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Lighter Less Meat Recipes

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm a confirmed carnivore and I'm always going to do stuff like throw 30lbs of dead animal parts in the smoker for a big BBQ. Having said that, for day-to-day eating, I'd like to cook lighter and eat less meat. Both for health reasons -- I think humans naturally are supposed to eat -- just not that much of it, and because meat consumes more resources from our overly-stressed planet.

So, would anyone like to suggest recipes that are lighter for summer and also use less meat?

I'm trying for things that use just a bit of meat or seafood for flavor mixed with lots of veggies and whole grains but totally veg and ovo-lacto veg is also good. Something that kids will eat (we have a 7yo) is really what I need.
post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 

Refried Bean Burritos

I figured I start with a few of my own so here's something easy.

Refried Bean Burritos
  • One can Refried Beans
  • Burrito-sized whole-wheat flour tortillas (Trader Joes had great ones)
  • Chopped veggies, any of the following:
    • mild to medium fresh chili pepper such as poblano, new mexican, anahiem
    • tomato
    • scallion
    • lettuce
    • etc.
  • Condiments
    • hot sauce (I like Cholula)
    • guacomole
    • etc.
  1. Heat the beans.
  2. Microwave a tortilla with a light sprinkle of cheese for about ten seconds.
  3. Add a few tablespoons of beans to the totilla.
  4. Dress with the chopped veggies.
  5. Add condiments.
  6. Roll up.
  7. Eat.
One can of refried beans is good for four-six burritos or two-three people.

Our kid doesn't like beans so we just nuke him a torrilla with cheese and give him some raw carrots on the side.
post #3 of 11
I cook for a vegetarian every day. i often alter or use recipes that have no meat for us all to eat. It just takes a bit of creativity . Add ingredients that add flavor and spice .
I use lots of spices, herbs and vegetables that add flavor .

I use fake meat for those that have to have that texture in their food. Quorn products have the best flavor for ones I have tried

We make stir fry with lots of veggies and seafood . We buy seafood instead of meat and go that way. Shrimp fajitas are awesome. Gumbos, Jambalayas , spaghetti, lasagna, tacos and many meals can easily omit meat if you plan for it a bit.
I love a great steak but don't cook them very often. I made stuffed peppers yesterday that had cheeses, mushrooms, onion, tomato, garlic and some spices that turned out very well without any meat or seafood in them.
My understanding is it's the collection of flavors that make a tasty meal and not necessarily what the basic ingredients are..
post #4 of 11
Timely topic (no pun intended) -- from today's NY Times:


June 11, 2008
The Minimalist
Putting Meat Back in Its Place
By MARK BITTMAN

LET’S suppose you’ve decided to eat less meat, or are considering it. And let’s ignore your reasons for doing so. They may be economic, ethical, altruistic, nutritional or even irrational. The arguments for eating less meat are myriad and well-publicized, but at the moment they’re irrelevant, because what I want to address here is (almost) purely pragmatic: How do you do it?

I’m not talking about eating no meat; I’m talking about cutting back, which in some ways is harder than quitting. Vegetarian recipes and traditions are everywhere. But in the American style of eating — with meat usually at the center of the plate — it can be difficult to eat two ounces of beef and call it dinner.

Cutting back on meat is not an isolated process. Unlike, say, taking up meditation or exercise, it usually has consequences for others.

The keys are to keep at least some of your decisions personal so they affect no one but yourself and, when they do affect others, minimize the pain and don’t preach. (No one likes a proselytizer.)

On the other hand, don’t apologize; by serving your friends or family less meat you’re certainly doing them no harm, and may be doing them good — as long as what you serve is delicious, and that’s easy enough.

Reducing the meat habit can be done, and it doesn’t have to make you crazy. Although there will undoubtedly be times you’ll have cravings, they’ll never give you the shakes. So, in no particular order, here are some suggestions to ease your path to eating less meat.

1. Forget the protein thing. Roughly simultaneously with your declaration that you’re cutting back on meat, someone will ask “How are you going to get enough protein?” The answer is “by being omnivorous.” Plants have protein, too; in fact, per calorie, many plants have more protein than meat. (For example, a cheeseburger contains 14.57 grams of protein in 286 calories, or about .05 grams of protein per calorie; a serving of spinach has 2.97 grams of protein in 23 calories, or .12 grams of protein per calorie; lentils have .07 grams per calorie.) By eating a variety, you can get all essential amino acids.

