We’re always on the lookout for new twists on meatless eating, so we couldn’t possibly resist registered dietitian Alexandra Caspero Lenz‘s new cookbook “Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation.” After all, it’s a book about pasta! We asked Lenz what’s new about the recipes her book provides.
Tell us a little about your background. What makes you so passionate about vegetarian and Italian food?
I grew up with an Italian father and Danish mother, so food was (and is) the center of everything. We were the family that was talking about lunch at breakfast. My mom adapted most of my Dad’s family meals for busy weeknights, and we enjoyed Italian food most days of the week. Of course, I didn’t realize it was a different cuisine, it was just the food I grew up with. I went vegetarian in high school on a whim, then picked it up again in college after reading “Diet for a Small Planet” in an ethics class. My vegetarian beliefs have evolved over the past decade, while I was at first interested in the nutrition aspect, now I’m much more passionate about the animal rights and environmental impacts. My goal is to show that plant-based Italian food is satisfying, wholesome and mouth-watering.
The title of your book is “Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation.” What’s different about these recipes that will appeal to this new generation?
To me, the new generation is interested in plant-based eating, even if they don’t consider themselves “vegetarian” or “vegan”. This book aims to show that the Mediterranean way of eating naturally incorporates a lot of plants, without feeling forced or different. The new generation is looking for healthy, quick meals that don’t require hours in the kitchen.
Italian food lends itself very well to being meatless but it also has a reputation for being indulgent. How did you reconcile these two concepts to deliver healthy meatless meals?
Exactly, that’s what I wanted to dispel. Traditional Italian cuisine, while not vegetarian, is heavy on plants. Lots of antipasti, cortoni (side dishes) and pasta with in-season produce. That’s how I grew up eating; we never had alfredo sauce and rarely enjoyed heavy dishes. It was mostly spaghetti with a variety of vegetables. Most of the recipes in this book follow my nutrient-density approach to food. Yes, I ate pasta daily, but it was rarely in excess. Instead of cups and cups of pasta, we were served a smaller portion, rounded out with vegetables and legumes.
What are your favorite recipes to recommend to someone who’s new to eating meals without meat?
I love meals that are naturally vegetarian, that don’t feel forced or trying to replicate a familiar meat dish. I don’t rely much on mock-meats, but instead like to get my protein from beans, lentils, tempeh and tofu. My caramelized onion fettuccini is really rich and satisfying, thanks to cooking onions on low until they almost fall apart.
With the holidays coming up, what recipes do you recommend that provide something special without relying on meat?
I like presenting recipes in a unique and show-stopping way, much like we approach main meat dishes. For the holidays, this usually looks like a vegetable wellington, stuffed squash or my wild mushroom lasagna in the book. Each is a special meal and looks gorgeous on the holiday table!
Looking for a unique holiday gift? Check out Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation and inspire a friend or family member to go meatless without giving up their favorite Italian food.
Meatless Monday is collaborating with HelloFresh, a service that delivers farm-to-table ingredients for a complete meal, including the recipe, right to your door. HelloFresh offers an abundance of fresh seasonal produce, hearty grains and vegetarian friendly proteins, so it’s easy to make delicious Meatless Monday meals each week.
Now it’s no secret that many of us will be indulging in a traditional turkey meal with all the fixings this Thanksgiving. So to help you get back on track the Monday afterwards, we’re visiting the HelloFresh kitchen for a live cook-along! Follow as Meatless Monday’s dietitian Diana Rice joins HelloFresh’s dietitian Rebecca Lewis to prepare a light and bright Tri-Color Quinoa Salad with apples, eggplant and honey vinaigrette – perfect for Meatless Monday!
Make sure to order a HelloFresh box with the Tri-Color Quinoa Salad ahead of time so you can cook with us at home. Use the promo code “MEATLESSMONDAY” to save $35 on your first order. The deadline to order this meal is Wednesday, Nov. 23rd.
Then get in on all the LIVE action by following on HelloFresh’s Facebook this Monday, Nov. 28th at 7 pm EST. We look forward to dining with you… virtually!
Give Thanks with these Seasonal Side Dishes
There is so much more to a Thanksgiving meal than just the turkey. Thanksgiving is a time for families to gather, catch up and, of course, share the foods they love. We’ve hand-picked the best meatless sides for your Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy of our Official Meatless Monday bloggers.
Bring some of these flavorful side dishes to your family’s table and share the delicious benefits of plant-based foods!
Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Apples with Balsamic Glaze | Bean a Foodie
Savor the Flavors of These Slow Cooker Recipes
Frustrated with the time it takes you to prepare meals? Simmer down, because slow cookers will have you rethink the way you’ve been cooking all this time. Many of the recipes featured in this list are hearty stews and chilis, perfect for curling up on a cold fall day. All of these recipes are prepared just using a slow cooker, courtesy of our Official Meatless Monday Bloggers.
