All Entries For meat-free Fridays

Load Up on Lentils: 10 Healthy Recipes


Don’t love lentils? We’re here to convince you otherwise. People have been eating lentils for millennia; they’re common in Mediterranean, Asian and Indian cuisines.
That’s no surprise: These tiny legumes are packed with dietary fiber, protein and valuable nutrients including folate and magnesium, so they’re healthful additions to your plate. In fact, they are one of the best meatless protein sources.
 
Beyond those benefits, though, they’re just delicious: pleasantly earthy in flavor, with a hearty texture that’s really satisfying. (In fact, if you don’t love lentils, you may have found them mushy and overcooked.) Lentils are typically sold dried—you’ll find black (Beluga), red, green or French (du Puy) varieties—and they’re super easy to cook and incredibly versatile. Here are 10 great ways to make lentils a healthy part of your diet:
 
Lentils 1, 2, 3
Think 1, 2, 3: 1 cup of dried lentils plus 2 cups of water yields about 3 cups of cooked lentils. You can double or reduce the amounts to suit your recipe. Lentils freeze beautifully, so you’re smart to cook a double batch and freeze what you don’t use right away.
 

Cooking Lentils, Part 1

To cook black, green or French lentils: Place the dried lentils in a colander and rinse under cool water; pick out any debris or shriveled lentils. Bring lentils, water and a generous pinch of salt to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Begin tasting for doneness after 20 minutes; you want the lentils cooked al dente, like pasta—cooked through, but not at all mushy.
 

Cooking Lentils, Part 2

Red and orange (and some green) lentil varieties are commonly split, so they cook much faster than their darker cousins. Also, they get softer with cooking, almost disintegrating, so red and orange lentils are great for soups or for Indian dishes. Use the same proportions of water and lentils, and cook for about 10 minutes.
 
 

Lentil Soup with Spicy Italian Sausage

Bacon or sausage are flavorful partners to lentils, and this easy soup features big chunks of root vegetables and rounds of cooked Italian sausage; substitute chicken sausage if you’d like.
Posted 3/5/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 23 comments   67,889 views
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15 Tips to Feed the Vegan or Vegetarian in Your Life


Vegetarian Awareness Month is wrapping up, but the meat-free mealtime fun doesn't have to end! In addition to giving away 5 copies of our e-book "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet," today I'm sharing tips for anyone who might need to cook for a vegetarian or vegan. With the holidays on the horizon, I hope you find these tips to be of use.

When I wrote "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople," I intended it to be for vegans, vegan wannabes, and those who love them. Don't worry--SparkPeople isn't taking the stance that we all need to ditch meat forever. But with at least 325,000 vegetarians and vegans on our site, we know that many of our members are interested in eating less meat and more plants. We believe there's room at the table for all of us. This book fills a niche, and I wrote it with the SparkPeople philosophy in mind--moderation, no fad diets, and taking small steps along the way to a healthier you.

That said, let's segue into tips for feeding the vegan or vegetarian in your life.
Posted 10/29/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 15 comments   10,873 views
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39 Meat-Free Recipes for World Vegetarian Day


Happy World Vegetarian Day! In honor of this Meatless Monday and the annual day to kick off a month of plant-based eating, we're sharing some of our favorite veg recipes. They're yummy and filling, perfect for meat eaters and veg'ns alike!

Did you know that about 3% of Americans are vegetarian and about 1% are vegan, meaning they don't eat meat, dairy, eggs or anything else that comes from an animal.
  1. 2-Bean Sweet Potato Chili
  2. Baked Falafel
  3. Bruschetta-Stuffed Mushrooms
  4. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
  5. Cheesy Spinach Enchiladas
Posted 10/1/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 11 comments   17,380 views
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Meatless March: Are You Taking the Challenge?


Happy March, everyone! Are you participating in the 30-Day Meatless Challenge?  
In addition to being the month that spring officially begins, March is also the time of Lent and Purim (did you know that Queen Esther might have been vegan?).

