Sweep that meat off your grill! This summer, farmer’s markets are bursting with fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables that are perfect for grilling at your Memorial Day blast. But don’t reach for the normal culprits. This holiday sear up some off-road options like charred romaine or grilled kale; they’ll make excellent salad starters. All you’ll need is a simple oil-based dressing. Or, try grilling up some fresh cucumbers; they’ll remain just as crunchy as they are fresh, but perhaps a bit denser. Or, try charred avocados—a delicious standout either alone or with fillings. Sure, you can always grill up old fruit standards like peaches, but why not go nouveau with our recipe for grilled grapes? And for a real Summer crowd-pleaser, char up our delicious watermelon salsa!
Avocado. Sear some tracks in this baby! Start with large ripe Haas avocados, cut in half and remove seeds. With a spoon drizzle with fresh lime or lemon juice and brush lightly with olive oil. Gently place cut side down on grill over hot coals and grill 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Fill with chopped veggies or salsa (see our “Watermelon Salsa” below).
Artichoke. A smoky alternative to steamed. Steam and cook artichoke the day before, until fully tender, but not overly soft. (Cool on rack or prepare the day before and cool in fridge, covered.) When ready, prepare grill for direct, high heat. Brush artichoke with herb-infused oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place halves cut side down on the grates. Cover and grill for 5-10 minutes, until char mark appear on cut side.
Romaine lettuce. Versatile for salads or as sandwich filler. Wash and cut romaine halves. Start with medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat on gas grill to medium-high. Place halves cut side down on grill, and cook about 4 minutes, turning once, until charred and slightly wilted. Transfer lettuce cut side up to a serving platter, and season with salt and pepper; drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.
Red, orange, and/or yellow peppers. Make a tri-color array. Prepare outdoor grill for covered direct grilling on medium. Cut each pepper lengthwise into quarters; discard stems and seeds. In medium bowl, toss peppers with oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Place peppers, skin side up, on hot grill rack. Cover grill and cook peppers 4-5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Turn peppers over; cover and cook 3-4 minutes longer or until slightly charred. When done, return to same bowl. Add parsley and toss to coat. Add to salads, or eat as a side dish tossed with onions and chickpeas.
Cucumbers. Still crispy, but with a dense bite. Slice English (seedless) cucumbers lengthwise in half, scoop out centers, then cut into spears. Place on a plate and sprinkle with salt; let stand for 10 minutes. Rinse, drain, and pat dry, then toss with a bit of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Grill the spears, alongside a green onion or two, over medium heat about 2 minutes per side. Toss with rice vinegar, sliced green onions, thinly sliced red or green jalapeño, and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Top with sesame seeds.
Grilled Kale. Crisp, smoky, and addictively delicious. Remove stems, leaving large leaves. In a large bowl, toss leaves with 2 Tbs. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Using tongs, place leaves on grill, cover, and cook until bottom sides are lightly charred, about 2 minutes. Flip leaves, cover grill, and cook until other side is lightly charred, about 1 minute longer. Remove kale from grill and set aside to cool. Add feta cheese crumbles or pine nuts, if desired
Portobello Mushrooms. Plush and filling—a delicious alternative to meat. Wash, remove the stems, then brush with 1 tsp. oil. Grill 15 minutes per side. Eat alone or use as sandwich filler.
Grapes. Healthy alternative to traditional sides. Prepare outdoor grills for covered, direct grilling on medium. Wash, then place grapes, broken into clusters (for ease of handling) on hot grill grate. Cover grill and cook 4-5 minutes until grapes begin to char and soften, turning occasionally.
Watermelon. Bring out the hidden caramel flavor. For Watermelon Salsa, brush wedges (keep rind on for easier handling) with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat, about 2 minutes per side, until grill marks appear. Cut off and discard rinds, then dice into small pieces. Toss gently with minced red onion, some fresh lime juice, finely chopped mint, and a pinch of cayenne. Serve, topped with crumbled feta cheese, if desired, with pita chips.
The 2016 Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) and Meatless Monday Recipe Contest just announced the winners of their annual contest for teenage chefs. This year the challenge was: “get the beef off their buns” and create the best veggie burger on the block.
High school students from seven C-CAP markets participated, and some of the best chefs in America judged, including Rick Bayless, Chris Feldmeier, Scott Uehlein, and Jason Weiner, along with Meatless Monday’s recipe editor Diana Rice, RD.
C-CAP, the nonprofit organization that runs the annual contest, kicked off the campaign last fall by introducing teen chefs from around the country to the Meatless Monday public health campaign, which encourages everyone to start each week with a healthy, meatless meal.
