September is National Mushroom Month, so to “cap” it off we’re celebrating with a round-up of delish meatless mushroom recipes from our from our Meatless Monday bloggers. Whether you’re noshing on pasta, tacos, salad. stir-fry, stew or beyond, mushrooms lend that ever-so-satisfying umami flavor, so try out one of these recipes for your next Meatless Monday meal.
There is a reason why so many people crave meat.
When our ancestors first started eating animal flesh on the African savannas 2.5-million years ago, their food options were extremely limited. For our hungry ancestors, meat had two things, in particular, that were a godsend: fat and protein. Today, our tongues are still attuned to detecting the calorie-loaded fat and the “umami” taste that signifies that a food is abundant in protein. The reason why we love the taste of meats, such as fried bacon or grilled burgers, is the Maillard reaction: the browning that occurs when we cook some foods in high temperatures. To the tongues of our ancestors, the flavors of the Maillard reaction signified that a food had been cooked and thus safer to eat. But even though we no longer need meat for its protein and fat, and indeed we have better ways of knowing that food is safe than relying on the the Maillard reaction, our taste buds obviously didn’t get the memo. They keep pushing us towards pork and beef.
To make Meatless Monday easier and more fun, here are a few tips on how we can satisfy our outdated taste buds without meat, from Marta Zaraska, science journalist and author of Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Years Obsession With Meat who has also published in the Washington Post, Scientific American, and The Atlantic.
Craving ribs? Try avocado.
Ribs are fatty. In a single 3 oz serving, you may get about 0.7 oz/20 grams of fat (and a lot of that is in unhealthy, saturated form). If you feel like dining on ribs or pork sausages, chances are your taste buds would be happy with something else that is fatty, so go for plant foods that are loaded with fat, such as avocados (13 grams of fat in 1/2 avocado) or macadamia nuts (a whopping 21 grams of fat in a 1 oz serving—more than ribs). And the good news is that fats found in plants are largely of the healthy, unsaturated type.
Swap chicken for PB sandwiches.
If the amount of protein in the human diet falls below 15 percent (more or less), we start craving it. So, on Meatless Monday, if you suddenly feel like having a lean chicken breast, your body may well be telling you it wants protein. A perfect solution would be a whole-wheat peanut butter sandwich or rice with beans. Both these dishes have complete protein, just like you would get from meat.
Instead of toasty bacon, go for toasts.
What makes bacon so appetizing are the flavors created in the Maillard reaction. But you can get these aromas in different ways besides the grilling or frying of meat. Toasted bread, tempura, pan-fried vegetarian dumplings—all these foods could satisfy your cravings because they offer the Maillard reaction.
Create umami bombs.
Meats are full of umami—“delicious” in Japanese—the fifth basic taste. Mushrooms have plenty of umami, and so does aged cheese (Parmesan, in particular), tomatoes, and fermented foods such as soy sauce or kimchi. What’s more, combining several umami foods in one dish can make what chefs call a “umami bomb”—even more potent deliciousness. So, instead of cooking a steak for your Meatless Monday dinner, try a stir-fry with soy sauce, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
Make a meaty plant-based meal.
Since meats tempt us with the combination of fat, umami, and the aromas of the Maillard reaction, try combining all these flavors in one plant-based meal. An example? A perfectly toasted sandwich with avocado, tomatoes, and Parmesan. Enjoy!
With kids heading back to school, parents and teachers agree that a nutritious lunch is key to helping students succeed. While more and more schools are offering Meatless Monday dishes in the cafeteria, bringing lunch from home is another tasty option!
There are many benefits to packing a creative, healthy lunch for students of all ages. Here are just a few reasons why packing a Meatless Monday lunch is an excellent choice for the student in your life!
Nutrient-dense, plant-based foods are often thought of as side dishes or snacks. Make these foods the main event and you’ll have a lunch packed with all the things growing minds and bodies need (even protein!).
Solve the picky-eater problem by creating new meals that will help them explore new foods. Have a kid that can’t get enough take-out? Pack them up a helping of tempeh fried brown rice. Have a student hooked on French fries? Whip up some sweet potato fries for a new twist.
Encourage kids to connect with the planet by eating foods that are in season where you live. Talk to students about how plants grow, and why some fruits and vegetables in their lunches are only ripe at certain times of the year.
Introduce students to cultural foods from family tradition or from other parts of the world. Part of the fun of Meatless Monday is finding delicious new-to-you recipes. Food can help kids learn about geography and social studies when they try new dishes!
