In this weekly series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including: better health, animal rights, food safety, public health, frugal living, food and water security and the staggeringly huge impact of meat/livestock production to climate change/resource depletion.

Macca's Meatless Monday/Meatless Advocates is a solution oriented activist group, with solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time including: climate change, global food/water insecurity and public health.  Here we don't just talk about the severity of the crisis.  Armed with knowledge about how our actions can contribute we become part of the solution.

I was inspired to create this series by former Beatle and vegetarian advocate Paul McCartney(Macca) who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat.  We not only discuss the advantages of a less meat diet we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatles music!

Been feeling down lately?  Need a mood altering substance?  You've come to the right place and don't even have to worry about legal ramifications.  In a new study, Harvard scientists found a strong association between adults' levels of optimism and the amount of carotenoid antioxidants in their blood. Carotenoids are found in richly colored green and orange vegetables, including kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, and collard greens. The more servings of carotenoid-containing vegetables you eat, the results suggest, the brighter your outlook.

Now they couldn't prove if happier people ate more vegetables or if eating lots of vegetables made people happier.  I recently wrote about another study that came to a similar conclusion.  There's no ignoring this strong evidence.  So today I'll be sharing some recipes that will have you looking at things from a more positive prospective.  Don't worry.  Be happy,  Eat your veggies.
       Penne Pasta with Kale & Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Vegan Recipe)
                                          Thanks SweetOnVeg
Here you can get happy and healthy in just 20 minutes with this easy, fast recipe for 1.  Just double ingredients to serve 2 etc.

1 cup, penne pasta
2 tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a bunch of lacinato kale, finely chopped
handful of baby spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained & chopped
3/4 teaspoon, crushed red pepper flakes
salt, to taste

Cook penne according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, kale, spinach and salt – cook gently for a couple of minutes. Then add sun-dried tomatoes and red pepper flakes.

Drain pasta and add to veggie mixture in skillet – stir well. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve.
I've really been getting into warm salads.  Perfect for getting your salad fix on in cool weather..  Serves 2   h/t Martha Stewart and Shutterbean

    2 medium Delicata squashes (about 2 lbs) halved lengthwise & seeded
    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    2 tablespoons honey
    1/2 bunch kale (5 oz), large stems removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
    1 large shallot, finely chopped (I used a red onion cuz I didn’t have shallots!)
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
    1 teaspoon coarse salt
    Freshly ground pepper
    1 can (15oz.) cannellini beans, drained & rinsed

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squashes into 1/2 inch thick semicircles. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil and spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until just tender, about 15-18 minutes.  Mix together the balsamic vinegar & honey in a small bowl.  Brush some of the mixture onto the squash slices; reserve remaining mixture.  Bake for 5 minutes.  (I ended up putting the broiler on after 5 mins because I wanted a little more color on the squash.  This took about 5 mins.)

2. Meanwhile, place kale in a large bowl. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add shallot (or red onion) and garlic, and cook until slightly softened, about 4 minutes.  Add red-wine vinegar and remaining vinegar-honey mixture to saucepan, and bring to a boil. Immediately pour the hot dressing over kale, and sprinkle with salt & season with pepper.  Add squash and beans.  Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand for 5 minutes.  Toss until kale wilts slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
          Kamut Udon Noodles with Kale & Avocado Oil
Another fast & easy recipe, this one ready in 20 minutes.  Should be feeling pretty good after this; has both kale and carrots!  h/t SweetOnVeg Serves 2

8-oz package kamut udon noodles or regular udon noodles
2 tablespoons avocado oil (or grape seed oil)
1 tomato, chopped
3/4 bunch of lacinato kale, cut into long thin strips
3 carrots – peeled and sliced/grated
a handful of mushrooms, white or brown – finely sliced
generous drizzle of organic soy sauce/tamari, to taste
a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper flakes
dash of salt
squirt of honey/agave
1 avocado, peeled and sliced – garnish
squeeze of fresh lime juice

In a pot of boiling water, cook kamut udon noodles as per package instructions until al dente, usually 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Pour noodles back into pot with heat on low to medium. Then add kale, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, tamari, honey/agave, red pepper flakes and avocado oil. Heat gently, stir until steaming and kale has softened, 2-3 minutes.

