Gift of a Meal Plan

Chickpea Winter Stew & Biscuit

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.

Chickpea Stew

Chickpea Winter Stew 2

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

Sift together...

- 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.

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Blogger bluemountainmama said...

nummy, nummy, for my tummy.... :)

i like chickpeas, but never use them, except occasionally in salad, or for making hummus. i'll have to try this one.

i saw that article just a couple of minutes ago. although, i have to wonder how much is related to all the hormones and junk they put in the meat, too, and not so much the meat itself.

8:16 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Glad you like chickpeas! And I hope you enjoy the recipe.

As for the article, you probably have a point about the hormones etc. On the other hand, all "top of the food chain" foods (includes dairy) accumulate toxins that, well, travel up the food chain. So even organic meats and dairy are higher in toxins than are fruits and veggies. A sad reality for those who still like to enjoy their steak.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

I'm glad you are into eating healthy! I never thought to bring up the subject when we met in Grand Rapids.
Ted and I have been eating somewhat Vegan since 2002 when i stated going to the once a month Vegan potlucks at church. They showed videos afterward of doctors (e.i., Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. John A McDougall) talking about the effect that the standard American diet has on the human body. Needless to say, i would come home excited about the new information that i had learned. Dr. Furman has a
book out called EAT TO LIVE and Dr. McDougall has one out called THE MCDOUGALL PROGAM. My theological husband does not care what i put in front of him but does not what me to educate him about the diet which really is a lifestyle change.

Good to learn of some different recipes! With our limited budget, we have been eating a lot of bean soups over the past two winters. I hope with some added hours @ work, i can add some variety. Your stews look real good!

7:09 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Deb, great to hear from you. Yes, I think I knew from Ted that you have a healthy diet. He seems to admire you for it. :)

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the meals that you have outlined in your Month Menu Plan, but when I look at the links on the right - The 30-Day Recipes and More - they don't match up with the meals listed on the pdf. How can I get the recipes and ingredients for each week?

4:07 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Anonymous... Yeah. That's partly due to never-having-gotten-around-to-posting-the-recipes. And partly because some of the meals are in my favorite Vegetarian Cookbooks (also listed somewhere over there in the wilds of the sidebar :)

5:20 PM  

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