Turn a favorite snack into a meal that kids from kindergarten to high school will enjoy. Bananas quickly become peanut butter and banana sandwiches, while carrot sticks are transformed into tasty carrot slaw.
Get kids excited about making meals by including them in planning and making their school lunches. Choose favorite fruits and veggies or experiment with new ones in the store, and encourage kids to help prepare meals with you in the kitchen.
Send kids back to school with the best possible supplies: healthy meals to get them through the day. Nutritious food is key to helping students succeed – food that is rich in the vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber that kids need help them focus in class, get active on the playground, and grow and develop into healthy young adults.
At Meatless Monday, we often talk about the research that demonstrates why eating less meat and more plants is a great choice for your health. Studies consistently show that diets low in meat and high in plant foods are associated with reduced rates of cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes and the scientific community is constantly providing new evidence to fuel the plant-powered revolution.
The latest evidence that supports the health value of reducing the amount of meat in your diet is a study from Harvard School of Public Health. The study, “Dietary Protein Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women” found that substituting 5% of the calories in your diet from plant protein (legumes, peanuts, peanut butter, other nuts and whole grains) for an equal amount of animal protein resulted in a 19-23% reduced risk of diabetes.
So why #PickPeanutProtein for your Meatless Monday meals? In the study, “whole grains and peanuts and peanut butter were the most commonly consumed major food sources of vegetable protein.” And we think we know why! Peanuts and peanut butter are a delicious, affordable and convenient way to pack protein into your day. Additionally, the researchers found that substituting a serving of peanuts or peanut butter for a serving of processed or red meat, once per day, reduced diabetes risk by 11-21%.
To celebrate this great news, Meatless Monday has partnered with The Peanut Institute, and NYC’s Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI) for an Instagram recipe contest this fall. Cook up a delicious and creative Meatless Monday meal featuring peanuts and you could win a new Vitamix blender from The Peanut Institute and a hands-on cooking class at NGI! Visit the Natural Gourmet Institute for more information.
When it comes to turning your grill green, you have a smorgasbord of issues to choose from. You’ve probably heard that gorging on meat filled with hormones and antibiotics is not good for your health. Or, that you can save a lot of carbon emissions by going meatless at least one day a week. Then there are the land sustainability and the water security issues. Throwing a barbecued fruit-and-veggie party is not only fun and inventive; it could change the course of a lot of people’s lives.
But what you may not realize is that greening your grill sacrifices no flavor at all. In fact, the sweet, smoky notes that barbecuing brings out in fruits and vegetables will speak for themselves—once you get the hang of green grilling.
Tips to Help Get You Started
Go firm, go fresh. When it comes to grilling, shop the freshest fruits and vegetables at your local farmer’s market. The firmer the vegetable, the less it will crumble when grilled.
Court the usual suspects. Traditional candidates for the grill are peppers, carrots, beets, turnips, zucchini, corn, green beans, asparagus, tomato (firm ones), onion, eggplant, garlic (whole cloves), potato, squash, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and turnips. For fruits, consider peaches, apples, pineapple, and figs.
But also try the unusual. Avocado, artichoke, romaine lettuce, portobello mushroom, and watermelon are just some of the new grillees that are becoming trendy.
Oil down first. Many vegetables need just a light brushing of olive oil before grilling. For extra kick, add spices and marinate overnight,
Arrange the perfect meatless match-up. Kabobs are a BBQ staple, but you can make them entirely with veggies: think tofu cubes mixed with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted potatoes or just about any other vegetable that strikes your fancy.
Support guilt-free burgers. Make your own veggie burgers packed with hearty ingredients like black beans, lentils, quinoa, or chickpeas. You can also find healthy pre-made patties at supermarkets and natural food stores.
Make a burger trade. Swap a meat pattie for a portobello mushroom or eggplant slices. Use your same bun and add your favorite toppings, like avocados, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, or an olive spread.
Smoke out your pizzas. Turn up the creativity and make delicious veggie pizzas right on the grill. All you need is pizza dough, sauce, and your favorite vegetables thinly sliced or pre-grilled. For dessert, consider a fruit pizza with grilled peaches drizzled with vanilla icing.
Cross party lines. Dressing your grilled veggies in taco form will garner you a lot of new fans. Be prepared to make extras.
Keep up the cubes. Tofu can be bland so enlist your favorite marinade recipe to add flavor. Grill the cubes up and add them to a salad, serve them with veggies, or enjoy them as appetizer served with a dip.
