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Joe Yonan makes Meatless Monday fun for the single cook

February 13th, 2014

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 31 million single Americans living alone and for many, the easiest meal solution is takeout or microwave dinners.

Joe Yonan, award-winning food editor for the Washington Post, thinks that single folks, like him, should not lower their standards just because they’re eating alone. His new book, “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook” (Ten Speed Press), offers  80 recipes along with  practical tips and insights to help people tackle the challenge  of trying to shop, plan, and cook for one.

We asked Joe a few questions about his book and how the Meatless Monday movement is influencing Americans’ consumption of vegetables.

 What’s your advice for how to make vegetables exciting for die-hard carnivores?

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First of all, buy vegetables when they’re in season and as fresh as possible (preferably local), so their quality is at its peak. And prepare them in ways and in combinations with other ingredients that results in something with a variety of textures and flavors: crunchy and soft, sweet and sour.

To make a pureed soup like my Creamy Green Gazpacho, for instance, I like to hold out some of the ingredients and add them as a garnish so you get more texture with each bite. And there’s a little honey in there (use agave nectar if you’re vegan) to balance the tart tomatoes.

I also like to use ingredients that have a lot of umami, such as miso and kimchi; and spicy and smoky ingredients such as Spanish pimenton, chiles (fresh and dried), toasted sesame oil, and Thai curry paste.

How do you think Meatless Monday has made an impact on Americans’ consumption of vegetables?

Obviously, the campaign has been successful getting more people to think about ways to move from meat toward vegetables, much in the way that the Catholic abstention of meat one day a week caused so many families to think of — and enjoy — Fish Fridays, which no doubt caused them to see fish in a different light generally. Eating is habitual, of course, so it’s helpful for people who are interested in changing habits to have manageable, easy-to-remember ways to nudge it in a different direction.

Starting with one meal a week is the perfect step for anybody who can’t imagine a dinner plate that isn’t constructed around meat, and as your own [Johns Hopkins] research shows, it’s having an impact on their habits beyond Mondays. That’s nothing but good news. 

I can’t help asking — In your book, you say, “It’s why I wish we could come up with another term for Meatless Mondays.”  Why come up with another term?

Well, I was being a little cheeky, of course. In the sentences that lead up to the one you quote, I make my point: that I wish more people who eat vegetarian dishes, whether it’s for one day or meal a week or more, would celebrate vegetables themselves, rather than the mere fact that they’re meatless. That is, I worry that sometimes the actual vegetables get short shrift because the dishes are defined by what’s not in them rather than by what is. So for instance, do I want people to eat Creamy Green Gazpacho [recipe below] just because it doesn’t have bacon in it? No, because bacon doesn’t really have anything to do with it. I want people to make it and eat it because it’s delicious — and nutritious, and satisfying. (Now, if the Romans had named Monday for Venus and Friday for the moon instead of vice-versa, maybe we’d be talking about Vegetable Venday right now! Since they didn’t, I’ve made my peace with the [Meatless Monday] term.)

Order “Eat Your Vegetables” from Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. Follow Joe Yonan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joeyonan.  Friend him on Facebook: http://facebook.com/joeyonan


Learn more about Meatless Monday at www.meatlessmonday.com

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New Book Moves Veggies to the Center of the Plate

February 13th, 2014

51R0y0yjPuL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_-1She considers herself a nutritional muse because she inspires people to experience new and delicious nutritional experiences. She’s Lora Krulak, an active blogger whose posts appear regularly on Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Meatless Monday. Lora’s new book, Veggies for Carnivores: Moving Vegetables to the Center of the Plate (Changing Lives Press), is influenced by her culinary adventures in Bali, India, Thailand, Italy and other countries. Veggies for Carnivores tempts palates to try veggie dishes that give a peek into these lands and introduces exciting flavors that even hard-core carnivores will find hard to resist.

“My mission is to demystify vegetables and show the world how sexy they are.  They are more than just side dishes – they are worthy of center stage,” Lora says.

Meatless Monday followers will find her recipes uncomplicated, easy to follow and entertaining – they’re laced with stories and humor from her travels.

We caught up with Lora to ask her about her book and Meatless Monday.

What motivated you to write Veggies for Carnivores?