Winners beat out thousands of their high school peers from across the country with recipes you could place in any good restaurant. According to the judges, this year’s impressive ingredients ranged from unexpected fillings of kale, spinach, falafel, sun-dried tomatoes, tofu, and beets to a rich array of exotic spices.
This year’s Grand Prize Winner of the C-CAP Meatless Monday $5,000 scholarship is Eubene Kim, a 12th grader from Chatsworth Charter High School, Los Angeles, for his “Taste of Korea” kimchi tofu burger.
And new this year, C-CAP and Meatless Monday awarded $2,000 scholarships to six recipe contest finalists from each of the C-CAP markets. This way, all seven C-CAP markets have a winner!
One of those scholarship winners, Tyler Ramos, currently a senior at Tottenville High School in Staten Island, NY, worked with her teacher Chef David Schwartz to come up with an Italian-style burger infused with rosemary, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. She also incorporated red potatoes and white kidney beans for protein. Try her veggie burger recipe just in time for grilling season!
Says Chef Rick Bayless, one of the Chicago judges: “Even having a contest like this shows the giant leaps forward we’re making when it comes to good food. I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to see young people taking up the mantle of healthy eating. The experience of judging filled me with all kinds of hope.”
The $2,000 scholarship winners are:
Juliet Auld, Mountain View High School, Tucson. “Falafel, Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Veggie Burger with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce”
Aliyah Taylor, South Shore International College Prep. “Smoked Chipotle Rice Burger”
HAMPTON ROADS, VA
Reece Conwell, Woodrow Wilson High School. “Spicy TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) on a Toasted Onion Bun”
NEW YORK CITY
Tyler Ramos, Tottenville High School, Staten Island. “Sundried Tomato Patty”
Nyshiera Jones, Randolph Career and Technical High School. “Beet Burger with Asian Slaw”
WASHINGTON, DC/PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, MARYLAND
Jasmine Blackwell, Cross Lane High School, MD. “Kale Burger”
We here at Meatless Monday love chickpeas. And what’s not to love? A great source of protein and high in fiber, magnesium and folate, these naturally gluten-free legumes are loved across the globe for their nut-like taste and buttery texture. In its newest rendition, the versatile chickpea is used to make pasta, and we sat down with the founders of Banza to see how they came up with “pasta that loves you back”.
MM: What was your initial inspiration to eat more nutritiously? Health, sustainability? Did you grow up with healthy cooking/eating as a family or did you become interested in it later on?
Brian: Growing up, I was a picky eater – I didn’t venture far away from chicken nuggets and bagels. After college I started paying closer attention to the way I ate, and noticed a real difference in how I felt. I began to focus my attention on food and nutrition. Now I’m the guy who stays up late reading food science books and thinking about our next innovation.
MM: How did you get the idea to use chickpeas as your starter food? Why pasta?
Brian: I’m a huge fan of chickpeas. They’re delicious and a staple of the mediterranean diet. Meanwhile, I love pasta. If I could, I would eat it every day. But durum wheat doesn’t have a ton of nutritional value. So I bought a hand crank and started making chickpea pasta in my own kitchen! I figured I wasn’t alone – other people also must be craving a better pasta. So I recruited my big brother Scott, who was working in private equity at the time, to co-found the business with me. And we’ve been chickpea dreamin’ ever since!
MM: Tell us about some of your creative failures creating the pasta and your final ah-hah moment?
Scott: Early on, we realized why chickpea pasta didn’t already exist. It’s really hard to make! We worked with pasta experts, and still weren’t satisfied. We finally found the right plant, invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into production, and landed our first big order. But our initial attempt fell short of our expectations. We lost a fair amount of time and money, but the challenge motivated us to spend every waking hour researching, testing and perfecting. We’ll never stop obsessing over making our product better.
MM: What’s the feedback you hear from people about your product?
Scott: When we’re sampling our pasta in stores or at events, we get to meet our customers, which is incredibly rewarding. We love watching people take a bite, and be shocked to discover Banza is made from chickpeas. Since day one, we’ve made a commitment to building a brand that’s personal – one that people can meet and get to know.
MM: What’s your favorite chickpea pasta recipe of all the time and can you share the recipe with us?
That’s like making a parent choose a favorite child! Mac & cheese is a team favorite. We also love this avocado cream with herbs!
MM: Do you have plans for other products with chickpeas or other ingredients?
Brian: Right now we’re focusing on pasta – we’ll be launching a high protein mac & cheese soon! But yes, our mission is to take the foods that people love and make them better, by using more nutritious ingredients. I’m continually experimenting in my kitchen – making better versions of the foods we don’t want to give up – from cereal to tortillas. Stay tuned.