You also don’t have to eat the national average of a half-pound of meat a day to get enough protein. On average, Americans eat about twice as much as the 56 grams of daily protein recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (a guideline that some nutritionists think is too high). For anyone eating a well-balanced diet, protein is probably not an issue.

2. Buy less meat. How many ounces of meat is a serving? For years, the U.S.D.A.’s recommendation has been four ounces a person, yet most of us have long figured one-and-a-half to two pounds of meat is the right amount for four people. (Our per capita consumption of meat hasn’t changed much over the years, and remains at about a half-pound a day.) Change that amount, and both your cooking style and the way the plate looks will change, and quickly.

Remember that most traditional styles of cooking use meat as a condiment or a treat. This is true in American frontier cooking, where salt pork and bacon were used to season beans; in Italy, where a small piece of meat is served as a secondo (rarely more than a few ounces, even in restaurants); and around the world, where bits of meat are added to stir-fries and salads, as well as bean, rice and noodle dishes. In all of these cases, meat is seen as a treasure, not as something to be gobbled up as if it were air.

For many of us who grew up in the United States in the last 60 years, this is the toughest hurdle. The message (remember “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner”?) was in our psyche from before we could hold a fork. We may have vegetarian nights, or seafood nights, but when we have meat nights, there’s often a big piece of meat (or poultry) on the plate, with starch and vegetable to the side.

3. Get it out of the center of the plate.

You don’t have to jump into utterly unfamiliar territory; just try tweaking the proportions a bit. You might start by buying skinnier pork chops, or doling out smaller slices of steak .

Build the meal around what you used to consider side dishes — not only vegetables, but also grains, beans, salads and even dessert, if you consider fruit a dessert — rather than the meat. Nearly every culture has dishes in which meat is used to season rice or another grain. Consider dirty rice, fried rice, pilaf, biryani, arroz con pollo: the list is almost endless.

Similarly, there isn’t a country in the world that cooks legumes that doesn’t toss a little meat in now and then. And mentioning stir-fries and pasta dishes here seems almost too obvious.

But you need not go transcultural. When you make stew, soup or another dish with many ingredients, you make a decision about its main ingredient and about the quantity of that ingredient. If you think of meat stews or soups, chicken pot pie, even lasagna, you’ll quickly recognize that the decision to load them up with meat or to use meat as an ingredient of equal importance to the others is entirely yours.

The same is true when you’re grilling. Compare these statements: “We’re grilling a leg of lamb and throwing a few vegetables on there,” and “We’re grilling vegetables and breads, and will throw a few chunks of lamb on there.” Again, if you see the meat as a treasure, things change.

4. Buy more vegetables, and learn new ways to cook them.

If you’re a good cook, you already know you can make a meal out of pretty much anything. If you open your refrigerator and it’s stocked with vegetables, that’s what you’re going to cook. You’ll augment the vegetables with pantry items: pasta, rice, beans, cheese, eggs, good canned fish, bacon, even a small amount of meat. We’re not discussing vegetarianism, remember?

If you’re not a good cook, you have the opportunity to learn how to cook in what could turn out to be the style of the future.

5. Make nonmeat items as convenient as meat. There is a myth, even among experienced cooks, that few things are as convenient as meat. And while there’s no arguing that grilling, broiling or pan-grilling a steak or chop is fast, it’s equally true that almost no one considers such a preparation a one-dish meal.

By thinking ahead, and working ahead, you can make cooking vegetables as convenient as what in India is often called “non-veg.” Spend an hour or two during the course of the week precooking all the nonmeat foods you think take too long for fast dinners.

Store cooked beans in the refrigerator or freezer and reheat as needed, with seasonings. Keeping precooked beans in the freezer will change your cooking habits more easily than any other simple strategy.

Reheat cooked whole grains (the microwave is good for this) for breakfast with milk or dinner with savory seasonings. Wash tender greens and store in a salad spinner, covered bowl, or plastic bag. Most other vegetables can be poached, shocked in ice water, drained, and served cold or reheated in any fashion you like — sautéed quickly in butter, steamed, grilled or made into a gratin or something equally substantial.

6. Make some rules. Depending on your habits, it may be no bacon at breakfast; it may be no burgers at lunch; it may be no fast food, ever; it may be “eat a salad instead of a sandwich three times a week,” or “eat a vegetarian dinner three times a week.” It may mean meatless Fridays. It may mean (this is essentially what I do) meatless breakfasts and lunches and all-bets-are-off dinners.

