I’ve always been a devoted carnivore. For me, you can’t beat a beautifully cooked steak, and no matter what culinary delights are on offer at a restaurant, I will always choose a meat-based dish. A trip to Nando’s is essentially my idea of a good day out. Call that habit or preference or the fact that I’m a fairly unimaginative chef, but recently I’ve wanted to venture a little further down the savoury road less travelled by.
Having tried to change my approach to food over the last few months by cutting out chocolate, sweets, cakes and biscuits for 100 days (you could say masochism is a passion of mine), I wanted to see what other changes I could make, and if these would have as much staying power as my own 100 day challenge did. There were not only health benefits to ditching the sweet treats, but indeed financial positives too. That is, as long as you don’t spend the pennies you save on nail polish. My bad.
With all of this in mind, I decided that if I was going to carry on avoiding processed sweet things and refined sugar more or less indefinitely, why not combine it with another challenge? So, I thought to myself, how would I, a committed carnivore, fare when going meat-free for seven days?
Here is my week on a variety of plates:
Breakfast– Kale and Pomodorino Omelette
Kale is all over the place these days. It’s hailed as a ‘super food’ and so the more of it you can include in your diet, the better. The best thing to do if including it in an omelette is to saute it in a frying pan for a few minutes first before throwing in the tomatoes and finally adding the eggs. A classic with a ‘super’ twist.
Lunch– Chilli Avocado Mash and Coconut Oil on Toast
I came across this recipe from Red magazine online by chance, and I’m so glad I did. The combination of the crushed chillies along with spring onion and a dash of lime juice gives a new kick to one of my old favourites, mashed avocado on toast. (Warning- there is a high avocado content in this post.)
Dinner– Asparagus Tartlets with Goat’s Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Another recipe from Red magazine, this was my first ever attempt at using puff pastry, and although my version didn’t quite aesthetically match the one I was working to (it never does), I didn’t poison myself and it tasted great, so it’s win-win really.
Breakfast- Fried Egg, Avocado Mash with Chili Flakes and Lime Juice on Toast.
I’m hoping that my inability to cook two eggs without breaking at least one yoke looks somewhat artistic.
Lunch– Roasted Asparagus with Quinoa, Pomodorino Tomatoes, Lime Juice, Spring Onions, Feta, Rocket and a splash of Balsamic Vinegar.
This seemed to use a lot of the ingredients I have in the fridge, and the last thing I want during this challenge is to unnecessarily waste lovely, healthy food. This took quite a while, mostly because it was my first time cooking quinoa, which again didn’t kill me so I think I’m on to a winner on that one.
Dinner- Baked Sweet Potato with Feta, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, a little Coconut Oil and Kale cooked with Garlic
I consulted my good friend Google for the best way to oven-cook a sweet potato, and this was the method I chose. It worked beautifully! This recipe is a combination of this one with feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes and this one with kale, both of which I found on my favourite website/app, Pinterest.
Breakfast- Baked Egg and Avocado, sprinkled with Coriander and Goat’s Cheese
Not only does this look great, it tastes it, too. It’s as simple as it looks. Just make a larger hole in each avocado half, pour the egg into it (it’s probably a good idea to get rid of some of the egg-white first, as it’ll overflow otherwise) and oven-bake for 15-20 minutes. There are loads of versions of this dish online if you need more advice.
Lunch- Rocket, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Feta and Balsamic Vinegar on Toast
Exactly as it sounds and really delicious, too.
Dinner- Egg, Red Pepper, Red Onion and Coriander Galettes
Almost a whole roll of remaining puff pastry called for another Google, which led me to this recipe. Nice and simple. I haven’t got a clue what a Galette is. This, apparently.
Breakfast- Scrambled Eggs with Pomodorino Tomatoes, Coriander and Chilli Flakes
Lunch- Coconut Porridge with Banana, Blueberries and Honey
Sometimes, it’s one of those days where you just need a little bit of comfort food. This isn’t strictly a lunch dish, but it’s delicious and aptly is derived from a recipe by Deliciously Ella. (Her blog is great, if you don’t already know it!) Plus it used up some left-over ingredients. No one likes waste.
Dinner- Vegetarian Quinoa Chili with Kale and Butter Beans
I was a little sceptical about whether a vegetarian chili would do as much for me as one with meat would, but following this recipe and adapting it to the ingredients I had in the fridge and cupboards, I was soon convinced! Deeeelicious.
