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Monday, July 25, 2011

Meatless Monday….Mexican Style

Do you have a day in the week where you omit meat from your meals? A popular day seems to be Monday as it just rolls off the tongue seamlessly; although there are other days I don’t eat meat, I practice “Meatless Monday” just like many others. As an example of this popular day to leave meat off your plate, here’s a popular weekly blog from Foodista that specifically posts on Meatless Monday.

I have been craving Mexican cuisine lately, so today is Meatless Monday with Mexican flair. Being Monday where no one is happy about the end of the weekend and beginning of a work week, it’s good to keep meal prep nice and simple. Simple is not the same as a convenient drive-thru window at a nearby fast food chain, a little prep in your own kitchen is needed. But, this can be fun and done in less than 30 minutes.

Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 can of fat-free refried pinto or black beans; check the ingredients to make sure there are no hydrogenated oils or words you can’t pronounce
- Reduced fat (part-skim) mozzarella cheese or cheese sticks
- Dried cilantro
- 16oz Jar of your favorite salsa
- 6 inch Corn tortillas; I prefer the Food For Life sprouted whole grain tortillas
- Garlic, Cumin, and Onion Powder
- Cayenne; of course!!
- Shredded lettuce

* Optional – instead of sour cream, use fat-free plain yogurt as a healthy substitute

With these ingredients you can make several things; tostadas, chips and dip, and bean burritos.
Bean Tostada
Mix the can of refried beans with your jar of salsa, cilantro, garlic, cumin, onion, and cayenne powder. Cut or shred the cheese to your liking. Spread the bean mixture on top of a corn tortilla and sprinkle about 1/2 or 1 ounce of cheese on top; toast in a toaster over or conventional oven at 375 degrees until the edges start to turn brown and crispy. Remove from oven, let cool, add shredded lettuce and a dollop of plain yogurt if desired, and eat!

Chips and Dip
Mix the beans and other ingredients like you did for tostadas, then mix in 6 ounces shredded cheese. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, microwave 30 more seconds, stir; continue until the cheese is melted and well incorporated in the mix. Cut the corn tortillas into 6 or 8 wedges, sprinkle with a little salt, and bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven until lightly browned (about 5 – 8 minutes). Now you have homemade chips and dip. Mix the plain yogurt in the dip if you would like, it adds a cool and tangy taste that’s pleasing to the palate.
Bean Burritos
With the same bean mixture as the other two quick-fix recipes, fill the middle of a corn tortilla with about 2 heaping spoonfuls and a half ounce of cheese. Wrap in paper towel and microwave for 30 – 40 seconds; enjoy!  Since these are smaller, you will probably want more than one.  They are more like flautas, only not fried and much better in my opinion.
For reference – an ounce of cheese is similar to four dice; if shredded, about a 1/4 cup.

The combination of beans and a whole grain like corn provides all essential amino acids to make a complete protein, so you will not miss the meat today. Treat your friends, family, and self to one or all of these easy Meatless Mexican meals this Monday and relax…..Monday is almost over!

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