Did you know that during in ancient times, fasting during Lent was much stricter--in some places, all animal products were forbidden--and in other countries, predominantly in the East, only vegan foods are consumed during Lent?

March is also National Nutrition Month, and March 20 is Meatout day.

And SparkPeople's first official e-book, "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet," published earlier this week. (Thanks to you, the book has been #1 in vegetarian and low-fat diet e-books on Amazon all week, and it also was in the top five of all vegetarian cookbooks--"real" and e-books. WooHoo!)

I can't think of a better time to experiment with meatless meals.

Many of you have had questions regarding the challenge. It's simple. We're using the Vegetarian Team as our home base, and I'm posting a new thread each week. (Click here for this week's thread.) Feel free to post your questions and comments there, and on my weekly blogs, which will run Fridays through the month of March.

I called this the "Meatless Challenge" because it allows for some flexibility in your food choices. Meatless includes vegan and vegetarian meals. You can define meatless however you please; I'm not hear to judge!

So what should we be doing?
Posted 3/2/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 73 comments   22,026 views
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The No-Stress, No-Guilt Approach to Meatless Meals


I'm thrilled to announce that SparkPeople has just published the first in a line of ebooks, "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet."

As many of you know, I am editor of SparkRecipes and dailySpark, and co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook." I love food--writing, editing, researching, and, of course, eating it.

What you might not know about me is that I'm vegan, meaning I don't eat meat, dairy, eggs or anything else that comes from an animal. About 1% of Americans eat this way (for reference, 3% of Americans are vegetarian), but that number is growing. Due to my love of creating tasty, easy plant-based recipes, I was really excited to launch our ebook series with a vegan cookbook and guide.

Don't worry--SparkPeople isn't taking the stance that we all need to ditch meat forever. But with at least 325,000 vegetarians and vegans on our site, we know that many of our members are interested in eating less meat and more plants. This book fills a niche, and I wrote it with the SparkPeople philosophy in mind--moderation, no fad diets, and taking small steps along the way to a healthier you. 

I am passionate about sharing the vegan lifestyle with others, but I (and SparkPeople) will never pressure you or guilt you into giving up meat, cheese, or eggs forever. I'd rather have each of you take one step toward a healthier you than alienate even one reader with a "diet" that seems complicated and stressful.

Why vegan for me?
In 2010, I adopted an all-plant diet accidentally, unintentionally and without fanfare--all the while claiming that I could never be a vegan. (That's a good story--I explain in the ebook.) My excuses varied depending on the situation: it would be too costly, I loved cheese too much, I couldn't imagine interrogating every server at every restaurant for the rest of my life. I admit: I was wrong about veganism. Today, I remain happily, healthfully vegan.

I've discovered that a plant-based diet is neither restrictive nor difficult, neither expensive nor time-consuming, and I'm hoping you'll give it a try--at least for a little while. 

My body is the strongest and healthiest it has ever been. A vegan diet allows me to maintain a rigorous six-day-a-week Ashtanga yoga practice while training for half-marathons and teaching yoga.  My boyfriend, a competitive cyclist, fuels with a plant-based diet as well. We each became vegan shortly before we met (within a week of each other, it turned out!), and the early days of our relationship were spent cooking up vegan feasts in my tiny apartment kitchen. 

The motivators for a vegan diet can be pretty heavy topics, but what they all have in common is compassion and kindness: for others, for yourself, or for the earth and its animals. That's why I believe in the "no-stress, no-guilt" approach to meatless meals. 

That's also why, along with other experts and members here at SparkPeople, I wrote "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet," which is available for $2.99 on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

To celebrate this new e-book and encourage others to embrace more plant-based meals, I'm launching the 30-Day Meatless Challenge, starting March 1.

As I said, this isn't like other books on veganism. We focus solely on the positive aspects of a plant-based diet. Whether you are looking to add a few vegan recipes to your weekly meal plans, experiment with plant-based eating for a few weeks during Lent, or make it a lifelong journey, I hope you'll be inspired to embrace meatless meals at least for a little while from a healthy, whole-foods perspective using the new book.

