January first kicks off a new year, so why not start with a delicious, healthy and FILLING vegetarian meal like these barbecue black bean spinach bowls? Some of you out there my have made a resolution to try out a vegetarian or vegan diet. I just went back to eating meat this week after 2 months without it and my reasons for that are:
- I don’t believe in cutting out an entire food group long-term unless it’s something you have an allergy or sensitivity to.
- I initially cut it out for budget reasons but it seems that it doesn’t actually help (unless I was formerly buying fresh wild-caught fish and steak all the time, which I wasn’t)
- Here and there I’d prep a meal for the week and realize my serving size added up to a wopping 200 calories and 8g of protein. That’s a snack. Sometimes, that’s even less than what I consider a snack or “inbetween meal”.
- My metabolism apparently requires a LOT of protein to put on muscle and that’s difficult to do without meat, dairy, AND eggs (I limit eggs quite a bit because they don’t agree with me). I know there are some successful raw vegan bodybuilders out there and props to them. But I just can’t get it to work for me.
Here’s the thing though: cutting out meat for two months taught me that I LOVE a plant-based diet. It IS possible to get good protein intake from vegetarian meals, but I also like to have a balance in life. If I go out or eat at my parents’ house, I want to be able to eat what’s provided. I don’t like to pick at the side dishes, or order something so low in protein because it’s the only vegetarian choice.That being said, I’m still prepping a vegetarian meal each week, but the other meal or two I prep will include meat. This will make it a lot easier to cook for both myself and Justin. For the past two months I’ve been prepping about 4 meals each week. When I eat meat I can knock that down to 2 or 3. It makes a world of difference in the time it takes to prep.
So aside from going back to eating meat, I have some nutrition goals for the new year since December got a little rocky. Actually the whole bulking season got a little rocky for me. I clearly still have a major sugar addiction. I know I try to cure it with healthy sweets, but in the end these still have sugar in them and the more you consume it the more you want it. This means I’m cutting out all added sugars for a month (my birthday might be an exception next week). I’ve done this before for just 2 weeks and while it is really difficult, it’s not quite long enough to cure the cravings. I believe a whole month is required for this. It worked with coffee so sugar is next.
When I do this sugar cleanse, fruit is the one thing that saves me from insanity. The only “sugars” I allow are molasses and stevia. If I bake, it’s sweetened with mashed banana or date syrup. Both of these are great sweeteners but I still have to limit the baking. Fructose is still sugar and if I’m overloading on fruit, my sweet tooth isn’t really going to disappear.
Barbecue Black Bean and Spinach Bowls
A perfect vegan bowl with all the flavor of barbecue chicken but it's packed with nutrients from plenty of vegetables and clean-eating barbecue sauce.
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 can black beans drained and rinsed well
- 2 cups cooked brown rice about 1 cup dry
- 8 oz baby spinach
- 2 green bell peppers
- 1 onion
- 12 oz Clean Eating Barbecue Sauce
Cook rice according to package directions. (I stick it in a rice cooker first before starting the rest of my meal - if I don't do this I will forget. You'll add it in to the dish later so it doesn't matter if it cools down)
Cut peppers and onions into thin strips. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat
Add the minced garlic and stir around for about a minute.
Add peppers and onions to the pan. sautee, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until they are as soft as you like them to be.
While vegetables are cooking, make you barbecue sauce if you've chosen to go the clean-eating route. You can do it just the blender way because you'll add it to your saucepan to cook.
When vegetables are mostly done, throw in the black beans and barbecue sauce. Stir well. Simmer for about 5 more minutes until everything is heated through.
Serve over 1/2 cup of the rice and 1 cup of spinach. This meal is also great without the spinach but that part adds a good nutrient boost to it.