Taking a semi-vegetarian approach to meal planning, by building a few meatless meals into your weekly menu, may help you eat more healthfully. In fact, people who eat a primarily plant based diet—composed of grains, vegetables and fruits with protein from lean meat, fish, poultry and dairy—tend to eat less saturated fat and cholesterol, more fiber and higher levels of folate, vitamins C and E, potassium and magnesium. A quarter of Americans consume meatless meals at least four days a week. Need another reason to try it out? It’s a cinch to get cooking!
Transform Your Favorites
Ease your way into cooking meatless meals by simply swapping meat out of your favorite recipes. For example, stir an extra can of beans into chili to replace meat, skip pepperoni or sausage on pizza, add extra-firm tofu to fajitas and serve spaghetti with roasted veggies in place of meatballs. Try using Barilla Plus® Pasta in meatless dishes and more. It’s made with golden semolina flour, ground flaxseed, spelt, oats, barley, and legumes and supplies a good source of fiber, 40 percent more protein than regular pasta, and ALA omega-3s. Look for it in popular pasta shapes like Spaghetti, Penne, Elbows and Farfalle.
Strike a Balance
Experiment with unfamiliar ingredients like soy crumbles and edamame to broaden your horizons. A serving of Pictsweet® Steam’ables Shelled Edamame supplies five grams of protein, four grams of fiber, plus a good source of iron. These sweet-tasting and tender baby soybeans are harvested at peak ripeness and shelled for your convenience. Steam them for just minutes in the microwave to use in soups, stir-fry dishes, casseroles and salads. Or enjoy in-the-pod Edamame with Sea Salt as an appetizer or snack.
Contrast Textures and flavors
Include a variety of chewy, crisp, tender and crunchy textures in meatless dishes to enhance their appeal. Hearty lentils, legumes and beans are just the thing to add a variety of textures. Bush’s Best® Beans offer a one-two punch of “meaty” texture, plus protein and fiber for appetite satisfaction. Just a half cup of beans supplies six to eight grams of protein and at least five grams of fiber. Use them to stand in for meat in quesadillas and tacos, or puree them to use as a dip or spread. Always drain and rinse beans first to cut the sodium content by as much as 40 percent and look for varieties of Reduced Sodium Beans too. Add sweetness to savory plant-based recipes with fresh, dried or canned fruit. Libby’s® Skinny Fruits™ offer the ease of ready-to-use canned fruit, but with fewer calories and less sugar than those packed in fruit juice or syrup. All of their fruits, including Chunk Pineapple, Sliced Pineapple, Crushed Pineapple, Tropical Fruit Salad and Mandarin Oranges are picked and packed within a few hours, locking in fresh flavor and nutrients. Give them a try for everyday meatless meal cooking and snacking.
Umami is the ‘fifth taste’ in addition to sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Meaning “savory” or “tastiness”, the term umami is used to describe the flavors of Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, meat, soy sauce and sweet potatoes. Layering umami into meatless meals can make them more appealing and satisfying. Deep orange sweet potatoes supply an excellent source of vitamins A and C and a good source of fiber when eaten with the skin. Top them with traditional ingredients like cinnamon, a pinch of brown sugar and pecans or go savory like our recipe for Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. When short on time, try microwaving sweet potatoes for six to eight minutes instead of oven-roasting them.
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