A year ago, if you told my husband that we’d soon be eating vegetarian four to five nights per week, he would have laughed in your face. Mike has been known to eat so many ribs in one sitting with his brother that they’ve made themselves sick. One of the crowning achievements he touts is “the infamous eating day” when he ate a whole meat pizza and two Chipotle beef burritos in one sitting. And I shouldn’t only call out his omnivore habits – when I sat down and really thought about it, I couldn’t remember the last full day I went without eating at least one type of meat.
But recently, as we have become more aware of our personal environmental impacts, meat consumption is one of the areas we’ve decided to focus on. This is partly due to reading books like Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which opened my eyes to the real meaning of ‘free-range meat’ and ‘grass-fed beef’. And also due to being bombarded almost daily with articles citing statistics like ‘if someone eating more than 100 grams of meat per day cut down to less than 50 grams of meat per day, their food-related emissions would fall by a third – equivalent to an economy return flight between New York and London each year”.
So we decided to start the year of 2018 with a goal – to eat vegetarian at least four nights per week. Surprisingly (to me, at least), Mike was the one to really push this challenge. A few benefits have emerged almost immediately. It’s cheaper – we’re spending almost £30 less per week on groceries. And it’s challenging me to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen – many of which are healthier than our go-to meat recipes.
One of my recent concoctions has become an instant favorite of Mike’s, and he asked me to write it down so as not to forget how I made it (a recent occurrence). It’s especially perfect for this cold and flu season, because ingredients like garlic and turmeric are natural combatants of inflammation and colds and you really are eating the rainbow with this seven-veggie combo!
- Cook Time: approximately 40 minutes
- Serves: 2 people
- 1/2 cup Black or white rice (we prefer black rice for the added nutritional value)
- 1 cup water or vegetable stock
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp coconut oil or butter
- 3 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 400mL can organic coconut milk
- 1 small to medium cauliflower
- 1 small to medium head of broccoli
- 1 large bunch of baby kale (approximately 2 cups)
- Olive oil, enough for dressing the vegetables to be roasted (sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale)
- Salt and pepper, freshly ground
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 avocado
- Feta cheese, enough for topping
- Sliced almonds, enough for topping
- Preheat the oven to 200C (390F).
- In a small sauce pan, combine the 1/2 cup rice with either 1 cup water or 1 cup vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, and then simmer on low heat until the rice is nice and fluffy (this will take about 20 minutes).
- While the rice is cooking, dice the sweet potato. Add the diced sweet potato to a baking tray lined with foil. Toss the sweet potato with olive oil, salt, and pepper (this can be done in a large bowl before adding to the baking tray, but I do it straight in the baking tray to minimize dirty dishes). Place the tray of sweet potato in the oven and set a timer to cook for 20 minutes.
- Once the sweet potato is in the oven, dice the yellow onion. Add the diced onion to a small sauce pan with the coconut oil or butter. Cook on low to medium-low heat for two to three minutes.
- While the onion is cooking, mince the garlic. Add to the small sauce pan with the onion.
- After the onion and garlic have cooked for several more minutes and the onion has become translucent, add the 3 tbsp curry powder, 1 tsp turmeric, and 1 tsp salt. You may need to add more coconut oil or butter at this point to absorb the spices.
- Once the spices have mixed in with the onion, garlic, and coconut oil or butter, add the whole can of coconut milk to the sauce pan. Mix thoroughly, and simmer on low.
- While keeping an eye on the coconut milk / curry sauce and rice, dice the cauliflower into florets. Take the sweet potato tray out and add the cauliflower to it. The timer will probably have reached its 20 minutes at this point, but even if it hasn’t, reset the timer to 15 minutes and place the tray with sweet potato and cauliflower back in the oven to roast.
- Dice the broccoli into florets. Add the broccoli florets and the kale to a baking tray lined with foil. Toss them both with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, freshly ground.
- Place the broccoli and kale tray in the oven. I prefer to at this point move the sweet potato / cauliflower tray to the bottom roasting shelf, and put the broccoli / kale tray on top.
- At this point, your rice will likely be done (all of the water or vegetable stock should have been absorbed by the rice), and the coconut curry sauce will be ready. Begin plating by adding the rice to two bowls. Place a few handfuls of baby spinach in each bowl on top of the rice.
- When the vegetables are finished roasting, remove from the oven. Add the roasted vegetables to each bowl – I add the sweet potatoes, then cauliflower, followed by the broccoli and kale.
- Dice the avocado, and the feta cheese. Sprinkle on top of each bowl, with the sliced almonds.
- Pour the coconut curry sauce on top of each bowl, and serve warm!