When I was in Rome taking Italian classes, I would walk through the outdoor markets every day. I’m also a chronic label reader, so even if I don’t buy something at the market, you can bet I’ve read the label on just about every bottle and jar in the store. At this one shop in Rome, I was so taken by the little purées they sold in jars. They had puréed arugula, puréed parsley, puréed everything. I thought, “What an amazing way to get people to eat vegetables.” I must have bought every variety and used them daily. A few days later I was in a restaurant and was mesmerized by their presentation and simple preparation of food. Every plate was gently packed with vegetables. That’s when the idea for this book hit me. I sat for a few hours and wrote out my ideas on the back of the menu right then and there.

When I returned to New York, I started making soups, purées, smoothies and dips out of different vegetables. Often we hear that we need to eat more vegetables, and people automatically think they have to eat an entire plate of carrots or spinach. But if your sauce is a vegetable, and if you include a dip or spread made from vegetables, then you’ve just upped your vegetable ante tremendously and you’ve escalated the nutritional value of the meal. That’s why this book and books like it are so important.

You say your book is a glimpse at your culinary style and at how you see the world. Could you expand on that?

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Edamame Succotash

When I arrive in a new city or town, chances are my first stop is the local market. It is the pulse of a town and a true illustration of how the locals live, eat and share traditions—such as tea and coffee. It is in the market that I learn about local habits: what types of flours and sugars they use, or perhaps there is a salt I have never tried, and what vegetables are popular or unique. My cooking is all about adaptability. I like to learn the staples of that particular region so I can learn to adapt to anywhere I am in the world. Each recipe in Veggies for Carnivores is a snapshot of a place I visited or a moment in my life that I captured with a recipe. I take the reader around the world with me.

You blog regularly for Martha Stewart’s Whole Living’s Meatless Monday. How do you decide what to blog about?

I find it easier to cook a vegetable-centric dish than to cook a meat-focused meal. Combining a few side dishes is my favorite way to eat, and I devoted a whole chapter of my book to small plates. However, it is all about perspective. If you think about it, there are an overwhelming amount of plants to choose from and only a handful of animal proteins. Pick a plant and go from there. Let’s say it’s zucchini—I can think of five ways off the top of my head to make zucchini into a meal. For example, zucchini noodles with puttanesca sauce, zucchini lasagna, grilled zucchini with pesto . . . I can go on and on.

In your book, you highlight “Fascinating Facts.” Can you share a fascinating fact about your experience with Meatless Monday?

There are so many! I think my favorite Fascinating Fact is the cucumber trick. If you slice off the tip of a cucumber and rub it against the base of the cucumber, a little white foam will start to form. Wipe the foam off and slice the cucumber peeled or unpeeled. The cucumber will not be bitter or have any waxy taste. I am not sure why this works, but it does!

Order Veggies for Carnivores from Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. Follow Lora Krulak on Twitter: @lorakrulak. Friend her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/lorakrulak

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Nation’s Restaurant News Shows Meatless Monday Boosts Business

August 19th, 2013

 

urlTop restaurateurs shared their views on why Meatless Monday is good for the health of their business with NRN contributing writer Anita Jones-Mueller, president of Healthy Dining, a restaurant nutrition marketing and consulting company best known for its premier restaurant search engine HealthyDiningFinder.com.  She interviewed John Fraser, executive chef and proprietor of New York City’s Dovetail, a three-year recipient of the Michelin star, and Marisa May, co-owner of SD26 at Madison Square Park, for her online column in Nation’s Restaurant News.

Fraser explained that his own diet and the need to build new business led to him to launch Meatless Monday at Dovetail.  The campaign came to mind when he was starting to leave meat out of his own diet and also began focusing on his passion for local, seasonal produce.  At the same time, he needed to attract new business on Mondays.

 

“We are located on the Upper West Side of [Manhattan], which gets slow in the summer.  I was thinking about shutting the restaurant down for a few days each week over the summer … And so I started offering a selection of vegetarian specials every Monday.  Pretty soon we were packed on Monday, and it was a completely different clientele — younger and savvy guests,” he said.  “They loved the vegetarian choices, and they are a loyal following every Monday …. So it started as a more rogue, artful experiment and now has developed into a whole new market for us.”

url-1Marisa May, co-owner of SD26 at Madison Square Park, recently joined the Meatless Monday campaign. “It is a natural for us. We are eco-friendly and believe in the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. It’s our natural way of eating,” she said. “Many of our menu items offered all week long are meatless.”

