Guest Post: Vegetarian Cooking with 416

By Bridgett Lowery, 416

When I met my husband 18 years ago, he was a “meat and potatoes” guy. He still prefers a steak and baked potato to “vegetarian cooking”, so when he eats a meal and doesn’t miss the meat, I know it’s a great dish and something to make again!

Black bean and sweet potato quesadilla

Scroll down for a yummy black bean quesadilla recipe!

There are many benefits to eating a plant-based diet. It promotes heart health and lowers cholesterol. Cutting meat from meals can lead to weight loss. Vegetarian dishes can be a great way to trim a few dollars off the grocery bill. Additionally, many studies point to it being better for the environment since farming vegetables leaves less of a carbon footprint than raising animals for consumption.

But, it can be a tough sell for many people. If that’s the case in your home, I have a few tricks to ease the family into veggie bliss (at least a night or two a week!) Leave the tried and true recipes alone!  If your meatballs are everyone’s favorite, turning them into “beanballs” can backfire. However, I do recommend selecting a dish from a cuisine that you know your family enjoys. My family loves Mexican and Asian dishes, so I started there. The “flavors” were already something they liked, so a meatless dish wasn’t much of a stretch. Make sure it’s hearty, too. Using beans, eggs, mushrooms or cheese makes the meal more satisfying. You don’t want a hungry crew an hour after you finish dinner! As you consider recipes, don’t be afraid to substitute veggies your family doesn’t love with their favorites.

Make it fun! Ask for “reviews” of the dishes. In our house we use the “thumbs up or thumbs down” method. Use positive momentum to your advantage and tell the family about the next vegetarian meal while they are enjoying the one in front of them. Have children help you select new recipes and get them in the kitchen with you. Or, don’t say anything at all! Sometimes everyone is just too hungry to notice!

Eat Well & Be Well,


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Want to learn more about how to switch to a couple vegetarian-based meals a week? Join Bridgett at the Garden on Thursday, November 1 from 6-7:30 pm for a Vegetarian Cooking class at the Garden!

Register Now


A Vegetarian Mexican Meal

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas

  • 8 tortillas per person
  • 4 small or 2 large sweet potatoes, baked and removed from skin
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2t cumin
  • 1T chili powder
  • 1t garlic powder
  • 1t onion powder
  • Pinch of red pepper flake OR cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Toppings like fresh cilantro, lime, shredded lettuce, sour cream, etc.

Season the black beans by mixing them with spices and a few tablespoons of water. Cook them on low in a saucepan for a few minutes.

Assemble the quesadillas by spreading sweet potato on each tortilla. Place black beans and cheese on one tortilla and top with the other tortilla. Place in a medium hot pan and flip after a few minutes. Cook a few minutes more.

You can make several at a time in the oven- 325 degrees for 5 minutes, flip, and bake 5 more minutes.

Once heated, let quesadillas sit for a few minutes before cutting them. (I like to use a pizza cutter.)

Corn Salad

  • 1 lb corn (fresh off the cob, if in season, and left raw; or frozen and thawed)
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes
  • ½ bell pepper
  • Red onion to taste
  • Jalapeno to taste
  • Juice of 1 to 2 limes, and the zest of one
  • 1/4C olive oil
  • Cilantro, salt and pepper to taste

Combine first five ingredients and toss together. Make dressing – combine zest, lime juice and oil and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with salad and add cilantro.

Fresh Guacamole

  • 2 to 3 ripe but firm avocados
  • Juice of 1 to 2 lime(s)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Dash of cayenne or hot sauce or minced jalapeno, if desired

Remove avocado from skin and discard pit. Place all ingredients in bowl. Mash together until it’s the consistency you like and serve with veggies or chips.

About Bridgett Lowery & 416

Bridgett Lowery of 416 head shotBridgett Lowery is the owner and operator of 416 – offering cooking classes and kitchen coaching. Lowery is a self-taught chef and 416 is the culmination of careers in human resources and education mixed with a lifetime love of food. She offers a variety of cooking classes for adults and children. Through kitchen coaching services, Lowery provides clients with one-on-one instruction which teaches them skills to overcome personal challenges in their own kitchens. She speaks to organizations about a variety of food-related topics.

Lowery has made numerous appearances on Good Day Wisconsin and Living with Amy. She serves on the Board of Directors for Definitely De Pere. The philanthropic focus of 416 is giving back to the community in a way that eases food insecurities. Since 2012, 416 has partnered with Ben’s Wish donating over 3000 pounds of healthy food to Brown County food pantries. To date, the Lowery family has donated over $2,250 to the Ben’s Wish Weekend Backpack Program, which has resulted in over 1000 weekend backpacks.

Personally, Lowery enjoys reading, yoga and kayaking. A self-proclaimed “homebody,” when Lowery isn’t working she’s at home cooking, entertaining friends or caring for the family’s historic home.  She and her husband of 16 years reside in Green Bay with their 11-year-old son (who was born on 4.16).