I like me some vegetables

The following is a guest post from my friend, Ashley. We met in college and I’d easily put her in my top-5-friends-that-make-me-laugh-the-hardest list. She’s a great story teller as you’ll soon see in her post. Even though I’m not a vegetarian and could never give up meat, I do make a vegetarian dish at least once a week to save money and change things up a bit. Be sure to let Ashley and/or me know if you try out one of the recipes!

My name is Ashley and I like me some vegetables.

Okay, I’m also a teacher, so let’s say that correctly: I like vegetables and my name is Ashley. You can find me over here at a.blossom’s story, my little corner of the internet.

Things you should know:
-I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 5 years and I stopped eating red meat long before that.  Why? I just didn’t feel like eating meat.  I know you were expecting some schpeel (how do you spell that word?) about animal rights and all that jazz, but you won’t find that from this girl.  I’m just a vegetable-eating chica for the sake of eating vegetables and being healthy.  The end.
-I’m not married to a vegetarian, which is so much easier than you would think. If that’s holding you back, don’t let it.

Jess and I met and became friends in college and I was pretty darn excited when she asked me to share some healthy vegetarian recipes with you!

Here goes:

Spicy Black Bean Burgers
-Easy? Yes and no.  These do take some time.  However, I think they are totally worth it.  Not to mention, you can freeze the extras and easily cook them up in a pan or on the grill for next time.
-Serve with… An onion bun, chipotle mayo (or spicy mustard for a more healthy approach) and corn on the cob.  You can also top these with lettuce, onion and tomato like a classic burger or go all out with some added avocado.  These babies are filling so you won’t need much more.
-Notes/Substitutions/Add-ins:  Be sure to let the beans, peppers, onions and garlic DRY OUT BEFORE you begin mixing this all in your food processor.  It’s easiest to cut up the veggies and mash the beans an hour or so before hand and just let them hang out on the kitchen counter.  If you don’t, be prepared to add many more bread crumbs than the recipe calls for in order to be able to form patties.  Speaking of bread crumbs, I add whole-wheat ritz crackers instead.  Tasty!  You should also consider adding some fresh cilantro to the food processor for an extra burst of flavor. 🙂  Feel free to sample the mixture before cooking them, you can always add extra seasoning and spices.
-For carnivores? My husband really likes these! They’re not masquerading as meat and have their own awesome, healthy, spicy flavor.  But if your husband, friends, relatives aren’t into them, you can always make one for yourself and freeze the rest while throwing some cow on the grill.

Cous Cous Salad with Chick Peas
-Easy? Yes! A no-brainer.  Even if you’ve never cooked cous cous, you’ve got this.
-Serve with… This recipe is really filling and doesn’t require an additional element.  It’s great for lunch and dinner!  However, if you’re looking for something else to make it more of a meal try serving it with some barbecued chicken for the carnivore and tofu and/or

Morning Star Chicken strips for you.
Notes/Substitutions/Add-ins: Add more tomatoes! Also, you can definitely use white, yellow or even red onion if you don’t have green onions on hand.  We’ve done it, still tasty.  Lastly, this recipe saves and refrigerates well.  It’s filling, so you’ll definitely have leftovers for lunch the next day.  I also think this would be a perfect “dish to pass” at a barbecue or event.  It doesn’t need to be served warm and it’s delicious.
-For carnivores? Absolutely! Again, you can always serve this with a “meat” dish if necessary.

Mandarin Orange Salad
-Easy? Yes! And super, super delicious.
-Serve with…My grandma makes this salad often and it’s such a hit! If you’re eating it for lunch, it’s all you need.  If you’re making it for dinner and want to serve it with fish, chicken or tofu, go for it.  Either way, you will not be disappointed.
-Notes/Substitutions/Add-ins: You do not have to sugar coat the almonds and you can definitely skip this step to make the recipe a bit more healthy.  We like to use a head of romaine lettuce and often skip the celery and add dried cranberries instead.  Of course, you could add both!  Another heath tip, use olive oil instead of vegetable oil and wait to put the dressing on as the salad is served.  You’ll find that you won’t need much dressing at all.
-For carnivores? Unless they hate lettuce, then YES!

Happy healthy, vegetarian cooking!