A Beginner’s Guide to Meatless Monday

Are you familiar with the term “Meatless Monday” but not quite sure what it is or if you are willing to participate? We have you covered! Meatless Monday is more than just a trend; it is a great way to improve your health while decreasing your carbon footprint. The idea of motivating people to participate in the one day a week challenge was first started in 2003 by Sid Lerner. The goal is to get people to eat less meat and instead opt for more plant-based foods to help reduce one’s risk of diseases, preserve water, and fight climate change.

Health Benefits

If you find that you do not eat much red meat, and instead lean more towards chicken or fish you should still keep in mind that a diet rich in vegetables can decrease your risk for cancer as vegetables are full of antioxidants and other key nutrients. Furthermore, diets full of vegetables and whole grains, and low in processed meat can help reduce ones risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Cutting back on how much meat you consume can also help with weight management and improve your overall nutritional health. Because vegetables are high in fiber, zinc, and iron and low in saturated fat, they add more essential nutrients to your diet. Rather than thinking of meatless meals as taking something out of your diet, try putting a more positive spin on it and consider that you are actually adding more supplements that your body needs to thrive.

Environmental Benefits

The Meatless Monday movement helps conserve water and decreases fossil fuel and gas emissions. Research has shown that if everyone joined the Meatless Monday movement we could save 100 billion gallons of water and reduce green house gas emission by 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Meal Ideas

Having trouble thinking of some good meatless meals? Below you will find 6 meals: 2 for each breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They will not only help you participate in Meatless Monday but they taste incredible and are simple to make.

Breakfast

  • Green Smoothie
    • 1 Banana
    • 1/2 Cup Blueberries
    • 1/2 Avocado
    • 1/2 Cup Spinach
    • 1 Scoop of Protein Powder (I use this Plant-Based one)
    • 1 Cup Milk or milk substitute of your choice
    • 1/2 Cup Ice

Add all ingredients in a blender and pulse until well blended. Pour into a cup and enjoy! If you like your smoothies a bit thicker you can freeze your bananas and blueberries. Smoothies are a great way to add fruits and vegetables into your diet but be careful of the extras you add in. They can easily turn into sugar bombs. Focus on vegetables first, then add more fruit and extra flavors to taste.

  • Overnight Chia Seed Pudding
    • 1/2 Cup Milk of your choice
    • 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
    • 1 tsp Honey
    • 1/4 Cup Mixed Berries

Add all ingredients in a blender and pulse until well blended. Pour into a jar with a lid and place in the refrigerator overnight. Enjoy the within the next five days. You can also top with your favorite granola in the morning for added texture and flavor.

Lunch

  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad
    • 1lb Fresh Brussel Sprouts
    • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil, split
    • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
    • 1/4 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
    • 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
    • 1tsp Dijon Mustard
    • 1 Clove Minced Garlic
    • Mixed Greens
    • 1/4 Cup Shredded Carrots
    • 1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds
    • 1/4 Cup Craisins
    • 1/4 Cup Shredded Parmesan
    • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Trim brussels sprouts and cut in half or into quarters depending on their size. Place in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Evenly spread the brussels sprouts onto a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. You may need take them out periodically to stir so they don’t stick to the pan. When they are done cooking set them aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

While the brussels sprouts are roasting you can make the dressing. In a small bowl add plain Greek yogurt, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper and then whisk until well combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl begin to assemble the salad by adding mixed greens, shredded carrots, sliced almonds, craisins, shredded parmesan and brussels sprouts. Pour in the dressing and toss until well coated. Make ahead of time and leave out the dressing until you’re ready to serve.

  • Cauliflower Fried Rice
    • 1 Head of Cauliflower
    • 3/4 Cup Peas
    • 3/4 Cup Diced Carrots
    • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
    • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
    • 1/4 tsp Sesame Oil
    • 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
    • 3 Eggs
    • Scallions to top

Cut the cauliflower into florets, add to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor you can use a cheese grater for this step. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium high heat, add vegetable oil and minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the carrots and peas and cook for 1 minute then add the cauliflower and stir together and allow to cook for about 2 minutes, then stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Repeat this step 4 more times then add the soy sauce and sesame oil and mix. Once evenly mixed make a hole in the center of the pan, add the eggs and scramble. Once the eggs are scrambled and cooked, mix them in with the rest of the dish. Serve immediately and top with scallions.

Dinner

  • Margherita Pizza with Cauliflower Crust
    • 1 Head of Cauliflower
    • 1 Egg
    • 1 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
    • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
    • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/2 Cup Marinara or Pizza Sauce
    • 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
    • 1 Tomato, Sliced
    • 1/4 Cup Mushrooms, Sliced
    • 2 Tbsp Fresh Basil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the cauliflower into florets, add to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor you can use a cheese grater for this step. Transfer chopped cauliflower to a microwave safe bowl and cook for 5 minutes. Allow to cool then transfer cooked cauliflower to a dish towel or cheese cloth and squeeze out as much water as possible. The more water you can squeeze out the more crispy your crust will be. Add cauliflower back to the bowl and add the egg, parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper and mix well. Transfer seasoned cauliflower to the baking sheet and use your hands to form into a “crust”. I like to split my crust into two so it will cook more evenly. Bake for 15-20 minutes. When done remove from the oven, increase temperature to 450 degrees and add toppings. Bake for an additional 7 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Slice and serve immediately.

  • Kale Pesto and Quinoa Power Bowl
    • 1 Cup Uncooked Quinoa
    • 1 Bunch of Kale
    • 1 Clove Garlic
    • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp Walnuts, split
    • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
    • 2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese
    • 2 Tbsp Romano Cheese
    • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
    • Lemon Zest
    • Chopped parsley
    • Red Pepper Flakes
    • 2 Fried Eggs

Rinse uncooked quinoa in a mesh strainer. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add quinoa, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes then remove lid and fluff with a fork.

To make the kale pesto add kale, garlic, 1/4 cup walnuts, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, parmesan and romano to a food processor and pulse. As you are pulsing slowly pour in the olive oil until all ingredients are well blended into a creamy consistency.

Mix the kale pesto with the cooked quinoa then divide into two bowls. Top with lemon zest, two tablespoons of chopped walnuts, parsley, red pepper flakes and fried egg.

If you find that it is too difficult to eliminate meat from your diet for a full day once a week, try cutting it out of at least one meal a day a couple of times a week instead. For more information on the benefits eliminating meat from your diet can have on your health and the environment and to find more recipes check out The Monday Campaign.

What are some meatless dishes you and your family enjoy?

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