Meat dishes, while definitely not essential for healthy bones, are not out of bounds when you're following the Osteoporosis Reversal Program – especially when the meat is hormone/antibiotic free and from animals that were raised humanely. However, sometimes you may prefer to steer clear of meat dishes while still enjoying the hearty and tasty satisfaction you get from them – I know I do.
And that's what today's post is all about: simple ways to use delicious meat alternatives and flavor-enhancing ingredients that can take the place of meat or that you can even mix in with meat to make a little meat go a long way. Plus I'll share a recipe with you for vegan (and really tasty!) “meat” crumbles.
Let’s start with one of my favorites…
1. “Beef Up” Pasta With Chopped Mushrooms
Meat-based pasta is a very popular dish, but you can use much less meat in your recipe and replace it with chopped mushrooms. Not only do these little fungi add meaty texture, but they also soak up the flavor of whatever sauce they’re cooked in, so they will not detract from the overall flavor of the dish. And they are rich in bone-building nutrients.
2. Try Vegetable-Based Sandwich Filling
Instead of chopped chicken or tuna, try a sandwich filling that gets its creaminess from plain yogurt, mustard, or homemade tahini, and its chunky texture from chopped nuts, fruits, and veggies.
3. Make Meatless Dishes Interesting With Vegetable Textures
When you decide to serve a vegetable casserole instead of a meat-based dish, choose veggies with lots of different textures to make it interesting and colorful. Think of the different textures of cooked cauliflower, sweet potato, cabbage, mushrooms, and broccoli. You might want to add a vegetarian source of protein and texture by mixing in quinoa or millet. You can also roast the vegetables on a cookie sheet or grill before mixing up your casserole to give them extra flavor depth.
4. Get To Know Nature’s Meat Substitute: The Portobello Mushroom
A well-cooked Portobello has a very meaty flavor and texture. It makes an especially good meat substitute in tacos, burgers, and sandwiches. Like other mushrooms, Portobellos soak up flavors, so marinating them works wonders. A marinated Portobello cap on the grill makes an excellent burger substitute.
5. Re-Think Eggs: Try Them For Dinner
Yes, eggs are acidifying; but they contain valuable nutrients that are not found in meat, and have unique bone-building properties. For example, eggs contain sulphur, which is a key component in collagen production. Collagen is a protein found in the bone matrix, and it accounts for much of bones’ tensile strength. So don’t be afraid to make a meal of eggs, and serve them with a green salad and fresh fruit to balance the acidity. Or try an omelet stuffed with alkalizing veggies.
6. Veggies On The Grill
Grilling gives vegetables and veggie burgers a meaty texture and flavor. Try making shish kabobs with a smaller percentage of meat and lots of chunky, colorful veggies. Fruits, too, add delicious tang and texture to a veggie burger or kabob – think grilled slices of fresh pineapple on a burger, or pineapple chunks on a skewer alongside colorful bell peppers, onion chunks, and a few pieces of beef.
7. Explore Another Natural Meat Substitute: Eggplant
Eggplant’s neutral flavor and spongy texture make the perfect combination for soaking up rich flavors. Sliced in rounds and grilled; steamed, cut into chunks, and blended into a dip; diced and baked into a casserole…the possibilities with eggplant are numerous!
Need Some More Ideas?
Meat-free substitutes for kitchen staples, like ground beef, can go a long way toward facilitating the creation of bone-healthy meals. Below is a recipe that can be used in all kinds of recipes in place of ground meat.
Vegan “Meat” Crumbles
Having these vegan, meat-free crumbles on hand opens up all kinds of bone-smart cooking possibilities.
- 1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
- 1 cup raw almonds, slivered
- 1 cup raw walnuts, halved
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
- 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons vegetarian broth
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a blender or food processor, blend the cauliflower, walnuts, and almonds to a fine meal.
- Transfer mixture to a large bowl, add remaining ingredients, and knead thoroughly.
- Line a large-rimmed cookie sheet or rectangular pan with parchment, or spread a little oil on it to prevent sticking.
- Place the mixture in the pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 45 minutes or up to 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on how thick the mixture is.
- Stir after 30 minutes, and continue baking and stirring every 15 minutes until the “meat” is dry and brown all over. The grounds will begin to separate and intensify in color as they roast.
- Once fully cooked, you can use it right away or freeze it for future use. Will stay fresh up to three days in the refrigerator.
These crumbles could be mixed with mashed beans and/or cooked grains to make veggie burgers, or sautéed with seasoning to make a filling for tacos or burritos, or simmered with tomatoes and beans to make chili. These are just a few suggestions – once you get started, you’ll find a myriad of uses for these delicious vegan crumbles.
It’s easy to think that a nutritional plan that emphasizes vegetables means boiled carrots and lettuce three times a day. But it’s so much more than that!
As the above recipe and tips show, there is incredible variety and creativity with vegetables and fruits. Vegetables can be roasted, diced, steamed, and sautéed; fruits can also be roasted, used as a topping, and whirled into smoothies.
You’ll discover all this and much, much more with Bone Appétit, the Save Our Bones cookbook.
Full-color photographs accompany delicious dishes for all meals, snacks and smoothies. You’ll be amazed at how you can combine foods to achieve pH balance, and how those foods seem “made” to go together. My Mock Oatmeal, for example, combines alkalizing quinoa and acidifying oats with almonds, fruit, pumpkin seeds, and honey.
In Fish Entrees, you’ll find dishes like Salmon Amandine, which “alkalizes” salmon with colorful, alkalizing, bone-healthy bell peppers, onions, basil leaves, tomatoes, and sliced almonds.
PH-balanced food combinations like this allow you to enjoy nutritious foods like salmon without worrying about their acidifying nature undermining the nutrient value.
And don’t forget – three bonuses round out the Bone Appétit experience: the 30 Day Meal Planner, Blender Magic, and Calcilicious.
Do you have some creative ways to use less meat in your meals? How about creative uses for vegetables and fruits? Please share your experiences and ideas by leaving a comment below.
Happy bone-healthy eating!