Gift of a Meal Plan
Most of us would agree that one of the best gifts we can give ourselves is the gift of health. Creating a Meal Plan is a good way to ensure that our ideals translate into reality.
Though it can be useful to use someone else's meal plan, it's even better to create a plan of one's own. But where to begin?
Here are some tips on how to create a nutritionally-balanced vegetarian meal plan (a timely pursuit, if you consider this sobering article on cancer and meat consumption)...
1. Think of each meal as consisting of four basic parts: protein, whole grain, fruit, vegetable (or no fruit and two vegetables).
2. Plan each night with a different protein as the centerpiece, adding grains and fruits and veggies that are natural complements. Chickpeas. Black beans. Tofu. Eggs. Lentils. Kidney beans. And so on.
Some good grain matches are as follows: chickpeas with couscous, rice, or barley. Black beans with cornbread, rice or quinoa. Tofu with soba noodles or rice. Eggs with wheat tortillas, bread, or rice.
3. Alternately, plan each night with an ethnic theme. Greek on Monday. Mexican on Tuesday. Chinese on Wednesday. And so on. The meal plan here at Green Inventions uses a combination of these techniques and thus has variety in terms of both foodstuffs and cuisines.
4. Be dedicated to planning a variety of meals each week for one month, and write down what you do. At the end of the month, type it up. If some meals didn't go over well, drop them out and substitute some new possibilities.
5. Be flexible. And enjoy your meals!
Here's a recipe from the Green Inventions Meal Plan, for chickpea stew, with biscuits.
Saute until golden...
- small onion, chopped
- 2 small celery sticks, chopped
- 1 tsp herbs de Provence (or substitute with 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning)
Add and cook 40 minutes...
- about 6 cups vegetable stock (or chickpea water, if you cook chickpeas from dry stage)
- 1/3 cup pearl barley
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
Add and cook another 10 minutes...
- 2 or 3 red potatoes, cut in 3/4 inch chunks
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 cup chickpeas (3/4 cup dry, cooked in advance, or half a can)
Add and cook another 5 minutes...
- 1 cup sugar snap peas (or half cup loose peas)
- 1/2 pack of white mushrooms, sliced thinly
- salt and pepper to taste
- a few pours olive oil
Whole Wheat Biscuits
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 TB baking powder
Cut in until crumbly...
- 1/2 cup room temperature butter
Add and mix with fingers until dough holds together...
- 1 cup buttermilk (or milk substitute)
Roll dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut circles with cookie cutter or mouth of a small cup. Bake at 400 degrees, about 12 minutes.
About chickpeas...About 15 grams protein in 1 cup. High in potassium, calcium and vitamin A. Among other legumes, this golden, nut-shaped legume stands tallest in iron. Some research has shown cholesterol reduction with increase in chickpea consumption.
Recipes adapted from Williams Sonoma Vegetarian
Chickpea Stew photo, by L.L. Barkat.