Tag Archives: vegetarian

Non-Turkey Holiday Meal Alternatives

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Non-Turkey Holiday Meal Alternatives

Sorry to say it, but Christmas is less than two weeks away. Of course, you probably knew that already. That ever-ticking time bomb is the main reason why we’re all going crazy for gift ideas and last-minute preparations at the moment. If you don’t know what you’re doing on the day yet, it’s past time you decided. The holiday season waits for no one!

Somewhere among all of this preparation madness, most of us turn our attention to food. If you’re hosting the big meal this year, it’s likely that this is the only thing you are thinking about. At few other times of the year are we expected to prepare so much food for so many people. Lucky for you, there are plenty of guides out there about how to make this task a little easier. But, there’s no getting around the fact that there’s still an immense amount of pressure when the time comes.

On top of which, some of us can’t stomach the traditional option. Turkey is an acquired taste. And, for those of us who most definitely haven’t acquired it, the holiday season can be stressful at best. If you’ve only just managed to push the Thanksgiving turkey from your mind, the last thing that you want to do is eat it again at Christmas. As such, your job becomes even harder.

You’ll be glad to know that, while turkey has become a holiday staple, this is down to nothing more than convenience. While it’s difficult to say exactly when this tradition started, it was fast in place by 1863, when Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday. This is thought to be primarily due to the size of the things. There were few other types of meat available in the past that were large enough. In fact, beef wasn’t readily available until the late 19th century. So, the only alternative was chicken. For obvious reasons, it wasn’t the best for large meals, and turkeys took center stage. They were a cheap way to feed a lot of people.

We’ve taken up the tradition, and now pay more and more for turkey each year. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re hosting dinner this year, why not try something a little different? To keep everyone happy, you may want to prepare a turkey crown on the side. Chances are, though, that you’re not the only one fed up with turkey. So, before the big event, ask your guests if they’d be interested in the following alternatives:

A few different types of meat:

Turkey may have been the only 19th century choice, but that’s not the case anymore. Now, you have anything to choose from. For some families, a mixture of Christmas meats is standard. You can place your meats in the middle of the table, and leave guests to take what they fancy.

To make this work, consider meats which are relatively different from each other. It wouldn’t be any good serving chicken alongside turkey. Instead, you could opt for a mixture of beef, pork, and turkey. These all offer different taste sensations, which are sure to go down well. And, this way, you can ensure that you get a decent dinner without having to turn to the turkey.

Salmon as an alternative:

You may not realize it, but turkey isn’t the only traditional option open to you. Salmon has also found its place in the holiday hall of fame. Admittedly, most people opt for this as a starter or breakfast treat on the day. But, there’s no reason you can’t make it work as an alternative primary meal. By buying a whole salmon, like those found at Citarella gourmet market, you can ensure that you have enough to go around. These fish are huge!

Bear in mind that, if offering this alternative, you may want to provide a sauce other than gravy. While most meats would work with a standard turkey gravy, your salmon certainly wouldn’t. Instead, offer a creamy sauce or a honey mustard alternative. Other than that, you can serve your salmon alongside the turkey and again, ensure everyone’s happy.

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^^^ Another turkey alternative.

A nut roast alternative:

If you have vegetarians coming, you may already be planning a nut roast. Why not stick with that yourself? By incorporating orange peel and cranberries, you can have plenty of Christmas flavors. And, you can still enjoy all the trimmings which make a Christmas dinner what it is. As a non-veggie, you could even get stuck into pigs in blankets without worry! Still, you’ll be able to steer clear of the turkey.

While it is a traditional vegetarian option, a decent nut roast is more challenging to come by than you might think. They’re nearly impossible to find in shops nowadays, and there are a lot of dodgy recipes out there. Make sure to try this out before the event to make sure that your choice is the right one. It wouldn’t be unusual to have to try a few before settling on your winner.

Often, there are warning signs about whether a recipe will work or not. Look out for the binding ingredient, the vegetables used, and the seasonings. All of these work together to make a huge difference. You may end up having to mix a few recipes to achieve the right effect, and that’s okay. This is very much a practice makes perfect situation. By the time you reach an end result, you can be sure that your vegetarian guests will be glad for your dislike of turkey!

