I love meat. When I eat meat, I prefer red meat, and I prefer it in an indulgently-prepared way. But, since I also care about my health, I also prefer it in small, occasional portions.
So I tried Meatless Mondays. It gives your body and conscious something to feel good about. Unlike the usual diet trends, this movement combines health and environmental benefits. Meatless Monday has received big name backing from the likes of Mario Batali and Michelle Obama and organizations including state school-lunch programs. But more than just advocating for a meat-free day, these supporters have been participating themselves.
Here are 3 reasons to jump on the Meatless Monday bandwagon.
For your health:
Although heart disease is often thought of as a men’s health issue, more women than men die from heart disease each year. Reducing meat intake by 15% each week—or the equivalent of one day—may improve your heart health. Cutting out meat for a day will decrease your intake of adverse dietary contributors such as cholesterol, saturated fat, and animal protein. Subbing in plants for meat one day per week helps improve blood cholesterol levels and keeps blood vessels healthy.
For the environment:
The American diet is so high in animal protein that, according to Stanford University researchers, it has contributed to an overuse and abuse of environmental resources. Animal farmland can lead to deforestation, erosion and requires tremendous amounts of natural resources. Meat production and transportation also contributes to high levels of eCO2 release into the environment (aka greenhouse gas emissions).
For your budget:
Sure, budgeting isn’t technically a part of the Meatless Monday movement, but just think of the money you can save! Meat is often the priciest ingredient in our meals. Reward yourself for your cost savings and commitment to your health and the Earth with a manicure, a few iTunes downloads, or a fancy new cooking oil.
For sworn uncompromised meat-lovers, you won’t have to confine yourself to a day of leafy greens. Try one of the hearty, fall-inspired dishes below.
Try this paired with some sweet potato oven “fries” and a salad on the side for a full meal.
Serves 4 (8 burgers total)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
¼ cup oats
8.5 oz can black beans (no salt added)
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp chili powder
2 Tbs olive oil
Optional serving suggestions:
Whole wheat hamburger rolls
In food processor, pulse oats until finely ground. Remove from food processor and set aside.
Pulse beans in food processor with jalapeño and garlic until well mixed. Mix spices in bowl with oats. Add an egg and pulse until well mixed.
Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes.
Remove mixture from refrigerator and form patties using about ½ cup mixture per patty.
Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in large skillet and cook patties until 1 side is browned, then flip. Once both sides are browned and mixture is warmed through, transfer patties to a plate. Repeat this step using remaining tablespoon of olive oil and rest of patties.
Serve with optional toppings.
Prepare this over the weekend for an easily re-heatable lunch or dinner on Monday (or any day!). Serve it with a whole grain roll.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp carraway seeds
2 tsp dried basil
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups peeled and cubed winter squash, such as delicata or acorn (delicate is easiest because skins can me left on)
2 cups peeled and diced carrots/parsnips
4 cups low sodium beef broth
2 cups water
4 cups chopped kale
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (no salt added, if available)
Warm the oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and spices and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the squash, carrots, parsnips, broth, and water. Cook for 10 minutes or until the carrots and parsnips are tender.
Add the kale and beans. Simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes, until the kale is tender and the beans are hot.
Serve immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 4 days.
( For more, visit Suzanne's website at www.suzyfoods.com)