The Art (And Science) of Being Meatless

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These days, there’s a question that has constantly bothered many people: to be or not to be meatless (in other words, vegetarian)?

It isn’t bad to be meatless. After all it does have its benefits. Less fat, less stress on our kidneys, better body functions, well, the list can be endless. Of course, the taste, texture, and appearance of the dishes can be a cause of concern for those used to eating meat, but it’s all about being creative. One can find many ways to make his meal as tasty as the real thing.

But, are we sure that being vegetarian is one hundred percent right for us? Well, if the guys at the Mayo Clinic are to be asked, then it might be a bit trickier than one could imagine.

To start with, there are a lot of nutrients found in meat products that could be easily missed when one goes vegetarian. These essential nutrients are needed for the growth and proper maintenance of our bodies. It is even more crucial for growing children as well. One should better keep in mind that one kind of food cannot provide all the nutrients needed. Variety is the key, as well as generous quantities of its vegetable equivalents.

Ever wondered what these nutrients are? The list here might surprise you, as well as their plant sources:

Calcium (Dark green vegetables, such as turnip and collard greens, kale and broccoli)

Iodine (no plant sources, but can be gained from iodized salt sold in supermarkets)

Iron (Dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruit)

Omega-3 (plant-based Omega3 is not easily used by the body, so supplements might have to be used)

Protein (soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains)

Vitamin B-12 (almost exclusively obtained from animal sources, that’s why supplements might have to be used)

Vitamin D (just have enough exposure to the sun. Plant-based Vitamin D is in pretty poor amounts so looking for fortified sources like cereals might be needed)

Zinc (whole grains, soy products, legumes, nuts and wheat germ)

Well, if you’re looking for some recipes that you can prepare that will replace these nutrients, you can try the ones below. Of course, it’s just a sample of the many dishes that you can use. Just remember to be creative in your cooking.


Prep: Active time: 15 min Start to finish: 15 min Servings: Makes 8 servings (as part of larger meal)

3 tbsp vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 lb Chinese broccoli (sometimes known as Chinese kale), ends of stems trimmed and broccoli cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup Thai chicken stock or canned chicken broth
2 tbsp Thai yellow bean sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar

Special equipment: a large (6-qt) wok

1. Heat oil in wok over high heat until hot but not smoking, then stir-fry garlic until pale golden, 10 to 15 seconds. Add broccoli and stock and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add bean sauce, soy sauce, and sugar and stir-fry until broccoli is crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Broccoli can be trimmed and cut 6 hours ahead and chilled in a sealed plastic bag.


Prep: Active time: 15 min Start to finish: 40 min Servings: Makes 6 servings

2 tbsp olive oil
12 ounces fully cooked smoked vegetarian sausage, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh fennel bulb
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
10 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
4 cups chopped kale (1/2 bunch)
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained
1 9-ounce package white kidney beans
1 cup grated Asiago cheese* or Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add next 6 ingredients and saute until vegetables are soft and sausage is brown, about 12 minutes. Add broth and bring to boil. Stir in kale and cannellini. Reduce heat to low and simmer until kale is wilted, about 4 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly; cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Add tortellini to soup. Simmer until pasta is just tender but still firm to bite, about 5 minutes.
2. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve, passing cheese separately.


Prep: Boil and simmer for 20 minutes, chopped apricots,simmer for 20 minutes

1 1/2 cups of dried lentils
6 cups of vegetable stock cubes or water
1/2 cup of apricots dried, chopped
1 cup of onion chopped
2 cups of eggplant cubed
1 1/2 cup of tomato chopped
1 green bell pepper
1/4 tsp. of cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of allspice ground
1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp. of salt
1 tbsp. of paprika
3 tbsp. of parsley leaves flat leaf, for garnish
1 tbsp. of mint

1. Cook lentils in a large soup or stock pot that has a cover.
2. Rinse lentils and bring to a boil in stock.
3. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 20 minutes (Start preparing and cooking the veggies while this is simmering).
4. Add chopped apricots and simmer another 20 minutes.
5. Cook veggies in a big frying pan that can be covered.
6. Saute onion in a bit of water or stock till translucent.
7. Add eggplant and about 4 tbsp. of water.
8. Stir around and put cover on pan.
9. Cook on low temp til almost tender.
10. Add tomato, green pepper, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne, paprika and salt.
11. Stir.
12. Cook covered another 10 minutes or until tender.
13. Mix veggies into lentils and simmer, covered about 15 minutes.
14. Serve with parsley and mint.


Prep: Active time: 15 min Start to finish: 15 min Servings: Serves 4

2 14 1/2-ounce cans vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp oriental sesame oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms (about 5 ounces)
1/2 pound firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 10-ounce bag ready-to-use spinach leaves
3 green onions, chopped

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and simmer until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Add tofu, spinach and green onions and simmer until spinach wilts and tofu is heated through, about 2 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.


Prep: 20 minutes Servings: 6-8

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, minced, to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 potato, chopped (optional)
2 ribs celery, chopped (optional)
3 carrots, cut in chunks or use 2 cups of baby carrots
1 quart of vegetable broth, or whatever broth you use, more or less depending on desired thickness
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Sauté onion, garlic, ginger, and oil together in a large saucepan on high heat until onions are translucent. Add potatoes, celery, and carrots. Add broth and spices and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook until carrots are soft.
2. Puree soup in a blender. Do this in batches, never filling the blender more than half full. Taste and season as desired. You can make it creamier by adding soy or rice milk before serving

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