May knew that many of her friends and fellow restaurateurs were participating in Meatless Monday. “We thought, ‘why not?’ We love the initiative.”

Jones-Mueller sees Meatless Monday participation by restaurants growing as plant-based lifestyles are gaining in popularity and acceptance due to interest in health, nutrition and sustainability.  Plant-based eating styles range from Mediterranean and “flexitarian,” to vegetarian and vegan, to macrobiotic and anti-inflammatory diets.  The major theme in most of these eating styles is reducing intake of trans and saturated fats by decreasing intake of red meat and processed foods.

Starting Meatless Monday in restaurants is easy.  Restaurants don’t need to take meat off the menu or add anything special — just highlight the existing meat-free options and promote them to customers on Mondays.

Get more details in the Meatless Monday Restaurant Toolkit.

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UCS Report Says Tiny Increase in Fruits & Veggies Yields $11 Trillion Reward

August 12th, 2013

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows how a small increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables we eat can lead to dramatic savings, both in lives and money.   The report correlates the healthcare costs associated with treating the diseases which arise from our low level of fruit and vegetable consumption and the savings that can result by increasing our fruit and vegetable consumption, even at modest levels.

 

UCS estimates that if Americans ate just one more serving of fruits or vegetables daily, it would save more than 30,000 lives and $5 billion in medical costs each year. And if we brought our consumption in line with USDA dietary recommendations of five portions a day, we could save more than 127,000 lives and $17 billion in medical costs each year.

UCS says that the long term are even more dramatic: “According to methods commonly used by economists, the increased longevity that would result if Americans ate the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables is worth over $11 trillion.”

The report’s findings raise a crucial question:  Now that we know eating more produce will save lives and dollars, what can Americans do?

Dr. Bob Lawrence, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Livable Future says that Meatless Monday can help.

“By eating less meat, starting with going meatless one day of the week as the Meatless Monday campaign urges, we could eat our way toward better health, a better environment, and a better use of cropland to produce less animal feed and more fruits and vegetables. And of course, the way to make room for those important fruits and veggies is to cut back or eliminate those burgers and dogs! Starting with Meatless Monday we can rely on that old principle of psychology—inch by inch it’s a cinch, yard by yard it’s real hard.”

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Celebrate Meatless Monday with fresh produce from your local farmer

August 5th, 2013

From August 4th-10th, communities across the country will honor local farmers during National Farmers Market Week. You can show your support by shopping at your local Farmers Market and thanking them for the contributions they make to our daily lives. Farmers help stimulate the local economy by creating jobs and give you access to farm-to- table fresh produce that is healthy and sustainable. And Farmers Markets strengthen communities by offering a gathering place where you can take your family, meet up with friends and enjoy a “small town” atmosphere.

Henry

 

This little piggy went to the farmers market,

This little piggy stayed home,

This little piggy got lots of fruits and vegetables,

This little piggy got none,

And this little piggy had the others over for a nice Meatless Monday dinner.

 

This year for Farmers Market Week, we’re teaming up with our friends at Slow Food to encourage people to celebrate with a special Meatless Monday meal!

Here’s how:

  • Throw a Meatless Monday potluck dinner with your friends and family. Check your local Slow Food chapter for special community events this week and throughout the year.
  • Get your kids involved! It’s a perfect time to introduce the kids to your local farmers and get them involved in the kitchen (it will tempt them to eat their veggies!).

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Meatless Monday Advocate Launches 14-Day Go Plant-Power! Challenge

August 5th, 2013

51EMbxjYxULSharon Palmer, RD, author of The Plant-Powered Diet and a long-time supporter of Meatless Monday, is launching her second 14-Day Go Plant-Power! Challenge on Monday, August 5th. The challenge is part of her effort to improve the public’s health by moving people toward a more whole-foods, plant-based diet.  She notes that:

“hundreds of studies point to one thing: a plant-based diet – a diet that focuses on plants, not animals – is the healthiest diet on the planet and the healthiest way to lose weight.”