7. Look at restaurant menus differently. If you’re cutting back on meat, there are three restaurant strategies. Two are easy, and one is hard, but probably the most important.

The first: go to restaurants that don’t feature meat-heavy dishes. It’s harder to go overboard eating at most Asian restaurants, and traditional Italian is fairly safe also.

The second: Once in a while, forget the rules and pledges, and eat like a real American; obviously you can’t do this every time, but it’s an option.

The third is the tricky one: Remember you’re doing this voluntarily, for whatever reasons seem important to you (or at least seemed, until you were confronted with the lamb shanks on the menu). Then order from the parts of the menu that contain little or no meat: salads, sides, soups and (often, anyway) appetizers. If all else fails, offer to share a meat course among two or even three or four people; many restaurant entrees are too big anyway.

I distinctly remember (no great feat; it was just over a year ago), the first time I was in a restaurant and ordered two salads and a bowl of soup.

My companion, who had long known me as a meat-first kind of guy, asked, “Really?”

The waiter asked, “How would you like that served?” And then life went on as usual. Wasn’t bad at all.

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Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
post #5 of 11
its about balance folks, some fish, some chicken/turkey some beef (buffalo) and lots of veggies. Typical day for us:

cappiccino and yogurt for breakfast
oatmeal w/raisins or another yogurt/nuts at 10:30
Lunch- grilled chicken salad (mixed field greens) or turkey wrap
snack at 2ish- nuts, kashi granola bar something like that
Dinner- Wine- 2 glases per day. This is critical! , grilled fish (usually 3x week), chicken, turkey or maybe 1x week, organic or local beef. Weekends may be whoel wheat pasta dish. Good breads and cheeses on weekends too! Lots of Veggies did I mention wine?
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Artichoke Pesto

Well instead of my usual cocktail or two beers last night, I popped open a bottle of Chianti and had a class and a half

Last night for dinner--

Artichoke pesto
  • One can artichokes (this is a can of artichokes packed in water, not those little jars in oil)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • One or two cloves garlic
  • Salt, Pepper, (and optionally also herbs) to taste
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, start with a few tbls, add more as needed.

Mince garlic and add to food processor.
Zest lemon and add.
Juice lemon and add.
Add seasonings.
Drain and add artichokes...
Add a few tbls olive oil.
Go whirr until the artichokes are in little bits, don't make it too smooth.
Stir in more olive oil if it's too think. Don't go whirr any more unless you want artichoke humus.

I served this with one pound of Hodgeson Mills whole wheat spaghetti rinsed til cold and one lb of TJ's cooked medium frozen shrimp thawed. It was delicious, a light, cold summer meal on a hot day.
post #7 of 11
Kudos to you for trying to live healthier for yourself and for the planet. With all the different soy products available now it is certainly much easier to accommodate picky eaters. Sometimes they don’t even know the meal is vegetarian! Eating less meat doesn’t have to be a radical switch, you can ease into it pretty easily and not feel like you’re missing much. Try substituting soy products in place of meat as a start, and then branch off and explore as you get more comfortable with it. Here are some basic simple ideas:

Vegetable gratin - layer sliced potatoes, parsnips, cheese, thinly sliced tofu (if desired) in a casserole and pour egg/milk/cheese/salt/pepper mix over top. Bake 45-60 minutes.

Egg salad – Squash up tofu (anything but the silken kind) in lieu of eggs, prepare with ½ mayo / ½ yogurt, mustard, celery, salt , pepper, etc. Serve on bread, English muffin, etc.

“Chik’n” Parmesan – Use the Quorn, Boca, or Morningstar soy-chicken product, top with parmesan, top with a tasty tomato marinara sauce & mozzarella, bake 20-30 min until bubbly, serve over or beside pasta & fresh greens.

“Beef” stroganoff – Substitute soy beef strips or Seitan in lieu of beef, prepare with mushrooms & pasta as usual. Quite tasty.

Squash & orzo soup – Cook some orzo pasta ‘til al-dente. In another pan, sauté onions til translucent, add finely diced / matchstick size green and yellow summer squash. Add vegetable stock, salt, pepper, herbs (dash of cayenne is tasty), bring to simmer. In serving bowls, add spoonfuls of orzo & ladle over the squash soup. Sprinkle fresh basil & parmesan over top. Yummy summer soup and uses a lot of garden zucchini & yellow squash, if you know what I mean

Portabella mushroom burgers – Wipe caps down with paper towel, remove gills. Marinate a few hours / overnight in an olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sweet rice wine, herb marinade. Grill or sauté, serve with the normal burger fixings. A tasty & reduced-calorie pear mayo is good on top: sauté a ripe chopped pear in olive oil til soft, add dash of lemon juice (prevents browning), smash into pulp and cool. Add dash of mayo, serve over top of cooked mushroom.

