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Less Meat, More Meat Alternatives!

Posted Nov 06 2009 12:00am
Photoby FotoosVanRobin

Photo by FotoosVanRobin

Meat tastes good and I’m definitely not saying eating meat is a bad thing!

Meat provides various essential nutrients, including iron, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins. However, I will say that consuming meat can significant increases our health risks, especially chronic health problems such as coronary heart diseases if we continue to eat meat the way we do right now.

What’s wrong with the way we eat meat? Here’s two big issues:

Outrageous portion sizes. Over the years, our perception of portion sizes has dramatically inflated. We tend to think a 8oz steak is a normal serving of meat, but that amount of meat is actually 2 -3 servings of meat, according to the Canada’s Food Guide. Try comparing portion sizes 20 years ago to portion sizes now, you will most likely be surprised at how much smaller sizes are back then.

Choose meat too often. We seem to view meat as being an integral part of our diet, and so we rarely consider choosing meat alternatives (we seem to forget about their existence unless we have certain dietary concerns). A common misunderstanding is that these food options are inferior to meat, in terms of their nutritional value. This statement is partly true in that meat does provide us with complete protein, but what we do not realize that these options can provide additional health benefits that are absent from meat.

So how can we deal with these two problems? One simple solution to cut back our meat consumption. It can be a very difficult challenge, but one small step you can take today is try to substitute meat with meat alternatives.

Here are my top three favourite meat alternatives:

Why is it good?

Tofu is a high-protein, low-fat and low-calorie product, perfect for those who are weight-conscious. Certain types of tofu, especially the firm ones, are also a good source of calcium. Because tofu is made from soybeans, it does not contain cholesterol by nature, which may be preferable for those who are concerned about cholesterol.

How to use it?

It’s a super versatile ingredient. Soft or silken tofu can be a star ingredient in different appetizers and desserts. Try making an Edamame “Hummus” Dip or a Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding . Firm tofu is a great addition to any stir-fry . To make things fancy, you can also try to make Caramelized Tofu as a main dish, or how about try making Grilled Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce ? Here’s another must try vegetarian recipe featuring tofu – Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame and Tofu.

Why is it good?

Not only do they provide protein, beans are also an excellent source of fiber (half a cup of cooked beans will fulfill nearly 25% of your daily fiber needs). Getting enough fiber is essential to maintaining a healthy digestive system. Like tofu, beans come from plant sources, and so theynaturally do not contain cholesterol.

How to use it?

Chili is a great way to introduce more beans into your diet. Make your own hummus using dried or canned chickpeas and serve it as a dip for vegetables or pita chips for a delicious, healthy and fulfilling snack or side dish. In this Creamy Broccoli and White Bean Soup , beans are added in to create a creamy texture without needing to add cream. Beans can also be a star ingredient in pasta dishes !

Why is it good?

Nuts and nut butter have similar nutrition profile as meats, but without the saturated fats. Instead, they contain heart-healthy oils which have protective effects against heart diseases. These oils will help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and boost HDL (good cholesterol) and ultimately improving your overall blood cholesterol and lipid profile.

How to use it?

Instead of reaching for jam or butter, try spreading nut butter onto your toast in the morning. Or, throw in a handful of nuts into your salad instead of topping it with a big chunk of meat. Nuts also make the perfect, fuss-free snack when you’re on the run. Another way to enjoy nuts is making your own granola here’s my favourite recipe by Alton Brown (absolutely heavenly!).

Meat has become less dominant in my food world, and it can come true for you too! Just dive in and try these recipes today!

More Resources:

Tofu @ World’s Healthiest Foods

Tofu Recipes and Cooking Tips @ WebMD

Health Benefits of Beans and Lentils @ HealthCastle.com

Beans: Protein-Rich Superfoods @ WebMD

Health Benefits of Nuts @ HealthCastle.com

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