Ready to face Sharon’s challenge? Sign up on the Go Plant Power Facebook page to receive daily alerts and instructions for the challenge. Every day, Sharon will motivate you to eat more whole plant-based foods by providing dietary information, healthy recipes and more. By the end of the Go Plant-Power! 14-Day Challenge, you’ll have the tools you need to change your diet and health for the better.

One of her tips?  Adopt Meatless Monday, which she says is “so easy to do.” The Meatless Monday Pinterest boards are filled with meatless recipe inspiration to help you keep up Meatless Monday all year round.

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Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Montgomery County Proclaims Monday Meatless

July 29th, 2013

1044042_10151797459656563_978468768_nThe popularity of Meatless Mondays just keeps growing as local communities and governments seek to address the burden of health issues such as obesity, cancer and heart disease.

Montgomery County, Maryland has joined cities such as Washington, DC, Oakland and Los Angeles in encouraging its residents to participate in Meatless Monday. The Montgomery County Council recently issued a “Meatless Monday” Proclamation, adding their official stamp of approval to the nationwide effort to promote healthier and more environmentally-friendly foods.

Council member Valerie Ervin offered insight as to why:

 “Meatless Monday is a terrific way to highlight not only the health benefits of a plant-based diet but the fact that such a diet has been shown to use fewer resources and cause less pollution.”

State Senator Jamie Raskin adds:

“Meatless Monday gets your week going with energy and purpose.”

In its proclamation, the county council highlighted the benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and encouraged its residents “to partake of the abundance of produce grown in community gardens and on local farms.”

Hear, hear.

Introduce your community to the benefits of  Meatless Monday and join the movement! Download our free Community Toolkit now. 

Already celebrate Meatless Monday? Check out our favorite meatless recipes. 

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Cooking Light Features Meatless Monday Aspen Advocates as Healthy Habits Heroes

July 22nd, 2013

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Congratulations to chef Martin Oswald and personal trainer Dawn Shepard for being honored by Cooking Light magazine as Healthy Habits Heroes in its August issue!

Cooking Light singled out Martin and Dawn for their work in spearheading the Meatless Monday movement in Aspen.  It was in the summer of 2011 when this heroic duo united to adopt the meat-free-Monday idea.  Working with members of Aspen’s Healthy Readers Book Club, they wrote letters encouraging local restaurants and organizations to go Meatless Monday.  The New York Times reported on their dedicated effort:

“The ambition and scale of the wider restaurant effort for Meatless Monday … has made Aspen ‘the nation’s first true Meatless Monday community, said the Meatless Monday campaign, a national effort in association with the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.”

Asked how the movement has influenced Aspenites since its launch, Dawn said, “People in our community get together for Meatless Monday dinners and events to share healthy food, great conversation, build relationships and share ideas. The word continues to spread and participation continues to grow.”

Martin, who continues to turn out delicious Meatless Monday dishes in his restaurant, Pyramid Bistro, encourages more chefs to offer Meatless Monday.  “It shows that the chef cares about his customers’ health and the environment.  Meatless Monday also challenges and expands the chef’s culinary repertoire.  He will benefit by integrating vegetarian dishes into the standard menu.  This will bring in more customers as the healthy initiative has become so prominent.”

Read the Cooking Light article online: http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/healthy-habits/martin-oswald-dawn-shepard-00412000084171/

In addition to the Healthy Habits Heroes feature, the article offers Dawn and Martin’s tips for embracing meatless meals and tasty Cooking Light’s meatless recipes.

Find out how you can start Meatless Monday in your community by downloading our free Community Toolkit.

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Girl Scout Troop Wins Award for Recruiting Meatless Monday Restaurants

July 15th, 2013

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Residents of Glen Cove, Long Island, NY will now find it easier to enjoy Meatless Monday in their area thanks to Girl Scout Troop 1844. The troop recruited more than a dozen area restaurants to feature meatless options on their menus every Monday in July.

Their innovative project won the troop a Bronze Award in Girl Scouting for “learning, adopting and publicizing Meatless Monday” – all for a healthy cause. This impressive win caught the eye of the local Patch.com editor, who singled out Girl Scouts Troop 1844 in a recent article.

The eateries include: Amalfi, American Café, Glen Cove Bagel Café, Cedar Creek Grille, Delicious Pizza, Downtown Café, Glen Cover Diner, La Bussola, La Ginestra, Marras, Page One, Sweet Tomato, and Stango’s.