If you want to eat plants 100% of the time and get healthy while doing it, I'm thrilled--and this is the book and the challenge for you. But remember that if you want to experiment with more meatless meals, learn how to cook for a vegan in your life, or just learn what the heck vegans eat, this book is for you, too.

Click here to buy or preview "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet" on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Posted 2/27/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 101 comments   101,299 views
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Meat-Free Fridays: A Medley of Meatless "Meats"


Each Friday during Lent, the dailySpark will feature a different meat-free main dish. Whether you observe Lent or not, we can all benefit from learning about alternate, affordable proteins. This is the final blog in the Meat-Free Friday series. View the rest of the series here.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the adage applies to food. When you know you can't or shouldn't have a food, do you crave it all that much more? Since Lent started, have you had any Friday cravings for meat?

Sure, I've offered plenty of meat-free alternatives, but what are you to do when a craving for a hot dog, chicken nuggets or a turkey sandwich hits? Must you hold off until Saturday?

Nope. You can indulge your cravings for all your favorites--pepperoni pizza, BLTs and even sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches--even when you're on a meatless diet.

Welcome to the wonderful world of… meat analogs.
Posted 4/10/2009  6:20:11 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 123 comments   10,572 views
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Meat-Free Fridays: Time to Try Tempeh


Each Friday during Lent, the dailySpark will feature a different meat-free main dish. Whether you observe Lent or not, we can all benefit from learning about alternate, affordable proteins. Read the rest of the series here.

So I converted some of you to tofu lovers likers a couple of weeks back. Are you ready for your next assignment?

This week, I’m going to introduce you to tempeh.

What is tempeh (pronounced tem-pay)?

Tempeh is a fermented product made from soybeans that's especially popular on the Indonesian island of Java. Before you wrinkle your nose, know it's not pungent like sauerkraut, kimchi, or natto.

But before we talk about how it's made, let's look at how we eat it. Trust me, it's tasty!
Posted 4/3/2009  11:56:09 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 107 comments   8,449 views
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Meat-Free Fridays: Black Beans--the Best Beans!


Each Friday during Lent, the dailySpark is featuring a different meat-free main dish. Whether you observe Lent or not, we can all benefit from learning about alternate, affordable proteins.

My boyfriend could live on black beans and rice. He actually said that Wednesday night. He got home late, and I had gone out to dinner with a friend. He opened a can of beans, doctored it with olive oil, garlic, curry and a strange assortment of spices and heated up some leftover brown rice. He added some smoked gouda and a handful of fresh spinach at the end (If I'm not eating it, I don't comment on the conglomerations he creates.) and his dinner was ready.

"I could eat this every meal of every day and still be happy," Fred said.
While I don't love black beans quite as much as my boyfriend does, I am very fond of these beans. They're cheap (I get a conventional 15-ounce can for 89 cents, an organic 15-ounce can for $1.29, and a pound of organic dried beans for about $1/pound.) I cook a big batch of dried black beans each week and we eat them throughout the week. We add a half-cup per serving to vegetable stir-fries, soups, stews and pretty much any other dish.
Posted 3/27/2009  4:06:37 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 102 comments   25,136 views
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Meat-Free Fridays: Tofu--Tasteless Blob or Tasty Protein?


Each Friday during Lent, the dailySpark is featuring a different meat-free main dish. Whether you observe Lent or not, we can all benefit from learning about alternate, affordable proteins.

Few foods are as polarizing as tofu.

Say the word and watch as noses crinkle or mouths water.

I fall on the tofu lover side of the spectrum, but I think we might be of the minority.

Tofu, also known as soybean curd, is made by soaking, boiling, blending and straining soybeans, then adding a coagulating agent and pressing it. Think of it like this: Cheese is to milk as tofu is to soymilk.

Really whets the appetite, doesn't it?

Scratch that.

