How to Make a Meatless Dinner the Easy Way
Busy families complain that there’s not enough time to cook good, nutritious meals. In turn, we
choose fatty and high-carbohydrate fast foods and take-out meals. Surprisingly, it’s easy to create a delicious meatless dinner in a matter of minutes.
Nutrition experts are suggesting that we eat at least one meatless meal per week (called ‘Meatless Mondays’). Food cooking shows and websites are talking about the benefits of creating great looking and yummy meals on a shoestring budget – without using meat.
I never had any interest in eating or cooking meatless because I liked meat. Then we watched Forks Over Knives and my eyes were opened.
Seriously, I would be the last person I would ever think would go meatless!
It was amazing to see the research and results in health when meat was eliminated. Two doctors each studied independently for years and finally met and realized that they had come to the same conclusions.
Here’s What They Found out about Meatless Cooking:
- When meat and dairy were introduced in a country, their cancer and heart disease statistics soared.
- When consumption came back down, those disease rates came down too.
- People who ate no meat or dairy were seeing their cholesterol levels and weight drop easily.
- They saw many people improve their lives in dramatic ways.
This all made me think that maybe we were missing something in our health journey. We have always eaten well, but had not really experimented with eating meatless meals much.
Since getting some of the Forks Over Knives Cookbooks, I have found easy ways to cook without meat and dairy. I’m still in the learning curve but cooking a meatless dinner is not as hard as I thought it would be.
I even find myself being full and not desiring snacks between meals like I used to. It’s like my body is saying “Thank you for feeding me well. Now I don’t need to look for things to eat between meals.”
We have a teen son still at home so I might cook some meat for him on the side more in the future and just not eat that meat myself. But, if I can get him to feel satisfied with a meatless dinner, then I will be helping him live a more healthy life in the long run.
Easiest Ways to Make a Meatless Dinner
- Choose your base – will you use whole-grain pasta, rice, beans, meat substitute, or something else for the bulk of your meal.
- Add a ton of vegetables – Whether you have a lot of one vegetable or you use a variety of vegetables, choose good quality vegetables and enjoy them.
- Choose a good broth (or water), sauce or dressing to make your food not stick to the pan and taste amazing. Check the recipes and books below for great ideas.
- Have good seasonings on hand like Pink Himalayan salt, pepper, Braggs Liquid Aminos, or any you like. Also, be sure to have chopped onions and/or garlic, lemon juice and other seasonings available depending on the vegetarian recipe you choose.
- Get good recipes! If you don’t like mixing your own ingredients together or just need some fresh ideas, make sure you take advantage of all the great people that have gone before you. Since there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, enjoy the creativity of others and feed your family well.
What We Use to Substitute Meat in Our Meals:
- More vegetables
- Rice – all types – wild rice (this one is the most meaty to me), brown rice, white rice.
- Beans – all types – black beans, garbonzo beans (chick peas), lentils, and peas.
- Whole grains including barley, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, wheat berries.
Things to not worry about…
- Don’t worry about carbohydrates – even though low-carb diets are popular, eating meatless will help you eat the right types of carbohydrate-rich foods that will be better for you.
- Don’t worry about not getting enough protein. Plant foods contain plenty of protein!
When you focus on serving one meatless meal per week, you will see how fast and easy it is and be well on your way to creating a better life for your family. Starting with one meatless meal will help reduce yours and your family’s chance of developing chronic and preventable conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity.
Environmental Benefits of Vegan Meals
The health benefits are many – and, you’ll help the environment too. Scientists say that going meatless only once a week can reduce greenhouse gas emissions that keep accelerating each day. You – one person – can change this trend.
They say that water is a major concern because of drought and growing population. You need almost 3,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of ground beef compared to about 250 gallons of water to create a pound of soy (used as a meat substitute). It also takes less water to produce rice, vegetables and whole grains which can also fill in for meat.
Use these tips and make a meatless dinner this week. You will be improving your family health, maybe saving some time, and helping the environment too.
How to Prepare Nutritious Meatless Meals
If you’re just beginning to jump on the bandwagon of eating meatless meals for your health, environment and to lose unwanted pounds, you may be concerned about getting all the nutrition you need.
You can choose different ways to get your meatless dinner to suit your tastes. Pure vegetarians eat no meat at all, but consume dairy products and eggs. Pescetarians eat no meat, but do eat fish. Vegans eat no meat and no animal by-products, including honey, dairy, and eggs.
If you choose to go ‘vegan,’ you’ll need to learn how to prepare meals that will give you a complete protein – and that’s totally do-able with very little effort. Otherwise, getting enough protein is not a problem with all of the great vegetarian recipes that are readily available.
The nutritional benefits of preparing a few meatless meals are amazing. Plus, it’s an innovative and great way to treat you and your family to new tastes and textures while addressing health concerns.
To get some ideas of how and why to make meatless meals, watch Forks Over Knives and check out their cookbooks. You don’t have to be a gourmet cook to put just the right ingredients together and create delicious and nutritious meals for you and your family.