You too can scout out restaurants to join the Meatless Monday movement. Get your favorite hometown eateries on board by telling them how easy it is to join up. They don’t have to eliminate meat from their menus. On Mondays, they can feature a new meatless special or simply highlight a non-meat dish already on the menu. Suggest that they check out real menus from Meatless Monday restaurant partners to see how others have offered diners tasty meatless alternatives.

MeatlessMonday.com has plenty of helpful tips on how to get restaurants going.  For starters, download our Restaurant Toolkit.

Let us know of your restaurant recruiting successes by sending us a note at [email protected] or visiting us on Facebook and Twitter. We can’t wait to promote your new Meatless Monday restaurants to thousands of MM fans nationwide!

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Chicago’s Epic Burger Finds Epic Success With MM Mushroom Promotion

July 15th, 2013

 

epicofferThink a burger joint can’t do something positive for its customers’ health and increase revenue at the same time? Think again.

Since adding a Meatless Monday-based promotion, #MushroomMondays, on Earth Day, Epic Burger, a popular small chain with six locations in Chicago and one in nearby Skokie, has seen sales spike on Mondays.

The chain’s social-media-ready #MushroomMondays promotion encourages customers to opt for its healthy and meat-free Portobello Sandwich on Meatless Mondays, and entices diners further by offering a 20% Monday-only discount. As a result of the promotion, Monday sales of the mushroom burger have jumped 14% and Epic Burger’s overall Monday sales are up 3.2%, reports marketing coordinator Shanley Pearl.

“I appreciate the irony of a burger place promoting a non-beef item,” Epic Burger founder David Friedman tells us. “But we think it’s a great opportunity to promote our super-healthy options. We are committed to making people aware of these options and the positive effects eating them has on their body and the environment.”

“It was our first ever marketing campaign,” a clearly enthused Pearl says. Starting with Meatless Monday was a natural addition to Epic Burger’s already strong commitment to health and sustainability, she adds. The company’s tagline is “A more mindful burger,” and its website highlights that it uses non-processed ingredients free of drugs and preservatives.

“[David] had heard about Meatless Mondays and our main goal of the campaign was to promote an existing menu item and the fact that 3/4 of our menu is actually very healthy,” Pearl explains. Indeed, the portobello mushroom patty that’s the foundation of the mushroom burger is only 120 calories.

Next was getting the word out. Epic Burger did so by latching onto the ever-widening awareness and acceptance of the Meatless Monday movement, and by making #MushroomMondays its own. The marketing team designed eye-catching psychedelic posters to promote the campaign, with lines like “Mushrooms: It’s what the planet would order.”

By all accounts, #MushroomMondays has been a success — both for patrons’ health and Epic Burger’s pockets. And diners have embraced it with gusto. “This sandwich is incredible!” wrote one Epic Burger fan on Twitter after tasting the Portobello Sandwich on a Monday in May. Another fan took pictures of the #MushroomMondays posters and wrote: “Hell yeah, Epic Burger knows what’s up.”

Bringing Meatless Monday to your restaurant is easy. As Epic Burger shows, you don’t need to add anything special — just highlight the meat-free options you already have and promote them to customers on Mondays. Get more details about starting Meatless Mondays at your establishment in our Restaurant Toolkit.

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Oakland City Council Declares Every Monday Meatless

July 8th, 2013

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Oakland, CA joins a growing list of cities encouraging residents to go meatless one day a week for their health and the health of the planet.

On July 3rd The City Council passed a resolution encouraging residents to eat meat-free meals on Mondays and restaurants, schools, grocery stores, businesses and other local institutions to offer more plant-based foods at the start of every week.   Oakland Unified School District and Mills College already offer Meatless Monday.

Councilmember Libby Schaaf, one of the sponsors of the resolution, said:

“Oakland has long been a pioneer in sustainability and we’re always looking for effective, yet simple ways to get people eating healthier, so promoting Meatless Monday in our city makes sense.”

Other cities in the US and around the world have passed similar resolutions including Vancouver, Los Angeles and Aspen.  To find out how you can start Meatless Monday in your community, download our free Community Toolkit.