MM: What advice can you give our readers about how to live a healthier and more sustainable life – besides eating Banza chickpea pastas?!
Everyone’s different, but everything in moderation. You don’t need to give up all the foods you love to eat well. There are a lot of options out there that are healthy, simple substitutions for everyday foods, and healthy is much more sustainable over time if it’s done without sacrifice.
For a city once enamored with hot sausage sandwiches, pierogis, and 25-cent wings specials, Pittsburgh has just made a huge leap. Understanding the impact that reducing meat consumption has on sustainability, the environment, and public health, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has recently signed an official proclamation recognizing every Monday in 2016 as Meatless Monday! This comes on the heels of a Meatless Monday proclamation in November of 2015.
Pittsburgh now joins millions around the globe in the Meatless Monday initiative founded by Sid Lerner and Johns Hopkins University to promote cutting out meat one day a week. As part of the city’s Live Well Pittsburgh program, the proclamation has given added boost not only for locals to think more about wellness but also for chefs to get more creative.
Although Meatless Monday first kicked off in 2003, most Pittsburghers hadn’t been aware of it. To change that, a small group of dedicated citizens, including Leila Sleiman of Justice for Animals, Natalie Ahwesh of Humane Action Pittsburgh, and Christin Bummer of Beans not Bambi, gathered together to inspire more veg options in mainstream restaurants as well as at cafeterias in schools, universities, and hospitals throughout the Steel City. Already on board is an impressive group of partners, including Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh and Live Well Allegheny (a county-wide initiative to educate residents about making healthier lifestyle choices). The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Passavant, continually recognized as one of “America’s Best Hospitals,” now features Meatless Monday options and other affiliates are expected to follow.
In September, 2016, schools in Mt. Lebanon are also planning to launch Meatless Monday.
Though Pittsburgh had generally been a meat-and-pierogi kind of town, thousands of Pittsburghers did show up for the city’s first annual Pittsburgh VegFest in August, and more are expected this summer for 2016! “Pittsburgh is a progressive city, says Sleiman. So many people are ready to make changes, and want to be healthier and more environmentally friendly- they just didn’t know where to start.”
Some Pittsburgh restaurants have already welcomed the proclamation with inventive expertise. Mexi-Casa, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Dormont, long devoted to fresh and healthy ingredients, has initiated a new Meatless Monday menu loaded with vegetarian and vegan options. Café Phipps, located at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and recognized by Food & Wine magazine as one of the “Best Museum Restaurants,” has added Meatless Monday options to its already local, organic, and sustainable menu, featuring vegetables and herbs from its own rooftop garden.
The Meatless Monday Pittsburgh Facebook page regularly showcases other local restaurants bursting with Meatless Monday creativity. Some of the best, offered at the Chateau Cafe & Cakery, include: the “Berry Manilow,” a triple berry compote with toasted almonds and Brie cheese options on sweet onion bread, and the “Brussel Crowe,” a panini packed with shaved Brussel sprouts and caramelized onions. Who said Pittsburghers can’t combine healthy and humor?
“We want to make it as easy as possible for our fellow citizens to live compassionate, healthful lives,” Ahwesh says. “It just seemed like the right time to introduce it citywide. We are so happy the Mayor was supportive.”
Smell the strawberries and taste the sugar snap peas!
Spring is prime time to visit your local farmer’s market. Not only will you support your local growers by buying from them, you’ll also have access to the freshest and ripest produce available in your region. As well, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to develop a relationship with your farmers and ask questions like: How did you grow this? Is it organic? How do you cook it best? When all is said and purchased, there’s nothing like cooking a delicious meal with fresh fruits and vegetables grown by people you know. Plus, shopping locally cuts down on the long-distance transportation of conventional agriculture, which often leaves toxic by-products in the environment.
How to find a market near you to visit? Check out the Eat Well Guide where they’ve hand-picked markets, farms and other sources of local sustainable food. Or, plan a destination trip to visit some of the great farmer’s markets in the U.S., like Union Square’s Greenmarket in New York, or Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market in San Francisco, or Sweet Auburn Market in Atlanta. If you don’t want to fill your suitcase with greens, you can definitely take home regional goodies like homemade honey or preserves. And for sure, there will be lots of samples to nosh on – from homemade breads to artisanal cheeses.
Take a Farmer’s Market Tour with Chef Bryce Shuman
While farmer’s markets are great for getting the best in-season produce, it’s important to know what’s in season in your region. In general, lettuces, greens, turnip, kale and some root vegetables like onions and fennel are signatures of Spring. You’re also likely to feast your eyes on strawberries, okra, rhubarb and asparagus. Check out this guide for what is ripest in your region.
