By Melissa Fine, Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor.
Our new year’s resolution at GoodnessMe Box HQ is to make a habit of Meatless Monday. It’s not about giving up meat entirely; Going meat free for just one day of the week can make a huge difference in so many ways.
Why go meat free this Monday?
For the Animals: Consciously skipping animal products at the start of the week can get us thinking about the treatment of animals that are a regular, often underappreciated part of so many of our diets. Take chickens for instance; Did the chicken you buy live in a confined cage or roam-free in an environment that lets hens be hens? By simply choosing chickens and eggs labeled as free-range, you’ll be voting with your wallet for a livestock industry that cares about our farm animals’ quality of life.
For the Environment: According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock, with the production of beef and milk being the main contributors, followed by meat from pigs and poultry as well as eggs; These emissions are due to factors like feed production and manufacturing, meat processing and transport*.
For Your Health: Meat can be good for you if you eat the right kind and not too much. Highly processed or smoked meats like bacon and salami are high in salt, saturated fat and undesirable preservatives like nitrites. Lean, minimally processed meats are a better option; A healthy serve of red meat is about the same size and thickness as your palm though, a serving size considered modest at your typical Aussie barbie!
Also, eating meat once or twice a day, everyday, might mean you’re missing out on the health benefits that plant-protein has to offer – Legumes like lentils and beans are rich in fibre, which supports gut health and which you wont find in any cut of meat. Cutting back on meat also encourages us to eat more colourful, nutrient-loaded vegetable-based meals.
You’ll Save $$ : A block of tofu costs around $3.00-$4.00 and gives me three meals-worth of protein; Canned legumes like chickpeas tend to cost even less than this and are always handy for last-minute salads and stir-fries - Plus they count as a vegetable!
Keen to go Meatless this Monday? Here are five protein-rich recipes to get you started:
1) Freekeh Burgers
A nutty-tasting, slightly chewy roasted grain derived from young green wheat, freekeh is more nutrient-dense than mature wheat, being higher in protein, fibre and minerals like calcium and iron.
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, grated
- 30 ml olive oil
- large clove garlic, crushed
- 250 g cooked freekeh (cracked or whole grain – To cook, simply add 1 part freekeh to 2.5 parts water in a pot and bring to the boil; Place lid on pot and reduce to a simmer for approx. 20 mins or once tender)
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 1 egg
- 100 g bread crumbs
- salt and pepper
- wholegrain flour for coating
Method | Serves 4
- Fry onion, carrot, and garlic in the oil until soft and lightly browned.
- Transfer to bowl and combine with garlic, Freekeh, oregano and parsley.
- Add egg and process roughly in a blender until mixture binds together, then add bread crumbs, salt/pepper, and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
- Shape the mixture into burgers and lightly coat in wholegrain flour.
- Lightly Fry in the olive oil, taking care when turning burgers over.
Drain on paper towels and serve with baked Goodness Superfoods Barley Wraps and salad greens.
Source: Goodness Super Foods
2) Tofu Stir-fry with Almond Miso Sauce
There’s something so satisfying about miso; A fermented Japanese soybean paste that’s salty and savoury, it pairs perfectly with creamy, slightly sweet almond butter.
- 1 head broccoli, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- ½ red capsicum, chopped
- 1/3 block firm tofu, patted dry with a paper towel and cut into large cubes
- 1.5 tsp coconut oil
- 2 tsp tamari (wheat free soy sauce)
- 2 drops sesame oil
For the sauce:
- 1 TBS almond butter
- 1 tsp miso paste (from health food stores)
- ½ tsp mirin
- hot water to thin
Method | Serves 1
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the sauce together, adding a little hot water to thin to desired consistency.
- Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in a medium-sized stir fry pan/wok on high.
- Add broccoli, carrot and 1 tsp tamari to the pan and stir-fry for a minute or two, or until the veg start to soften.
- Add remaining vegetables, tofu, coconut oil, sesame oil and tamari to pan. Continue to stir-fry for about 2-3 mins, or until all the vegetables are lightly cooked through (don’t let them get soggy) and the tofu has browned.
- Plate stir-fry up by itself or on a bed of brown rice. Top with the almond miso sauce to bring it all together.
3) ‘TLT’ – Tempeh, Lettuce & Tomato
Swap your BLT for a TLT this Meatless Monday :D Tempeh (‘temp-ay’) is a fermented, probiotic-rich soybean product that’s different to tofu in that the beans remain intact. Just grill a marinated tempeh burger (from health food stores – or sub with tofu) for a minute or two each side in a little coconut oil until crisp on the outside; Serve on a wholemeal bun (I like spelt varieties) with tomato slices, lettuce and some hummus and smashed avo instead of BBQ sauce. You could also sub the bun for a big lettuce leaf. Serve with baked sweet potato ‘fries’ or veggie crudités.
4) Monday Mexican Night
A fun dinner for two or if you’re having people over. Simply set up a ‘Build your own tortilla’ or Mexican salad station with brown rice, warmed soft corn tortillas, salsa and homemade guac. For some more vegie action, serve a big plate of each chopped lettuce and tomato, and dish out a can of refried beans for fibre and protein. Some other nice extras are grated cheese and Greek yoghurt, a healthy alternative to sour cream.
5) Freekeh Salad with Persian Fetta
Now this is what I call a meal in a salad!
- 60 g butter
- 1 stick celery, finely diced
- 3 red eschallots, finely diced
- 1 small garlic clove, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 200 g Goodness Superfoods Roasted Cracked Wholegrain Freekeh, rinsed under cold water
- 6 green onions, finely sliced
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped
- 100 g roasted hazelnuts, skinned and roughly chopped
- 100 g currants
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 300g Persian feta
Method | Serves 6
- Place butter, celery, eschallots, garlic and bay leaf in a medium-sized saucepan and sweat vegetables over a low heat for 10 mins.
- Add Freekeh to the pan and stir to ensure the grain is coated with butter. Add 230 ml water to the pan, bring to boil and cover with a lid. Continue to cook on a low heat on the stovetop. Check after 12 mins and taste a small amount – the larger the grain, the longer the cooking time.
- When sufficiently cooked (soft but still al dente), remove freekeh from the pan and spread out on a large plate to cool quickly without overcooking. When cold, it can be kept in an airtight container for two days.
To assemble, mix green onions, chopped herbs, hazelnuts and currants with the freekeh. Mix lemon juice and oil, dress the salad, crumble the feta over and serve.
Source: Goodness Superfoods
Goodness Superfoods Freekeh: Picked and roasted when the grain is green, freekeh retains a higher percentage of protein, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, in particular, calcium, potassium, iron and zinc than mature wheat. Freekeh comes to you ready to boil or pressure cook. A versatile food, it can be served on its own as a side dish (like rice). As easy to prepare as rice or pasta. For more head to www.goodnesssuperfoods.com.au.