Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Easy Switch

      One of my biggest goals with this blog, something I tried with Cheap Wine and Cookies but didn't really pull off, is to present a lot of small steps to a more sustainable, healthy lifestyle.  While the transitions that we have made in our home may sometimes seem large and sweeping, and while our goals are ultimately not those of the mainstream, every little change in every single life helps.  And most of the changes we have made have been done is small steps.  So I will try, as often as possible, to offer strategies and tips for small steps that anyone can take to move themselves toward a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

       The step I'm posting today is one I've posted about before.  It's so simple and small, that people don't think much of it, but the impact can be truly huge.  This simple little step is to switch the meat out of your meals - especially if you get your meat straight from the grocery store. 

      NOW, before you give me that glazed over look - this is NOT just another vegetarian rant.  YES, I feel very strongly about both the disgusting treatment of meat animals in our culture as well as the sickening health effects of the amounts of meat our culture consumes and the crap that's in it, but that's not the point of this post.  If you want a little more information on the meat issue, please look here, here, and here.

       There are a million reasons to substitute meat out of a meal once in a while - from the Ethical issues listed above, to cost, to just needing a change of pace.  Over the last year or so, I've become pretty adept at switching out meat in various ways (and I'm not talking about just replacing it with fake meat, though if I'm feeling time pressed, that works, too).  Today, I want to share a very simple, cost effective, easy, and cheap way to sub meat:

      Flavored Chickpeas!

      The beauty of this idea is in it's versatility.  To be cliche' about it - the possibilities are endless.

      You start with chickpeas - lately we've been making the switch to dried beans of all kinds to avoid the chemicals and waste issues associated with cans, but canned chickpeas, which are much easier to find, work fine).  Either soak and prep dried or open, drain, and rinse the canned peas.

     Then you just toss them in the sausepan with a bit of watever flavor you want - see more on this in the recipe below.  The other night, we had BBQ chickpea salads instead of having BBQ chicken salad.

      To make the BBQ chickpeas, I just put the chickpeas, about 1/4 cup BBQ sauce (one with no high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils), and about 1/4 cup of pineapple juice to the pan and mixed it all around.  I could just as easily used water or broth to thin the sauce, but I was in a pineapple kinda mood.

     Either way, you're going to want whatever you're using as a marinade to have a consistancy thinner than BBQ sauce but thicker than water (ideally - really, you can do whatever you want).

      Then I just simmered the chickpeas in the sauce, stirring occassionally, until the sauce had reduced, thickened, and been mostly absorbed by and coated the chickpeas. 

      In the meantime, I prepped the salad from the plentiful greens out of our back garden.  Soooo pretty.

      Then I just scooped the chickpeas onto the salads and BAM:


      Beautiful and super delicious meal.  Healthier, easier, cheaper, and more humane than meat. 

      MacGyver had to kick his up a notch by making his own dressing, sauteeing some pineapple in a little BBQ sauce and juice.  MacGyver likes to one up me.

      Other sauce ideas for the chickpeas:

      They make an AWESOME addition to tacos, burritoes, and the like.  Just simmer them in taco seasoning (cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, cayenne pepper, optional salt, and maybe a bit of cilantro or oregano) like you would taco meat.  OR simmer them in salsa.  OR simmer them in both!  So easy and delicious!  I've made these a few times.

      Whatever your favorite curry sauce is, whether it comes in a jar or whether you make it from scratch, simmer the chickpeas in that for an amazing curry dish.  Sooo good.  Better than tofu, in my opinion.  You can also make the sause yourself with curry powerder or paste and coconut milk or water.

      Ok, so this one isn't a meat replacement, but it's super yummy.  Sautee up the chickpeas with some apples, cinnamon, allspice and/or nutmeg, molasses and/or brown sugar, and some vegan butter (recently we've been using Smart Balance) for a super yummy dessert that's more nutritious and less fattening dessert.  AMAZING over vanilla gelato or HUMANE ice cream like Organic Valley.

      Simmer in thinned out teryaki sauce, use in stir frys, wraps, or salads.

Italian Herbs
      Choice italian herbs (rosemary, oregano, garlic, whatever you want), in some water, simmer, yummy.  You can also make nomeat balls out of these!

The possibilities go on and on.  Any ideas you can offer that I haven't thought of here?

For more recipes like this one, please check out my Recipes page!


Diandra said...

I think the BF would leave me if I switched out all our meat. ^^

(Yes, he is a "one cow and half a bag of potatoes, please" guy.)

I have been substituting beans and chickpeas for meat and fish as a protein source for quite some time, and once I got the hang of it (we never had beans or such when I was a kid), it was really versatile and tasty.

Emmy said...

Oh that salad looks and sounds good! I could totally do that. Oh and in your profile you should change your "my web page" link to this one. It will help people come to the right place, especially since you have such a long list of blogs you write.

Heather said...

BBQ chick pea salad!!! THANK YOU i've been trying to think of what to do with the bag of chick peas I have and I have left over pineapple juice that I can't think of what to do with Your awesome! I can't wait to try these.

Magaly Guerrero said...

I'm currently on my month of no meats, remember how I do it every year?

I don't have a lot of trouble not eating most meats--mostly because I don't like them, but I don't think I'll ever stop.

The chickpeas look delicious.

Erika said...

Chickpeas are a love for me! I make them anyway you can!! I haven't made the switch to buying them dried yet. If you don't mind me asking...where do you buy yours from?