Reducing the amount of meat in your diet is proven to be beneficial to your health and better for the environment. But it is also a drastic change that can be hard work and time consuming. That’s why I make one day per week meat free. As someone who juggles full time work and study with going the gym and maintaining a social life, I don’t have the time nor the means to be sourcing expensive ingredients or spending hours in the kitchen.
Below are a days worth of recipe ideas (breakfast, lunch and dinner) to help to reduce the meat in your diet. All of these meals have ingredients that carnivores would be familiar with, aren’t time consuming to make and are relatively cheap to acquire. They're also rich in nutrients, high in protein and low in fat and sugar.
Breakfast: - Apple Bircher
For those who need to be out the door quickly in the morning, this is a hearty breakfast that can be prepared the night before. Oats are my go to on meat free Monday. They are cheap, easy to prepare and packed with protein and fiber. Fiber is a nutrient that many people are lacking in. Fiber regulates our bowel movements and is proven to lower cholesterol. A breakfast like this provides up to 20g of protein per serving. That’s more than a boiled egg.
1 apple - grated
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups soy milk
1 cup rolled oats
1 tbspn honey
1 tspn cinnamon
Combine ingredients together the night before you intend to eat.
Leave to rest in the fridge and enjoy the next day with fresh fruit such as bananas or strawberries.
Other nuts and dried fruits such as sultanas can be added to taste.
Lunch - Balance Bowl
This meal is all about having a balanced and nutritious meal in the middle of what can be a long and tiresome day. The principle behind a balance bowl is that it is one part grain, one part legume and one part vegetable. The ingredients that I have included can be changed according to your tastes, as long as they fit into those categories. Try to avoid adding pre-made dressings as these can be full of sugar and MSG. This meal can be made in bulk so that one batch lasts the whole week.
1 cup brown rice
1 can chickpeas
1 can kidney beans
1 can lentils
150g sunflower seeds
1 tbspn cumin
Place rice and water in a rice cooker with one thumb width of water above the line of the rice. Add salt to the water for extra flavour. Leave to cook for approximately 15 minutes or until water is reduced.
Place chopped broccoli and zucchini on a tray with baking paper. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cumin. Drizzle with olive oil. Cook for 15 minutes at 180C.
Combine rice, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils and sunflower seeds with salt and pepper and lemon.
Chop tofu into 1cm square cubes. Fry in 1cm of oil for 14 minutes or until golden brown.
The portions can be served separately or mixed together in a big salad.
Dinner - Quinoa Risotto
This is a nutritious and filling alternative to a traditional rice risotto. You can vary the vegetables that you include and add walnuts or pine nuts as well if you want. In my post last week I wrote about how quinoa is a complete protein and something of a super food (link here). Mushrooms are a vegetable that is low in calories and high in nutrients such a vitamin D, as they absorb this vitamin from the sun in the same way that humans do. Mushrooms also work to enhance the body’s immune system, so this is a great meal to make if you’re starting to feel a bit run down. Combine this with the antioxidants and vitamin C of the spinach and you’re sure to feel great. An added plus is that spinach contains a nutrient called glycoglycerolipids, which is proven to protect the lining of the digestive tract. If you’ve got an upset stomach or suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, this is a great leaf to include in your diet.
1 cup quinoa
1L of vegetable stock
2 cups of mushrooms
3 cups of spinach
2 cups of frozen peas
1/2 bunch of parlsey
1 tbspn butter
Roughly chop onion and fry onion in a pan with butter, salt and pepper.
Once onion is browned add mushrooms and cook until lightly coloured.
Add quinoa and stock and mix through. (If the quinoa is bought from a large supermarket such as Coles it may be worth washing it beforehand, as it can sometimes be gritty and dirty).
Cover and let simmer until the stock has been absorbed. If the quinoa is still not properly cooked once the stock has been absorbed, add some more. The quinoa should be cooking for at least 20 minutes and be well cooked and fluffy once done. Initially it may seem as though there is too much stock for the quinoa, but trust me, it will absorb.
Once quinoa is cooked, lower heat and add spinach, parsley and frozen peas.
Cook for another 5 minutes or until peas are no longer frozen but still pop in your mouth.
Season with a drizzle of fresh lemon to serve.