5 Ways to Turn Meat-Based Meals Vegetarian
Whether you’re looking to reduce the amount of meat you consume or you’re interested in going fully vegetarian, there are plenty of creative (and delicious) ways you can turn meals and dishes that are traditionally meat-based into healthier, plant-based alternatives. In fact, in many cases, with the right ingredients, you’ll never even know the difference! Let’s take a quick look at five simple swaps for going meatless.
Get to know the black bean better.
Not only are legumes packed with plant-based protein (something that’s especially important for those eating vegetarian or vegan diets), but when prepared the right way, you’ll never even know you’re not eating meat! Try a batch of black bean sliders or a meatless meatloaf that tastes just like Grandma’s secret recipe. As a bonus, black beans also make a great healthier addition to dessert recipes, like brownies or chocolate dip. Yum!
Let lentils lead the way.
Lentils are excellent for those seeking more protein, and since they’re easy to prepare and affordable, they’re a great grocery list item for everyone. Incorporate lentils into vegan chili or a rich, flavorful meat-free stew, like this one made with three different types of beans. Not only do lentil-based dishes look good, but they’re as tasty as they are good for you!
Get tempted by tofu and tempeh.
Both tofu and tempeh can easily be swapped into recipes that call for meat. Tempeh in particular is great for dishes that use ground beef because it crumbles well and keeps a similar texture. These alternatives are a favorite among vegetarians and vegans because they soak up all the flavors you add and can withstand most types of cooking. Try it crumbled or cubed but don’t forget to let it marinate enough, otherwise it could end up tasting rather bland. For that reason, dishes with flavorful sauces or heavy seasonings are perfect for tempeh and tofu.
Increase the veggies.
Many dishes can easily be made meatless by simply replacing the beef, poultry or fish with more vegetables. For instance, if a particular recipe calls for chicken and zucchini, simply omit the chicken and replace it with more zucchini. As an added bonus, eliminating meat from a recipe often speeds up the cooking process, which means you’ll be able to enjoy your hard work sooner. For best results, increase only milder veggies. Too many powerful tasting ones, like onions and leeks, can modify the end result too much.
Become a mushroom master.
When it comes to mushrooms as a meat substitute, it’s usually the portabella that gets the most attention. In reality, you can use just about any kind of mushroom in place of meat for a delicious plant-based alternative. For instance, drain and pulse a can of mushrooms in a food processor until they’re the same consistency and texture as ground beef. Or, use regular sliced mushrooms to “beef” up any recipe where you’ve omitted meat as an ingredient, including casseroles, pasta dishes, stir fries and more.
Going meatless – even if just for one meal a week – doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite dishes! With a little creativity and a few simple swaps, you can enjoy almost every meat-based recipe you love without a trace of beef to be found.