Use What Your Garden Gave Ya: Meatless Monday Meal

I’m a huge proponent of home veggie gardens. There are many advantages to growing your own food, but my favorite aspect is being able to walk out my kitchen door into a glorified pantry of freshness all year long.

This evening, I found a ripe ‘Black Beauty’ eggplant, basil that needed to be used or lost to the heat and rain, scallions, and just enough parsley that the butterfly caterpillars left for me to enjoy. I knew I wanted to do a quick stir fry with my finds and the rest of whatever was in the fridge that needed to be used up. I can’t stand food waste and will  frequently concoct some strange combinations just to use whatever I have on hand. This time, it actually all made came together and made sense.

The look of the food, from the prep to the plating, is important to me and I believe affects the entire experience of the meal. Presentation was something I learned while working in kitchens and it has carried over to homemade meals even when only cooking for myself. I like pretty food and that means a lot of color. Eating all the colors is also the easiest way to have a healthy diet without dieting.

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Back in the house, I pulled out the leftover red cabbage, the butt of a zucchini, half a yellow pepper, red onion, garlic, and extra firm tofu to add to my garden finds. I was craving vegetables after a weekend of many meats and carbs. Meatless Monday feels slightly hippy to me, but I’m going with it. No, I won’t be doing any yoga after dinner. I can’t even touch my toes and I like it that way.

I do try to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet to help with my syndrome, but I definitely get off course sometimes. This past weekend was one of those times and my joints told me all about it today. Starting Monday off with this meal will get me back on track to make better decisions the rest of the week.

wpid-wp-1440459274049.jpgInto the medium-heated pan went about two tablespoons (I don’t actually measure) of coconut oil along with the tofu, eggplant, yellow pepper, and a few dashes of salt. Once the eggplant started to become slightly transparent, I threw in the red onion and zucchini. At this point, I spiced it with cumin, cayenne, turmeric, and red pepper flakes (I just eye it to my preference). I cooked the red cabbage in a separate pot–to prevent it from turning everything purple–with a little water, cumin, and turmeric, and added that to the mix at this point along with garlic, basil, and a few splashes of apple cider vinegar. With the veggies and tofu browned, I drizzled a bit of olive oil over everything, added the parsley and tossed it all together to pour into a bowl and garnish with the scallions.

The tofu and eggplant soaked up all those spices so well and complemented the sweet crunch of the pepper and onions. I ate two big bowls without anything else, but this stir fry could easily be put over rice, quinoa, or wrapped up in tortillas. I just wanted all the veggies and I was pleased. It was fresh, spicy, and delectable.

ALL. THE. VEGGIES.

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So I finished this Monday on a good note and hope to continue to make healthy decisions throughout the week. Having fresh produce in my backyard is an advantage to making better choices. While I’m enthusiastic about my fall tomatoes coming in and more peppers, I’m really looking forward to getting the winter garden going and all the greens and root and tuber vegetables that will be flooding my kitchen for soups and stews, which also means the end of 90% humidity, mosquitoes, and a break from weeding. Bring on the cooler weather! I’m ready.

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