that was delicious!! So many ways to eat yummy vegetarian meals!

    • #4 - Elina

      Mmm, all these sound delicious. Can I have links? :)

      • #5 - Lizzy

        Posting the recipes today…but I have a ton of vegetarian meals in my recipe index!! Sorry on my phone otherwise would send links!

  • #6 - Lauren at KeepItSweet

    Those enchiladas look amazing! What is it with husbands not liking pumpkin? A lot of times when I am out of ideas I make pasta with veggies and add beans to it. I also like big pots of soup (like lentil or split pea).

  • #7 - Shelly Hawes-Smith

    I have been vegetarian for 7.5 years and 6 months ago I became vegan. I googled to find vegan blogs to help in the transition and this one is great… Morgan has fantastic recipes. I’m certain you’ll find lots of great recipes to try!

    http://littlehouseofveggies.blogspot.com/

    • #8 - Elina

      Thanks, Shelly. I love discovering new blogs. Can’t wait to browse through all the amazing looking recipes!

  • #9 - Lindsey @Textbooks and Cookbooks

    That looks absolutely amazing! I’ve been slowly going vegetarian for about a year and have appreciated how much cheaper my grocery bill is without the meat price! Curry dishes are fun to make…you could do curried chickpeas and basmati rice and make a nice side salad. Also, soup would be great! For something hearty you could make white chili :) Lentil burgers, sweet potato fries, and salad is another hearty, yet healthy, veg meal! :)

  • #12 - cara

    That’s my kind of dish! We are not vegetarians either but I feel like I cook meatless meals more often than nor. Feel free to check the vegetarian section in my recipe index.

  • #14 - MelissaNibbles

    That sounds amazing! I like making black bean burgers or just simply roasting vegetables and serving them over rice with a blob of hummus.

    • #15 - Elina

      Hummus totally transforms veggies into something extra special, doesn’t it? I need to make some asap!

  • #16 - Meghan@travelwinedine

    A large portion of our meals are vegetarian, so I will go through my blog to see if I can find some non-oniony favorites!

  • #18 - Edward - If You Can Read, You Can Cook

    Unless you are buying premium cuts of meat, 3lbs shouldn’t be THAT expensive. I can get 3lbs of chicken breast for about $8. Ground beef for just over $5.

    Of course, the recommendation usually put out there about saving money on grocery bills is making meat a “seasoning” instead of the main event. I make a lot of homemade hamburger helper (usually with chicken) and use a 1/2lb of ground beef or 1 chicken breast.

    The most common veg meal I make is just spaghetti and marina. I can feed 2 people on $.70 that way.

    It’s not remotely, but my favorite meatless dish is homemade macaroni & cheese.

    • #19 - Elina

      Edward, I only buy organic chicken and grass-fed beef so unfortunately $8 doesn’t go very far (the cheapest organic chicken I found is $7/lb!). Your suggestion of using meat as a seasoning is totally a good one. I’ve been definitely trying to stretch those 3lbs into many dishes!

  • #20 - Bridget

    Those enchiladas sound awesome!! I agree, meat really kills the grocery budget and we’ve been pretty bad with our grocery bills too. I recently made the turkey/lentil meatloaf recipe from Eat live run, and it was amazing and I’m thinking it would be great as the vegetarian version she has with just lentils and walnuts as the base!

    I also have a hard time finding good “filling” vegetarian dishes because I really am not a fan of tofu, tempeh…or any of those things.

    • #21 - Elina

      I LOVE tofu (Adam now does too) but there is only so much of it you can eat. I want my vegetarian dishes to be veggie/bean centric without relying on soy products… and yes, it’s definitely a challenge to make them filling and balanced (hopefully I’ll get better at it!).

  • #22 - eliza

    My favorite lunch as of lately:
    hummus/avocado on whole grain bread with an over easy egg on top! On the side, a big salad. Perfect and so delicious and inexpensive.

    I also love making different variations of veggie burgers- sweet potato/lentil base, oat/black bean and chickpea/panko bread crumb base… there are lots of different ways, you can basically make up your own- thats what I do anyway :)

    • #23 - Elina

      Egg + hummus is the best! I was actually going through some old posts the other day and saw it as my favorite snack (on crackers). Your sandwich sounds fantastic. I think this will be my lunch tomorrow too :)

  • #24 - Marina

    Pad Thai – udon/buckwheat noodles are great, make a sauce with peanut butter, soy, lime and a little sugar and add whatever veggies you have, red peppers, broccoli, snap peas, anything. for the protein you can do tofu or chickpeas but sometimes I just overload on veggies. This is great for dinner and I also love it cold for lunch the next few days.

