Monday, July 19, 2010

Meatless Mondays

This is the first week of the Cholesterol Challenge and I'm taking no prisoners.  I'm not going to lie - it's hard figuring out what to make when you have to balance low cholesterol, high fibre, low fat and low carb all the while keeping the flavour up....and something relatively filling as Hubs gets hungry so quickly.  Plus it also has to be non-egg and non-dairy for me, and have sufficient protein for all the training I'm doing.  Sigh.  Not easy - but I thought wait a sec...this can become a cooking challenge for me - kinda like a healthy Iron Chef.  I wonder if Chairman Kaga is looking for someone?  Har. 

In my bloggie travels, I'd noticed that a lot of people were doing Meatless Mondays, so thought hey...great way to incorporate some veggie eating into our lifestyle, and maybe cut down on our food costs.  I fully admit - I do kinda turn my nose up at a lot of vegetarian cooking as I tend to find that it lacks a roundness in flavour or that it all kind of tastes like the same.  I am a foodie after all - stuff HAS to taste good...nothing makes me sadder than insipid, bland food.  The majority of veggie recipes I've tried haven't been fantastic, but again - even more of a cooking challenge for me and I think I'll look into taking some courses.  I can't blame the recipes solely as maybe it's partially my technique.  I'm all about the challenges - bring it, as Tony Horton would say.

I was flipping through all my cookbooks for ideas so remembered I had Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Eating for Everyone, a classic cookbook in the veggie world. The recipes looked good, but a lot of them had eggs or dairy - no dice.  I'd bought Vij's cookbook a few weeks ago and while the veggie recipes were amazing, they did have a lot of butter or cream.  Hmmm.  I went through all my Best of Bridge cookbooks and again was thwarted.  Argh!  I thumbed through some of my Moosewood cookbooks, but nothing was calling out to me.  Back to the drawing board.

Then I remembered that I'd seen this recipe off the blog Eat Live Run (  - awesome blog too, BTW ) for a vegan lentil loaf that was getting some rave reviews.  I was intrigued - my bestie R. mentioned that she makes a meatless meat loaf that her husband Stinky (don't know why I call him this, tee hee) really liked so I thought heck, I'm gonna give this a whirl. 

OMG, as Usher would say.  This was really, really, really good.  It has a really nice full flavour...Hubs even emailed me after lunch to tell me that it was tasty.  And with the walnuts, we're getting some Omega 3s in.  Success!  This recipe fits the bill for everything we need.  We've also got falafel on the menu this week too, so we're well on our way...Cindy - 1, Cholesterol - 0.

Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf - from Eat Live Run blog by Jenna (thank you!)

makes 1 loaf

1 cup lentils
3 cups vegetable stock or broth
1 large yellow onion
1 large carrot
1 stalk celery
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup breadcrumbs
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tbsp ground flax mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the ground flax and 1/2 cup water. Set aside.

Simmer together the lentils, broth and a pinch of salt for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender and have absorbed all the broth.

Meanwhile, prepare your veggies. Chop the onion, grate the carrot and dice the celery. Saute the onion and celery in the olive oil over medium high heat for six minutes, or until tender, not caramelized. Add the garlic and carrot and cook for about another four minutes.

Toast the walnuts in the oven for six to seven minutes. Add them to the onion/carrot/garlic mixture on the stove and stir well.

Add the oregano, salt and pepper as well and then take the mixture off the stove and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the breadcrumbs, flax/water and cooked lentils and toss well. Press mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you make the topping.

In another small bowl combine the ketchup, maple syrup and vinegar. Spread on top of loaf. Bake for 40 minutes and then out on a plate.

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