As much as I believe in the plant based lifestyle, my kids don’t share my love for veggies. Making vegan or vegetarian dinners for them is extremely tricky; while one loves beans, the other will not go near them. Both kids love meat and as much as I would love for my family to go plant-based, it’s not a battle I can win (yet!).
What’s wrong with meat? Research shows that societies that eat a vegetarian diet are healthier and don’t suffer from inflammatory diseases like cancer to the same extent as people who eat a Western diet. Also, the way conventional meat is raised nowadays is simply despicable, both from ethical and health perspective. Conventional farming not only confines animals to cramped conditions but also feeding animals foods they didn’t evolve eating (think GMO corn and fillers) creates the need to “treat” them with antibiotics, growth hormones and other pharmaceuticals. This creates inflammatory meat that is simply not health promoting.
Finally, even the US government, which rarely finds common ground with holistic nutrition (remember the low fat debacle?), recommends that boys and men eat less meat (euphemism for beef), presumably because it’s the typical man who loves steaks and burgers to excess (can’t tell you if it’s anecdotal or research based). We worry that our kids and teenagers get enough protein but in reality we get too much protein and from the wrong source.
When I do make meat based dishes, I make sure to source clean, sustainable and humanly raised animals. That means grass fed beef, pastured chicken and wild fish because you are eating what your animals eat so it’s smart to think about the entire food chain. I also don’t serve red meat (that is lamb, pork and beef) more than once every 1-2 weeks (red meat was classified by the World Health Organization as a possible carcinogen ).
I experiment a lot with beans and lentils because they are an excellent source of plant based protein and can replace meat at least a couple of times a week. My Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato, white bean soup with kale and bean chili with quinoa are a staple in my house. If you can’t digest beans, try to cook them according to traditional methods rather than using cans. This means soaking beans overnight and cooking with kelp to tenderize and make them more digestible.
Try this Black Bean Quesadilla for a quick meatless dinner. Filled with veggies and filling legumes, you will not miss meat at all. Topping with fun additions like salsa and guacamole will up the taste and nutrition content so set up a station for toppings and let each family member choose their own.
P.S. I love these quesadillas with corn tortillas. Sadly, it’s hard to find a brand without many fillers and preservatives so I find going to the freezer section is a good way to find corn tortillas with just a couple of ingredients, like… corn and water (Food For Life is my favorite brand).
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
- 1 can black beans, or 2 cups cooked
- 2 cups shiitake or bella mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cups spinach chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- 1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
- 4 tablespoons goat cheese (optional)
- 8 corn tortillas
- guacamole and salsa
In a pan, heat ghee or oil on a gentle heat, add garlic and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft.
Add spinach and beans and cook until spinach is wilted. Add cilantro, cumin and salt and mix to combine.
To assemble the quesadillas, sprinkle each tortillas with a bit of monterey jack and goat cheese, top with the bean mixture, a bit more cheese and top with another tortilla. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side until the filling is heated through and tortilla is crispy. This method is great for small tortillas.
Cut into triangles. Top with avocado and salsa.
Alternatively, if you have larger tortillas, you could place the filling on half of the tortilla and then fold the other half over the filling. Grill on both sides about 5 minutes each.