 

Your own concoction:

Of course, you could do away with tradition altogether, and concoct your own dish for the day. While guests may be surprised at first, this is sure to be a standout dinner for them. And, again, as long as you offer a small amount of turkey, too, this is sure to work well. Alternatives worth considering include beef wellington, roast duck, or something like a sausage and stuffing plate. Have a look through your cookbooks and decide which recipes sound most appealing. Then, think about ways to make them festive. Staple flavorings, such as stuffing, cranberries, and orange peel, could all help to get your concoction cooking.

Focus on the veggies:

You could argue that the trimmings are the best thing about the meal. For proof, consider that many vegetarians don’t even opt for an alternative (I don’t!). Instead, they’re quite happy to make do with all the lovely veggies and some fluffy roast potatoes. So, why don’t you just get rid of your turkey, and enjoy everything else?

To ensure a turkeyless dinner works well, go all out with your additions. Make sure your stuffing is extra good and roast those parsnips in honey so they have an extra something special. You could also make cauliflower cheese, which would form an alternative centerpiece of its own. And, of course, don’t forget all of your traditional festive veggies. Brussel sprouts may divide the crowd, but they need to feature on there somewhere. Rich greens, such as curly kale, can also provide a fantastic Christmas taste sensation. You might even want to go all out with your gravy. Adding spices and herbs while cooking this can make a massive difference to the taste.

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Mmmmm

A final word:

You don’t have to eat turkey if you don’t want to. But, if you are going all out with something different, you may want to warn your guests. We are creatures of habit, after all, and a last minute change of plan might not go down well. Instead, let them know what you’re going to do. As mentioned above, turkey is rarely a favorite. The chances are that your guests will surprise you with how willing they are to try other things. And, of course; that small turkey crown will please those who simply can’t go without tradition.

Featured Image By: Pixabay

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Little Changes You Can Make Today To Guarantee A Healthier Future

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Little Changes You Can Make Today To Guarantee A Healthier Future

We all have little things that we would like to change about ourselves. Health concerns that we really need to get diagnosed or concerns about our future health. but when they’re not pressing, it can be easier and less scary to just sweep them under the rug. They say that prevention is better than the cure and it’s a whole lot cheaper, as well. Here are a few changes or appointments that you can make today to put your mind at rest about your future health:

Go Green: Usually going green is about changing your lifestyle to a more environmentally friendly one, but in this case, we literally mean make your food greener. If you’re not eating a whole lot of fruits and veggies a day – at least five different pieces – you could be putting your body at risk of heart disease, digestive problems, and even cancers. Greens are full of all of the nutrients that your body needs to function at its best, but it also helps to ensure that you’re digesting everything properly and your metabolism is working efficiently. Introduce a load of leafy greens to your diet and see positive changes almost immediately, and further down the line too.

Visit Your Gynecologist Regularly: Many women are embarrassed to visit their gynecologist and discuss “women things”, but it’s a really important part of your general health. They check that everything is working as it should, that your fertility is fine, and that you won’t face any problems further down the line. For example, pap smears to check for abnormal cells which could lead to cervical cancer, one of the leading causes of death in younger women in the USA, can catch problems before they escalate. All you have to do is pop down to your local family planning clinic or your gynecologist, and the exam will take just a couple of minutes. It could save you all sorts of problems in the future, so it’s far better to be safe than sorry.

Cut Your Meat Intake: Eating meat every day really isn’t necessary for our bodies to function – there is a whole load of protein in dairy, vegetables, and legumes which means it’s perfectly safe for us to go without meat at all. Red and processed meats are full of fats and salts which are terrible for our body. If you cut meat out of your diet for one day a week, such as Meat Free Monday, you can make a significant improvement to your health.

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Yummm

Get Your Cholesterol Checked: A poor diet doesn’t just affect our weight, it also puts a whole lot of pressure on our arteries and heart. Even if you’re not overweight, you could have high cholesterol. This is the stuff which helps to build new cells, but when there is too much it can clog arteries, which leads to heart attacks. If you have a family history of heart disease, ask your doctor for a cholesterol check and they will be able to advise on how to bring it down to a safe level.

There are so many changes we can make to our health today to guarantee our health in the future, so don’t put it off and you will begin to reap the benefits.

