Sweet and Spicy Tomato and Kidney Bean Salad

One of the best things about not eating meat is that you can make meals without having to actually cook anything. Just cut, combine and stir. Whether you're in a hurry, feeling lazy or just want that fresh crunch, a plant based diet gives you the freedom to cook without literally cooking. 

Especially as the weather gets warmer, it's convenient to just cut and combine. It's also surprisingly tasty to keep those fresh ingredients in their natural state. 

The textures and flavors are vibrant and exciting. 

A little salt, a little acid, some  fat, a spice or two and you're all set with a delicious meal. 

1 can dark red kidney beans
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 long hot pepper, diced
1 serrano, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls olive oil
2 1/2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tsps crushed pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. 

That's it. You're done. Enjoy your not so hard work.

Vegetarian Chili and Swiss Sandwich

This easy sandwich makes a filling and tasty lunch or dinner. I tend to eat it for breakfast, but I am strange and you probably aren't.

Every couple of weeks or so I make myself some hormel vegetarian chili with rice or pasta. hormel vegetarian chili is in fact vegan. With pasta it's more of a bowl and fork kinda meal. But with some rice and veg it's also a super sandwich with spice, crunch and texture.

For this batch of chili I used jasmine rice. It's similar to white rice, but a firmer texture. I first cook the rice. When it has cooked ten minutes I add my frozen kale. Kale tastes and chews similar to spinach, but is slightly sweeter. Then when the rice is nearly, but not quite done I add the chili, diced garlic and a pinch of cumin and a splash of balsamic vinegar and continue cooking uncovered for about 5 more minutes. Until the chili is heated through and its sauce has thickened a little bit. When I'm satisfied my chili is hot and its viscosity is good I turn off the heat, keep the pot on the hot burner, stir in my frozen yellow corn and replace the pot's cover. Leaving the corn to thaw and warm through for about 3 minutes.

For sandwiches I cool the mix on the counter for at least 15 minutes and then put in the fridge to chill overnight. On a kaiser roll, whole wheat toast, or a bagel lay one thin slice of vegetarian swiss cheese (sargento for example) and then pile on your chili mix with as much as your bread will safely hold. Most people don't think of rice mixtures as being sandwich bases, but I've concocted some of my favorite sandwiches this way. As long as the rice mix is flavorful and contains some bean or soy protein and a little vegetable crunch it has awesome sandwich potential.

Try using hummus instead of cheese for a vegan version.

Don't forget though, not all cheese is vegetarian. Check manufacturer websites or email them if you are not sure about the origins of their cheese enzymes. Even cheese makers with vegetarian cheeses often have flavors that are not. It varies greatly by kind of cheese and by brand.