Meat is a great source of protein and is an ideal option for a healthy and well-balanced diet. However, some cuts of meat are terrifyingly high in fat and calories. I’m talking about things like bacon, pepperoni, cold cuts and even some cuts of chicken or beef. It’s healthy to go meat-free a couple of times per week, but you want to be sure you are still covering your nutrient needs. Try one of these alternatives to save yourself some calories without sacrificing nutrition or taste.
Beans are a great source of protein as well as fiber. They are hearty enough to replace meat without leaving you feeling deprived. With so many varieties to choose from, you’ll have loads of options to satisfy any meat craving. Try black beans in tacos or soup. Mashed pinto beans are a fantastic side dish for all sorts of dishes. You can even use beans to make burger patties. Yum!
A big Portobello mushroom is surprisingly satisfying and can even make you feel like you’re eating a juicy cut of beef. Grill the mushroom cap and use it in place of a burger or chop and sauté the mushroom and serve it over mashed potatoes with gravy. Mushrooms also fill out a pot of veggie soup. Cut the amount of beef in your stew in half and replace the difference with mushrooms chunks. You’ll love it!
The great thing about soy is that it can be used to create faux meat products that are pretty similar to the original. Vegetarians are huge fans and many of them have a great flavor, but will save you loads of calories. On top of that, soy has health benefits that make it a great addition to your meal plan. Try soy burgers, soy bacon or soy hot dogs.
Eggplant, like Portobello mushrooms, is hearty and has a texture that won’t leave you feeling deprived. Grilled eggplant “steaks” are a perfect way to enjoy a meal that feels like meat without overdoing it on fat and calories. You might also tried a grilled eggplant slice in place of your typical beef patty when you want a burger. Yum!
Tofu won’t make you feel like you’re having meat by any means, but it tends to take on the flavors of the foods around it and will satisfy hunger at the same time. That means you can kill a craving in a totally guilt-free way. You can cut tofu into cubes, season it and grill it as a kebab. Or toss it into your favorite chili recipe. Tofu also sautés up nicely, making it a perfect option for stir-fry.
Lentils are a perfect meat alternative because you can do so many things with them. Eat them in a pile with a side of mashed potatoes and veggies and pretend like you’re eating Salisbury steak or sliced chicken breast. You can also use lentils to make faux meatloaf or meatballs. They are loaded with protein, fiber and other vitamins and minerals that will help you stay healthy and eat yummy meals at the same time. What more could a girl ask for?
Seitan is a meat substitute made from wheat. It’s a great alternative for ground beef or other ground meats. Use it to make burgers, meatballs, tacos, or as a pizza topping. The protein content of seitan is very similar to meat so this one is a definite must on your grocery list.
What meat alternatives do you usually choose? Is there one on this list that you’d like to try?
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