Have you tried making your Mondays meatless? There are a lot of benefits to decreasing your meat intake (or even cutting it out all together). Meat-free meals are typically lower in saturated fat, which can have beneficial effects on your cholesterol and blood lipid levels. Typically, diets low in meat are higher in fruits and vegetables, which provides a number of health benefits.
The biggest concern I hear from meat eaters regarding decreasing or completely cutting out meat is - what about protein? It is possible to get adequate protein with less or no meat though (yes, even for athletes). Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts/nut butters, ,and quinoa are all great sources of protein. There are also foods that when paired together make a "complete" protein. Meaning alone the foods are missing an amino acid that is essential in the diet, but when paired with a complementary food that has that missing an amino acid, you have a food that provides the same protein as meat. Some of those pairings are rice & beans, lentils& rice, corn& beans.
One thing to be aware of though is that just because something is "vegetarian" doesn't mean it's a healthy choice (similar to those "low fat" "low sugar" "diet" foods out there). This weekend I bought vegetarian Kielbasa to grill for Labor Day. However, a peek at the nutrient label shows that although it is lower in saturated fat than a turkey kielbasa, it's higher in overall fat and therefore higher in calories. It's also higher in sodium content (660mg in the vegetarian v 500mg in the turkey). I like to think the takeaway message from this is that processed food is processed food whether it's "vegetarian" "diet" or "low fat". It's always best to eat homemade food.
So if you're interested in making a Monday meatless, give this recipe a try! I'd love to hear what you think, or what meatless recipe you love in the comments below!
Spaghetti Squash Casserole
1 medium spaghetti squash
4-5 mini bell peppers (or 2-3 large ones), chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium tomato, chopped
5 oz spinach
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of cheese
Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place on microwave safe dish and add 1/4 cup water. Cook in microwave for 10-12 minutes, until squash is easily pierced in with a fork. Allow to cool for 15 minutes until cool enough to handle.
Sauté oil and garlic. Add bell peppers and tomato until tomato softens. Then add spinach and mix until spinach wilts.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrape squash out with a fork into a large mixing bowl. Then add vegetables. Mix with yogurt and 1/4 cup of cheese. Spread mixture into 11 x 7 baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.