Mid March Meatless Monday – recipes & more

I’ve been cooking and they’ve been eating!

Week 1


  • Vegetable juice cocktail – Organic: Carrot, celery, dandelion greens, beet, granny smith apple
  • Black beans over
  • Mexican style rice (basmati rice with tumeric, vegetable broth powder, tab of butter and fresh parsley)
  • Sliced avocado
  • Cast iron sauteed asparagus
  • Salad

Our main topic was the “30 minute meal” – most everyone’s week- nite- max cooking goal. Pasta is often the first line of default one chooses when wanting to include a vegetarian dinner into the week’s menu, especially if you’re unfamiliar with eating vegetarian meals.

Pasta is a good choice (try whole wheat!), particularly when the focus isn’t on tons of pasta, but rather, at least half the meal being the fresh seasonal vegetables added to it like: broccoli, broccoli-rabe,  mushrooms, olives, spinach, or any greens, or in warmer weather – fresh  tomatoes, fresh basil, zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, eggplant, etc.  Add to either some great northen white beans, cannelloni beans, or chick peas and you’ve really got a hearty fast meal. Frozen peas work well also, along with pesto on hand or your favorite red sauce.

But because pasta is so familiar and chosen, I didn’t focus on it. Instead, I used Black Beans to exemplify ease and versatility with this goal. I’ve enjoyed black beans as a staple food for 28 years now. It’s one that has repeatedly found its way onto my family’s plate, bowl, chip, taco, egg or wrap over the decades.


Note: on cooking legumes/ beans

Known as “poor man’s meat”, legumes/beans have often taken the lowest rung on the food choice ladder next to insects perhaps. But when you think about it, beans are a staple to so many fabulous ethnic cuisines… for excellent reason! They taste great, are so nutritious, come packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals, and are NOT expensive …which is perhaps why they have dropped so low on the charts of upscale wealthier Western dietary choices.


People may also be unfamiliar with cooking them. Dried fresh beans require pre –soaking, (not red or green lentils because they are soft) which is a very easy thing to do. Wash a cup or two of beans, look for any small pebbles, place in a bowl covered with fresh water, and leave overnight. Drain and rinse the next day. Pressure cooking takes only about 20 – 25 minutes for most variety beans. Pot cooking them takes longer. Include a 2” strip of kombu seaweed in your pot or pressure cooker, to tenderize the beans.


Vitamins in black beans (and you know I’m NOT about “nutritionism!) Some people in the Meatless Monday class asked about iron and vitamins in beans so I am offering it to you as well.

Nutrients in Black Beans – 1 cup

Nutrient% Daily Value

  • Molybdenum 172%
  • Folates 64%
  • Fiber 59.8%
  • Tryptophan 56.hosphorus 24%
  • Manganese 38%
  • Protein 30.4%
  • Magnesium 30.1%
  • Vitamin B12 8%
  • Phosphorus 24%
  • Iron 20%
  • Calories (227) 12%

Health Benefits

Among all groups of food commonly eaten worldwide, no group has a more health-supportive mix of protein-plus-fiber than legumes. Included here, of course, is the amazing protein-plus-fiber content of black beans. From a single, one-cup serving of black beans you get nearly 15 grams of fiber (well over half of the Daily Value and the same amount consumed by the average U.S. adult in one entire day of eating) and 15 grams of protein (nearly one third of the Daily Value and equivalent to the amount in 2 ounces of a meat like chicken or a fish like salmon). You won’t find this outstanding protein-fiber combination in fruit, vegetables, grains, meats, dairy products, nuts and seeds, or seafood. The almost magical protein-fiber combination in legumes–including black beans–explains important aspects of their health benefits for the digestive tract, the blood sugar regulatory system, and the cardiovascular system. Each area of systems benefit has a strong research basis.

The above info on the nutrition of black beans was taken from this article, which is excellent if you want to read more about the health benefits of beans – in particular, the magical protein – fiber combination of beans & legumes!



 Week 2


  • Spring tonic vegetable soup
  • Uttertly Unmeatloaf
  • The perfect baked yam
  • Steamed kale w/ cast iron sauteed portabella mushrooms

The focus this past week was on two major themes: mileage food and staples. Mileage food is what I call anything that can be cooked in enough quantity to use immediately AND to freeze for later use! Cooking even once a week like this creates a storehouse of possibility in one’s freezer over time, and, as I’ve logged my nightly dinners for the class each week, it becomes very obvious how often my easeful meals have aspects of something frozen to draw upon. Mileage foods are things like soups, stews, chilies, (meat or vegetarian) casseroles, burgers, vegetable burgers, pesto (if you make it in the summer).

I categorize my staples into 4 pillars: fresh seasonal produce, grains, legumes/beans, condiments. Staples (as I have categorized them) along with some mileage foods makes everyday meals an easeful occurrence. Please read In the Kitchen with Ina – part 2 for a full discussion of staples.

Week 2 menu

  • Early Spring vegetable soup
  • Utterly Unmeatloaf
  • The perfect baked yam
  • Steamed kale & sautéed portabella mushrooms


Until next time,

May you Meatless Mondays be memorable and delicious, and fun!

And remember…when it comes to positive change –  don’t underestimate the small stuff!