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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Lent Begins: Get Creative With Meat Substitutes

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Ash Wednesday is the marker of the beginning of Lent for many religions around the world. For many, that means giving up certain things like sweets, soft drinks, watching TV, etc. For Catholics, it means giving up meat on Fridays. Orthodox Christians give up meat the entire 40 days of Lent. I often hear people say they end up living off of grilled cheese or cheese pizza during those meat-free days. However, it doesn't have to be that boring or unhealthy!

My favorite meat-free options:
Meat substitutes: If you have not tried veggie burgers or are not aware of the vast assortment of meat substitutes available, get shopping! You can get vegetarian "chicken" patties or nuggets, "hamburger" crumbles to use like ground beef for chili, tacos, or sloppy joes, vegetarian "sausage" and "pepperoni" that tastes amazing, vegetarian "riblets", vegetarian lunch "meats" like turkey, ham, salami, and bologna, and more!
Beans: You can eliminate the meat in a meal and make it with beans instead. Have a bean burrito, vegetarian chili, soups, casseroles, salads, and more. Beans are wonderfully versatile and so incredibly good for you! Check out this link for really good bean recipes.
Tofu: In many cultures tofu is quite popular, but in the US it just has not caught on. Vegetarians know that tofu has no flavor by itself, but it nicely picks up flavors that it is cooked or mixed with. You can marinade tofu and make a tasty stir fry, use tofu in smoothies, and even mash tofu in the place of eggs or cheese in recipes.
Edamame: This is basically green soybeans and many of you may have had it as an appetizer in sushi restaurants. It is great in a pita sandwich with other veggies and some peanut sauce, sprinkled into salads, or eaten just plain.
Tempeh: It is fermented soybean cake that is also quite versatile. You can make it from scratch, but it is much easier and just as healthy to purchase it in the store and use it in tempeh recipes.

I found this great website that lists a bunch of meat alternatives and recipes for all of them. Check it out!


Picture of Caramelized Tofu courtesy of 101cookbooks.com. Click here for the recipe!
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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