Meatless Meals

Man looking into the refrigerator at health foods holding his chinAmericans have come to show their affluence by the size of the steak they slap on the grill. Typically this single serving of meat is enough to supply a day's worth of protein for two people! And that is just one meal. We haven't counted their breakfast of a four egg, cheese omelet or their lunch of a double patty burger.

This reliance on animal protein as the main stay of the meal has a high cost, not only in terms of dollars, but in terms of health too. There are many chronic diseases which result from a high intake of fat and saturated fat: heart disease, obesity, and cancer to name a few. The incidence of these debilitating illnesses can be reduced if we simply cut back on our intake of animal foods.

Most people do not realize animal foods, like red meats and cheese, carry more grams of fat per ounce than grams of protein. A typical eight ounce steak has 80 grams of fat and 64 grams of protein. This one food, therefore, has 100% of one's entire daily protein allowance and two days worth of fat.

In addition to the high fat content of animal foods, there are other problems associated with a diet rich in animal protein. These diets, like the one given above, contain 200 to 300 percent of the daily requirement for protein. This excess protein is simply converted into body fat and the kidneys flush out the waste products. The problem arises when other valuable nutrients, like calcium, are flushed out in the urine as well.

Calcium losses in the urine are much greater in people with high protein diets. Calcium loss can lead to osteoporosis or soft brittle bones. Osteoporosis effect one-third of all American women over the age of forty-five. A diet rich in calcium and lower in protein can help to prevent the high incidence of osteoporosis in this country.

Non-fat or low-fat dairy products are a terrific foundation for meals which are both rich in calcium while moderate in protein. Beans and legumes also are a great source of protein, fiber and trace minerals.

Check out the "tips" sheet to discover how to incorporate these foods into your daily diet. More meatless meals in your daily fare just may be your ticket to a stronger, healthier and nd slimmer future.

Tips For Meatless Meals

  • Instead of putting yourself through the drudgery of soaking and cooking beans, buy those canned varieties that are packed without added salt. You can also buy the regular canned beans and rinse them.
  • Toss a handful of garbanzo or kidney beans into your next salad.
  • Try split pea or lentil soup for a quick hearty meal. "Spice Islands" makes an instant soup which is low in both fat and sodium.
  • Salsa!: Blend 4 chopped tomatoes, 2 chopped green onions, 1/2 chopped green pepper, 1 minced garlic clove, 4 CUp chopped coriander, 1/8 tsp. cumin and 4 tsp. oregano. Store overnight in the frig. Add 1 small can of drained black beans. Appetize your way through dinner with fat-free tortilla chips!
  • Make a three bean salad: Drain 1 small can of garbanzo, kidney and green beans. Mix with your favorite low-fat dressing.
  • Make your own burritos: Heat 1 cup of the above salsa with 1 cup of drained black beans. Add 4 CUp low-fat sour cream. Divide between 4 non-fat flour tortillas. Add 2 CUp rice to each and roll up. Place in a non-stick pan. Spread 4 CUp salsa on top. Cover with foil and heat at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Make a sauce for pasta: Saute in a non-stick pan until soft: 6 chopped tomatoes, 3 chopped green onions, 1 chopped green pepper, 1/2 cup white wine and 1 small can of drained beans. Toss with cook pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • Make your own pizza with store bought pizza crust, marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced peppers and mushrooms.
  • Make a pot of vegetarian chill): Stir together 1 15 oz. can of drained kidney beans, 1 cup tomato puree, 1 Tbsp. of instant minced onion and 1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Top with shredded low-fat cheese and serve with french bread.

Material © San Franisco Spine Center. Used by Permission.

Updated on: 03/04/16
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Introduction to Nutrition
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Introduction to Nutrition

Though your life may be hectic, there are still many great, healthy choices to help you lose weight and improve your health.
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