I challenge you to try going meatless one day each week. Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel. There are tons of ways you can incorporate alternatives to meat in your meal plans. One way is to use healthy meat replacement products you’ll find in the health food section of your local grocery store. Look for veggie burgers, hot dogs and even sausages that do not use any artificial flavors or additives. Choose a product that is made of organic ingredients whenever possible–have fun and be creative. Think of all the food items you can add rather than eliminate.
There are plenty of meals you can prepare that don’t require the substitution of meat. Spaghetti with a pesto or marinara sauce is tasty served with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and topped with fresh basil. Consider stuffing mushrooms or bell peppers with roasted corn, brown rice, cheddar cheese, and olives for a south of the border indulgence. For breakfast, cereal or oatmeal with fresh fruit are great options. Pancakes, omelets and even quiche are also good choices. Lunch can be made filling with a huge salad topped with nuts, fresh veggies, croutons and your favorite dressing paired with an avocado or egg salad sandwich on the side. You can even find meatless frozen meals, such as Amy’s burritos and pizzas, at the grocery store. Try a veggie chili either from a can, or make your favorite recipe at home replacing the meat you’d normally useby simply adding extra beans in place of the meat.
Personallly, I love soup and this is my frequent go-to meatless meal. It’s been pretty chilly around here these days, and so I hunkered down and made what I hope is the last big batch of wintry veggie soup before we set our sights on grilling and other spring and summer fare. This is sort of a kitchen-sink soup. Use what you’ve got. It will be slightly different every time, but that’s what keeps this soup interesting.
Start with a good broth, if you can. I prefer to make my own veggie broth from a big bag of vegetable scraps I keep in my freezer for just such occasions. I store carrot peels, onion and garlic skins, celery tops and bottoms, potato peels, anything that’s not going to give the soup a strong or “off” taste (skip pepper scraps, eggplant scraps, tomato scraps, things like that). But, if you don’t have the time or supplies on hand for a fresh broth, just purchase veggie broth, or go with water and increase the veggies you’re including in the soup.
I’m a huge fan of soup because of it’s hydrating abilities. Soup contains water with other foods, but it also has low fat, low calories, and many vitamins & protein which are very good for your health. So eating a bowl of soup can help you feel full for longer and reduce the amount of calories you intake after that. If I haven’t convinced you yet, vegetable soup is also great for losing weight.
Ready to give it a go? Time to warm up those bellies, people.
6 to 8 cups good vegetable broth
2 or 3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, cut in half moons
3 celery stalks, with frilly leaves on top, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 red pepper, diced
2 handfuls of string beans, fresh or frozen
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Red wine (splash)- optional
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley
Saute onion, celery, carrot, peppers, and garlic in olive oil in a large soup pot for a few minutes until softened. Add warm or room temperature vegetable broth to the veggies. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Add potatoes, green beans, and red beans, then add a splash of red wine (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on taste)/ if not using red wine opt for a few 1 tps of soy sauce. Let simmer for 40 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper to taste. About 8 minutes before you’re ready to serve. Add the parsley and stir.