Not only do I eliminate gluten from my diet, but also red meat. Why, you may ask? My parents stopped eating red meat before I made an appearance in this world, so lo and behold, that’s how I was raised. Cue Lady Gaga: baby, I was born this way! Although, I do confess that I did eat bacon and hot dogs on a rarity when I was little. Not at the same time, mind you. However, I have not ingested any form of red meat for over 10 years now!
To clarify all the dishes that I avoid, this includes steak, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, bologna, hamburgers, and corned beef. One bonus to this no red meat diet is that it comes in handy when playing “Never Have I Ever”, since I always declare with a victory smile on my face that I’ve never eaten a hamburger before. I definitely win that round every time. The meats I do eat are turkey, chicken and fish. But, rotating the three protein packed foods can get boring. Luckily for me and you, there are an abundance of other options to serve that are just as filling.
Let’s hit up the beans first. Inexpensive and full of nutrients such as potassium and iron, one serving of beans covers about half the fiber and a quarter of the protein that is suggested for the daily intake for adults. Yes, refried beans are a common side dish, but it’s just as easy to convert lovely beans to be the star of the meal, whether it be a bean loaf, sweet potato bean burger, black bean quesadilla, falafel, garbanzo cauliflower curry, or bean tacos. Lentils are a cousin of the bean and are just as filling! Some specific beans choices include: black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, black-eyed beans, and cannellini beans. We got choices here, people.
If I say the T word, will you scrunch your nose in disdain and refuse to give tofu (there, I said it) a chance? I encourage you to do so. I know that tofu gets a bad reputation for being a jiggly, flavorless mess, but I swear that great taste can be incorporated into tofu. It’s all about the sauce! First off, there are different types of tofu: silky, firm, and extra firm. Use the right kind when cooking because this can make a huge difference. Tofu stir fry, tofu curry, blended tofu soup, tofu egg-less salad, tofu lasagna, noodles with peanut-sauced tofu, and marinated grilled tofu with any flavor combo can very well be listed next for your Meatless Monday. A favorite of mine is tofu with a cashew cream sauce. It’s heavenly. Tofu is made from soybean curds and is packed with protein. Helpful hint: Press the water out of the tofu before cooking with it so maximum flavor can seep in.
Have you ever heard of tempeh? Yah, me neither until about two years ago. It is made from fermented soybeans and is firmer in texture than tofu. It carries a nuttier flavor. Protein-wise, there’s a whole 11 grams per ½ cup. I love this meat alternative because you can spice it up with any flavor imaginable. A few of my favorites are balsamic, a herb blend, teriyaki, and sweet and sour. Vegan BLT, tempeh sloppy Joes, BBQ tempeh, buffalo tempeh tenders, and tempeh meatballs are all great options as well. You can grill, bake, sear, broil, or stir-fry tempeh. Wow!
Ayyyy, say hello to your new best friend, quinoa! Quinoa is very versatile, tasting yummy in dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. But that’s for a different article. From researching about this superfood seed, I found out from Laura Newcomer that it proudly boasts the title of being one of the only grains that is complete with “all nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce on their own”. Quinoa burgers, quinoa stuffed peppers, a quinoa Asian bowl, quinoa pizza bites, and veggie quinoa paella are all satisfying main dishes to serve up.
Eggs are also a great meat substitute if you are not vegan, as they contain a good amount of protein- one egg alone provides 6 grams. While traditionally prepared for breakfast, eggs make great lunch or dinner meals. Some suggestions are potato egg quiche, egg and avocado burrito, spaghetti with eggs and Swiss chard, egg nachos, pizza frittata, egg enchiladas, or an egg salad sandwich.
So many choices, so little time! Get yo vegetarian on people!