FoodWIse's Healthy Community Corner by Amy Macemon, FoodWIse Healthy Communities Coordinator and Nutrition Educator
Take It Easy on The Waist And Wallet This Holiday Season
With meat prices up anywhere from 10-28% depending on the type of meat over last year, it’s worth considering alternatives to meat-focused holiday dishes this year for budgetary reasons as other food prices have only risen in the 5% range (1, 2). In addition to your budget, your heart and waistline will thank you as animal-based foods contain significantly higher amounts of saturated fat than plant-based counterparts (3).
As more and more people become “plant-based curious”, new trends continue to grow in popularity such as Meatless Mondays and Flexitarianism. Some cultures innately consume less meat, some of which are detailed in the book “The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100” by National Geographic fellow and explorer Dan Buettner. Grocery stores are taking notice, offering an expanded variety of plant-based alternatives to meats and other animal-based products such as plant-based “meat” substitutes, milks such as soy, coconut, almond, cashew and oat, and tofu which are readily available.
Studies show that reducing animal-based foods can (4):
1) Prevent and reverse heart disease and lower blood pressure.
2) Prevent, manage, and reverse type 2 diabetes
3) Be beneficial in maintaining a healthy weight
4) Lower the risk of developing certain types of cancers
So, if you’ve been curious about expanding your palette, cutting costs, or reducing animal-based fats from your diet, following is some inspiration.
· Consider a pie but not of the sweet variety. Savory pies make a beautiful addition to the holiday menu. Try a vegetable shepherd’s pie, a mushroom potpie, or a spinach and feta pie.
· Macaroni and cheese can become a delectable main. Consider these combinations: broccoli and goat cheese; smoked cheddar with BBQ tofu; caramelized onion, spinach and “facon” or fake bacon and others!
· Lasagnas play an excellent main substitution. Some great combinations include spinach and artichoke; zucchini, pepper and mushroom; white sauce, mushrooms and kale; roasted cauliflower and tofu; roasted squash with fried sage leaves. The combinations are endless.
And don’t forget the countless vegetarian sides from roasted, baked, or twice-baked potatoes to extra crispy, oven-roasted brussels sprouts to a veggie-packed stuffing… there is truly no end to the amount of veggie-inspired side dishes to pair with your meat or meat-free main this year!
If you chose to get creative this holiday season, post or message us with your recipe and picture of your final dishes! We’d love to see them and share as inspiration to others! One tip I love to share is to freeze and date your leftovers but instead of freezing each item separately, create easy grab and go frozen meals by putting a little bit of each food into a freezer container.
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For more detailed information on adding more plant-based protein into your diet, you can view the 2020-2025 American Dietary Guidelines which outlines how to get all needed nutrients needed from a vegetarian diet, as well the Mediterranean which limits meat consumption (5).