Simply choose a few meatless meals during the week from one of these books or even Pinterest. It can dramatically improve your health and make an impact on the environment and your desire to lose weight naturally.
Meatless Cooking Has Never Been Easier
If you’re trying to ‘go meatless’ at least once a week to improve health or to save money — you owe it to yourself to try meatless cooking. It’s a refreshing change that is easy and one that produces amazing benefits.
This idea is a new way of thinking about your health and your lifestyle. One popular blog online today offers ways to save money by cooking with less meat. Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, bean and cheese burritos and cheese and onion enchiladas are just a few of the great suggestions on this helpful blog.
Another online website tells you how to use Seitan (say-tan), a popular meat substitute that can be found in most health food stores. It’s made from the gluten extracted from wheat flour and is used in Japan as a protein equivalent to meat.
I’ve never used this one but used to experiment with TVP (texturized vegetable protein) in the past. So far in our meatless journey, I’ve not found the need to use a meat substitute.
Aside from the amount of meat substitutes that take the place of ground beef, pork and chicken, you can also find an abundance of recipes that use legumes and dairy products that combine to create great meatless recipes.
We are trying to also go dairy-free which I guess would be classified as Vegan. So that would be your choice whether you use dairy in your meatless meals.
Websites and published cookbooks that highlight meatless recipes and meals are becoming more popular and posting all kinds of recipes. So there’s no shortage of information if you want to pursue a meatless lifestyle.
When you decide to ‘go meatless,’ you’ll want to explore all avenues of meatless cooking, including making up your own recipes or adapting old recipes into great vegetarian culinary delights.
How to Transition to Vegan Meals
Breakfast – There are great plant-based milk products available everywhere now that you can eat with your whole-grain cereal. Also, smoothies are a great way to get in lots of nutrients using a variety of recipes.
My favorite breakfast right now is a smoothie with a banana, 1/2 c rolled oats, cocoa powder, almond milk, and sometimes some peanut butter powder or almond butter. I also enjoy cooked oatmeal using rolled oats and a chopped apple or lots of frozen berries mixed in.
Lunch – Leftovers! I love eating leftovers for lunch. Others enjoy salads or soups too.
Dinner – Make savory dishes using onion, garlic, mushrooms or other dishes. Use vegetable broth for sauteing. Make soups and experiment with the great recipes available for sauces and dressings. Also, there are great vegan recipes for all types of soups.
My favorite dinner recipe lately:
3 cups cooked wild rice or a mixture of wild rice and brown rice
2 cups chopped onion, garlic, red or orange peppers, carrots, or any other type of vegetable you like
Salt, pepper, curry powder or any other seasoning you like. Braggs Liquid Aminos is a great low sodium way to add lots of flavor to your dishes.
Start sauteing the vegetables in a cast iron skillet. Then add some water or vegetable broth if the vegetables start to stick.
Add your favorite seasonings and the cooked rice and stir to combine. Add more water or vegetable broth if needed to cook the flavors together. Or warm up and serve right away.
Snacks and Dessert
There are some great recipes in the Forks Over Knives Cookbooks for desserts.
For snacks, they suggest fresh fruit, cut vegetables stored in the refrigerator and hummus. You can also add whole wheat crackers to this snack. I enjoy raisins especially after a meal if I feel the need for something sweet.
Raisins are best eaten in moderation, but they do satisfy my sweets cravings pretty well if I eat a small handful.
I really thought this lifestyle would be very hard especially since I thought I was a meat-a-tarian by nature. It’s been amazing though to see my desire for meat diminish.
If you had told me a year ago that I would be writing this blog post, I would have told you that you were crazy.
Who would have thought that watching a simple documentary would change the way I cook and think about food.
Other Diet Choices
I looked into Keto, Paleo, Intermittent Fasting and more, but none of them really stuck. I saw plenty of people have success with them, but they just didn’t fit somehow.
When you think about it, eating vegan meals is quite biblical. Another book The Daniel Cure which highlights the Daniel eating plan talked about in the book of Daniel. Daniel and his friends ate just vegetables and water and were incredibly blessed.
Of course, there are plenty of instances in the Bible where people ate meat, but this one made me think. I think in all of the Bible, there were probably more people that ate vegan than ate meat. I’ll have to look into this more.
I feel so full and satisfied with a meatless dinner or any other meatless meal I have made. I never thought that these types of vegan meals would help me avoid snacking. Snacking has been a struggle for me the last 20 years. So it’s nice to find this as a benefit from the meatless meal I have been fixing.
Questions about Vegan Meals? Eating Vegetarian?
What are your thoughts about meatless meals? Have you experimented with a meatless dinner? Do you have any questions for me?
Give vegan recipes a try and see how you like them. I’ll have to admit though that watching the Forks Over Knives video gave me a huge boost in motivation.
Seeing all those studies and results really motivated me to not just “try” this but to really dig in and make this a lifestyle change.