Let’s face it. There are times when you just do not feel like cooking. Not wanting to go to the store or leave the house for that matter is usually a feeling that always seems to coincide with those not wanting to cook feelings as well. That is exactly how I was feeling when it came time for dinner today. Quite the opposite of how I was feeling yesterday when I wanted to go everywhere and do everything. However, I spent most of today cleaning the house and running errands to prepare for our upcoming vacation. We leave this Saturday for the beach; to say I need a vacation is an understatement, so I am pretty excited. After my productive day, the last thing I felt like doing was whipping up some time-consuming, complex meal. The obvious option when one is feeling overly lazy is to order out. However, I try to tell myself ordering out is not an option. Lately, I have been trying to stick to following my own personal rule of reserving ordering out or eating out strictly for weekends only. Not only does it save money, but it keeps you in control of what you consume. You never know exactly what you are getting when you eat out, and I can almost guarantee the majority of the time the ingredients are going to be the type of ingredients that I view as humanity’s archenemy. Food beliefs should not just magically disappear because you are eating food from a restaurant. Instead of taking the easy way out for dinner, I took a look around my kitchen and began to brainstorm. When all else fails, get creative! I must warn you, getting creative can have its downsides. There have definitely been dinners that were complete failures because my creativity did not result in tastiness. There is nothing worse than being starving, cooking up a dinner with extreme anticipation, only to finally chow down and be greatly underwhelmed. That is one of the worst let downs out there. However, it’s all part of the fun in experimenting. Only when you experiment can you come up with a delicious meal you have never had before unexpectedly. It’s the ultimate cooking surprise. This recipe is just that – a wonderfully tasty experimental surprise. It is a display of cooking creativity with only the ingredients you have on hand at its finest. It’s a combination of two of my favorite things – twice baked potatoes and black beans. Throw a tossed salad on the side with my dressing obsession for which I will provide the recipe (I already shared this dressing once with my FAVORITE salad which you can check out here), and you have a meal! YUM! I must warn you that this is a much lighter dinner. Who knows, you may even find this recipe to be better for lunch. Either way, it is SUPER easy and tastes legit.
Before we get to the recipe, I must say that although I may not always feel like cooking, I am always in the mood to save the planet! That is one huge, added bonus of making this recipe. If you make this meal, you will be helping to save our fragile, dwindling environment! Why? How? The fact that this is a meatless meal is the why and eating less meat is the how. If you missed my first spiel on how eating less meat can help save the planet, you should definitely check it out.. As a quick reminder, here are just a few shocking facts about the effect animal agriculture has on the environment:
- Animal agriculture is responsible for at least 14.5% of global greenhouse emissions.
- The average cow produces about 700 liters of methane a day. Methane is one of the greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change.
- It is estimated that animal agriculture is the cause of up to 91% of the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest. Yes, you read that correctly.
- To produce one pound of beef, it takes 1,799 gallons of water.
That should give you a little insight into the impact of animal agriculture on our environment. I find it odd that this isn’t at the forefront of discussions regarding the fight against climate change. When I think about it, it actually enrages me! I mean, way back in 2006 – over 10 years ago – was when the United Nations released the eye-opening report Livestock’s Long Shadow in which they described livestock agriculture as ‘one of the most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.’ Along with that report, they announced a call to action basically saying if we did not change our ways, we would have some serious consequences to face, meaning drastic changes to our planet. You would think that a report such as that from the United Nations would have some sort of influence on policy makers. Couldn’t they at least just educate the public on the impact their eating habits have on the planet? Nope. Nada. Zilch. There are a number of reasons no action has been taken, one of the main being lobbyists. Isn’t it insane that because lobbyists for certain industries and/or companies contribute thousands or even millions of dollars to political forces that, in turn, those political forces refuse to take action against those industries and/or companies simply because they do not want to anger their biggest contributors. Of course, they don’t want to lose money! I mean, it is only human existence on the line! People are also so completely obsessed with eating meat and find it as such a commonplace part of their daily routine that being told not to do it is outlandish to them. Some find it almost offensive, as though they have to defend their meat eating habits. I get it. It is a lot to wrap your head around. You might be annoyed with me right now because I am writing another article about meatless meals. Sorry! I can’t help it. The bottomline is eating less meat will most definitely help the planet to last longer. I am not telling anyone to be a vegetarian or a vegan, but if you can then go for it! I recently saw a bumper sticker that said something along the lines of “Vegans are Super Heroes.” Before, I would have laughed and found it pretentious and ridiculous. Now, I get it. Vegans are basically super heroes; their behaviors are literally saving the planet. Going vegan helps reduce emissions more than switching to a hybrid car or even riding a bike. Once again, I am not telling anyone to be a vegan or vegetarian. Why would I do that? I am not even a vegetarian or vegan. However, I do give my best effort to eat less meat whenever possible. Who knows, maybe one day I will go full force vegetarian in the name of the planet! For now, eating less meat is my mantra. Hopefully, sharing some meatless meal recipes that have profoundly amazing taste will persuade some of you to try a meatless meal every now and again. Maybe this will be your first meatless meal. If so, congrats on taking steps to help our environment! Of course, you should also make it because it is ridiculously delicious for being so simple. How could it not be? Because, cheesy potatoes. With that, let’s get to the recipe.
Cheesy Black Bean Chili Twice Baked Potatoes
4 large russet potatoes
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping (or vegan cheese if you’re really looking to save the planet)
6 stalks of green onions, chopped
1 cup plain greek yogurt, plus extra for topping (A vegan super hero? Use an almond, soy, or coconut yogurt replacement!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 can (4 oz) green chiles
3/4 cup water
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped – for topping
1 avocado, diced – for topping
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash skin of potatoes and puncture with fork in numerous spots. Bake in oven for about an hour or until soft.
- Remove potatoes from oven. Cut in half. Once cool enough, scoop out the inside of the potatoes and place in a medium-size mixing bowl.
- Mash the potatoes using a fork, masher, or even a mixer. Add cheese, green onions, greek yogurt, garlic, salt, and pepper to the potatoes. Mix everything together.
- Before filling the potato skins, coat them with one tablespoon of the olive oil and place in baking dish. Then, fill the skins with the filling. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until filling is browned.
- While the potatoes are baking, place olive oil, chili powder, and cumin in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Heat for about 1 minute. Once fragrant, add black beans, chiles, and water. Stir continuously until thickened. It may not seem like it will thicken, but I promise it will. Just keep stirring until it does! Keep warm until potatoes are done.
- Remove potatoes from oven. Place spoonfuls of topping over each potato.
- Top each potato with desired amount of cheese, greek yogurt, avocado, and cilantro.
***If you decide to make a salad to accompany the potatoes, I HIGHLY suggest you make this dressing. There are just a few, simple ingredients and it is spectacular. It is so tasty that I literally had a friend tell me she has dipped lettuce in it just as a snack, and I wasn’t surprised because I know how damn good the dressing tastes.
Aunt Karen’s Homemade Vinaigrette
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt and pepper
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!
It’s that simple. It’s basically throwing things in the oven, then doing some stirring, throwing things in the oven, and then stirring again. Also, please remember that this recipe was created using only the ingredients I had stocked in my kitchen at the time. So, when I say black bean chili, I mean it is a far, distant cousin loosely-related to chili. I am very aware that this may not be considered chili by someone who is a chili connoisseur. Who cares! Simplicity is key, especially when you are living the mom life. A salad on the side is also an easy addition to make it more of a complete meal. When all else fails, make a salad to accompany anything! Anyways, I hope you enjoy this randomly delicious meal all while saving the environment! Like always, please let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you guys!
Peace, Love, and Honest Food,