Think of tofu as the other white meat. Like chicken, it's a versatile protein, a blank canvas on which to test your culinary prowess. I substitute tofu in just about every chicken recipe I have.

3-4 ounces grilled chicken
3-4 ounces sautéed or grilled tofu

Ta-da!

I've got a few tofu tricks and tips. I'm pretty sure I can convert you. In fact, I bet you a SparkGoodie that you will at least like, if not love, tofu after you try some of these tips. (P.S. Did I mention that it's cheap? A 15-ounce package yields five servings for under $2! That's enough of a reason for this frugal foodie.)

Posted 3/20/2009  6:04:01 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 180 comments   12,093 views
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Meat-Free Fridays: What in the World is TVP?


Each Friday during Lent, the dailySpark will feature a different meat-free main dish. Whether you observe Lent or not, we can all benefit from learning about alternate, affordable proteins.

It looks a bit like cereal, but it smells saltier and tastes more savory than sweet. It's a cheap, versatile and incredibly easy to use protein source that is sometimes hard to distinguish from ground meat. It's TVP. Textured Vegetable Protein. (TVP is in the front of the photo of soy products accompanying this article.)

Let's demystify this vegetarian protein, which can be used in everything from chili and meatballs to tacos and shepherd's pie.
Posted 3/13/2009  3:01:01 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 136 comments   13,971 views
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Meat-Free Fridays: Lenten Lentils


Each Friday during Lent, the dailySpark will feature a different meat-free main dish. Whether you observe Lent or not, we can all benefit from learning about alternate, affordable proteins.

Lentils are a cheap and versatile protein source--I buy lentils for about a dollar a pound in the bulk bins at my local supermarket. On nights when I'm pressed for time, I throw some lentils in a pot, along with a bit of onion and garlic. I add twice as much broth as lentils and let them simmer for about 15 minutes. I steam some broccoli or spinach, heat up some brown rice (I precook rice in batches and freeze it in single portions) and drizzle on a bit of curry or tomato sauce. Dinner's on the table in less than 20 minutes!
Most people limit lentils to lentil soup, but these legumes have a lengthy list of uses.

  • Mix cooked lentils into meatballs, meatloaf or burgers. Add a cup of lentils and a cup of water when browning ground beef or turkey.

  • Add pureed lentils to chili, soups or stews to thicken.

  • Toss cooled French or green lentils with vinaigrette and some chopped peppers and onions for a quick salad. Or add lentils to your favorite pasta salad.

  • Substitute lentils for half or all the ground beef in your favorite pasta dish. In meat sauce, lasagna or stuffed shells, the texture is the indistinguishable.

    A half-cup of lentils have 115 calories, less than half a gram of fat, and 366 mg potassium. They contain 9 g each of protein and fiber (about a third of your recommended amount of fiber), and 45% of your Daily Value of folic acid. Lentils are frequently included on lists of the world's healthiest foods.

    Find out more about this healthy, cheap and versatile legume!

    Posted 3/6/2009  5:52:24 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 88 comments   26,222 views
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  • Meat-Free Fridays: Lean Lenten Fish Recipes


    Each Friday during Lent, the dailySpark will feature a different non-meat main dish. You'll find plenty of dishes to swap for your meaty favorites, all with far less fat, fewer calories and more nutrients than a fried fish sandwich, a ubiquitous choice during Lent.

    Today marks the first Friday of Lent, meaning many Christians are abstaining from eating meat. Through the years, meat-free Fridays have become associated with fish fries and batter-dipped sandwiches at fast-food restaurants. Often battered, fried, and dunked in mayo-based sauces, fish is a versatile and healthy main dish!

    Abstaining from meat for several meals a week, usually for health, environmental or personal reasons, is a growing trend. "Flexitarianism," as it's called, is a healthy way to eat, according to experts.

    If you observe meat-free Fridays during Lent, use this as a time to experiment a bit with your menus. Instead of reaching for the same-old fried fish, choose another lean protein from under the sea.
    Posted 2/27/2009  3:12:38 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 98 comments   12,962 views
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