And for your next Meatless Monday lunch or dinner, try our Chilled Asparagus Pea Soup – a perfect nod to Springtime at your local farmer’s market!
So, you’ve changed your diet from what you grew up with. Less meat, more veggies. But going home for the holidays, like Mother’s Day, can be a real stress-out when it comes to dining with your meat-and-potatoes family. Maybe your mom is still making those meat-heavy dishes you used to love as a child every night of the week. How do you talk to her about your changing food habits and maybe even influence her to make some changes? Mother’s Day might just be your big chance!
Feed her. Nothing says it better than trying a delicious new meatless dish. Your mom, especially on Mother’s Day, will appreciate more than ever not having to cook. Our recipe archive is full of easy but delicious Mom Brunch in Bed options you could make, like Louisiana Citrus Crepes and a Banana Date Smoothie.
Inform her. When your mom asks you what you’ve been doing, say, “Thinking about my health.” You’ve discovered that going meatless once a week is a small step you can take to reduce your risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. One day a week – no meat. Simple, Mom. You could do it, too! I’d love for you to live a long time!
Commune with her. Plan an outing to a park together and casually comment that every hour, rainforest the size of 4,000 football fields is being destroyed. Meat production is a big part of that and it’s guzzling trillions of tons of water. For every burger skipped, she could save enough H2O to shower with for the next 2.5 months!
What not to do? Don’t push, don’t argue, don’t insist. Meatless Monday is something you discover – like love – and then happily follow. A Mother’s Day gift she’ll really enjoy? Print out some of our free, cute recipe cards, tie them up with a bow, and leave them on her bedside table. Of course, add a love note from you.
Interview by Diana K. Rice
Registered Dietitian, The Monday Campaigns
Author, TV star and all-around weeknight meal whiz Sara Moulton‘s newest book is Home Cooking 101 (Oxmoor House). Since many of the themes and recipes in the book tie in with the Meatless Monday and Kids Cook Monday campaigns, she and I recently chatted about family dinners and meatless eating.
Your new book looks extremely useful to the home cook! I love how it presents like a textbook, albeit a textbook with fabulous food photos and enticing recipes. Can you tell me more about your goals with this book?
It’s supposed to be a teaching manual for home cooks. Read the first chapter, that’s the the most important thing, and then cook your way through it. And as you cook, there’s lots of little information along the way. The first chapter sets the tone – it’s not like, “here’s how you use a knife, here’s how you make a stock” – it’s more like, “here are the 10 things you need to know” and then as you cook your way through, you can learn a lot.
You say in your introduction that despite your busy schedule over the years, you were still mom at the end of the day and you needed to get a meal on the table instead of relying on fast food. For you, why is this so important?
Both my husband and I grew up in families that had regular family dinners and we both see it as really important. The thing about family dinners, besides eating better, is that it’s about coming together at the end of the day to reconnect. Especially these days with both parents working, you’re all in different directions and I think it’s really key to come together, check in with each other and give everybody a turn to talk. Half of it is the talking and reconnecting.
Also in your introduction you write, “cooking and dining together with your loved ones is a recipe for good life.” This is, in a nutshell, what the Kids Cook Monday campaign is all about! Why is cooking together important to you?
That is such a good one. The thing is, when the kids are little there’s not a ton they can do in the kitchen, but it’s not a bad idea to have them hang out while you cook. I started cooking via baking with my grandmother and that was really fun. We made bread, pies and cookies. There’s something about it that’s just is very comforting and very wonderful.
Home Cooking 101 has a chapter on “quicker” meals. What are some of those recipes that families could make together on a weeknight?
The Quick Tomato, Goat Cheese and Fresh Herb Penne is a good one for the summer and it’s very quick, you just boil the pasta, dump it on the salted tomatoes and fresh herbs and goat cheese with some of the pasta cooking liquid and toss it up.
And the Greek Diner Souffléed Omelet is really fun because it’s a magic trick. You can put any filling in there and the kids can help you beat the egg whites.
You’ve been a supporter of our Meatless Monday campaign since the early days when Sid Lerner founded the movement. You dedicated an episode of your show Sara’s Weeknight Meals to Meatless Monday this season and you’ve also got a chapter on vegetarian and vegan meals in the new book. Why do you think that it’s important for home cooks to have some meatless dishes in their repertoires?
You know, my prior two books also had chapters on vegetarian meals! I think ultimately it’s better for us. It eliminates some of that saturated fat but also it’s so much better for the environment. We all eat way too much animal protein in this country. Europeans and Asians and everyone else doesn’t put meat in the center of the plate. So that’s why I think it’s really important to get more vegetables into your diet. Don’t just pile them up around the meat but lose the meat all together and focus on the vegetables!
