Meatless Monday.  It helped us all learn that vegetarian eating, things like beans and rice, can coexist with eating a steak and fries.

It seemed like all of a sudden Meatless Monday was everywhere: in magazines, online, and in Twitter hashtags.  But in actuality, Meatless Monday is a global movement that’s been around since 2003, with a history that goes back even further, all the way to World War I.

The concept is simple: one day a week, cut the meat from your diet.

The goal of program is to reduce meat consumption by 15%, for our own personal health as well as that of the planet.

If you’re trying to conceive, Meatless Monday could be part of your ticket to motherhood.

The Harvard Nurses Health Study is a landmark study of women’s health, following more than a quarter million nurses since 1976 to assess their risk factors for chronic disease.  It’s one of the largest investigations of risk factors for such diseases for women ever conducted.

Many of the women participating in the study were trying to conceive, and a subgroup was formed to study the diet, exercise and lifestyle choices of women who experienced infertility as a result of difficulties with ovulation vs. those who didn’t.

One thing the researchers discovered was that women who got most of their protein from plant-based sources had less ovulatory-related infertility than women who relied primarily on animal-based sources of protein.

Beans are a fantastic plant-based source for protein.  Beans are also a great source of fiber, folate, iron and many other vitamins and minerals.  They’re also low in fat, and they have been known to help improve the quality of women’s follicles (the sacs where our eggs grow and mature during the pre-ovulatory phase of our cycle).

Quite simply, beans have loads of potential for boosting fertility, and I recommend that they become a staple in the diet of anybody who’s trying to conceive.

What’s even better is that there are loads of different kinds of beans, so it’s easy to find a kind you like.

And a great way to make sure you’re getting more beans in your diet is to embrace Meatless Monday.

If you’re still wondering what to make for a Meatless Monday dinner tonight, here’s one of my favorite go-to meatless recipe that uses beans.  Back when I was in college and didn’t know how to cook, I spent the summer one year living with roommates who taught me how to make a few basic dishes, including this one for Spicy Chick Peas.  This was in 1990, and Spicy Chick Peas were one of 5 things I knew how to make (the others being buttered pasta, scrambled eggs, pancakes from a box and tomato soup with macaroni).

Spicy Chick Peas, known as chana masala in Indian cuisine, quickly became one of my go-to weeknight meals because it’s so quick and easy to make, and so delicious.  I’ve made it at least once a week since 1990.  In fact, a few years ago when I posted a picture of Spicy Chick Peas on my Facebook page, I got at least 10 requests for the recipe, including from the friend who gave it to me in the first place!  She said she’d lost the recipe, and had been spending all these years trying to recreate it to no avail.  Needless to say, she was very happy to have the recipe again!

Spicy Chick Peas


  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seed
  • 2 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • pinch of pepper’
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 2 15-oz cans chick peas, including liquid
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (this is the juice of about 1 large lemon)
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro (optional)


  1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add cumin seed and onion, cook until onion is slightly browned.

onions in pot

Here are the onions and cumin cooking in the pot.

2. Add coriander, turmeric, paprika, salt, pepper, cinnamon and cloves.  Stir over medium heat until thoroughly blended.

onions and spices in pot

Here are all the spices blended in the pot with the onions.

3. Stir in beans, including liquid, and continue cooking uncovered until desired consistency.

chick peas in pot

I’ve added the chick peas, and liquid to the spices and onions and simmering it uncovered until it thickens.

4. Blend in tomato sauce, lemon juice and cilantro.  Blend thoroughly.

spicy chick peas in pot

Chick peas thickened to my desired consistency with tomato sauce and lemon juice. This particular time I didn’t have any cilantro on hand, but I usually do add it.

5. Eat and enjoy! This dish goes great with brown or basmati rice, and I usually eat it it with a side salad or sauteed spinach or kale. You can whip up the chick peas while the rice is cooking and by the time the peas are done the rice is ready.  The salad or side veggie then only take a few minutes to prepare.

spicy chick peas with basmati rice and sauteed spinach

Spicy chick peas with basmati rice and sauteed spinach. You can have this entire meal prepared in a half hour with leftovers for lunch the next day!

In addition to the chick peas, other elements of this dish are great for boosting fertility.

  • Onions have many healing properties.  They supposedly help increase testosterone production in men and increase sperm counts and motility.  They also contain antioxidants that help protect sperm from damage.  For women, onions can fight insulin resistance which is especially important for women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
  • Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking is one of my top fertility-boosting dietary tips.  It’s a great source for Vitamin E, which is also found in the fluid in the follicles containing our eggs.  Its healthy fats also reduce inflammation and the onset of chronic disease.
  • This dish is called Spicy Chick Peas, and spices can do their part to help boost fertility.  Cinnamon helps regulate insulin levels and blood sugar, so along with onions it can provide relief to women with PCOS. Turmeric helps stimulate blood flow and can help regulate menstrual flow.  This can help manage endometriosis.

Give this a try and let me know if you think it’s cool beans!!


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