Garnish with thick slices of avocado and squeeze of lime juice.
       North African Chickpea and Kale Soup
Perfect weather for this yummy soup.  Serves 6

    1 large onion, chopped
    2 carrots, sliced or diced
    4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
    1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    1/8-1/4 teaspoon chilli powder or cayenne
    1/4 teaspoon allspice
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    generous pinch saffron, lightly crushed
    2 bay leaves
    1 3-inch cinnamon stick
    3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
    8 cups vegetable broth (or water plus veg. bouillon)
    1 large bunch kale, thick center ribs removed and chopped (at least 8 cups)
    about 2 cups water
    salt to taste

    Spray a large saucepan with olive oil spray and heat it. Add the onion and carrot and cook over medium-high heat until the onion begins to brown (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the spices, including bay leaves and cinnamon stick, and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the chickpeas and stir to coat them with the spices. Pour in the 8 cups of vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
    Add the chopped kale and stir. If necessary add water to cover the kale and cook until it is tender, about 10-25 minutes, depending on how cooked you like your kale. Check frequently to see if it is becoming dry and add water as needed. Add salt to taste and serve.
           Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche Close-up
This is my adaptation of a Vegetarian Times recipes.  Delicious and a keeper!  8 slices

    1/2 cup Quinoa
    1 cup water
    2 tablespoons Olive Oil
    1 bunch Kale, stems removed and cut into ribbons
    1 large sweet Onion, thinly sliced
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
    3  large eggs from your peeps of course
    salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a 9" pie dish (either butter the dish thoroughly or spray with baking spray). Rinse the quinoa. Combine the quinoa and water in a pan. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer. This will take about twenty minutes. Set aside.
    Meanwhile, start to caramelize the onions. Heat the olive oil in a large saute on medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions. Slowly cook until the onions are soft and browned.
    Remove the onions from the pan, and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the kale into the hot onion pan. On medium heat, cook until the kale is wilted and bright green, about two minutes.
    Allow the greens to cool. Squeeze out any extra liquid using a sieve or a clean dish towel.
    Add the kale, quinoa, garlic and feta to the mixing bowl. Stir the ingredients so that they are evenly distributed.
    In a small bowl, whisk the eggs so that they are well combined. Pour over the quinoa/kale mixture. Stir until the egg clings to the greens. Add salt and pepper.
    Pour the mixture in the prepared pie dish. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden and the pie has started to pull away from the edge of the baking dish. This dish is delightful hot, but even better at room temperature.
      Kale chips
You should be feeling pretty happy by now.  These kale chips will definitely put you over the top!  Great for snacking this coming Super Bowl weekiend.

1 large bunch of kale, torn by hand into bite-sized pieces, stems removed
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut flour (if you can’t find coconut flour, just blend coconut flakes into a fine meal in your blender)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (you may need more or less depending on how large your bunch of kale is)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 375º F. Clean the kale very good, after removing the stems and tearing into bite sized pieces, allow the kale to air dry or spin it dry in your salad spinner. Lay the dry kale pieces in a single layer on two baking sheets (you may need more or less baking sheets depending on how much kale you have). Since I had two baking sheets covered in kale, I drizzled one tablespoon of olive oil over each. Toss the kale around with your hands to evenly coat it all in the olive oil. In a small bowl mix together the curry powder, coconut flour, cayenne pepper and sea salt. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over one pan and half over the other. Toss the kale gently with your hands to evenly distribute the spices.

Place the pans in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes until the edges of the kale pieces are brown and they are crispy. Keep an eye on them. Be careful not to burn them. Once done, place the baking sheet on a rack to allow it to cool. I find storing the kale chips in a tightly closed paper bag, the best way to make sure they remain crispy.

Simple Crispy Kale Chips
Serves about 6

Kale is a rich source of manganese, a mineral that aids in the production of sex hormones. Since the body has only trace amounts, a sudden influx of manganese may give your libido a lift. Serve this appetizer immediately—the leaves lose their crunch after a couple of hours. So happy and sexy...can't beat that!

    1 lb. kale, rinsed and patted dry
    2 Tbs. olive oil
    ½ tsp. kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Tear kale into 3-inch pieces, removing tough stems. Transfer leaves to bowl.

3. Toss kale leaves with olive oil in bowl, until well coated. Spread on baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes. Turn kale with tongs, and bake 10 to 15 minutes more, or until edges are browned and leaves are crispy. Sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or cold.

"A Case of The Blues"   The Beatles from Lennon home recording 1968

"Mailman, bring me no more blues"   The Beatles  Buddy Holly cover 1969

What have you all been cooking?  Please share your recipes and fave Beatles music here!

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