As a man, I need meat to survive. In the hunter-gatherer sense of the word, yes, I “need” it. It’s something that is just born in most men. Bacon, steak, BBQ chicken, lamb chops, ribs, pulled pork, etc. I am a carnivore. Not only is all of this meaty deliciousness simply better tasting than a salad, but it also is packed with protein which is an important part of any diet. So, when Kristi suggested we don’t eat meat for a week, I said that we need protein so we can’t do that. To which she replied “we’ll eat beans.”
Whoa… hold up… beans? If you know me, you’ll know that I get pegged as a “picky eater” because I don’t like beans. It’s the texture (they are like eating paste) AND the taste which don’t appeal to me. I like guacamole and Kristi says it has the same texture as beans; but guacamole tastes good enough to overlook the texture issues and you dip chips in guacamole so the crunchy element helps rectify the pasty texture.
With that being said, I agreed to try some new things because I love my wife. I even told her I wouldn’t complain. I would, however, tell her my un-sugarcoated thoughts if she asked. And Kristi didn’t waste any time taking full advantage of my willingness to try some meatless, bean filled dinner options. She made quinoa stuffed bell peppers. This was a decent start to our meatless journey because I liked all the ingredients in it except for the black beans. I also think you could put some ground beef or something in there and it would still taste great. But that’s neither here nor there. When she did put the beans in, she graciously didn’t add as many as she probably would’ve liked to, and I thanked her for that.
I have to admit that these stuffed peppers looked and smelled good, so I was kind of excited to try them. When they came out of the oven, we popped them onto plates and dug in. The first bite I took had two black beans visible on the spoon staring right at me as if daring me to eat them. Kristi looked over and didn’t see the beans at first and she commented on how my first bite didn’t even have any beans. I showed her the beans, then accepted the challenge and plunged the fork into my mouth, beans and all. I am happy to report that I liked it. I didn’t taste the beans, which is good. Also, I didn’t bite directly into any of the pasty nuggets, so the texture didn’t affect my enjoyment.
I ate the whole thing and thought I would be hungry in about an hour because it was a vegetarian dish. Surprisingly, I wasn’t. So, now Kristi has a new dish she can make when she has a bean craving or we want to save some money and not eat meat one night. I’m sure there will be other things I try in the coming weeks but I’m keeping an open mind and trying them out of love for my wonderful wife.
There are two things you should probably know about Nolan and me. I’m not the world’s best cook and Nolan hates beans. Now, when I speak of my cooking abilities, I don’t mean that I can’t cook… I just mean that I cook the same four or five recipes over and over because I know they are good and I do a decent job with them. When I speak of Nolan’s hatred of beans that is no understatement. He really doesn’t like them. In fact, he has been known to pick around them in a meal, gag while attempting to eat them, and of course he makes that face that seems to say “why are you trying to hurt me by putting these beans in perfectly fine food?”
In a Pinterest fueled moment, I pinned a plethora of healthy meals that didn’t involve meat. I sat on these recipes for a few days before bringing up the idea of going a week without eating meat to Nolan. Please don’t mistake my attempt at going meatless for a week as a weak attempt at pushing us into a vegetarian-ish lifestyle… that’s simply not the case. I like meat too much. The idea came to me because meat is so stinking expensive. We have a strict grocery budget each month and it seems as if we (more often than I’d like to admit) end up going the tiniest bit over. In an effort to rein that in a little, I wanted to explore the idea of meatless recipes and convince Nolan that you can have a fulfilling and delicious meal without one ounce of meat involved. Just as I suspected, Nolan retorted with a simple, “I’m a man… I need meat to survive.” We volleyed back and forth on this idea and, naturally, I came out the winner.
So, that brings me to the newest dish that I’ve added to my repertoire. Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers. YUM! I told Nolan all of the ingredients (which sounded like a great combo) and ended the list with a whisper of “…and beans,” hoping he would somehow miss that tiny addition. He didn’t and I received a little hesitation. Nolan graciously agreed to try out this recipe with me and even promised not to complain (too much) about the addition of beans. Nolan stood by my side as I prepared the meal and, when it came time to add the beans, he requested that I not overload the recipe and I happily obliged. So, without further ado, here it is:
3 cups cooked quinoa (I cooked mine with chicken bouillon cubes and added mushrooms and onions)
1(4oz) can green chiles (I left these out since we didn’t have any)
1 cup corn kernels
½ canned black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup petite diced tomatoes
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves (again, we didn’t have any so I left it out)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
6 Bell Peppers, tops cut, stemmed and seeded
**We didn’t use the quantities listed here as I didn’t want an overabundance of a meal I wasn’t sure we would like… basically we eyeballed everything**
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine quinoa, green chiles, corn, beans, tomatoes, cheeses, cilantro, cumin, garlic, onion and chili powder, salt and pepper.
Spoon the filling into each bell pepper cavity. Place in a baking dish, filling side up, and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through, about 25-30 minutes. (I ended up cranking up the heat and leaving them in a bit longer)
Even though we didn’t follow the recipe to a tee, it smelled absolutely delicious and I couldn’t wait to dig in. Once we sat down to eat, I awaited Nolan’s response as to how it tasted. Yes, I creepily stared at him and watched as he didn’t pick out the beans and ate them along with the filling. I was shocked and probably had a weird grin creep up on my face. I don’t know if I could go as far as saying he loved it, but he definitely would eat it again (at least that’s what he told me).
I am so excited that I’ve found a meal that is something new and different and something that Nolan enjoyed. So, to all you picky eaters out there: if Nolan can do it, you can, too. You never know what you’ll like until try it!