Weekdays are hectic. I’ve learned homemade dinners only happen if I plan ahead. Mondays are Meatless to get back on track eating the Color My Food way: whole-foods, plant-rich meals where meat is more of a condiment and dairy is a treat. I truly believe eating this way promotes the best health for not just for our bodies, but also for the planet. A whole-foods, plant-based diet, means we use less water, less land, fewer resources and produce less pollutions and less suffering for farm animals.[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”T. Colin Campbell, PhD” source_title=”The China Study” full_quote=”The evidence from researchers around the world shows that the same diet that is good for the prevention of cancer is also good for the prevention of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cataracts, Alzheimer’s osteoporosis and other diseases. All these diseases spring from the same influence: an unhealthy, largely toxic diet and lifestyle. A whole foods, plant-based diet counteracts all of these diseases.” short_quote=”The evidence from researchers around the world shows that the same diet that is good for the prevention of cancer is also good for the prevention of heart disease,”]
If you follow Color My Food, you know I alternate meatless and omnivore days during the week.
It’s still an uphill battle with some family members, so I need to remind them how plant-based meals are better for our health.
- Heart health. Heart disease kills 40% of Americans. Did you know more women die from heart disease than from breast cancer? By eating the right foods, we can keep our hearts healthy. Dr. Esselstyn, a leading pioneer in nutrition-based therapy, has scientifically proven the prevention and reversal of heart disease with a whole-foods, plant-based diet on people with established coronary disease.
- Brain health. Studies demonstrate those who eat the most antioxidant-rich foods had the lowest risk of brain strokes. These are caused by cholesterol-filled plaques in our arteries. Alzheimer’s involves a slower, decline due to plaques in the brain tissue. A healthy diet may help prevent both brain strokes and Alzheimers. “
- More fiber. When we eat mostly natural plant foods, we get large amounts of complex carbs and various types of fiber. Fiber is important because it
- offers protection against cancer and heart disease
- can also lower cholesterol
- slows down glucose absorption and controls the rate of digestion
- fills us up so we don’t have cravings or hormonal imbalances
- Boosting our immune system. Plant food contains 64 times more antioxidants than animal foods. Plant based meals tend to be rich in antioxidants, I aim to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices at every meal to continuously flood your body with antioxidants to help ward off stroke and other age-related diseases
Guidelines for my Meatless Monday meals:
- Eating variety. Mixing it up keeps it interesting gets us best nutrient density.
- Ethnic foods offer the most options for plant-based meals, and the unique tastes are exquisite: curries and chilies, Moroccan tagines and Indian daal
- Adding spices. Foods with the most antioxidants are herbs and spices. Just as I do with breakfast—adding cinnamon, ground ginger, or a pinch of cloves to smoothies, oatmeal, granola and breakfast breads—for dinner I always add and/or increase spices and herbs in a recipe: depends on what I’m making, but spices I usually add/increase are ground cumin, coriander, paprika and/or dried oregano, basil, thyme. The fresh herbs I use most to add flavor and nutrients are parsley, cilantro, rosemary and mint. It’s SO worth having a pot or two of herbs in the garden!
- Raw foods. Raw uncooked vegetables and fruits provide a powerful protection against disease. Raw foods contain enzymes that may offer significant nutritional advantages to protect against disease
Here are a few of my go-to recipes for Monday dinners.
Scratch Cooking (made from scratch)
I serve this over CMF Quinoa .This can be made with regular lentils, but red lentils cook faster. I also make it with CMF Rice. I start the quinoa (or rice first and while it cooks, I make the curry. Once the curry is going, I make a salad (any of the green salads from Color My Food).
I get the rice going first and when it starts cooking, I make the chana masala. While that’s cooking, I make the salad. See a pattern?
Eggplant Ragu over Quinoa
I start the quinoa first, then make the ragu. And then the salad.
Daal is a thick, hearty Indian lentil stews typically served with rice or traditional flatbread alongside to soak up every savory bite. I use 2 teaspoons ground curry instead of the curry leaves.
I like to add a bell pepper for more color.
Dinner in Hurry
This comes together quickly using pre-made or store-bought pesto
This is quick dinner especially when I prep the veggies on the weekend: cutting up the carrots, broccoli, mushrooms etc. It’s also a fantastic way to use up veggies at the end of the week.
Goes nicely over leftover rice or with rice noodles.
Using leftover quinoa (or another grain: rice, barley) makes this a quick dinner.
I’ve made this with white beans, kidney beans, even black beans. This recipe has gotten me out of a pinch when I had little else in the house to make dinner with—I always have whole grain pasta and a can or beans.
Oh She Glows: Spaghetti with Lentil Marinara (I use regular Parmesan rather than vegan)
I generally have cooked lentils or beans frozen in mason jars. This is another recipe that’s bailed me out of last-minute dinner dilemmas.