Chickpea stew over polenta: Personal favorite. Saute onion, garlic in olive oil. Add 1 – 1 ½ cups prepared chickpeas (garbanzos) or use drained & rinsed canned chickpeas. Toss in a good 2-3 cups chopped tomatoes (or diced drained canned), paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, etc. Let simmer 30-45 min, or even better simmer, refrigerate a few hours, and re-heat (mucho tasty!). Prepare polenta 1:3 (1 c polenta, 3 c liquid). I use 50/50 water & milk for the liquid. Bring liquid just below a boil, add polenta, reduce heat & stir continuously til it is polenta-fied. Spoon into bowls immediately, serve chickpea stew over top or beside.

Use your imagination or seek out recipes. Here are some great recipe resources:
Mollie Katzen
Vegetarians in Paradise
Veg Cooking
Vegetarian Times
Moosewood Restaurant

Or you can look at menus and replicate them at home:
Greens Restaurant
Chez Panisse

Good luck and have fun!
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawnhill View Post
[Good luck and have fun!
Thanx for the ideas.

I'm not big on soy, especially dressed up to simulate meat; I'd rather just use less meat, but the other ideas I like.

I like some stuff with Tofu but unfortunately the wife and kid don't and I don't want to cook three different meals.

I like chickpea ideas and the wife likes them so I'll have to give them a try.
post #9 of 11

Check out Mediterranean cooking

Humus;

In a blender add three heaping tablespoons of Tahini paste, 2 cans of chickpeas, juice of one lemon, 3 toes of fresh garlic, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, dash of paprika along w/ salt/pepper to taste. Blend until chickpeas become incorporated. Serve with toasted pita bread or fresh veggies such as celery, carrots, onion tops....

Tabbouleh salad;

Soak 2 cups of #2 bulga wheat in cool water until wheat softens (about 1hr.) In mixing bowl, add drained wheat that has been squeezed, chop up 1 tomato, 1 cucumber, several stalks of celery, 1 cup of fresh mint, 1 cup of parsley along with 1/2cup of onion tops. Dressing is juice of 2 lemons, 1/3cup of olive oil, 4 toes of garlic pressed, tablespoon of salt. Mix well then turn into wheat/veg. This salad holds well over several days. Serve with sliced boiled eggs or simple grilled chicken or seafood.
post #10 of 11
I highly recommend Mark Bittman's (the author of the above article) How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

But, here's last night's veggie dinner.

Veggie Pasta with Goat Cheese

8 oz penne or rigatoni pasta (can use whole wheat), cooked
1 Onion, thinly sliced into rings
1 Tbs olive oil
8 oz local wild mushrooms, sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch rainbow chard, thick stalks removed, chopped
4 oz smoked soft goat cheese (can use plain or herbed)
Dash of balsamic
Salt/Pepper to taste

Caramelize onions in olive oil, add mushrooms after caramelization and saute until just soft. Add chard and tomatoes and allow chard to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta then goat cheese and balsamic. Allow cheese to melt creating sauce.

*This can be varied to suit whatever veggies you have or sound good. Original recipe from Cooking Light calls for onion, zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes to be oven roasted. It was too hot last night to turn the oven on though so I did it all stove top.
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by COSkiGirl View Post
I highly recommend Mark Bittman's (the author of the above article) How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

But, here's last night's veggie dinner.

Veggie Pasta with Goat Cheese

8 oz penne or rigatoni pasta (can use whole wheat), cooked
1 Onion, thinly sliced into rings
1 Tbs olive oil
8 oz local wild mushrooms, sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch rainbow chard, thick stalks removed, chopped
4 oz smoked soft goat cheese (can use plain or herbed)
Dash of balsamic
Salt/Pepper to taste

Caramelize onions in olive oil, add mushrooms after caramelization and saute until just soft. Add chard and tomatoes and allow chard to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta then goat cheese and balsamic. Allow cheese to melt creating sauce.

*This can be varied to suite whatever veggies you have or sound good. Original recipe from Cooking Light calls for onion, zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes to be oven roasted. It was too hot last night to turn the oven on though so I did it all stove top.
for those of you that missed it.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/263
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