Sunday, 21 October 2012

STEPS 4 - Make one dinner a week meat free

Originally launched during World War I in the States, revived in 2003, and since then developed into a global movement, Meatless Monday has taken the world by storm, including Australia who has set up a not-for-profit initiative, Meatless Mondays Australia.

Have you heard of it?

The reasons for 'meatless Monday' center around environmental reasons (high greenhouse emissions associated with livestock production), animal rights, and health benefits associated with a reduction in meat and consequently an increase in consumption of legumes and vegetables.

So why am I making this a part of our STEPS program?  I actually think meat serves a very important purpose in the diet, however I agree that we do eat more than we need to, and our serving sizes typically are much larger than they need to be too, reducing the amount of veggies on the plate.

Does this plate below replicate your portion ratios?

Portion plate from The Lowercase 

 So for me this isn't about shining a negative light on meat, but more so a way of increasing our vegetable, wholegrain and legume intake.

Another benefit is definitely financial!  The average family would probably spend anywhere from $7-$20 on meat for one meal, whereas a pack of dried legumes cost around $2-3 (and you wouldn't use a whole pack for a meal), a few eggs cost less than $1, a block of tofu costs around $4.  Saving $5-10 per week definitely adds up over a year!

So I know there are a few vegetarians/vegans reading this.  Whilst this won't therefore apply to you, use the task to really focus on your protein and B12 aspect of your dietary intake, as this can often be lacking in vegetarian/vegan diets.  Really make sure you are structuring your meals to benefit from a complete set of amino acids - including foods such as quinoa (the only plant source of complete proteins - essential and non-essential amino acids), eggs (if not vegan), tofu and soybeans, legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans, coconut, peanut butter, beetroot and oats.
For example, peas contain protein (approx 5%) although they aren't a complete protein source, so eat them with chickpeas, brown rice or cheese to get the full range of amino acids.

I also know a few of you who are, or live with, a must-have-meat person!!  Understandably this will be one of the more difficult tasks for you, but hopefully over the next couple of weeks I can provide you with some ideas/recipes that will make the meat lovers forget the absence of meat on their plate, and instead marveling at the delicious flavours and feeling of fullness from the meatless meal!!!  Actually just recently a friend who almost only eats meat tried my sweet potato, chickpea and chia burger patties and really enjoyed them!!

Here are some other ideas to get you started and please feel free to comment here or on Mellymaks Facebook page to share your favourite meatless meals with the rest of us!

  • Substitute the meat you use in a stir fry for tofu slices marinated in honey, garlic, ginger and soy sauce.  Throw in a handful of raw cashews or peanuts.
  • Instead of chicken parmigiana, crumb large field mushrooms, top with pureed or chopped fresh tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and grated cheese.  Pan fry or grill until cheese starts to melt.  Serve with baked sweet potato wedges and sauteed spinach leaves flavoured with garlic and olive oil.
  • Make your favourite curry using chickpeas in place of meat.  Serve with coconut or steamed rice.
  • To 'beef' up a salad (without the beef!) add hard boiled eggs, puy/french lentils, crumbled ricotta cheese, stir fried tofu cubes marinated in sweet chilli sauce, ginger and garlic, toasted nuts such as pine nuts, cashews, macadamias or brazil nuts.  
  • Make a pea and kale risotto, finishing with crumbled fetta cheese.
  • Bake whole sweet potatoes in the oven until soft.  Serve 'loaded' with toppings such as avocado salsa (avocado, diced tomato, red onion, and fresh lime juice and a pinch of salt), baked beans, defrosted peas, corn kernels, roasted beetroot slices, chickpeas tossed in a splash of vinegar and sprinkled with sumac, grated cheese, ricotta cheese, natural yogurt.
  • Vegetarian pizzas topped with baby spinach leaves and a dollop of natural/greek yogurt.
  • Stuffed vegetables such as capsicum, eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini, using brown rice cooked in stock, finely chopped vegetables, olives, pine nuts and cheese.
  • Grilled polenta slices served with roasted veggies and haloumi cheese.
  • Use brown or red lentils instead of minced beef in your favourite bolognaise recipe.
  • Roasted vegetable lasagna.      
Oh, and it doesn't have to happen on a Monday!!  It will be just as effective on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday......!!!

OK, so lets get task 4 started!!  Enjoy.......

1 comment:

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