We’ve got you covered with 9 slow cooker recipes that are sure to satisfy!
Recently, Meatless Monday President Peggy Neu was a guest presenter at a Matthew Kenney Culinary Food Future educational course held in Manhattan. The class concluded with 18 student chefs participating in a Meatless Monday Quick-Fire Challenge, where they had to reinterpret traditional dishes by turning them into plant-based raw recipes.
All of the entries submitted were raw-tastic. We invite you to try your hand at the winning recipes here:
1st Place Winner
By Alexandra Jones from Australia
This innovative ravioli uses round turnip shapes to envelop a burnt butter, sage, and nut filling.
2nd Place Winner
By Heidi Briggs from Australia
This enchilada recipe offers an abundance of vegetables: from the marinated vegetable filling to the Chinese cabbage wrap! The vegetables in this dish provide fiber and vitamin C, among other nutrients.
3rd Place Winner
Raw Tomato Soup and Green Garden Salad with Avocado Dressing
By Fiona Galloway from Australia
Soup paired with salad is a lunch staple. This raw tomato soup and green garden salad recipe offers refreshing citrus and cilantro flavors that are sure to please.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on these new raw food recipes as well as some of your own favorites. Let us know on Facebook.
The Gotham Burger Social Club loves its meat. And its bacon. Its members are world famous for visiting countless restaurants everywhere in search of the very best hamburgers.
The club was formed in the fall of 2013 by fifteen long-time friends. They began posting their reviews online accompanied by savory photos and mouthwatering commentary. Before long, Gotham Burger Social Club grew into a cultural phenomenon worldwide, enlisting over 133,000 loyal Instagram followers and receiving an abundance of press coverage.
That’s when Meatless Monday threw down the gauntlet. We challenged them to go meatless on Monday’s for the entire month of November. Then the unexpected happened…they agreed.
Follow us throughout November as the men from Gotham Burger Social Club swap their usual beef laden buns for veggie burgers each Monday. On Nov. 28th, they will announce the favorite from the ones they’ve tasted.
“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Meatless Monday,” said Mike Puma, founder of the Gotham Burger Social Club. “If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that there are all kinds of ways to make an incredible tasting burger – and that includes ones without meat. We can’t wait to share our picks for the best veggie burger in New York City.”
Stay tuned throughout November for special stories on the featured veggie burgers as well as interviews with the chefs and behind-the-scene looks at some of the restaurants. We’d love to hear your suggestions. Let us know on Facebook.
The wild things come out at night – pumpkins, bananas, peas, carrots and more. To celebrate Halloween we rounded up some of our favorite plant-based costumes for kids, adults, and pets. The tastiest creatures to haunt your Meatless Monday plate. Start “goblin” them up.
1. Little Pumpkin
Fresh from the pumpkin patch. And good for a sweetie pie.
2. Mr. Pea Pod
Peas to meet you. A snapping fresh look.
Source: Karnival Costumes
3. Baby Carrot
What’s up doc? Baby carrot to go with the peas.
Source: Make It & Love It
Banana-Rama Ding Dong. And so a-peel-ing.
5. Ripe Avocado
Holy Moly Guacamole. Avocado with a seed.
Source: Craft Morning
6. Aw-Shucks Corn
He’s all ears. (And grins!) The corniest costume we’ve seen.
Source: Coolest Handmade Costumes
7. Veggie-Doggie Burger
Dog-Gone! A Veggie Burger Deluxe. Now that’s a bow-WOW!
Source: Instagram, tateandkatedesigns
Happy Halloween to you and your family from Meatless Monday. Brighten up the day for your friends and forward this post. And please show us your fruit and veggie costumes on Facebook.
It’s Game Time! Round up your squad for some hearty, healthy eating while watching the Monday night game.
Three Big Plays that Are Unbeatable
Who needs gristly wings when you can have Buffalo Cauliflower Bites! These tangy, tasty treats are a definite first round pick.
Special thanks to Maria at Bean A Foodie for this crowd-pleasing recipe.
This zesty Mediterranean style dish boasts an all-star lineup. Crunchy tortillas, hummus, green and black olives and crumbled Feta cheese. A salty, sour powerhouse that’s packed with protein.
Special thanks to Rini at the Healing Tomato for this game changer recipe.
This Pro Bowl Chili will knock your socks off. Rich and savory with lip-smacking seasonings that go the distance. Plus, an ingredient surprise play – Peanut Butter! Extra flavor and extra protein. Add this standout chili recipe to your starting lineup.
Special thanks to Patricia at Mrs. Kitchenstein for this winning recipe. It was awarded first place in Meatless Monday’s Instagram recipe contest with The Natural Gourmet Institute and The Peanut Institute.
