Vail Colorful Cooking column: Quality protein for a meatless meal |

Vail Colorful Cooking column: Quality protein for a meatless meal

Special to the Daily/Billy DoranReplace chicken or steak with eggs for a quick and tasty meatless dinner.

Meatless Mondays is a term that has been tossed around more than a good salad. Experts suggest that if you go meatless one day a week you could save almost $2,500 a year on food costs. That was all I needed to hear to incorporate the double M’s into my repertoire. It was a slow start and every meatless Monday my husband would say, “this would taste much better with bacon.” But the more you do it, the easier it is.

Meal planning needs to be easy and when creating a vegetarian meal sometimes the protein substitute can be tricky. Animal protein is delicious, easy to cook and habit forming.

Protein is essential because your body uses proteins to build new cells, maintain tissue and make neurotransmitters, which help send messages to different cells, telling your body to perform tasks such as seeing, hearing, thinking and moving.

Whole grains and beans combined are an easy, high-protein meatless meal, think pinto beans, brown rice and salsa on a tortilla. Quinoa is a complete protein source, easy to cook and enjoyable warm or cold. One of my favorite lunches is a quinoa salad with protein rich almonds and avocado dressing (visit for the recipe). It also has anti-inflammatory properties and lots of vitamin E. Soybeans and tofu are vegetarian options that are high in protein. Peanuts, almonds, pistachios and sunflower seeds are a quality protein and compliment a low calorie salad.

Eggs are considered by nutrition scientists the food with the best supply of complete proteins and they are a quick fix to a meatless meal. Eggs can be enjoyed anytime of the day and are packed with healthy protein, vitamin A and D, choline, riboflavin, folate, lutein and zeaxanthin. Pairing eggs with beans and tortillas makes a filling, tasty meal. Here is a southwestern style main course that won’t leave you asking, “where’s the bacon?”

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Eggs with tomatillo sauce

Serves: 4. Cook and prep time: 30 minutes.

8 eggs

14 oz. black or refried pinto beans

8 corn tortillas

5 tomatillos

1 white onion

3 cloves of garlic

2 Serrano peppers

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

1tablespoon chicken broth

1 teasoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Peel and rinse the tomatillos to remove the sticky film below husk. Place 6 cups water in a pot over medium high heat. Add tomatillos, onion, garlic and peppers to water. Once water boils, turn off heat and cover for 6 minutes.

Remove Serrano peppers, slice in half and discard the seeds and stems. Drain water and place peppers, tomatillos, garlic, onion and cilantro in blender and pulse until all ingredients form a liquid.

Place the pan over medium heat, coat with olive oil and add blended mixture. Heat mixture and add broth, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium.

In another saucepan, heat beans.

In a saute pan, cook the eggs. For over easy eggs, heat saute pan over medium low, coat bottom of skillet with olive oil. Crack eggs and pour gently into pan. For a large pan, cook 4 eggs at a time. Cover pan and cook eggs for 4 minutes or keep pan uncovered, cook eggs for 3 minutes, flip and cook another minute.

Heat corn tortillas in saute pan with canola oil for about 20 seconds each side or heat on a baking pan in an oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes until soft.

When all is cooked, arrange on a plate. Two tortillas with 1/3 cup beans, two eggs and salsa.

Tracy Miller is a culinary instructor at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards, hosts private cooking parties and shares recipes on TV8’s Good Morning Vail. Log onto for healthy recipes or email Tracy incorporates fruits and vegetables into all her meals.

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