Super Bowl Sunday Snacks

Super Bowl Sunday is a holiday in my house. We plan out entire day around the game including our meals. In the past, our Super Bowl fare consisted of meat-heavy offerings including, but not limited to: Lil’ Smokies, bacon wrapped Lil’ Smokies, chicken wings, chili cheese dip, beef tacos, beef chili, and several other meat-centric dishes.

Much like cutting back on carbs, revamping my Super Bowl menu will also be a challenge. I think the key to having a successful vegetarian Super Bowl menu will be creating new dishes, not just trying to recreate meatless versions of the old ones. The problem with trying to recreate meat dishes without the meat is that people will always compare them to the meat version, which just sets them up for potential disappointment. If I can serve dishes that people haven’t tried before they won’t have anything to compare them to. Also, keeping it simple is important. Here is what I’ve come up with so far:

Appetizers:

Homemade Hummus w/Homemade Pita Chips

Tomato Queso Dip w/Tortilla Chips

Swiss Cheese Dip w/Toasted Baguette

As yet to be determined Tofu Dish

Main Course:

Buffalo and Blue Cheese Black Bean Sliders

 

I don’t currently have anything in mind for dessert, as I’m not really a dessert person, but I’m sure with the crowd I’m going to be with I will need to think up something for finishing the meal off (that doesn’t include alcohol).

Throughout the week I will probably update this menu and I will also post the recipes for as many of these dishes as I can. Many of these recipes are quick and easy so it helps keep game day prep simple, which helps keep the stress level down for the host/hostess. If you have other ideas for dishes to serve on game day please leave a comment.

 

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Meatball Dreams

One thing that has surprised me so far this month is that I haven’t craved meat at all. I thought I’d have a few moments of weakness or at least a few cravings, but I really haven’t had any of that. However, a few nights ago I did experience something that was possibly worse than a craving or moment of weakness: I had a dream that I chowed down on some meatballs.

The dream started out innocently enough – I was at a Super Bowl party enjoying the football game and having a few laughs. Then it was halftime, and we all know what happens at halftime: we eat. I went into the kitchen and loaded up my plate indiscriminately and then sat down to indulge in the treats before me. I put my fork into a juicy meatball and as I put it to my mouth someone sitting next to me said, “Oh, you’re eating meat now?” But by then it was too late, the meatball was in my mouth. I spit it out immediately, but the damage was done.

I woke up in a cold sweat, literally, and was in a panic about the fact that I had eaten meat. It took me a few moments to realize that it was only a dream, but I was still a bit shaken by the whole thing. Needless to say, I think I’d rather have the occasional craving than another meatball dream.


Quick Creations – Crustless Vegetarian Quiche

There always comes a point during the week or the month when you realize you don’t have any food left in the house: I had one of those moments on Monday. Normally I would just pick something up on my way home from work, but since I am watching my calorie intake, that wasn’t the best option. I looked around at what I had in the fridge and noticed I had some mushrooms, broccoli, and eggs. Those items said quiche to me, so I threw together this recipe. This recipe is great for several reasons 1) It is quick (about 40 min total from prep to bake) 2) It is relatively healthy and 3) You can use substitutes to make it a vegan dish (see notes at bottom).

Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

5 Eggs, beaten

3/4 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1/2 cup Feta Cheese

1/2 cup Chopped Mushrooms (any variety will work)

1/2 cup Chopped Broccoli

1/4 cup Skim Milk

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Pepper

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Beat eggs together with milk.

3) Chop veggies and add to the egg and milk mixture.

4) Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well-blended.

5) Pour mixture into a greased 8″ or 9″ cake pan.

6) Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

Makes 6 servings at only 109 calories per serving.

*Can add any additional veggies desired. If volume exceeds a cup you may need to add an extra egg or a little extra milk to ensure a good egg to veggie ratio.

**To make this quiche vegan you can use 1 1/2 cups egg substitute,  1/2 cup shredded rice cheese, and  1/4 cup soy milk.


Bean Ball Recipe

As promised, here is the recipe for the bean balls I made over the weekend. These bean balls are versatile and can be used as a meat substitute in spaghetti and meatballs, can be tossed with bbq sauce for a quick party snack, or can be dipped in any variety of sauce you are craving to fit in any meal. Also, these balls can be baked or fried depending on your tastes and/or diet. This recipe yields 16 bean balls.