You worked with a number of guest chefs in the book, including Dirt Candy‘s chef/owner Amanda Cohen, who was also the guest on the Meatless Monday episode of your show. What can you tell me about working with her?
It’s so exciting to eat at Dirt Candy. I went there with my husband and another couple, a carnivorous husband and vegetarian wife. We had a great meal and the guys did not make any jokes afterwards about, “let’s go out for dinner.” Her recipe in my book is lovely (Broccoli Carpaccio with Broccoli Stalk Salad). She’s leading an exciting new charge of things to do with vegetables and they’re not all that unusual – you don’t need to go buy tons of almonds and make almond milk for her dishes.
I can’t wait to try it! Thanks so much for chatting, I know you’ve inspired readers to whip up some meatless meals with their families this Monday.
Go Meatless Monday with Sara’s recipe for Vegetable Fritters with Green Chile-Coconut Chutney or make it a Kids Cook Monday with her Greek Diner Souffléed Omelet!
In celebration of Earth Month, each Monday in April we’re highlighting an environmental benefit of cutting out meat, one day a week. This week focuses on our rainforests.
Can going meatless once a week change the course of our rainforests?
Let’s look at what, why, and how. Today, the raising of livestock uses 30 percent of the earth’s total land surface. And every hour, rainforest the size of 4,000 football fields is being destroyed, most of it for beef production. Plus, the raising of cattle further damages the soil – about 20 percent of pastures (and even higher for dry lands) are degraded through overgrazing and erosion.
We simply can’t afford to lose our rainforests. They produce our clean air, balance the climate, and protect water cycles. Our rainforests are also home to thousands of valuable medicinal plants, many of which are used in modern medicine today. Truly priceless is the culture and wisdom of native peoples who have lived in the rainforests for thousands of years. Livestock displaces them.
Simple truth: As the world population explodes and the demand for meat grows, more and more rainforest will be destroyed. But it’s not out of our hands. You can take one very important step. Just go meatless one day a week.
Peggy Neu, President of the Monday Campaigns, reminds us that Meatless Monday has its roots in World War I and II, when Americans were asked to help conserve key staples to aid the war effort. Today, our “cut out meat one day a week” program is active in 40 countries and growing! Activists like actor Mark Ruffalo, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Richard Branson, and many international cooking stars like Giada De Laurentiis and Mario Batali have jumped on board.
Join with all of us on Meatless Monday and watch our food choices change the future.
In celebration of Earth Month, each Monday in April we’re highlighting an environmental benefit of cutting out meat, one day a week. This week we focus on saving energy.
On this Earth Day, April 22, two superpowers – China and the United States – will be the first to sign the historic Paris agreement to save the environment. After 55 countries (representing 55 percent) of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change also sign, the coalition can begin to take real steps toward a zero-carbon and climate-resilient world.
But when it comes to saving energy, the real superpower is YOU! Every choice you make counts. Choosing to go meatless one day a week can save significant energy resources. Here’s why.
To produce one pound of grain-fed beef in the United States takes about a gallon of gasoline. To provide the American family of four with their average annual beef consumption requires over 284 gallons of fossil fuel. And that’s just one family. If we take the huge amount of grain the global meat industry uses to put beef on our plates, we could literally feed - for the same amount of energy – about 840 million people worldwide.
Let’s break it down: with the energy it takes to create one burger you could charge your iPhone for 4.5 years.
Or, forgo that burger and save the carbon equivalent of driving your car every day for a month.
At Meatless Monday, we believe dining on healthy meatless dishes one day a week is a super-powerful way to save energy and help the planet. Let’s go for it!
Every year, Earth Day is a time to think about the new habits we can introduce that will benefit our planet. It’s also a perfect opportunity to share earth-friendly tips and resources with our communities. To help spread the message about how going meatless once a week can conserve water and energy and help lower greenhouse gas emissions, Meatless Monday is excited to share our latest free resource, printable recipe cards!
Our first collection of recipe cards features six of our favorite plant-based recipes loaded with spring produce like asparagus, peas, radishes, carrots and mint. With the recipe on the front and fast facts about the Meatless Monday movement on the back, the resource looks fab printed in either color or black and white.
So whether you’re planning to talk about eating less meat at a local Earth Day event or just looking for an attractive reminder to skip meat once a week to post on your refrigerator, check them out today! Meatless Monday Printable Recipe Cards: Spring Veggies.
And stay tuned as we continue to develop more cards featuring our awesome collection of delicious meatless recipes.
Find these recipes and more in our new spring-themed printable recipe card pack: