Reader Callout: Preparing Meals with Less Meat

| 3/26/2009 12:42:49 PM

Do you have clever tricks, ideas and recipes for fixing meals with less meat? Do you use meat as a side dish or condiment? Perhaps you eat several meatless meals each week, and then use a little meat here and there to round out the textures, flavors and nutrition of your overall diet.

For some people, learning to cook with less meat is part of an intentional transition to a vegetarian diet. For others, it can be a way to stretch food dollars or simply to up the ante of grains, beans and other hearty stars of the dinner table.

Whatever your motivation, if you have insight into the almost-meatless kitchen, please share your recipes and ideas with each other in the comments section below. 

5/1/2009 9:00:54 PM

I am a 62 year old male, and I ate meat for 60 of those 62 years. I'm now a vegetarian "of sorts". I still eat some fish (once a week at most), primarily salmon or other oily fish. No meat. I learned one thing very quickly when I first tried getting off meat, it's as addicting as any other addition out there. So don't be beating yourself up if you are finding it difficult weaning yourself off it. But if you can stay with it for three weeks, you can get over it. I did, and I don't miss eating meat one bit. The "fact" that meat is the "best" source of protein is not necessarily so, except of course according to the meat industry. We don’t need meat, what we need is protein. In fact, what we actually need are the building blocks of protein, the 22 amino acids that our bodies use to make the protein we need. Meat may not even be the best source of those amino acids, even though animal meat contains all 22 of them. Our bodies still need to break down that (meat) protein, into the individual amino acids, and that takes a lot of work on the part of several major organs. There are other sources of those amino acids, which may actually be easier for our bodies to assimilate. One word of caution however, you must be knowledgeable of how to get all 22 of them on a regular basis. It's really not that difficult, but it can be, with the current typical "American diet". All you need to do is eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains and "their partner" legumes. That way, you will be assured of getting all 22 amino acids that your body requires, to make all of the proteins necessary for the constant rebuilding of our bodies. There is a whole new world of cooking and eating out there, that does not include meat. I love to cook and I love to eat, and I also love feeling healthy and full of energy all the time. Start researching this stuff and you will be amazed at what you

4/6/2009 11:34:11 PM

Sorry - I forgot to add the seasonings. To the refried beans I add 1 tbsp. chili powder and 1 tbsp. ground cumin. To the 2 lbs. of ground beef I add 1/4 c. Penzey's mild taco seasoning and 1/4 c. hot taco seasoning.

4/6/2009 11:32:23 PM

Tacos! I make refried beans using 4 cups of dried pinto beans. To this I add two pounds of ground beef that has been browned and the grease poured off, seasoned with taco mix (I buy from Penzey's) and 1 can of Glen Muir tomatoes with green chilies. Sometimes I fry up an onion with the ground beef. To make the beans, I quick soak them, change the water, and cook until done but still firm. I add one tbsp. salt and let cool overnight. I find that if I do not do this the beans will overly absorb any seasonings added subsequently. The next day, I reheat them briefly, then strain them, saving some of the water. I heat canola oil in the bottom of a soup pot until a bean will sizzle in it, then add the beans and mash them with a potato masher, adding a scant amount of water just to keep them from burning on the bottom. Sometimes we eat the whole pot over a week or more and other times I will freeze part of it. If it is too soupy after adding the tomatoes, simmer a little longer. If it is too dry and like paste, add more water until smooth again.

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