Eat Well

Getting Comfortable With Going Meatless

Apr 28, 2011

Hi all – I’m Deanna – a mom to a 3 ½ year old and a dietitian who loves to cook and truly believes healthy can equal delicious. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing ideas on how to get your family to eat a bit wiser and tastier with simple tips that can add up to positive habits.

Have you heard about Meatless Mondays? Started during the first World War as a way to ration meat, this revived movement is inspiring us go vegetarian one day a week to improve our own health and the health of the Earth.

The new Dietary Guidelines recommend we eat more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts – foods that provide fiber, antioxidants and healthier fats. These nutrients are linked to lowered risks for heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and even obesity. And when it comes to the environment, eating less meat can save resources like fuel, water and soil.

There are varying degrees of meatless eating – in other words, it’s not an all-or-nothing diet. You can be healthy choosing a “flexitarian” route – going meatless for a few meals a week and making smart choices when it comes to animal products such as lean cuts of beef/chicken, eating more fish/seafood and low-fat dairy foods.

So, where to start? Try using familiar, comfort foods as a base for your meatless dishes like:

Peanut butter (One serving has 30-plus nutrients and more protein than any other nut.)

  • Mix with vanilla yogurt then serve with fresh veggies and fruit slices for a side dish (my daughter’s favorite snack)
  • Use as base for sesame noodles with green beans (mix with low sodium soy sauce and sesame oil)

Eggs (The average large egg is now 14% lower in cholesterol and 64% higher in vitamin D)

  • Toss sautéed onions, mushrooms and spinach into an omelet or a frittata
  • Make homemade fried rice with scrambled eggs and canned mixed vegetables

Cheese (Choose lower fat options like Cabot’s 50% reduced fat cheddar)

  • Melt cheese into macaroni mixed with pureed butternut squash
  • Mash pinto beans and spread onto corn tortillas. Top with zucchini, pepper strips and cheese. Microwave to melt, then wrap.