Now playing: the Bangles, “Manic Monday”

I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat meat every single day. I was raised in an occasionally veggie-household (religious reasons), so I’ve long ago made my peace with all kinds of interesting veggie meat substitutes (try Big Franks, for example: still my favorite addictive canned meatless hot dogs). I’ve also reserved red meat mostly for those days when I’m really craving it – sometimes nothing beats a great steak or a good juicy burger. Otherwise, I mostly use turkey when I want a lean protein (turkey tacos, lasagna, and burgers all work well, and there are some decent types of turkey bacon if you’re willing to hunt; turkey sausage, for my money, tastes nearly exactly the same as the pork version). Having said all that, sometimes I come up with a meal that is just vegetarian for no reason at all. In other words, I don’t do it on purpose, but it still satisfies my tastebuds and all my nutritional needs, without any meat at all. Such was the case on a recent “unintentionally meatless Monday” when I decided to see what I could do with a twist on a classic: the baked potato. Why, exactly, isn’t baked sweet potato a popular meal? I sought to find out.

Who says a baked potato can't be a sweet potato?

Who says a baked potato can’t be a sweet potato?

I started with a medium sweet potato, scrubbed and eyes removed, and baked – of course! While that was baking, I concocted my favorite corn side dish by steaming my corn, then adding in lemon juice (it’s better with lime, FYI, but I was out at the time), black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and a little grated parmesan.
All I need to create my favorite corn side dish

All I need to create my favorite corn side dish

Mix it all together (don’t overthink it, no need to measure), and enjoy!
And the result!

And the result!

Top your potato with my zesty corn and black beans

Top your potato with my zesty corn and black beans

I added this as the base layer to my potato once it was finished, followed by a layer of black beans.
Add some reduced fat cheese (or the full-fat, if you prefer)

Add some reduced fat cheese (or the full-fat, if you prefer)

Just enough cheese to melt will do; there’s flavor enough in everything else – you can keep this healthy if you try!
And top with some fat free sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, mixed with taco seasoning

And top with some fat free sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, mixed with taco seasoning

The finishing touch was to mix up a little taco seasoning into fat free sour cream (though you could use the real thing if you like, or go one better and sub in plain Greek yogurt). Top your potato with this and enjoy! This was a fun little experiment that came out nicely, and a meal I’d eat again!

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