Featured Image By: Pixabay

Mexican Sunday Dinner

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Mexican Sunday Dinner

Hi everyone and happy Monday! I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend. So during the week at my household, we eat easy to prepare dinners – pasta, pizza, stir fry, and the likes. But over the weekends, my mom and I go hard when it comes to cooking an evening feast – soups, homemade pizzas, pasta salads, bread, frittatas, and oh so much more. This Sunday, I prepared a meal that I was particularly proud of that I just had to share on here. Seriously, it was that delicious.

My family loves Mexican food and as a primarily vegetarian household, it is always something that all of us can eat and enjoy. And enjoy, we did. For Sunday dinner I prepared homemade guacamole paired with vegetarian black bean enchiladas compliments of the fantastic website Cookie + Kate. Kate’s website specializes in vegetarian cuisine while her pup, Cookie, cheers from the sidelines. My mom actually found that website and was instantly drawn in by the delicious recipes but most importantly, that it was in some ways dog related (lol). Anyways, here’s the finished product:

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For the enchiladas, I followed the recipe pretty closely because I had never made it before but I did change a few things up to accommodate my cooking style:

  • I added a healthy amount of chili powder and cayenne pepper to the dish.
  • I added cilantro into the mixture as opposed to just using it to garnish.
  • I lessened the amount of broccoli in the recipe as a family preference.
  • I squirted fresh lime juice into the mixture and topped the finished product with it.
  • I used store bought enchilada sauce instead of making it myself because ain’t nobody got time for that.

* If you’re not hip to vegetarian eating, then I would recommend sauteing stripes of chicken, steak, or shrimp (or all three!) in a mixture of olive oil, cumin, cayenne pepper, and chili powder (you could also go crazy and add in some lime juice and a tablespoon or two of enchilada sauce). Then, you could add it into the enchiladas or just eat it on the side.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much my dish looked like the pictures that Kate posted on her website but most importantly, my entire family loved it. For an additional topping, I free-styled some guacamole and here’s what I used in my makeshift recipe:

  • 1 large avocado
  • 6 cloves of minced garlic
  • About 3 tbsp of super finely chopped red onion
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • Cilantro!!
  • A couple shakes of cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Morton Kosher salt
  • 3-4 tbsp of small tomato chunks that I wish I added but forgot to get from the grocery store!

I really really love guac and I thought that the above concoction turned out amazing. It was bold and flavorful and although it turned out chunkier than what I normally like, I think that it just added to the deliciousness considering you could eat it by the forkful – which we did!

My mom described my Mexican Sunday Dinner as “going out to eat in our own house” which I thought was super precious and we will definitely be making the above recipes again! What is your favorite meal for Sunday dinner? What kinds of food do you love to cook? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Delicious Baked Ziti Recipe

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Delicious Baked Ziti Recipe

Hiii everyone and happy Tuesday! So in yesterday’s Monday Update I mentioned that I made my boyfriend a baked ziti dish for our six month anniversary. It turned out amazing and my beau and family really enjoyed it. The recipe I found on allrecipes was way too good not to share so I thought that I would post it for your super cheesy pleasure today! You’re welcome! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups ziti pasta, uncooked
  • 1 (26) oz jar marinara sauce (Instead of plain old Ragu, I used a specialty sauce with extra garlic and herb flavoring to kick things up a little)
  • 1 (14.5) oz can diced tomatoes, undrained (I used a can that had additional oregano and Italian herb seasoning)
  • 6 oz cream cheese, cubed (The blocked cream cheese usually comes in 8 oz packaging so I just used the whole thing)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 8 oz package of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Ingredients That I Added:

  • 8 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • parsley
  • oregano
  • Italian seasoning

Ingredients I Will Use Next Time:

  • More seasoning
  • Onions
  • Green pepper
  • Zuchinni
  • Yellow squash

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cook pasta, using the directions on the packaging. Once the pasta is done cooking, remove and drain.
  3. After you have removed the pasta, turn the burner down to medium heat. Add the rest of your ingredients in the pan and let it cook for about 5 min. or until the cheese is completely melted.
  4. Add the pasta into the sauce and mix thoroughly.
  5. Layer the pasta into a 13×9 in. baking pan and then top with extra mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 20 min. or until heated through.