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Get Your Favorite Restaurant to Join Meatless Monday

July 1st, 2013

restmenusmallSince it began 10 years ago, Meatless Monday has grown from a start-up campaign to a movement in 23 countries around the world. Millions have enjoyed Meatless Monday meals in thousands of U.S. restaurants and dining halls that have joined the campaign to better American health and protect the environment.

However, while we’ve enjoyed tremendous success, there’s still a lot to be done to rally even more people to cut out meat one day a week for their health and the health of our planet.

One great way to keep the Meatless Monday momentum going is to get more restaurants on board. Chefs and restaurateurs wield strong influence on the eating habits of the public. Thus the Meatless Monday movement is encouraging advocates for Meatless Monday to tell their favorite restaurants how smart and easy it is to join up with the fastest growing good-for-you dining program in the world.

Following are some suggested ideas advocates can employ:

» Tell restaurants they don’t have to eliminate anything on menus – on Mondays, they can just feature or add to the non-meat dishes already there!

» Show managers real menus from other restaurants already doing Meatless Monday (check out our Pinterest board for sample menus). They’ll see how other restaurants have offered their diners tasty meatless alternatives.

» Explain that customers will appreciate management’s concern for their health, and management will appreciate new Meatless Monday customers.

» For more helpful tips how to get restaurants on board, check out our Restaurant Toolkit.

Let us know of your restaurant recruiting successes. Send us a note at [email protected] to keep us up to date. Also visit us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest to promote your new Meatless Monday restaurants to thousands of followers.

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Summer Grilling Tips to Fire You Up for a Healthy July 4 — and Beyond

July 1st, 2013

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This week millions of Americans will celebrate the extended Independence Day holiday in that most American of ways: by firing up the backyard BBQ and chowing down.

Here’s an idea to freshen up your summertime grilling menu: Instead of the typical meat-focused BBQ fare, why not cook up some grilled veggies instead? Vegetables are amazing on the grill, plus meatless grilling is an easy way to add vitamin-packed, healthy seasonal produce to your diet, which can help reduce your risk of certain chronic diseases.

So get grilling and take a break from meat with these 10 easy summer grilling tips:

 1.  Many vegetables can be thrown right on the grill with just a light brushing of olive oil (with delicious results)! Fresh corn, tomatoes, asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, squash, bell peppers and jalapenos are just a few to try.

 grilling-vegetables-6362.  Kabobs are a BBQ staple that make the perfect meatless entree. Add tofu cubes, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted potatoes or just about any other vegetable that strikes your fancy.

3. Grilled fruit is amazing too. For a sweet side dish or dessert, try peach halves, pineapples, plums, melon, kiwi, bananas, pears or figs with a touch of honey marinade.

4.  Swap a hamburger for a portobello mushroom burger or grilled eggplant slices. Put the BBQ’d veggies on a bun and add your favorite toppings, like avocados, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers or an olive spread.

5.  Try a veggie burger recipe that celebrates hearty ingredients like black beans, lentils, quinoa and chickpeas. You can also find healthy pre-made patties at supermarkets and natural food stores.

6.  Make a delicious, smoky pizza pie right on the grill — all you need is pizza dough, sauce and your favorite vegetables thinly sliced or pre-grilled.

7.  Use your favorite marinade recipe to add flavor to extra firm tofu cubes. Grill them up and add them to a salad, serve them with veggies or enjoy them on their own.

8.  Add grilled vegetables to a filling summer salad. Garnish fresh lettuces with a bit of fruit, feta cheese and olive oil to complete the dish; or think beyond lettuce and whip up a bean or grain salad.

9.  Consider your sides when planning a meatless BBQ. Pasta salads, raw vegetables and hummus dip are great ways to turn your plant-based dishes into a full meal.

10.  End the meal on a healthy note with a tray of fresh fruit, a parfait or homemade smoothies.

Looking for even more great summer grilling ideas? Sample some of our favorite meatless burger ideas in our free online Monday Burgers Cookbook.

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House of Reps Vetoes MM Promos in Capitol Cafeterias

June 24th, 2013

mm_capitol_cafeterias_graphicLast week, Energy & Environment News reported that promotion of Meatless Monday is being halted at cafeterias at the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the report, the MM promos were eliminated after a coalition of livestock industry groups sent a letter to the House Committee on House Administration asking for their removal.