    • #25 - Elina

      Do you measure your ingredients for the sauce? Sounds scary to just throw things in like that :)

      • #26 - Marina

        LOL – there’s a recipe to the sauce:

        1/4 cup peanut butter
        1/4 cup sugar
        1/4 cup soy
        juice of one lime
        add some spice for kick (cayenne, red pepper flakes, etc)

  • #28 - Katie @The Small Boston Kitchen

    I totally hear ya on spending too much money on meat and I’ve limited my meat meals too, it’s such an easy way to cut costs and thus, I’ve got 53 vegetarian recipes on my blog, some not including onions :) Here’s a link to all of them…good luck! http://onceuponasmallbostonkitchen.blogspot.com/search/label/Vegetarian

  • #30 - Candace

    We have been trying to reduce our meat consumption, as well. I’m going to have to try all of these great tips and recipes. So happy that I wandered over here today! I recently made black bean enchiladas with a pumpkin sauce that were amazing. I’m sure sweet potatoes would be just as good or better. I have never tried them in a can but we always have the fresh ones on-hand. Thanks for a wonderful post! Candace

  • #32 - Lindsey

    We also are trying to eat less meat, but I’m sad to tell you we haven’t had much luck with ‘typical’ vegetarian fare (black bean burgers, lentil burgers, etc). Our meatless entrees are typically pasta or pizza (the husband’s faves–how I convince him to be meat free!) and a veggie and veggie soup on the side. Wish I could be more helpful–and will pass any good recipes your way! Looking forward to seeing what works for you!

    • #33 - Elina

      There are some really great ideas here. Maybe you can try a few of them. Also, there is nothing wrong with pizza! 😉

  • #34 - Michelle

    I definitely don’t go meatless enough in my house. I’ve got to keep that in mind!

  • #35 - Jess

    i love these lentil mushroom burgers and vegetarian chili as well as quick tofu ramen.

  • #36 - Jeanette

    Pick up Appetite for Reduction at your library or bookseller of choice. All the nutritional info is listed, so you can easily pop it into recipe builder!

    http://www.amazon.com/Appetite-Reduction-Filling-Low-Fat-Recipes/dp/1600940498

  • #40 - Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    Never thought of kale in an enchilada… looks great!

  • #41 - Katie @ The Content Life

    These look great, I am so excited whenever I come across vegetarian recipes. I am one, and some times the same old thing gets old – I am so happy to see some fresh new ideas! I love sweet potatoes, so this looks like an incredibly nutricious and tasty meal.

  • #42 - Melissa

    All of my recipes are vegetarian on http://www.thefoodiesatwork.com! I don’t know if being a veg is any cheaper than meat though – I tend to spend a lot on groceries if I’m using fresh vegetables and soy products are expensive too!
    But, here are some favorites:
    Easy Mac and Cheese http://bit.ly/efkSht
    Stuffed Tomatoes http://bit.ly/gHwpQP
    White Bean Pizza http://bit.ly/fylEON
    Eggplant Parm http://bit.ly/ftk2hu

    • #43 - Elina

      I agree – fresh veggies add up too… but I feel like less meat will help. We’ll see I guess. The white bean pizza sounds so interesting!

  • #44 - Rachael

    I was a vegetarian for close to eleven years, and I cooked a lot of one pot, North African or Southeast Asian inspired meals. Think roasted veggies and grains, every variation of stirfry imaginable, and lots and lots of soup/stewey concoctions. Now that I eat meat, I still keep costs down, but I’ve also learned to like offal – ground beef heart, for example, is super cheap, good for you (no fat) and a great substitute for ground beef in chilis, sauces, burgers, etc.

    • #45 - Elina

      I grew up eating a lot of offal too… although I don’t think I could cook it myself, especially something like tongue (my mom used to make it all the time).

  • #46 - One Healthy Apple

    I made some really easy black bean and millet burgers last night. They aren’t pretty (and you will have to get rid of the onions) but it’s a good base recipe.
    http://onehealthyapple.blogspot.com/2011/02/black-bean-burgers.html

    Also, I’ve been roasting veggies in a little bit of coconut oil and they have been fantastic!

    • #47 - Elina

      I LOVE veggies roasted in coconut oil. Don’t you think it brings out their sweetness? Mmmm. 😀

  • #48 - CaSaundra

    Wow–I am always a little skeptical of meatless meals, but just the pictures of this dish seem to be all the convincing I need! :-)

  • #49 - Sassy Molassy

    This black bean and tomato quinoa is a easy, healthy and yummy dish to make. Plus you can add in any veggies you want and add a little cheese and sour cream/nf yogurt on top if you wish.

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Black-Bean-and-Tomato-Quinoa-238939

  • #50 - natalie (the sweets life)

    YAY I’m so glad you tried and enjoyed! I’ll have lots more meatless meals coming up, including tomorrow’s post!

    I have never tried canned sweet potatoes, but now I want to!!

  • #51 - Shannon

    these look awesome!! must. try.

    i’ve got a vegetarian listing under my recipes page… i’d also highly recommend cara’s kale & tofu with peanut sauce, i need to make it again!

  • #52 - Kerstin

    Yum, the enchiladas delicious and I love the idea of a sweet potato sauce, so unique! I probably make vegetarian meals about half the time – I’m not a huge meat person.