Make It Vegetarian

One of the hardest parts about being a vegetarian (for me) has been the fear of missing out on delicious food. As a self proclaimed food lover, I like having the ability to try anything and everything. But as a vegetarian, that obviously leaves out a lot of things I can try. When I first decided to take the plunge I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to come up with enough creative ways to eat the meat-centric things I loved before. It isn’t always easy, but thanks to a lot of meat substitutes I’ve been able to have my fair share of faux meat favorites (albeit sparingly, since they’re usually on the highly processed side).

One thing I haven’t had in awhile is a cheesesteak… obviously. I’ve seen quite a few recipes on Pinterest for a “low carb” version of them with green peppers instead of rolls. So even though I love carbs like no one’s business, I liked the idea of swapping out the bread for green peppers since it meant more veggies. Of course the original recipe called for thinly sliced roast beef, so I decided to swap it out for seitan instead. For those of you that haven’t had (or haven’t even heard of) seitan, it’s made from vital wheat gluten (so it’s out for anyone that’s gluten-free), and has a chewy texture that is very similar to meat. You can make your own, or buy it at the grocery store (usually found with the tofu and tempeh). While I used regular cheese, you could always use a vegan cheese to make the entire meal vegan. I’ve since used the sietan concoction with sautéed onion and peppers on rolls, and it really is the closest you can get to “the real thing.”

It’s a really easy dinner that comes together quickly, and you won’t miss the meat. So whether you’re a vegetarian (or vegan) that has a hankering for a meat-centric classic, you’re looking to cut back on the amount of meat you eat, or you just want to try something new, make these! And of course, report back to let me know what you think.

Vegetarian Green Pepper Stuffed Philly Cheesesteaks

Vegetarian Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
– makes 2 servings (one whole pepper each) –

2 medium green peppers, cut in half length wise and de-seeded
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced in half moons
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
8 oz. Seitan (strips or cubes work)
8 slices provolone or swiss cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2. In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté until the onions are caramelized. This takes time!! (at least 30 minutes). If you’re pressed for time, you only have to sauté them until they are translucent and soft, about 5-10 minutes. 
3. Add the sietan, minced garlic, and soy sauce. Sauté for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the seitan is heated through and everything is combined nicely. 
4. Take the halved green peppers, and add a slice of cheese to each. Fill the pepper with the sietan and onion mixture until it’s overflowing. Top with another piece of cheese. 
5. On a sprayed baking sheet, bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. 

Eat Your Vegetables

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t posted a recipe including meat in quite some time. I did have some peach salsa about a month ago that I had with some salmon (which was delicious, by the way!), but other than that, I haven’t really been posting any  meat recipes. Well, there’s a reason for that.

If you remember back in January I tried to go vegetarian for an entire month, and failed miserably. I was eating a mostly vegetarian diet as it is (lacto-ovo since I still eat eggs, milk, and cheese), but there was still the occasional piece of fish,  a hamburger, or piece of chicken (you get the drift) – so meat was still clearly a part of my diet. As time progressed, I began realizing that I preferred a vegetarian diet, and in most cases when I wasn’t eating vegetarian, it was out of convenience. A poor excuse, maybe, but the reality nonetheless.

Not too long after I came up with that salsa recipe and paired it with salmon (about a month now), I decided that I really wanted to try being vegetarian. Everyone has their own definition of what a “vegetarian” is, and for me that means no animal flesh – whether you find it on land or in the sea. Growing up I was never a big fish fan, and never liked pork or lamb, leaving me just with chicken, turkey, and ground beef (I never really liked steak, either). So I guess you could say it hasn’t been too hard for me to switch to a vegetarian lifestyle.

I am still in the transition phase, meaning I’m not scouring every label – I had a phenomenal Chèvre cheese last week, but was sad when I read the label and saw it was made with rennet. This also brings to light the issue of gelatin which is found in marshmallows, and a lot of other products as well. Since it’s an on-going process, I’m starting with the big things (meat) and working my way to the smaller things and label reading more carefully (animal by-products).

By this point, you’re probably wondering “why?” I get that response from most people I tell, and my answer is simple: I love animals. I realize that most people do, and they chose to eat meat, which is absolutely fine – it’s a personal choice. But for me, I’ve come to a point in my life where I would just prefer not to eat meat. I’m more than okay with people eating meat – heck, I’ll even prepare it for you – I just don’t want to eat it myself. And don’t be confused – I still think meat is delicious. I just can’t bring myself to eat it anymore.

There are so many delicious meatless options out there, that I haven’t missed meat – yet. I’m looking forward to discovering more vegetarian foods, and embracing the lifestyle change.

Do you have any vegetarian resources to share? 
If you’re a vegetarian, what prompted you to go meat-free?