The withdrawal of the promos under livestock industry pressure echoes last year’s controversial striking of mentions of Meatless Monday in an employee newsletter sent to workers at the USDA.

In response to the House move, Dr. Robert Lawrence, director of the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, pointed out in a blog post on Friday that Meatless Monday’s goals of increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, reducing saturated fat intake and eating a variety of protein sources are “three key recommendations of the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines.”

Dropping promotion of Meatless Monday is also misguided, Dr. Lawrence argued, because it “ignores the growing scientific evidence of the health-damaging effects of the typical high-meat American diet.” And yet, while the campaign obviously asks people to abstain from meat fully one day a week, it is in no way anti-meat. As Lawrence wrote:  “Contrary to the industry’s accusation that the campaign seeks to ‘publicly denigrate U.S. livestock and poultry production,’ Meatless Monday does not advocate giving up meat altogether – rather, it promotes moderation and encourages participating institutions to offer both meat and meatless options.”

Also coming out to lend support for Meatless Monday was Natural Resources Defense Council policy analyst Sasha Lyutse. In a post on the Huffington Post titled, “Livestock Industry Bullying on Meatless Mondays Campaign Doesn’t Change Facts — or Consumer Trends,” Lyutse wrote, “Despite this disappointing episode, public trends speak for themselves.” Put simply, those trends are that Meatless Monday is growing rapidly (now encompassing 23 countries as well as thousands of communities, schools, restaurants and worksites) and also that when consumers do eat meat, increasingly they’re opting for healthier and more sustainably produced products.

Describing Meatless Monday as a “cultural force,” Lyutse wrote that “every week, concerned citizens and consumers across the country are voting with their wallets, simultaneously making Meatless Mondays increasingly mainstream and helping to bring an abundance of meat and poultry alternatives into the marketplace.”

Research has consistently shown a range of health benefits from cutting back on meat, including lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. In turn, diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to have a preventative effect on the chances of developing cancer and chronic diseases. So regardless of whether House cafeterias are promoting it or not, make today Meatless Monday!

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Harvard Study: More Red Meat = More Diabetes

June 24th, 2013

meatIncreasing one’s consumption of processed and unprocessed red meat could lead to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a major study has found.

Published online last week by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the study analyzed the meat intake over 20 years of some 149,000 health professionals. Researchers working at Harvard University found that increasing meat consumption by more than half a serving a day (roughly 1.5 ounces) was associated with a 48% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to those whose meat intake did not increase. The risk was highest when processed meats like hot dogs and bacon were consumed.

Those cutting back on red meat, researchers found, had a 14% lower risk of developing the disease over the long-term.

“Our results add further evidence that limiting red meat consumption over time confers benefits for [type 2 diabetes] prevention,” the study authors wrote. And in an email to Medscape Medical News, the study’s lead author, An Pan, PhD, now of the National University of Singapore, said:

“The public-health message [of the study] is to try to limit red-meat consumption (particularly processed red meat) and switch to plant-based food choices and more fish/poultry.”

Not to mention that eating too much red meat not only increases diabetes risk, it could end your life sooner. Last year, while at Harvard University, Dr. Pan published research using the same data pool as his current study that found frequent servings of red and processed meat increased individual mortality risk over the study period. Based on this 2012 research, our partners at the Center for a Livable Future were able to quantify the lowered risk of death from all causes by going Meatless Monday, and substituting nuts, whole grains and legumes for meat just one day a week.

In a blog post on the Center for a Livable Future website, Allison Righter, Registered Dietitian and Project Director for the Johns Hopkins Meatless Monday Project, echoes Dr. Pan’s suggestions.

“An important takeaway from all of these studies,” she writes, “is that a healthy diet involves not only cutting back on certain foods like red meat, but also eating more of the nutrient-rich, health-protective foods like vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seafood, and low-fat dairy.”

Of course one of the easiest ways to cut overall meat intake is to go Meatless Monday. By doing so you’ll not only reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, you’ll likely be cutting your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, which now afflicts some 26 million Americans. And when you give up meat on Mondays you make room on your plate for healthful fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains — foods repeatedly shown to help in the prevention of disease. Clearly, Meatless Monday is a win win!

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