Give your salads a good grilling. Garnish grilled romaine lettuce with a bit of fruit, feta cheese, and extra virgin olive oil, or simply drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.
Enlist your favorite 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.
Grill-Worthy Recipes to Download and Share
If you’d like to tempt meat-loving friends to embrace more fresh, sustainable whole foods, try throwing a Meatless Monday potluck.
The Meatless Monday movement, now in partnership with Slow Food USA, is an easy, weekly reminder to take saturated fat off your plate and replace it with nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Throwing a veggie-centric potluck is often easier, less expensive, and more sustainable than a full-on meat feast, and some say, a whole lot tastier! It’s also a great opportunity to come together to spread the word about the movement in a fun and creative way. Not only will you discover new recipes, you just might be inspired to galvanize your entire community. Even famous chefs like Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich have instituted a Meatless Monday menu in their top-class restaurants.
Whether you’re planning your Meatless Monday potluck for your office, school, or home, here are a few tips for launching a successful gathering.
Get organized. Pick a date, time, and location. Email your participants and ask everyone to sign up for a main dish, salad, side dish, dessert, or beverage. Encourage some attendees to choose dishes that can be served cold; others warm, depending on the season
Get fridge savvy. Because prepared dishes shouldn’t go without refrigeration for more than four hours, make sure you clear enough space in the fridge to hold all your goodies. If possible, post a sign stating the fridge will be cleared on Friday afternoon to make room for Monday’s meal. No one should lose their best snacks on account of Meatless Monday.
Carry your food like a pro. Many cooks first reach for plastic or aluminum dishes to transport food, but glass and ceramic are best for reheating in the microwave. Encourage participants to use them. And don’t forget serving spoons, utensils, napkins, and cups.
Label the goodies. Have attendees label their dishes with sticky notes and list potential allergens—like nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, and soy. Encourage contributors to include their name on the label so that others can contact them for the recipe.
Share the reasons why. Schedule a moment during the feast to discuss how participating in Meatless Monday is a great way to positively impact your health and the health of the planet. Check out Slow Food’s Meatless Monday Toolkit to learn talking points and discover how you can personally inspire restaurants, schools, hospitals, and other organizations to get on board.
Oprah Winfrey, media tycoon extraordinaire and longtime Meatless Monday supporter, recently reaffirmed her support of the movement.
Oprah interviewed Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society (a Meatless Monday partner organization) and author of the new book, Humane Economy, on her OWN network show SuperSoul Sunday. During the interview, Pacelle offered up participating in Meatless Monday as an easy action step anyone can adopt to move towards a more plant-based diet. Oprah then took to Twitter to share her support of Meatless Monday with her more than 33 million followers.
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) August 21, 2016
Oprah first showed support for the Meatless Monday movement in 2009, when she and journalist Michael Pollan discussed how eating less meat is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. “I’m not talking about going vegetarian,” Pollan said on The Oprah Winfrey Show. “But even one meatless day a week – a Meatless Monday, which is what we do in our household – if everybody in America did that, that would be the equivalent of taking 20 million midsize sedans off the road.”
Then in 2011, Oprah again interviewed Pollan and another Meatless Monday friend and supporter, author Kathy Freston, on her show. After challenging her staff to go vegan for a week, Oprah decided that a simple way to inspire the Harpo team to stay in the habit of eating more plant-based meals would be to implement Meatless Monday in the Harpo cafeteria. “Meatless Monday! Meatless Monday!” Oprah shouted as she shared the decision with her staff and viewers.
We’re honored to count Oprah among our supporters and we look forward to keeping up with her as she continues to share her enthusiasm for the movement with her millions of fans. Stay tuned!
Greens, stems, and stalks often get forgotten, but they have immense nutrition and flavor to offer. With a few exceptions (like rhubarb, whose stems are edible but leaves are toxic), most edible plants can be cooked and eaten from root to stem. The next time you prep veggies for your meatless meal, make sure to keep the greens!
|Kale and Chard Stalks
The first step in prepping most kale and chard recipes is to remove the coarse, thick stems. These stems can be sautéed as a side dish or pickled with a brine of spices and vinegar. Cut your stems lengthwise for spear-style pickles or break them down in a food processor to ferment them kimchi-style.
Like most tasty root vegetables, radishes have flavorful leafy greens. These greens can be eaten fresh in a salad or sandwich, and are hearty enough to steam or sauté. The flavorful leaves can also be blended into soups or combined with oil, nuts, hard cheese and garlic for a simple, flavorful pesto!
