No Meat on Good Friday?!


vegetarian

Happy Good Friday! And happy “no meat day” for those avoiding “flesh meat” on Fridays during Lent. Lots of us cringe or roll our eyes at the thought of a day without meat, but don’t worry: here are some tasty, filling, meat-free meal ideas! Limiting meats is something to consider year-round; BUT, Lent is a great “excuse” to try new ideas and prove that: “yes, I can survive a day without meat” (and still feel satisfied)!

Breakfast:
1. Classic bowl of cereal!: Choose high fiber cereal (at least 3 grams per serving), pay attention to portion sizes (our cereal bowls seem to keep getting bigger and bigger), and choose low-fat milk options (skim, almond, soy, etc).
2. Fresh fruit with cottage cheese: 1 cup, or a piece of fruit the size of a baseball with lower fat dairy has the protein and fiber needed in a meal and limits fat.
3: Whole wheat pancakes: Whole grains have both fiber and protein, so we don’t need to add protein. Or, add ground flax-seed or whole chia seeds to batter for more protein and fiber. Be careful with condiments: butter and syrup add a lot of Calories. Consider sugar-free syrup, or peanut butter for more flavor and protein.
4. Eggs are allowed during Lent, so we can always resort to that!: All-American 2 eggs with 1 or 2 pieces of whole wheat toast. A slice of tomato, spinach, onions, etc. make a colorful breakfast sandwich/omelet and adds veggies we don’t usually see at breakfast…no bacon needed!

Lunch:
1. Tuna salad on whole wheat bread, whole wheat crackers, or celery sticks: Fish is allowed during Lent, and provides heart-healthy Omega-3s! Be careful with mayo: it can be high in Calories and fat. 4 ounces, or 1/4 of a cup of tuna salad has enough protein for lunch.
2. Grilled cheese, or tomato and cheese, or mushroom and cheese: Use flavorful cheese, and you won’t need as much to get the flavor you want! Use 1 or 2 slices of cheese and choose whole wheat bread for fiber.
3. Tomato sandwich with mayo!(For those who remember Harriet The Spy): But, instead of the mayo, try humus! It is high in protein, adds flavor, and has less fat.
4. Create a salad: use walnuts, sunflower seeds, beans, and/or corn for meat-less protein plus fiber, along with your favorite veggies! Be careful with the dressing: these Calories add up fast.

Dinner:
1. Baked or grilled fish: Replace meats with fish in almost any of your favorite recipes!
2. Eggplant parmesan: Use your favorite tomato sauce (even better if it’s homemade!), whole wheat pasta, and a little cheese, and you won’t even miss the chicken or veal!
3. Vegetarian chili: since Mother Nature has forgotten that Easter happens in SPRING, a bowl of chili sounds comforting! Use various types of beans instead of ground meat for protein with less fat and more fiber.
4. Stuffed peppers: use quinoa or brown rice for fiber and lots of vegetables and beans for fiber and protein.

Now, I am no chef; but, I am pretty good at following directions, so here are some of my favorite recipe sites:
For meat-less recipes, check out: http://www.cookinglight.com/food/vegetarian/vegetarian-meals-00412000083741/page103.html
For fish: http://www.bhg.com/recipes/fish/30-minutes-less/20-quick-easy-seafood-recipes/

There is plenty of research telling us that saturated (animal) fat has harmful effects on the body. Many of us think that carbohydrates are the biggest concern when managing diabetes; but, a recent study shows that people who eat more animal protein have a 22% higher risk of developing diabetes than those who eat less animal fat.

Talking about meatless meals always reminds me of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”: “WHAT, he no eat no meat?!…Oh, that’s ok, I make lamb”! Many of us have this same reaction when someone tells us that they are a vegetarian or avoid red meats, but be open-minded! If you can do it one day per week during Lent, why not one day per week all year?!

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