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In this weekly series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including:better health, animal rights, public health, food safety, frugal living, global food crisis 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 no only discuss the advantages of a less meat diet we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle music!

The past few days have been chilly here in Florida and I've been enjoying every moment. I've been playing tennis, running and bike riding as much as I possibly can because very soon it will be much too hot for really strenuous outside activity.

I've also been enjoying some of my favorite cool weather recipes because soon I'll be living on salads and popsicles to help make it through the oppressive Florida summer.  

There's nothing better than a big pot of Chili for a Chilly evening and I have an infinite supply of Chili recipes that I've used over the years.  Tonight I'll share a few with you.
       Red Lentil Thai Chili
This hearty fusion Chili has some of my all time favorite ingredients combined together for a spicy, hot, sweet, satisfying, super high protein healthy one-dish meal.  This is adapted from Lusti Weather and Isa Chandra and serves 10-12 so freeze half if you like to have ready for a busy day!

Olive oil (1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons, however much you feel like using)
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced medium
3 cloves garlic(or 2 taste), minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes cut into ¾ inch chunks
1 cup red lentils
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups vegetable broth
2 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (I love you Thai red curry paste!)
1 15 oz can lowfat coconut milk
28 oz can diced tomatoes
½ cup fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Limes for garnish (optional) but really good!

Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Saute onions and pepper in oil with salt, for 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute more.

Add chili powder, sweet potatoes, lentils, salt and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce to a medium simmer.  Let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When lentils are cooked and sweet potatoes are tender, add the remaining ingredients and heat through.

Taste for salt and seasoning, top with cilantro and lime and serve!
       Corn Muffins
Perfect with Chili, salad or with scrambled Tofu for a spicy hearty brunch. Makes 12-18
H/T myveggiekitchen and Red or Green New Mexico Cuisine

3/4 C milk or use soy milk
1 8-oz can cream-style corn
1/3 melted butter (I use Earth Balance)
2 fresh eggs, beaten from your peeps if possible!
1 1/2 C white, yellow or blue cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 C mixed shredded cheddar cheese and Monterrey Jack cheese
3  fresh green Pablano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, deveined and chopped OR 1 and a 1/2 cans 4-oz. can green chiles, drained and chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or grease and flour each cup.
In a medium-size bowl, stir together milk, corn, butter and eggs.
In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.  Add mixture from medium-size bowl to dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Do not overmix.
Spoon a large spoonful of batter into each cup, filling about 1/3 of each cup, and top with a little cheese mixture and green chile, dividing evenly and reserving a little for sprinkling on top.  Top with batter and reserved cheese and green chile.  Each cup should be about two-thirds full.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until muffins are golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
       Cajun French Chili - from Cafe at the Corner
This is a real change of pace that's based on a classic French rataouille.  Cover in grated Gruyere cheese(optional), and add some crusty French bread to pretend you're dining in a French farmhouse!  From Evening Edge and Vegetarian Times. Serves 8

    2 14.5-oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
    2 medium-sized onions, chopped
    1 large eggplant (about 1 lb.), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
    3 small zucchini (about 1 lb.), cut into 1-inch cubes
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 Tbs. herbes de Provence(this makes the dish don't skimp!)
    1 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. minced jalapeño pepper
    ½ tsp. ground black pepper

    Combine all ingredients in 4-qt. slow cooker or large pot.
    Cover slow cooker, and cook chili on low 4 to 6 hours. Or, place lid on pot, and bring chili to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
    Spoon chili into bowls, and serve.
Note: if you're cooking in a regular pot check now and then and add some water about 1/2 cup if needs.
          Batter Fried Eggplant
This recipe contains powdered Chili and is my new addiction. It's an exotic taste which hails from Pakistan and because I use chickpea(garbanzo) flour it's gluten free and also has lots of good protein so can be used for a small dinner with a salad or as a substantial snack or lunch. From Chef Larry Edwards Serves 4

    1 eggplant, stem end removed
    ½ tsp. salt
    2 cups chick pea flour
    1 tsp. baking powder
    ½ tsp. chili powder
    1 tsp. sesame seeds
    1 tsp. garam masala
    2 ¼ cup water
    peanut oil for frying

    Slice the eggplant into ¼-inch thick slices. Sprinkle each slice with salt. Place the slices into a colander, weigh it down (bag of popcorn, rice or beans will work) and let the eggplant drain for 30 minutes.
    Remove the eggplant and squeeze out any excess liquid. Set the eggplant aside (it will turn brown and this is natural).
    In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, chili powder, sesame seeds and garam masala. Stir in the water to form a batter.

In a large sauté pan or skillet add enough oil to deep fry and bring to 350 on a deep fry thermometer or just test fry a small piece of bread if you do not have thermometer.
Dip the eggplant slices into the batter to coat.
Very carefully place the battered slices into the oil and deep fry until golden on each side.
Remove the slices and let drain of excess oil on paper towels.
           Mesa squash fry
Thought you all might enjoy this recipe from caprilemon and Lois Ellen Frank "Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations" especially now with all the fresh corn in the markets. Serves 6-8

1 green Pablano chile
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 gloves garlic, finely chopped
salt, black pepper
8 ears sweet yellow corn, kernels cut from the cob
4 small zucchini, cut into 2-inch-long julienne
4 yellow squash, cut into 2-inch-long julienne
1 red bell pepper, seeded, divined, and diced
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds

Roast the chile, then peel, seed, and coarsely chop it. In a pan, heat oil and add garlic, chile, salt and black pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, to allow the flavors to blend.

Add the corn, zucchini, squash, and red bell pepper. Decrease heat and allow the vegetables to simmer for about 10 min, until they are tender.

Add the sunflower seeds and simmer for another 5 min. Serve hot.
         African Sweet Potato Soup
Another exotic flavor here and you can see I love curry paste!  You can make this as mellow or spicy as you like.  H/T Quest For Zest Serves 4 for a main dish Chili.  Also great made in crock pot just follow pots directions.

1 tablespoon light olive oil or peanut oil
1 tablespoon red or green Thai Kitchen curry paste- hot or mild, to taste (start with less if you prefer it mild)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 medium red onion, peeled, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (or less to taste)
1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled, diced
1 large yellow,orange or red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
1 jalapeño or other hot chile pepper, seeded, diced fine to taste
1 14-oz. can black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained
1 14-oz. can white beans, rinsed, drained
1 14-oz. can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 quart light veggie broth
1/2 cup 100% natural peanut butter melted in a half cup of boiled hot water (for one cup total)
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes, more or less, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Juice from 1 big juicy lime
2-3 teaspoons organic brown sugar or raw agave nectar, to taste
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

For garnish:

Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Heat the light olive oil in large soup pot. Add the curry paste and cinnamon; stir for a minute to infuse the oil with spice. Add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, yellow pepper and jalapeño. Stir and cook the veggies for 5-7 minutes, until softened.

Add the black-eyed peas, white and black beans, broth, melted peanut butter, red pepper flakes and cilantro.

Bring the soup to a high simmer, cover, and lower the heat; keep the soup on simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Stir in the lime juice and brown sugar or agave. Season with sea salt and ground pepper, to taste. Warm through and taste for seasoning adjustments.

Can sub. sunflower seed butter. if you like

"Silly Love Songs"   Paul McCartney & Wings

"Maybe I'm Amazed"  Paul McCartney & Wings

What have you all been cooking? Please share your recipes (especially Chili!) and fave Beatle music here!

Originally posted to Meatless Advocates Meetup on Mon Apr 23, 2012 at 03:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA.

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