I have been using cheese again and it has to stop. We haven’t been feeling as good, and it’s really starting to show. It’s a lazy thing. I love to cook, but I’ve been in a rut of “as long as it’s quick and kosher, who cares if it’s healthy”. Yes, I make lentil lasagna and tacos, and I don’t use a ton of cheese, but even 1-2 lbs a week is not good for us or our budget. I’ve decided I need to learn to cook without cheese. I enjoy pizza with or without cheese, and I’m willing to make it with cheese when requested, but the rest of our dishes really don’t need it.
I have this meal structure idea going on, which is based on the McDougall diet. Dr. John McDougall promotes a high starch (unrefined), low fat (no free oils) diet for pretty much all humans, as a way to stay healthy, prevent disease and have a higher quality of life. It’s cheap and should be easy to adapt to, and we really have come a long way in the slow and steady approach. Our breakfast menu has become pretty much routine over the past year and a half. We eat Oatmeal 3-5 days a week, (the kids love it!), pancakes 1-2 times a week and toast when we feel like it. I keep a little bit of cold cereal around, but it’s a once in a while/in a hurry breakfast or just a snack if a meal wasn’t someones favourite.
I want to plan starch based meals, with legumes, a vegetable and a fresh sauce or base. Sauces should be made with real ingredients, and everything should be as simple and straight forward as possible. No special ingredients, packaged foods or hard to find stuff. My one exception may be taco seasoning… I have started buying taco seasoning packets for my lentil tacos. They are about $2 each and I don’t want to get in the habit of making all of my meals with prepackaged seasonings, but this is just so easy. I’ve tried to make my own mix, and it just hasn’t turned out right. I love the how consistent the flavour is with the packets. This is the seasoning we really like Simply Organic Spicy Taco Seasoning Mix Seasoning Mixes, 32 gm (affiliate links). I cook 1 cup of dry lentils in the Instant Pot for 8 minutes, natural pressure release. When I’m ready to make dinner, I drain most of the liquid off the lentils and put them in a pan on the stove with the package of seasoning, and salt to taste. I cook it for about 8-10 minutes, stirring and mushing a little bit. It becomes thick and easy to stuff in taco shells. I bake the taco shells while I cook the lentils. It’s just so fast…
The main calorie component should be Potatoes, Rice, Wheat or Corn, with a secondary flavourful component being Beans, Lentils, Tofu or Tempeh. Each component should be seasoned well. Beans should be made with salt and other spices.
Sauces or bases should be fresh and appropriate to the meal.
Tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, cumin, chipotle – Mexican
Garlic , onion, tomato, basil, oregano, – Italian
Garlic, Onion, Coconut, curry – Indian
Mushrooms, onions, wine – Gravy
Side vegetables should be steamed lightly, (Peas, Green beans or Broccoli) or vegetables can be part of the main meal as in fajitas (Peppers and Onions) or stir-fry.
Today I made an enchilada sauce with the following:
1 frozen whole roma tomato, a handful of cherry tomatoes, 1/4 onion, 2 cloves garlic, a handful of cilantro stems (from 1 bunch), 1/8 cup brown rice and 1 whole chipotle pepper from a can. I added 1 cup of hot water and blended in the Vitamix until smooth. Then I put it in a pot on the stove, brought it to a boil so it thickened (stirring frequently) and then thinned to the desired consistency with more water. I added a pinch of cumin, salt to taste. It was simple, and it was WAY better than any of the enchilada sauce recipes I have tried. It tasted good in the pot, and I went on the make a filling with some fridge leftovers.
Filling the enchiladas
Pinto beans (blended in the vitamix until smashed, but not super smooth) diced potatoes, a couple of handfuls of frozen corn and about 2 TBSP of frozen diced green peppers. I added salt to taste, and that was it. I dipped the tortillas in sauce and spooned in a small amount of filling, rolled them up and placed them in a sauced casserole dish and baked covered with parchment and foil for 30 minutes at 350. So delicious! No crazy ingredients, super cheap and filling. Best of all, no cheese.
I made some black beans based on this recipe https://www.frieddandelions.com/how-to-make-black-beans-instant-pot/ and blended some for the girls. They loved it all soupy without rice, because I made some brown rice and they didn’t like it. When I served the enchiladas, I also served peas, white rice and a little scoop of the flavourful black beans.
My husband was not impressed with the green peppers in the enchiladas, and wasn’t sure the corn was a good texture for him, but overall he liked the meal. Edit* He really liked it second day in his lunch.
- 1 whole roma tomato
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 red onion
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 handful cilantro stems from 1 bunch
- 1/8 cup dry brown rice use rice flour if you don't have a high powered blender
- 1 cup water
- 1 whole Chipotle pepper canned in sauce
- Pinch of cumin 1/4 tsp
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Put everything but the salt in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
Heat on medium high stirring constantly until it has thickened. Turn off the heat and add water to thin to desired consistency (maybe 1/2 cup)
Salt to taste
So delicious! No crazy ingredients, super cheap and filling. Best of all, no cheese.
- Pinto beans blended in the vitamix until smashed, but not super smooth
- 1 cup diced potatoes
- 1/2 cup frozen corn (optional)
- 2 TBSP frozen diced green peppers. (optional)
- salt to taste
- 1 batch Enchilada sauce
- 6-8 10" Tortillas
Coat the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch casserole dish with sauce
Dip each tortilla in sauce and spoon in some filling, maybe 1/3-12 cup each. Roll them up tight and place them in the dish squished close to each other. I placed them length wise, since the tortillas were to wide for the dish.
Drizzle the remaining sauce on top making sure there are no dry spots.
Bake covered with foil (I used parchment paper under the foil) for 30 minutes at 350.