One meat and two sides – this has been the popular dinner plate formula for decades and even centuries as meat has become progressively easier to buy and prepare over the years. But, what if subtracting the meat from the dinner menu two nights out of the week could not only improve your health but also your savings? Maybe meatless meals could work for your family?
For the record: meat is not all bad! Meat provides protein, fat, iron and a number of other nutrients that are beneficial for our bodies. It is true, however, that eating an excessive amount of animal protein like red meat or poultry can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. This is mainly due to the amount of saturated fat that is in these meats.
Not only would skipping the meat for two days cut down on your saturated fat intake, but it would also open up room for you to include more veggies and legumes into you and your family’s diet! Other protein sources like beans, tofu, chickpeas and quinoa can be easily incorporated into some recipes you may already know!
Also, right now, meat is expensive and can be hard to find. As reported by Daily Mail, our country is experiencing a meat shortage as meat processing plants have been forced to close or slow production because of COVID-19 outbreaks. This means that there will be less meat on the shelves, and when it is on the shelves, it will be more expensive.
So, will cutting out meat from your meals two days out of the week make your health perfect and your wallet full? No. But, it will put you on the right track to making healthier food choices for your family, and it could save you a little money that could be used on other more demanding necessities.
Need help thinking of some meatless meals to include in your weekly menu? Here are three recipes that your family will love!
BEAN AND CHICKPEA TACOS
Instead of ground beef, use black beans and chickpeas as a creative alternative. You can season them just like you would ground beef, and they are packed with protein.
- Tortilla shells (hard or soft)
- 1 can of black beans (drained)
- Taco seasoning
- 1 can of chickpeas (drained)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- Taco toppings (sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, onion, avocado, etc.)
1. For the “meat”: In a large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Once your pan is hot, add in your garlic, drained black beans and chickpeas, and stir. Sprinkle your taco seasoning over the mixture to season (you can add as much or as little as you like.) Stir thoroughly until the beans and chickpeas are well seasoned and cooked through, but not mushy.
2. To assemble your taco: Spoon the bean and chickpea mixture into your tortilla, and add on cheese, sour cream, veggies, hot sauce or anything you want. Get creative and let your family make their taco creations!
CACIO e PEPE
This classic Italian dish has been filling up Italians for years, not to mention it is probably the easiest pasta dish you will ever make!
- 12 oz. package of spaghetti
- 2 cups of shredded parmesan or pecorino cheese
- 1-11⁄2 tsp. of fresh black pepper (adjust the amount according to taste)
- 5 tbsp. of butter
- Pasta water (reserve about 1 cup of pasta
- water before draining your pasta)
1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot and add in your pasta. Make sure to salt your pasta water! Cook the pasta until it is al dente, or almost tender. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
2. In a large saucepan on medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add in the black pepper. Cook the pepper in the butter for a couple minutes to let it “toast.” This will enhance the flavor.
3. Now, add the cooked pasta, 1⁄2 cup of reserved pasta water and remaining butter in with the melted butter and pepper. Stir well. The butter and pasta water will make a pan sauce that will allow the cheese to melt when you add it in. Bring the pan sauce to a simmer.
4. After your pan sauce is simmering, add in 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Stir well, and let the cheese melt into the sauce.
5. Finally, remove your pan from the heat and add in the remaining cheese. Stir well, allowing the cheese to melt into the pan sauce and coat the pasta. If you feel like you need a bit more sauce to coat the pasta, add in a splash more of the pasta water to thin out your sauce.
6. To serve, pile the Cacio e Pepe in a big bowl, sprinkle with some more parmesan and finish with fresh black pepper. Buon appetito!
Giggle Tip:To sneak in some veggies, sauté some onions into the butter before adding your pasta, or add fresh English peas at the end for a pop of green!
ROASTED VEGGIE BUDDHA BOWLS
While your kiddos might turn their heads at the thought of a big bowl of vegetables, once they try these roasted veggies, they might change their mind!
- Cooked quinoa, brown rice, or chick peas
- Your choice of fresh greens (spring mix, spinach, etc.)
- Fresh veggies of choice: Pick your favorite hearty veggies that you know will fill your family up!
- Nuts of choice: Nuts like pecans or walnuts are great for roasting with veggies.
- 3-4 tbsp. Olive oil
- 1 tbsp. Garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. Onion powder
- 1 tbsp. Chili powder
- Salt and pepper
- Dressing of choice: Let your family pick with dressings they want to use on their Buddha bowl
1. Cook your rice or quinoa according to package directions, and wash and cut your greens. Both of these ingredients will come in later for assembly.
2. Wash and cut up all of your veggies that you will be roasting. Once all your veggies are washed and cut, lay them out on a large sheet pan. Also, add 1 cup of your nuts of choice on the sheet pan.
3. Drizzle olive oil and all of the seasonings over the veggies and nuts, and toss to make sure the seasonings cover everything. Roast your veggies and nuts in the oven at 350 ̊ for about 20-25 minutes, or until veggies are browned and tender.
3. Assemble your Buddha bowl with rice or quinoa on the bottom, then your greens, then the roasted veggies and nuts. Top your bowl with whatever dressing