While the stems of edible mushrooms aren’t greens per-say, they can be delicious! Most recipes call for the caps of Crimini or Portobello mushrooms, but the stems can be diced and added to stir-fry, stuffing, omlettes, or duxelles. Tougher Shitake stems can add a lot of flavor to vegetable broths.
Beet greens can taste a little bitter when eaten fresh, a quality that makes them ideal for blanching, wilting, and steaming. Light cooking helps break down the toughness and offset their bitterness. Dress wilted greens with a dash of vinaigrette, slivered nuts, or shaved hard cheese for texture and taste.
Broccoli stalks are firm and thick with a mild flavor, making them perfect ingredients to add body to your favorite recipes. Peel the woody skin away and the remaining stalk can be grated for a fresh and zesty broccoli slaw, sliced into veggie sticks, or copped up and added to stir-fry blends.
Carrot tops can be slightly bitter and add depth of flavor to dips and spreads. These greens shine when mixed with other fresh ingredients in hummus, pesto, and tabbouleh recipes. Finely mince your carrot greens (or run them through a food processor), add them your favorite dip recipe, and enjoy!
Working with an unusual vegetable greens, stems or stalks? Try these tips:
- Put your clean greens, stems, roots, or peels into a freezer bag. When you have several cups of scraps saved up, add them to a pot of boiling water to build a delicious vegetable stock.
- Scraps blend well into juices and smoothies. Want to keep that smoothie sweet? Add extra fruit. Adding bitter veggie scraps? Balance it with a little dairy.
- Sturdy vegetable peelings can be deep fried and sprinkled with salt for satisfying chips.
- When in doubt, toss your unusual food with olive oil and roast until fork-tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!
Try a New Twist on Eggplant this Meatless Monday
Fresh vegetables make for delicious meatless meals, especially now that eggplant is in season. If you’ve never had eggplant before, now is the time to try it – and if you have had it before, now is the time to try it in one of these exciting recipes!
Hearty and versatile, eggplant compliments a huge variety of spices and blends perfectly into a number of classic, multi-cultural recipes. We’ve collected eggplant recipes from Meatless Monday bloggers to help get you started exploring all the culinary possibilities this meatless staple has to offer. Get them now while they’re in season to enjoy their sun-ripened flavor at the peak of freshness!
Hungry for some more excellent eggplant recipes?
Download the Meatless Monday Eggplant e-cookbook from our friends at Dominex Natural Foods!
Make tasty meatless meals with summer produce all year long!
Summer is a wonderful time to sample new fruits and vegetables – but how can you enjoy those flavors all year long? Preserve your summer favorites quickly and easily by freezing them! Use one of these three methods to freeze your particular produce for the colder months.
Individual Quick Freeze
Begin by washing and drying small, fleshy fruits like fresh berries or tomatoes. Place each fruit on a baking sheet and lay flat in a freezer. Make sure each item of produce has space and isn’t touching its neighbors – if they are touching when they freeze, you’ll have to use them all at once. Allow the produce to freeze thoroughly over 2-4 hours. Once frozen, move your fruits to an airtight container or freezer storage bag. For more on freezing and using berries, click here.
Blanch and Freeze
Some fruits and vegetables like squash and zucchini should be quickly blanched before freezing. To blanch, bring a large pot of water to a boil and have a bowl of ice water standing by. Clean and chop your veggies, boil them for about one minute, then quickly remove and place straight into the ice water. Pat dry, freeze, and store. You can also blanch cooking greens in the microwave, and peaches can be blanched whole – just slit the skin of the fruit before boiling. For more about how blanching helps preserve your food, click here.
Freeze in Liquid
Fresh summer herbs can be easily preserved by freezing them in liquid. Clean your herbs and chop or dice them to a small, manageable size. Pour a teaspoon of each herb into the molds of an ice cube tray, and then add a cooking oil like olive or canola oil. Make sure the herbs are saturated with liquid, then allow them to freeze solid. Pack away your produce and keep frozen for later use. For more on preserving herbs, click here.
There are a few foods that shouldn’t go in the freezer, but many fruits and veggies can be preserved with minimal preparations and supplies. Thawed produce works wonderfully in a variety of recipes from soups and sauces to baked goods. For more information on what to freeze click here, and find out more about cooking with frozen foods here. Frozen foods can last several months in the freezer, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the flavors of summer in your meatless meals all fall and winter long!