A vegetarian for the past five years, Jimenez, 42, cooks for her son, 20, and daughter, 15. A certified holistic health counselor, she owns the online company Integrative Health and Wellness and lives in Babylon.
Why did you decide to become vegetarian?
My body began not processing meat very well. So I switched to chicken. When I joined Science of Spirituality Meditation Center, I gave up chicken and don't miss it.
How does this work with your nutritional counseling?
I tell clients the benefits of vegetarian, but don't require them to be vegetarian. I want them to make the connection between what they eat and how they feel.
Did you always enjoy cooking?
Before I started on this journey of vegetarianism, I worked full time and would feed my children a diet of fast food. I didn't really know how to cook. I had to prioritize my children's health and well-being against how much I was working. I had to find a balance.
What are some of your favorite things to cook?
My daughter likes quesadillas. My son likes chipolte-style rice and beans with tofu. I'm trying to go more raw with salads and smoothies. I like scrambled tofu with tortilla chips for breakfast.
Are there any misconceptions about vegetarianism?
I think people have the notion you have to eat meat to get protein. There are lots of vegetables and seeds that are a good source of protein: legumes, kale, chia seeds, hemp seed.
How would you advise becoming a vegetarian? Start slowly by just adding more non-meat proteins . . . like beans.
RICE-AND-BEANS BURRITO BOWL
This dish is a homemade take on the popular tortilla-less "burrito bowl" served at Chipotle Mexican Grill.
1 cup cooked black beans
2 finely minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch-wide slices
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cups frozen corn, thawed and drained
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
4 jalapeño peppers (fresh or pickled, seeds, veins removed to lessen heat)
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 ripe avocado
2 cups cooked brown or white rice
1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar or other cheese (optional)
1. In a small saucepan combine beans, a few tablespoons of water, half the garlic, salt to taste (if not using canned beans) and a pinch of cayenne. Heat through, about 5 minutes. Mash a quarter of the beans, return to pan and stir all together.
2. Film a skillet with olive oil, add sliced green peppers and sliced onion and vinegar and saute over high heat until tender and slightly brown.
3. Combine the corn with diced tomatoes, diced onion, jalapeño peppers, half of the lime juice, salt to taste and cilantro.
4. Peel avocado; remove pit. Dice and toss in bowl with remaining lime juice. Add salt to taste and minced clove of garlic and remaining cilantro.
5. To assemble dish, spoon a bed of brown rice in a shallow bowl. Top with beans, onions and peppers, corn mixture, avocado, sour cream and then top with cheese. Makes 2 servings.