*** A word to the wise: This recipe made a GIGANTIC amount of food so be prepared for left overs! Here is the link to the recipe that I used, if you would like to reference it for any reason! Special thanks to whomever posted it, it was delicious! 🙂

The baked ziti was a hit for my family and my boyfriend so I hope all of you enjoy it as much as we did! What is your favorite food to make? What is your favorite food to eat? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Dinner Date Night

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Dinner Date Night

Hi everyone and happy Hump Day! On Monday night, my boyfriend, Kyle, and I stayed in and made dinner together. We had so much fun cooking our meal and it was nice to have Kyle as my cheerleader/helper. We made zucchini enchiladas and guacamole and it turned out so fantastic! Take a look at our finished product and then I’ll provide you with the recipes so that you can make your own:

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^^^ YUM!

Zucchini Enchiladas:

This dish is a staple at my home so it was easy to wing the recipe. At my boyfriend’s house there wasn’t a lot of the spices that I needed to bring the heat to the enchiladas so I improvised for that. I also wasn’t cooking for a large amount of people so feel free to double the recipe if needed. My version made eight enchiladas.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 medium size red onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 package of sharp cheddar shredded cheese
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • oregano
  • cilantro
  • tortillas
  • salsa

Note that the original recipe calls for spices like cayenne pepper and cumin. The basil and oregano was what I was limited to – they are required in the recipe but are not the main herbs flavoring the dish.

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pan and dice the vegetables. You will want them to cook until they’re golden.
  2. While the veggies are cooking, add in your herbs and spices. You’ll notice that I didn’t give an exact measurement for the seasonings and that’s because I rarely cook with the amount given on a recipe. I go a little crazy with my seasonings so feel free to add as much or as little as you wish.
  3. Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 350 while the veggies are almost done sauteing. Once the veggies are done, turn the stove top off and remove them from the heat. You will then pour the shredded cheese packet over your mixture and stir until the cheese is melted.
  4. While the oven is preheating, you will prepare the enchiladas for baking. Spray the bottom of a glass pan down with Pam and then put a layer of the salsa of your choosing on the bottom. Then you will fill your tortillas with three or so spoonfuls of the cheese and veggies, wrap them up, and place them in the pan.
  5. Once all of the enchiladas are rolled and ready, add a layer of salsa to the top of them and then sprinkle some cheese to top it off. Bake the enchiladas for 12-14 minutes and then remove from the oven.

Kyle and I also prepared a dish of guacamole together, as well. I was so happy that I had Kyle there to help me because he was such a pro at smashing all of the ingredients together! Here’s the recipe that I free styled for the guac:

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 handful of extremely finely chopped red onion
  • cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • juice of half a lemon

Directions:

  1. Cut the avocado in half and then peel away the skin from both halves. Then you will dice up the avocado and add it in to a medium mixing bowl. Be sure to remove the pit!
  2. Tear up your fresh cilantro and add that in to the bowl, as well.
  3. Chop up a small amount of red onion very finely and add it to the mix.
  4. Pour in your water and squeeze your half a lemon.
  5. Once all of your ingredients are in the bowl is when things get tricky. There wasn’t an adequate utensil at Kyle’s house for mashing our concoction so we settled for a spoon with holes in it. I was so bad at smashing our mixture so thank goodness for my muscle man to get the job done! The consistency of your guacamole is up to you. We settled for a medium consistency and it was the perfect mixture of smooth and chunky.

I love cooking for Kyle and it was so nice to have him hanging out with me in the kitchen while I prepared our meal. It was also great having him as my helper, too! Kyle kept the pit of “our first avocado together” to commemorate his helpfulness and our delicious meal – which I thought was the cutest thing ever! It’s our avocado baby. 🙂

So there you have it, Dinner Date Night with my beau! What is your favorite dish to cook for yourself or others? What dish is a staple in your household? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

One Lovely Blog Award

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One Lovely Blog Award

Hey everyone and happy Thursday and the last day of 2015! My pal, Matthew, over at Ignite18 nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award so here’s to you, Matt! Thank you so much! There are some rules that come along with this award, so take a look and then check out some fun facts about yours truly!

rules

About Me:

  1. I’ve been a proud vegetarian for as long as I can remember.
  2. I got my nickname “Lil Red” from one of my old coworkers at PacSun thanks to my bright red hair and lipstick. The name has stuck ever since.
  3. I used to be a competitive figure skater and now I coach skating for the Special Olympics.
  4. I desperately want to travel to Europe after I finish getting my Associate of Arts degree next fall.
  5. I have a collection of over fifty pairs of shoes and I love them as if they were my children.
  6. My blog, http://www.lifewithlilred.com, is read in over one hundred and fifty countries and I’m super thankful to all of my readers!
  7. I live for Taco Bell and actually got it right before I started writing this.

