A Meatless Alternative to Wow Your Crew

So you’re trying to eat more meatless meals. You recently watched Food, Inc. or Fat, Sick And Nearly Dead and have sworn off chicken, pork, beef and even fish. But if you have to eat one more Boca burger you might just fall off the wagon. Or you’re halfway into March and still going strong with your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, but you’re getting into a rut and hoping for some variety. For the next few weeks, in addition to crazy updates regarding the zoo in which I currently reside, I am going to share a post each week with a delicious, vegetarian (and sometimes vegan), healthy recipe for you to add to your repertoire and hopefully avoid burnout. Whether you’re committed to a meatless lifestyle or not, these dishes will be great additions to your menu and will come straight from the 4SmartyPants test kitchen!


I love these as an alternative to crab cakes, which are exquisite, but are not part of a meatless diet and derive their richness from mayonnaise and expensive lump crab meat. What’s great is that these babies are a fancy-shmancy impressive item to bring to the table, but are so easy, and can even be made from leftovers! (I won’t tell if you don’t!) In fact, that’s how they came to be. I served a wonderfully filling and beautiful dinner one evening of sautéed Brussels sprouts, baked sweet potatoes, tomato slices and brown rice pilaf with almonds. I always make extra brown rice, because I love to eat it reheated, and I use it the next few days in various other recipes.

The next day I found myself about to reheat the same meal, when I decided to come up with something new. Sweet potato cakes! So easy.

2 baked sweet potatoes (poke holes and microwave in glass dish 6-8 minutes, cool in fridge)
1 cup cooked brown rice, chilled (recipe follows)
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1 tbsp finely diced jarred jalepenos
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Scoop flesh from potatoes and combine in bowl with all ingredients except oil
Form into 1 1/2 inch thick patties 3 inches in diameter
Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium/high heat
When oil is hot, add sweet potato cakes to pan and cook 3-4 mins on each side, or until heated all the way through and each side has caramelized.

Top with snipped chives and a cilantro leaf. Serve with a mixed greens salad. Enjoy!

My kids LOVED these, which surprised me a little. But it’s great because they are allergic to milk, eggs and peanuts, and this is completely safe for my little people who are often relegated to a sunbutter sandwich while everyone else enjoys the good stuff!

You don’t have to feel the least bit guilty about devouring these tasty treats, sweet potatoes and brown rice are both SOO good for you, with 0 sat fats, and high in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as complex carbohydrates which promote the SLOW rise of blood sugar, making them good components of a diabetic diet. Also: NO cholesterol! You won’t find such stats with crab cakes.

What meatless dishes do you find yourself serving up most often? (And share your recipes!)

Brown Rice Pilaf with Almonds

This is not exact, which is one of the things I love about it. But it turns out perfect each time.
I fill a 5 quart pot (a dutch oven, but any pot with tight-fitting lid will work) 3/4 full with water, then drop in an extra large vegetable bullion cube. I put it on medium/high (because it’s enamel, if it weren’t I’d turn it to high) and wait for it to boil. Once it starts to boil, I add approximately 2 cups of brown rice and a minced garlic clove and 1 tsp of onion powder and stir once. I cover it, turn it to med/high (if it had been on high) and set the timer for 30 minutes. I don’t touch the lid! After 30 minutes, I turn off the heat and remove the lid. (If there is any visible liquid, I drain it and return the rice to the pot immediately.) I stir the rice, replace the lid and allow the rice to continue steaming for 10 minutes with the heat off. While it is steaming, I toast 1/2 cup of sliced raw almonds in 1 tbsp olive oil in non-stick pan. Add almonds to rice and enjoy! Best brown rice, ever!!

Categories: Entertaining, Family, Food, Party Planning, Social Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “A Meatless Alternative to Wow Your Crew

  1. Ann

    From one blog to another: Fiesta Lime Rice! http://networkedblogs.com/j8jF0 When I’ve made it, I use more taco seasoning in the rice, and with 4 of us eating it, I will sometimes add more of the ingredients if I feel we need it, and I’ll add 1/2 to a whole bag of the morningstar farms meal starter crumbles…essentially, meatless ground beef (which we also use in place of meat in spaghetti sauce ALOT!).

  2. Rachel

    Wow, I knew that if I googled “eating vegan at Aldi” something good would come up! We are on a budget, but like to eat as close to vegan as possible, and Aldi is the place to go for being on a budget! Thank you thank you for your recipes!

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