Ingredients:

1 15 oz can of Northern Beans or other white beans of your choice, drained

1/2 cup Plain Breadcrumbs

1/2 cup Vital Wheat Gluten

1 tbsp. Soy Sauce

1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1 tsp. Lemon Zest

1 tbsp. Italian Seasoning (or Oregano)

1 tsp. Garlic Salt

1 tsp. Onion Powder

1 tbsp. Parsley, chopped

1/4 cup Water

Vegetable Oil (for pan frying)

Directions:

1) If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees. If pan frying, fill a deep frying pan about 2″ deep with vegetable oil and warm over medium-high heat.

2) Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

3) Add water and fold the dry ingredients into the water.

4) Knead the mixture for about 3 minutes or until you see the strands of wheat gluten starting to form.

5) Roll about a Tbsp. of dough at a time into a ball shape with your hands. If baking, place balls on a non-stick cookie sheet. If frying, place on a plate until all balls have been made.

6) If baking, brush each ball with olive oil and put into preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn balls and bake for another 8-10 minutes. If frying, place about 5-6 balls at a time in the hot oil and fry on each side for approximately 3 minutes.

*Note: Be sure that the oil is hot enough by dripping a bit of water into it before putting the balls in. If it is hot enough the oil should pop once the water hits it. If it doesn’t pop, give the oil a bit more time to heat up.

Balls are ready to eat! They are best when warm.

 


When Carbs Attack – Update

After a week of trying to cut back on the carbs, I found that the challenge is not all that easy. After a couple of days of trying to cut down on the carbs I realized that just watching my carb intake was not going to get me very far. So instead of counting carbs I began counting calories. In the process of counting calories I noticed that my carb intake lessened anyway since many carbohydrate-heavy foods are also high in calories.

For my height and weight (5′ 4 1/2″, 135 lbs) I can consume 1635 calories daily to maintain my current weight. If I want to lose weight I have to take it down to 1380 and if I want to aggressively lose weight I have to cut it down to 1038. While 1038 is a bit extreme, 1380 is manageable. By making that calorie count my goal, I found that my carb intake went down accordingly.

I found a few recipes over the course of the week that made it easier for me to cut out the carbs/calories including some extremely versatile bean balls that can be used in spaghetti or eaten on their own with a variety of dips. I will post my final bean ball recipe tomorrow so you all can try it out for yourselves.


When Can I Say I’m a Vegetarian?

Since I stopped eating meat (20 days ago now), I’ve been told on several occasions that I can’t really call myself a vegetarian yet because not eating meat for two weeks does not a vegetarian make. While I generally understand their sentiment, I do not agree with it – for two reasons:

1) Just because I’m insufferable does not mean you can belittle my vegetarianism. I know people think I’m just trying to be difficult, but this is something I’m fully committed to. If you are simply annoyed by the fact that I don’t eat meat anymore, then don’t hang out with me, especially around feeding time. It’s not like I walk around broadcasting that I ditched the meat, I only make it known when being asked about what I’d like to eat. So if you don’t like me calling myself a vegetarian, then don’t find yourself around me while I’m eating.

2) What else am I supposed to say when offered meat at a meal? I mean, come on, am I just supposed to say that I stopped eating meat? Isn’t it a lot easier for me to just say I’m a vegetarian? It just seems like a lot of extra work to beat around the bush and avoid the scary word “vegetarian”.

The point I’ve been trying to make to my friends and family, who I must say have taken a weird turn and are NOT supporting my decision to become a vegetarian, is that I am a vegetarian. Regardless of how long I’ve gone without meat, I am a vegetarian, so if you are simply having a problem with semantics then just keep your comments to yourself.


Cooking Meat for Others

Another issue that I’ve been faced with lately is cooking meat for other people. In my household, I am the only one who doesn’t eat meat – and who am I to deny anyone else that right? The easy answer is that whoever wants to eat meat can just cook their own dinner, but it’s not always that simple. My daughter needs to make these decisions for herself, and being that she is only 3 1/2, it’s not exactly a decision she has all the information to make.

And therein lies the dilemma: how do I go about cooking meat for others without making two completely different meals? Tonight I am making rice, potato salad, and chicken, which means that I will be having rice and potato salad. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been having an issue with carb consumption, and once again, I find myself in the same situation. While I will probably just end up making corn or another vegetable to even out the meal a bit, I still need some fresh ideas on how to cook for everyone’s needs without having to pull double-duty in the kitchen.

This is just one more challenge I will have to overcome if I want to continue on the vegetarian path, and that is something I definitely want to do. I am 17 days meat-free and I haven’t missed it once.