So you’ve heard about Meatless Monday, and are convinced by the benefits of forgoing meat once a week to improve your health, your food budget, and the planet. But what are you going to eat instead? Perhaps the closest you’ve come to a meatless meal was the PB & J you had for lunch as a kid, or the plate of fries you shared with a friend over beers at the pub.

Legumes or pulses (namely beans, peas and lentils) are the most affordable and sustainable protein on the planet. You’re not a good vegetarian or vegan if you don’t eat legumes almost every day. And even for meat eaters and flexitarians, it’s recommended to opt for pulses at least three times per week in lieu of red meat for the conclusive health benefits. Legumes are one of the best sources of fibre, which most North Americans are sadly deficient in, so adding them a few times per week can help meet your needs.

Anyone who thinks soup can’t make a meal will surely eat their words when they fill up on this delicious recipe. Serve it over cooked quinoa to make a stew, or top with crunchy tortilla strips. For an easy meal that’s almost ready when you get home, make it in the slow-cooker.

The Recipe:

Serves 6

2 cups dried black beans

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp smoked salt (or sea salt)

2 carrots, grated

1 bunch collard greens (or substitute kale, swiss chard, etc.), de-stemmed and chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp cumin, ground

2 tbsp chili powder

Optional garnishes: Freshly diced cilantro and plain yogurt

Directions:

  1. Place beans in a slow-cooker and cover with six cups of boiling water. Add bay leaves and turn on high. Cook for at least four hours, or until beans are tender.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes until softened. Add smoked salt and cook for another two minutes. Add to slow cooker.
  3. Place collard greens in skillet with 1 tbsp of water, cover and cook until tender, approximately 10-15 minutes. Add to slow cooker.
  4. Meanwhile, add all remaining ingredients to slow-cooker, including more water if it is too thick. Cook for 30 minutes to soften tomatoes and allow flavours to combine.
  5. Remove 3 cups of soup and puree in blender, then return to pot to help thicken the soup.
  6. Adjust seasonings as desired then serve with fresh cilantro and a dollop of plain yogurt.

If you do not have a slow-cooker, cook beans first in a large pot or use canned (3 large cans).

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