My nominees:

  1. My friend, Carlie, at Bombshell
  2. One of my cherished readers at migueltio
  3. The darling Luiza at Style on Board

Thank you again to Matthew for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award! It’s very much appreciated and I hope all of you learned a new Lil Red fun fact today! How is everyone celebrating New Year’s Eve tonight? Do you have any family traditions for ringing in a new year? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Treat Yoself! My Grown Up Wishlist From Spring

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Treat Yoself! My Grown Up Wishlist From Spring

Hello everyone and happy weekend! I recently got invited to create my own “Treat Yoself” Grown Up wishlist with the amazing products from Spring, an online boutique for all of your fashion needs! I have to say, if I treated myself to everything that I wanted from their incredible selection of clothing and accessories, I would be in severe debt because it’s basically the entire website, which is: Spring . Click on the link, shop along, and see what Lil Red likes the most as well as what you can send my way for the holiday! 😉 ❤

Silk Gauze Parka by Laveer: Oh. My. Goodness. This jacket is fabulous. I’m a huge jacket girl and this piece really caught my eye. As I scrolled through Spring, I noticed a lot of gorgeous leather jackets as well and perhaps if I wasn’t a strict vegetarian, one of those would be on my list. But this Laveer piece is just to die for. If there’s one thing my readers have learned about me, it’s that when I purchase clothing it must fall under the criteria of: black (usually), edgy, and super chic and this jacket fits that to the T.

laveer

Blazer with Bones Crystals by Libertine: Okay, the thing about this blazer is that if I talk about it for too long I’m going to start to cry because that’s how badly I want it. I LOVE Libertine so when I saw this piece I instantly started to drool…metaphorically speaking. This is hands down my favorite item on the website, and that’s really saying something. It’s perfect. I can’t say more than that.

libertine

Mollie Box Pleat V Neck Flare Dress by Alice + Olivia: Surprise! A non black item! I adore this dress! Some people are shocked that I love dresses but the funny thing about my style is that I love either really edgy or really girly pieces, there’s no in between. What I like the most about this dress is the color because I love wearing burnt orange. Rich fall colors make up quite a bit of my wardrobe so this dress would fit in perfectly. And the fact that it’s Alice + Olivia is a plus – their clothes are darling!

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Multi Blue “OH ROY” Pump by Pierre Hardy: Soooo…I really like shoes. I tried to go through all of the various categories on Spring but I got stuck on their selection of heels, boots, and flats. These. Are. FABULOUS!! I love pieces that are so unique and out there that the only question people can ask is “where did you find something like that?” These pumps by Pierre Hardy scream quirky to me, therefore, I’m in love.

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Comet Mid Heel Ankle Boot with Removable Bracelet by Freda Salvador: Yes, these are leather but that’s why they’re part of my wishlist…because I wish they weren’t leather! These are the coolest pair of booties ever! And everyone knows that Lil Red loves her booties. There comes a point in the world of ankle boots when they all start to look the same but these are such a loud and cool statement and I can’t get enough of it. Size 6 1/2 pleather, please.

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Embellished Tiger Sweater by Nicole Miller: The thing is…is that I’m kind of obsessed with this sweater. I scrolled through the entire section of tops on Spring and fell in love with their silly slogan-ed shirts adorned with phrases like “Namastay In Bed” but I couldn’t stop thinking about this piece! It’s so quirky, but it’s still sharp and chic and I can’t pinpoint why but I really like it. I’m not exactly one to walk around with an embellished tiger on my tops but I can definitely picture myself rocking this one!

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I had a complete ball making my Treat Yoself! Grown Up Wishlist From Spring and I encourage all of you to check out their site at: Spring. What is your favorite piece from Spring? What are you going to add to your holiday wishlist from their site? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah