Publix GreenWise Market Magazine - May 2008
Can a confirmed carnivore find true health and happiness in meatless meals?
Meatless menu options are one of the hottest trends going, say the chefs polled in a recent National Restaurant Association survey. Juicy portobellos are replacing burgers, and savory pumpkin ravioli is competing with filet mignon.
But wait a minute. The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), which keeps track of such things, reports that only about 3 percent of U.S. adults are vegetarians. And that number has been holding steady for a few years, says Reed Mangels, R.D., the organization's nutrition advisor. So what gives?
Flexitarianism Is In
It turns out that most Americans aren't turning in their steak knives just yet, but millions are discovering you don't have to be a full-time vegetarian to enjoy meatless meals. The VRG estimates that 30 to 40 percent of us choose meatless options some of the time when eating out. This new trend even has a catchy name: flexitarianism. And there are compelling reasons to consider it.
"Americans need to get off the saturated fat kick we've been on," says Robert Lawrence, M.D., professor of environmental health sciences and director of the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "The American diet is among the highest in the world in the amount of protein and fat from animal foods." And it's this animal-based fat that contributes to our higher rates of cardiovascular disease.
"Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat, so they have lower heart disease risk," says Carol Johnston, Ph.D., professor and chair of the nutrition department at Arizona State University. When you eat a more plant-based diet, you generally consume fewer calories as well. That's why vegetarians tend to be slimmer, Johnston says. Plant foods—vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds—also are where disease-fighting antioxidants and other healthful phytochemicals are most abundant. Eating more of them helps prevent not just heart disease but also stroke, diabetes and cancer.
While a full-time vegetarian diet may give you a healthy edge, can going meatless only part-time really make much of a difference? "Absolutely," says Johnston. "You can get health benefits just from eating less meat." You don't have to take an all-or-nothing approach to vegetarianism. Little changes can have a big impact.
A meatless meal doesn't mean rabbit food. "If I could convince people that vegetarians don't just live on salads, I would die happy," says Mangels. Think spinach lasagna, lentil soup, Cuban black beans and rice, or any of the recipes at the end of this article. Even the staunchest carnivore can't resist their rich flavors, colors and textures.
While you're going meatless now and then, don't overlook the added benefits of putting organic produce on your flexitarian plate. Scientists have found higher levels of disease-fighting antioxidants in organically grown strawberries and corn than is found in conventionally grown crops (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2003).
A recent 10-year study at the University of California, Davis (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, July 2007) showed that organic tomatoes contain more flavonoids, plant chemicals that may protect against heart disease and cancer. The longer tomatoes were grown by organic methods, the higher their flavonoid content.
One Meal at a Time
When you go meatless, even for a day, you'll be improving your health and often trimming your food budget as well. Consider these possibilities:
- Expand your options with casseroles and ethnic dishes. Try an earthy ratatouille, a fragrant Thai tofu curry or a spicy Moroccan vegetable stew. That's more satisfying than just replacing the meat in a typical meat-starch-vegetable meal, says Mangels.
- Go for convenience. When you're in a hurry, dip into hummus with whole wheat crackers and raw vegetables. Keep canned beans on hand to toss into salads, soups and pasta. Jazz up a bowl of canned split pea soup or vegetarian chili with grated low-fat cheese and a spoonful of toasted sunflower seeds. Or try the vegetarian entrées in the freezer case at your neighborhood Publix.
- Opt for meat stand-ins with a satisfying "chew." Choices include tempeh (a nutty-tasting soybean product), tofu, fresh portobello mushrooms and slices or pieces of peeled eggplant. They're great substitutes for chicken or pork in hot sandwiches or stir-fry dishes.
- Give favorite dishes a meatless makeover. Add vegetarian sausage to marinara sauce. Swap the meat filling in tacos and burritos for vegetarian refried beans or soy burger crumbles. Make your next burger a Publix GreenWise Market Veggie Burger.
- Find a vegetarian cookbook that mirrors your style of cooking. If you're a kitchen whiz, choose a gourmet cookbook for inspiration. If you need something quick and easy, you'll find plenty of options to speed you on your way.
Pretty soon you'll be too busy enjoying what's on your plate to even notice what's missing.
Go Meatless on Mondays
Meatless Monday, a national public health campaign affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, suggests going meatless one day a week. That action alone can reduce saturated fat intake by about 15 percent, enough to significantly lower the risk of heart disease.
"We're not trying to turn people into vegetarians," says Robert Lawrence, M.D., professor of environmental health sciences and advisor to Meatless Monday. The goal is to move people closer in line with the USDA Food Guide Pyramid recommendations to consume more vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
The campaign defines going meatless as abstaining from meat, poultry and high-fat dairy products. Eating fish, which provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, is encouraged.
"Mondays work well as a meatless day because if you've had a weekend where you've had too many calories and fat, you can wake up Monday morning and get back on track," says Lawrence.
An added plus to cutting back on meat is that it promotes a healthier planet. It's estimated that raising food animals contributes 18 percent of greenhouse gases, says Lawrence. "Give it a try. It's just one day a week. Do something that will help you and the planet."
LEARN MORE: For tips and recipes, go to meatlessmonday.com
Your neighborhood Publix carries a wide selection of organic ingredients, including those shown with an asterisk (*) in the recipes that follow.
|Taco Salad Cups|
START TO FINISH: 55 MINUTES OVEN: 350°F
If time is tight, skip the tortilla cups and simply pile the filling ingredients onto tostada shells.
8 6-inch corn tortillas
Nonstick cooking spray*
1 medium onion,* chopped
1 clove garlic,* minced
1 tablespoon canola oil*
12 ounces soy burger crumbles
1 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin*
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper*
4 cups shredded lettuce*
¼ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese or cheddar flavor soy cheese shreds
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered, or 1 cup chopped tomatoes*
Publix GreenWise Market Organic Salsa,* optional
ONE For tortilla bowls, wrap tortillas in foil. Warm in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Coat eight 10-ounce custard cups with nonstick cooking spray. Lightly coat both sides of each tortilla with nonstick spray. Carefully press 1 tortilla into each cup. Bake 20 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove from custard cups and cool on a wire rack.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 383 cal., 14 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 4 mg chol., 560 mg sodium, 41 g carbo., 10 g dietary fiber, 25 g protein.
TWO Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook onion and garlic in hot oil until tender.
THREE Stir in soy burger crumbles, tomato sauce, vinegar, cumin and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until desired consistency.
FOUR Place tortillas on 4 serving plates. Fill with lettuce, then spoon soy crumble mixture on top. Sprinkle with cheese and tomatoes. Add salsa if desired. Makes 4 servings (2 tortilla cups per serving).
Gingered Vegetable-Tofu Stir-Fry
START TO FINISH: 50 MINUTES
Choose extra-firm tofu—it stands up to stir-frying without breaking apart.
1 1⁄3 cups plus 1 cup water, divided
2⁄3 cup uncooked brown rice*
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (2½ cups)
1 small yellow summer squash,* halved lengthwise and sliced (1¼ cups)
2 green onions,* sliced (¼ cup)
1 10½-ounce package extra-firm tofu (fresh bean curd), cut into ½-inch cubes
¼ cup dry sherry or dry white wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon sugar*
1 tablespoon olive oil*
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
½ cup chopped almonds,* toasted
ONE In a medium saucepan bring 1 1⁄3 cups water to a boil. Stir in brown rice and return to a boil; reduce heat and cover. Simmer about 45 minutes or until most of water is absorbed and rice is tender. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
TWO While rice is cooking, cut up vegetables and tofu. For sauce, stir together 1 cup water, sherry or wine, soy sauce, cornstarch and sugar. Set aside.
THREE Pour the olive oil into a wok or large skillet. (Add more oil as necessary during cooking.) Preheat the wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the ginger in hot oil for 15 seconds. Add the fresh asparagus and squash; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the green onions; stir-fry about 1½ minutes more or until the asparagus is crisp-tender. Remove vegetables from wok.
FOUR Add tofu to the hot wok or skillet. Carefully stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from wok. Stir the sauce; add to hot wok. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return cooked vegetables and tofu to the wok. Stir all ingredients to coat with sauce. Cover and cook about 1 minute more or until heated through. Stir in almonds. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 308 cal., 12 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 497 mg sodium, 34 g carbo., 5 g dietary fiber, 12 g protein.
|Linguine with Sautéed Vegetables|
START TO FINISH: 30 MINUTES
To test an eggplant for freshness, press gently on the skin to create a finger mark. The mark should disappear quickly. If it lingers, the eggplant is overripe.
8 ounces whole grain linguine or spaghetti*
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil*
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium fresh Portobello mushrooms,* stems removed and cut into 1½-inch pieces
1 large green sweet pepper,* cut into 1-inch pieces
1½ cups red pasta sauce*
1 small tomato,* chopped
½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese* or mozzarella flavor soy cheese shreds
2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
ONE Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta. Return to pan. Cover; keep warm.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 386 cal., 12 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 11 mg chol., 433 mg sodium, 60 g carbo., 6 g dietary fiber, 17 g protein.
TWO Meanwhile, in a very large skillet heat olive oil. Add eggplant; cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms and green pepper; cook 5 minutes more or until tender, stirring frequently. In a medium saucepan heat sauce.
THREE To serve, place pasta on a serving dish; spoon sauce over pasta and top with vegetables. Sprinkle with tomato, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Makes 4 servings.
Multigrain Waffles and Fruit
START TO FINISH: 45 MINUTES
One medium orange should give you the tablespoon of finely shredded orange peel needed for the batter.
1 cup all-purpose flour*
1 cup whole wheat flour*
½ cup oat flour
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar*
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1¾ cups Publix GreenWise Market Organic Fat-Free Milk*
2 Publix GreenWise Market Organic Eggs,* lightly beaten
½ cup canola oil*
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel*
½ cup low-sugar orange marmalade
3 cups fresh berries*
ONE In a large bowl stir together flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.
TWO In a medium bowl combine milk, eggs, oil and orange peel. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be slightly lumpy).
THREE Pour batter onto grids of a preheated, lightly greased round or square Belgian waffle baker** (use 2⁄3 cup batter for a 6- to 7-inch round baker and 1 1⁄3 cups batter for an 8-inch square baker). Close lid quickly; do not open until done. Bake according to manufacturer's directions. Lift baked waffle out with a fork. Repeat.
FOUR Meanwhile, heat marmalade in a small saucepan until melted. Add berries; heat through. Spoon over warm waffles. Makes six 6- to 7-inch round or three 8-inch square Belgian waffles (12 servings).
Nutrition Facts per ½ round or ¼ square Belgian waffle with ¼ cup topping: 229 cal., 11 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 36 mg chol., 220 mg sodium, 29 g carbo., 3 g dietary fiber, 6 g protein.
**Note: Waffle bakers vary in size. Adjust batter amount based on the size and style of the baker.
START TO FINISH: 30 MINUTES OVEN: 400°F
Serve these south-of-the-border-inspired eggs with tortillas and black beans.
1 medium onion,* halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
¾ cup Publix GreenWise Market Organic Salsa*
1 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
3 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
1 fresh jalapeño pepper,** seeded and chopped
6 Publix GreenWise Market Organic Eggs*
1⁄8 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese or cheddar flavor soy cheese shreds
ONE Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Separate the onion into half-rings and place in prepared baking dish; set aside.
TWO Stir together the salsa, tomato sauce, cilantro and jalapeño pepper and pour mixture over onion. Break one of the eggs into a measuring cup. Make a small well in the tomato mixture and carefully slide in the egg. Repeat with remaining eggs, making a new well for each egg. Sprinkle eggs with black pepper.
THREE Bake, uncovered, for 18 to 20 minutes or until the whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 1 minute more. Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 242 cal., 10 g total fat (4 g sat. fat), 220 mg chol., 527 mg sodium,
25 g carbo., 3 g dietary fiber, 13 g protein.
**Note: Avoid direct contact with jalapeño peppers, which contain volatile oils that can burn your skin and eyes. When working with jalapeño peppers, wear cotton or rubber gloves and wash after use or wear disposable plastic gloves. If your bare hands do touch the peppers, wash your hands and nails well with soap and warm water.
© Copyright Meredith Corporation 2008. All rights reserved. Recipes reprinted with permission.