Recently we spoke with Sheila Otter, a marketing executive who hosted a “Girl’s Night In” featuring a Meat Free Monday menu.
G4A: What Speaks to you about Meat Free Monday?
Sheila: Besides the positive effect on health and the environment, I like being part of a greater movement others are also embracing. It is a great weekly reminder to refocus on my health and positive activities in my life. It is a bigger philosophy than just my meal choice.
G4A: How long have you been doing MFM?
Sheila: I officially committed to Mondays with the launch of Good4All, but prior to that I often had meatless meals. I may do other days without meat, but Monday starts my intention for the week.
G4A: What has been the most rewarding aspect of doing this?
Sheila: Well, the Good4All Experience encourages people to embrace 4 new positive pivots with their friends. So, my “pod” of 4 girlfriends has been alternating homes to have a Meat Free Monday dinner together every week. We socially distance, of course, but it’s been really fun to share recipes and encourage each other in healthier, more positive, and meaningful living—which is what Good4All is about.
G4A: Where are you finding your recipes?
Sheila: It’s really amazing how much information is available about plant-based eating and how many people are embracing it. I’ve had friends share some recipes, but I love to do research for ideas. Chef Google provides the biggest cookbook of all! 😊
G4A: Is there anything challenging about Meat Free Monday?
Sheila: Not for me personally. I usually try to focus on a plant-based foundation for my meals. Many of us were raised to start with the meat and then add sides. It’s a mental shift I’ve made. But when you are having guests, it can be challenging to come up with appealing ideas. So, I have been focusing on cultural menus. We may not be able to travel but we can have a taste of India, Thailand, and other countries!
G4A: What was your most recent menu?
Sheila: We created an Indian themed dinner featuring Dal, which is a lentil dish I fell in love with while traveling in India and Nepal. Its amazing spices combine perfectly with any vegetables. My friends were my sous chefs and helped with chopping fresh ginger, garlic a rainbow of veggies. Paired with traditional naan and brown rice, it was deeeelish! (Our Dal recipe came from thewanderlustkitchen.com, a site I love!)
G4A: Any advice you would have for people who want to do Meat Free Monday together?
Sheila: Plan, plan, plan! Have a plan for proper social distance, have your ingredients prepped and ready to go, and your table set, and have assignments for everyone. Then, maybe plan how one day you will visit the country your menu comes from!
Indian Red Lentil Dal
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 3 cups room temperature water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 green chili pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced (serrano for spicy, jalapeno for milder)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon finely minced ginger root
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- Juice of one half a lemon
- Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
- Place the rinsed lentils in a medium saucepan along with 3 cups of room temperature water. Turn the heat to medium and allow the lentils to cook for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cinnamon stick; cook for 60 to 90 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add the onion, green chili pepper, garlic, and ginger; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are turning translucent.
- Add the turmeric, cardamom, paprika, salt, and tomato to the pan. Cook until the tomato begins to fall apart, about 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.
5. Once the lentils are cooked, drain off any excess water. Stir the spiced onion mixture into the pot of lentils. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Taste and add salt as needed.
6.Garnish with cilantro; serve with basmati rice and naan.
Sheila Otter is an advertising/marketing specialist. An ardent world traveler, she’s visited all 7 continents and over 33 countries. A passionate Equestrian, Sheila volunteers for SAFE, a horse rescue and rehabilitation organization; and she wholeheartedly agrees with Winston Churchill’s quote: “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle”.