Go Veggie In Meat-Free MarchPosted on: 12 March 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves
March is Meat-Free Month and therefore a fantastic time to celebrate vegetarianism and go meat-free for the month.
If you’re considering reducing your meat intake, whether it be for ethical, environmental or health reasons then why not take inspiration from our delicious veggie recipes and break that meat habit – it’s easier than you think.
Vegetarian food has never been more popular; a broader interest in healthy eating, coupled with an increasing number of food scares, is leading to an increasingly positive attitude towards the vegetarian diet. With so many meatless food products available in high street shops and supermarkets going veggie can be tasty, nutritious and exciting.
There's an abundance of good reasons to go veggie. The World Cancer Research Fund has stated, "Vegetarian groups have been shown to have lower risk of cardiovascular disease, lower rates of obesity and longer life expectancy than meat-eaters."
Half of all adults in the UK are overweight or obese, and childhood obesity is on the increase. Saturated animal fats – found in meat and dairy products – pile on the pounds and also increase your risk of four devastating diseases: cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart disease.
A varied and balanced veggie diet, on the other hand, is low in fat, high in nutrients and will boost your energy and fitness.
If that isn’t incentive enough to make March a Meat-Free Month, then remember going veggie is not only about good health and nutrition, it also saves animals’ lives and is better for the environment and our planet.
So why not give it a go and start by enjoying these mouth watering delicious vegetarian dishes.
Chestnut Stuffed Roasted Onions
- 4 large, red onions
- 1x 400g (14oz) tin lentils – drain and rinse
- 6 slices day-old wholemeal bread – rubbed through hands and broken into crumbs
- 250g (1/2lb) fresh chestnuts – shelled, peeled and chopped coarsely (or use vacuum packed whole chestnuts)
- 4 celery sticks – finely chopped
- A few sage leaves – finely chopped
- Sprig thyme leaves – taken off stalk
- Sprig rosemary – taken off stalk
- Handful fresh parsley – chopped
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- To make stuffing (this can be made in advance and kept in fridge over night): Preheat the oven to 160˚C/325˚F/Gas 3. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow baking tray and bake in oven until golden, approx 10-15 minutes. Take out and allow to cool.
- In a large saucepan, heat enough oil to cook the celery and herbs (except parsley), over a moderate heat, until celery is soft. Add chestnuts and cook for a further minute. Add the lentils and breadcrumbs to the chestnut mix. Stir in parsley, salt and pepper. Let stuffing cool completely.
- For the onions, chop off tops and keep aside. Peel, then chop off bottoms so they will sit on a flat surface. Use your hands to rub a little oil over surface of onions. Sprinkle with pepper and roast at 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4 for 20 minutes – or until they start to soften.
- Take out of oven and when cool enough to handle, push out the centres, leaving a hollow shell to take stuffing. Chop up the residue onion and add to stuffing.
- Fill the hollow onions with the stuffing. Sit the onion tops back on and bake in the oven for a further 30 minutes. Roll any residue stuffing into balls, cook with the onions and serve on the side.
Thai Bean Burgers & Sweet Potato Wedges
- 3 large sweet potatoes – peeled
- Sprig of rosemary – taken off stalk
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 x 400g (2x14oz) cans butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 6-8 spring onions – chopped
- 1 clove garlic – peeled and chopped
- 2.5cm (1 inch) piece of fresh ginger – grated
- 1 small red chilli
- Handful fresh coriander leaves
- 1 lemongrass stalk – topped and tailed, then smashed under the handle of a knife and chopped
- 1 lime – juiced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 100g (3.5oz) plain flour
- Olive oil for frying
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C/350°F/ Gas 4. Cut the potatoes into wedges and place on an oiled baking sheet. Turn in the oil. Sprinkle with rosemary and pepper. Bake for approx 20-25 minutes.
- In a blender/processor, put the garlic, ginger, chilli, coriander, smashed and chopped lemon grass, lime juice and soy sauce and whiz until a smooth paste. (If you don’t have a blender/processor, chop the ingredients very, very finely). Roughly mash the butter beans, add the chopped spring onions and paste, mix well and mould into burger-shaped patties.
- Put the flour on a plate and season with freshly ground black pepper. Gently turn the patties in the flour to coat. In a large frying pan add the oil and fry the burgers on a high heat for a few minutes each side. Serve with a delicious fresh salad.
Sizzling Tofu Stir Fry
Note: check that the Thai curry paste does not contain fish. Some supermarket own brands are fine.
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp Thai red curry paste
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves – crushed
- 300g (10 oz) beansprouts
- 1 red pepper – de-seeded, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch of spring onions – trimmed and chopped
- 125g (4 oz) button mushrooms
- 150g (5 oz) baby sweetcorn – sliced diagonally
- 150g (5 oz) mangetout – halved lengthways
- 1 tbsp Tamari or other soy sauce
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 4 garlic cloves – crushed
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 x 250g firm tofu – cut into 5mm (1⁄4 inch) slices
- Olive oil for shallow-frying
- Start by marinating the tofu. In a shallow dish, mix together the ginger, garlic, maple syrup, mustard and soy sauce. Toss the cubes of tofu in this mixture so that they are well coated. Leave to marinate for as long as you can – no less than 20 minutes and up to 24 hours.
- To make the stir-fry, heat the sesame oil in a wok until it is smoking hot, then add in the curry paste; stir for a few seconds over the heat, then put in the garlic and ginger, and stir again. Add all the vegetables to the wok and stir-fry for a minute or two then cover and leave to cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Meanwhile, drain the tofu, saving any remaining marinade. Fry the tofu on both sides in hot oil until crispy. You will probably have to do this in two batches and keep the finished pieces hot under the grill. Add any reserved marinade to the vegetables and serve with the sizzling hot tofu. As an accompaniment, try Basmati rice or couscous.
For more information and advice on going veggie visit the Animal Aid website or to request a free Go Veggie booklet which offers easy-to-make, tasty, nutritious, family sized, meat-free meals for under £5 visit http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/ACTIVE/action/ALL/1127//.
Are you going meat-free for March?
If so, let us know by leaving a comment in the box below or sharing your thoughts with other readers in the 50connect forums.
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