Breakfast- Quinoa with Coconut Milk, Banana, Vanilla Extract, Blueberries and Cinnamon
If you’re thinking that quinoa as a sweet breakfast dish sounds ridiculous, you’re not alone. I thought so, too, which was what sparked my curiosity to give it a try. Red quinoa is used in the original recipe I found online, but in the absence of any of that variety in my cupboards, I used the one I’ve been turning to in many of my recipes this week. It still worked and tasted great, but I’d be interested to try the red one to see what kind of a difference it makes. (Thank you to my housemate Kath for letting me use her cinnamon- it probably saved the dish!)
Lunch- Mashed Avocado and Spring Onion on Toast, topped with a Fried Egg and Chilli Flakes
I know, I know, you’ve already seen something very similar to this this week, and I can tell you now it won’t be the last time either. I could eat any combination of egg and avocado every single day, and for an easy weekend meal you could certainly do worse than this yummy creation.
Dinner- Curried Roasted Aubergine with Smoked Cardamom and Coconut Milk
Now this, this was good. You might have noticed that a fair few of the recipes in this post feature coconut milk. That’s certainly no coincidence. One tin goes a long way, and so I searched through Pinterest for different ways to use it. This met my coconut milk requirements perfectly. I’d never made curry from scratch before, and although quite time consuming, it worked out brilliantly and is easy to make in bulk, which makes it perfect for freezing and eating on a more time-restricted day. Recipe from The Bojon Gourmet. It’s a Saturday night curry with a difference.
Breakfast- Banana, Blueberries, Medjool Dates, Cinnamon and Greek Yogurt
Simple and fuss-free, this recipe makes use of the left-over Greek yogurt bought for last night’s curry and indulges my new-found passion for Medjool dates.
Lunch- Poached Eggs with Chilli Flakes and Mashed Avocado on Toast
Remember that time I said that there would be another avocado and egg combination? Well, here we are. Poaching eggs is a skill I haven’t quite mastered, but practice makes perfect after all and adds a little novelty to my favourite dish.
Dinner- Roasted Vegetable Tart
This was a brilliant dish for a few reasons, one of which being that it used up the last of the puff pastry and also a fair few fresh ingredients which I had left over from previous meals. I made a little rocket and spinach salad to go with it, with some balsamic vinegar on the side, as always.
Breakfast- Greek Yogurt, Banana and Cinnamon
My last breakfast of the meat-free week consisted of a few left-overs again. But delicious nonetheless.
Lunch- All-in-One Omelette
You can throw just about anything into an omelette mixture, so I began by softening asparagus, spring onion, ginger, green chili pepper, yellow bell pepper and tomatoes in a frying pan before adding the eggs. A little bit of feta cheese works really well with this omelette, too.
Dinner- Moroccan Vegetables with Chickpeas
This recipe comes from Delicious Magazine online and is perfectly suited to being cooked in bulk, frozen and eaten later, which is exactly what I’ve done! It couldn’t be easier and more delicious. I didn’t have any Harissa paste, but adding in a few spices and herbs seemed to do the trick just fine.
Staple Items etc
There are a few other things I wanted to add onto the end of this post which I use day-to-day and happen to be veggie-friendly, too!
Green Tea is pretty much the only thing I drink aside from water. It might sound boring, but there are so many varieties of Green Tea available that you’re bound to find one you love! My favourite is Lemon Green Tea from Clipper.
These wonderful things made their way into my life just over a week ago and I fell hook, line and sinker. These are incredibly popular with many food bloggers and now I know why. I was doubtful when I read that they taste like caramel, but I am a doubter no more. They really do, and they’re a much healthier alternative to the processed, sugary caramel candy bar equivalents you find at the shops, if a little pricier. They say that the best things in life are free, but these may well challenge that line of thinking.
This can be used for just about anything. It’s a cooking oil, a spread, a highly effective moisturiser, a great hair-conditioner (no, really)…the list goes on. Contrary to what you might imagine, it doesn’t leave a strong coconut taste if you cook with it, so it’s definitely worth a try!
My vegetarian week was brilliant, and the creativity it required has inspired me to keep going, and to keep trying more dishes. The world really is your vegetarian oyster.