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.

Mediterranean Inspired Rice-a-Roni

Those pre-flavored rice mixes are not the healthiest option, but they sure are convenient and inexpensive. I like to augment them for better end result. It's minimal effort for a pretty nice payoff.

But today something really unexpected happened. What I thought would just be pretty good rice, turned out to be awesome! Hit me over the head to stop me from eating it awesome.

It all started with one box of rice-a-roni broccoli au gratin. It's pretty decent straight up. Cheese has that power.

Let me just say, I rarely follow the package direction on rice-a-roni. It's a hassle and only mildly improves the flavor. I usually just cook as I would any plain rice. Add water, little butter, rice and spices to the pot. Cover. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, Let simmer for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

What the rice-a-roni and carolina brands have over the knorr brand is that they take longer to cook. This may seem like a pitfall, but it's an asset when you want to add lentils to the equation. Lentils also take about 20 minutes. So this affords us the opportunity to add protein and use the premade seasoning packet to also flavor our lentils.

So I add the amount of water called for on the box, plus a 1/2 cup, 1 small pat of butter, 1/4 cup dry lentils, seasoning packet and the rice all to a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and let it simmer until it's still somewhat soupy. About 15 mintues.

To that I add 1 minced jalapeno, 7 cloves minced garlic and a about 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger.

Cook a few more minutes, until the liquid remaining resembles a sauce. Kill the flame and add 6 ounces frozen broccoli/cauliflower blend. Stir. Cover and let sit on the stove for 3-5 minutes. Until veg is just barely defrosted.

Transfer to a heat safe storage vessel and let cool at least 15 more minutes or until the veg is completely thawed.

Cheese, garlic, jalapeno and ginger are a drool worthy flavor combination.