What’s Meatless Monday Night Football like at your place? Join our huddle on Facebook.
Last month, we partnered with The Natural Gourmet Institute and The Peanut Institute for a #pickpeanutprotein Instagram recipe contest featuring one of our favorite plant proteins, peanuts! The submissions were mouthwatering and it was tough to narrow the entries down to just three finalists, but we’re pretty happy with the results. Try them out and see what peanuts can do for your next Meatless Monday meal!
Imagine this: You come home after a long hard day to find a delicious box of preservative-free, non-GMO, already assembled plant-based meals waiting on your doorstep. No mess, no cleanup, all you have to do is reheat and eat. That’s the vision of Mark Fachler and Monica Klausner, a brother-sister duo who created Veestro, a bistro-style plant-based meal delivery service that’s been amazing customers in the U.S. since 2013. In fact, business has been so good, it’s grown 300% each year, enabling the pair to secure $1.5 million in financing for immediate expansion.
Available online, Veestro’s hand-crafted, locally sourced dishes include such culinary inventions as Tuscan Calzone with vegan mozzarella, Thai Chick’n Stew with seitan and Chocolate Covered Cheezcake with organic tofu. Propelled by such reviews as “truly outstanding,” “incredibly delicious” and “cooked to perfection,” Veestro has just been chosen as a finalist in the VegNews magazine’s annual Veggie Awards for “Favorite Vegan Meal Delivery Service.”
Recently we sat down with Mark and Monica to find out why Veestro is so appealing to folks looking for a convenient, yet healthy way to eat less meat.
How did you and your brother come together in this business and what gap did you notice in the food industry that inspired you to create Veestro?
Veestro was Mark’s idea and it was one of those moments when you just say: ‘Why can’t there be X in the market? The idea for Veestro was born out of a personal need. Mark used to work as an investment banker. So, as you can imagine, he worked very long hours and rarely had time to cook. He was always a healthy guy and after several trips down the frozen food aisle and way too many frozen pizzas, he decided to do something about it. We researched the market and realized there was a real need for a convenient way to have delicious and healthy meals that were plant based. We also realized that people are generally intimidated by the thought of eating more plants because they think the food will be bland, hard to make or even boring! So we set out to create delicious meals that are 100% plant based and delivered straight to your door anywhere within the U.S.
We read that you grew up “appreciating the value of a home-cooked meal.” Were you vegetarian/vegan as children or did you go through personal transformations as adults?
We grew up in Costa Rica and all our meals were made from scratch with mainly vegetables and fruits, so eating veggies has always been a big part of our lives. We eat plenty of veggies because we love them – not because we ‘have to.’ So eating a plant-based diet was not a difficult transition for us. Mark and I believe in balance and that means different things to different people. Our mission is to help everyone eat more plants so they can have better health and, therefore, more balance in their lives.
How do you source your food to be organic and GMO-free?
When we started the business, we sourced all our ingredients from local organic farms that we were able to visit. As the business grew, we found a more efficient way to source large quantities for organic and GMO-free ingredients.
How did you develop your special menus and what inspired you to include weight loss and cleansing plans?
We have an amazingly talented chef that creates all our recipes. Once we decide which recipes will make it into the menu, we then look at the nutritional makeup of the meals and ‘tweak’ them accordingly. Food has to be delicious – that’s most important – so we always start with the flavor profile. The weight loss program and juice cleanses were developed in collaboration with plant-based nutritionists.
Since launching Veestro, you’ve experienced such great growth. What do you attribute your success to?
Our mission at Veestro is to provide delicious plant-based food and outstanding customer service. Because that has been our focus, word of mouth is the biggest reason we have experienced great growth. Our customers have been very diligent at providing honest reviews and they’ve generously shared the Veestro love.
What do you see as the benefits of Meatless Monday?
Meatless Monday is a great way for people to ‘dip their toes’ into a different way of eating. For many people, going vegan seems like an enormously intimidating venture, but starting slowly by ‘ditching’ the meat one day per week is a very easy way to try something new without a big commitment. I love the idea behind Meatless Monday because it reinforces the importance of balance. And, it makes the prospect of a healthier lifestyle feel attainable. ‘One day at a time’ is what I say.
Do you personally have any favorite dishes among your offerings?
Definitely! Although I have to say that I’m hard-pressed to pick only one! Right now I’m totally craving the Tuscan Calzone, Spinach Pie and our newest meal, the Black Bean Pasta Alfredo. However, if you asked me the same question last week, I would have chosen the Red Curry, Golden Chickpea Stew and Three Layer Scramble. I think I have about 12 meals I like to eat very often, but then I’ll crave something I haven’t had in a while and fall in love with that dish all over again. I can tell you this: there isn’t a single meal on our menu that I don’t like… the ones we don’t like never make it on the menu!