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Vegetarian Chili

Chili

Photo: Arieanna on Active Mama

THE VERDICT:

We’ve discovered that Zayden loves tomato-based soups and figured chili would be an easy sell. But a hearty, meaty chili just didn’t seem like a summer food, so we decided to try a vegetarian version that my fellow Active Mama, Arieanna, had blogged about awhile back. Just like Arieanna, we chose to use black beans instead of black bean soup for this recipe. It was super easy to prepare–just throw everything into your slow cooker. We opted to finely chop all the veggies in our Mini Prep rather than cutting them by hand to be sure they were small enough for Zayden to handle. The beans he can handle whole.

This tasty chili is definitely a family-friendly meal. We all enjoyed it, and it tasted even better the second day.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Grandma’s Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili (source: All Recipes; original recipe)

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    Brown Rice & Lentils with Lime Grilled Veggies

    Lentils, rice & veggiesTHE VERDICT:

    I actually ate this meal for lunch. It is made up of leftovers from two weekend meals, and Zayden ate exactly what I ate with very few modifications.

    The brown rice and lentils were a side dish for a dinner where we enjoyed a baked ham and some steamed broccoli. As the rice/lentil combo is a complete protein, they became the main dish for my lunch the next day. I really love the simple, earthy flavours of this dish and cooking it in chicken broth with bay leaves really adds some flavour (too often lentil dishes can end up tasting like dirt). I did absolutely nothing to change this dish in order for Zayden to eat it. He has been eating solids for about a month at this point and has already shown he can handle chunkier food if it’s soft enough, so I thought I would try serving this dish as is, and he really enjoyed it. He liked the rice and lentils so much, in fact, that I froze some of the remaining leftovers in order to have more on hand for him later. I can now say from experience that this version of brown rice and lentils freezes and reheats well.

    The lime grilled veggies were leftover from a barbecue where we served them alongside Yogurt and Tamarind Grilled Chicken. These veggies are one of our summer BBQ staples, but they can also be broiled in the oven. Though the recipe says to boil the potatoes and carrots for 10 minutes before putting them on the barbecue, my experience tells me that this is not long enough for the potatoes. Try boiling them for 5 minutes before adding the carrots. And a little extra lime never hurt either. As for preparing this dish for baby, simply mince finely and serve. It’s a great combination of veggies that complements most casual grilled meals very well.

    If you want to try it yourself. . .

    THE RECIPES:

    Brown Rice and Lentils (source: The Best of Chef at Home by Chef Michael Smith)

    a splash of olive oil

    1 large onion, minced

    4 cloves garlic, minced

    1 cup of brown rice

    1 cup of dried lentils

    4 cups of chicken broth or water

    a bay leaf or two

    a sprinkle or two of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

    • Splash the olive oil into a small pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes until they just start to turn golden brown.
    • Add the rice, lentils, chicken broth (or water), bay leaves and salt and pepper. Bring everything to a simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to low, just enough to maintain the simmer. Continue cooking until the rice and lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes.
    • Turn off the heat and let stand for a few minutes before serving.
    • Freestyle variation: you may add any fresh or dried herbs you like to this dish. Rosemary, thyme and tarragon all work well. At the last second, you may also add a 1/2 cup of raisins or some sliced green onions.

    Lime Grilled Veggies (source: Spark Recipes; original recipe)

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    Mustard-Crusted Tofu with Kale and Sweet Potato

    Mustard-Crusted TofuTHE VERDICT:

    Maybe it was the fact that we cooked one too many recipes calling for kale and/or sweet potato this week or maybe this recipe really was lack lustre. I would actually go so far as to say that recipes like this one are what give vegetarian cooking a bad name. Overall, it was bland–except for the kale, which was bitter. The only good thing I can say about this recipe was that it was fairly quick and easy to prepare.

    If, despite our review, you want to try it yourself…

    THE RECIPES:

    Mustard Crusted Tofu with Kale and Sweet Potato (Source: Epicurious; original recipe )

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