Monday, September 14, 2015

Tastes Like Chicken, But It Isn’t

Its Meatless Monday once again and as I walk across campus, smells of fried chicken and burgers waft into my nose reminding me of past years when I did eat meat. As my mouth begins to water, as I’m sure yours is too, I remind myself that there are healthy and more sustainable alternatives for meat that often taste just as good if not better. So just what are these tasty substitutes for your classic carnivorous dishes?
The first thing that I’m sure comes first to everyone’s mind is soy. Now I’m not just talking about the little bean itself, but rather the infinite number of ways that you can turn it into a delicious, next level entre that can serve as the perfect replacement for chicken, beef, pork, or fish.
            Top of the list is tofu. When I think of all the things you can do with Tofu, I am reminded of Forest Gump’s best friend Bubba Blue, and how he rattled off the endless list of things one could do with shrimp. But now it’s Tofu. So here’s just a few for you:
·      Baked Tofu
·      BBQ Tofu
·      Braised Tofu
·      Broiled Tofu
·      Fried Tofu
·      Scrambled Tofu
·      Stir Fry Tofu
·      Tofu Cake
·      Tofu Loaf
·      Tofu Pudding
·      Tofu Smoothies
·      Tofu Soup…  and the list goes on.

Tofu is one of those magical substances that takes the flavor of whatever you cook or season it with, so it’s hard to go wrong. Just think of your old favorite meat dish and then just replace the main ingredient with tofu and with a little luck and the right spices you’ll never know the difference. And on the off chance that you’ve somehow run out of things to do with tofu, try Tempeh, Seitan, or TVP(Textured Vegetable Protein). Also, a couple of my favorite soy-based veggie-burgers that you may want to check out are Boca Burgers (especially the chicken and spicy chicken) and Organic Sunshine Burgers.

 If you don’t like soy or might be allergic to it, there are lots of other good vegetable substitutes that taste great. Mushrooms definitely top the list. Many people, including myself, cringe at the thought of mushrooms, but with the right spices and proper cooking technique you’ll never know your eating fungus. Try pan sautéing them with a little olive oil and your choice of seasonings or marinate and toss them on the grill to create a delectable mushroom burger. A few more vegetable alternatives that you can cook up similar to mushrooms include Jack Fruit, potatoes, lentils, eggplant, beats, and almost any type of beans. And don’t forget, the key to a good Meatless Monday is making sure to get your full daily recommended nutrition intake, especially protein!


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Monday, April 27, 2015

Meatless Monday can aid California

For more than three years, California has been in a severe drought. In fact, the whole western portion of the United States has actually been experiencing similar dry spells. Because of the urgency and severity of this problem, real discussions about water conservation are being had in this part of the country.

Many of the actions that California has taken to reduce their water consumption, have been by the residents. The state has mandated urban water restriction, hoping to reach the goal of 25% reduction. However, this progress was been very slow. Some of the state's suggestions for reducing water consumption include decreasing shower time and using less water for outdoor gardens/watering.

Agriculture is another sector of life that has been heavily impacted by the drought. Maintaining food sources and crops within California has been increasingly difficult. The department of agriculture has been working tirelessly to figure out new ways of farming that can conserve water. However, one way to do this is to plant crops that are less water intensive. Research has proven that plant based foods require much less water than animal products. According to the Global Water Footprint, it takes approximately 253 gallons of water to produce a pound of chicken and up to 1,800 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef. Whereas a pound of tomatoes, wheat or potatoes takes less than 10 gallons of water. In addition, a significant amount of water is also needed to maintain the cleanliness of animal production sites. Overall, reducing meat consumption can drastically reduce water consumption. 

If you go vegetarian just ONE day a week, you will save 84,000 gallons of water in a year. This can make a huge difference when entire communities and states participate. By changing out eating habits, even just slightly, we can start fighting real problems that are occuring right here in the United States.

Eat a Portabella today!
- Jackie

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Next Stop: A Healthy Week

No better way to start off a Monday than with a corny pun, right?

This is compliments of The Humane Society:
If you fill up your plate with veggies, then there won't be mush-room for meat!

I'll take this hilarious pun! Whatever gets me through the day.

Speaking of getting you through the day, let's rethink what fuels our bodies to start up the week. The weekend holiday is over, and you may be feeling guilty after all of the candy and savory meals you had this weekend. I, myself, definitely indulged. But as Monday is for new beginnings, I am challenging myself to load up on healthy food today, rather than continue on the indulgent food rampage with leftovers from this weekend.

There are several ways in which I have learned to transition from the weekend (especially a Holiday weekend) back into a healthy week with a Meatless Monday kick-start. When I visit home for a period of time, food is usually abundant. As a college student, I don't see my family often, and when I do, it is a special time where we treat ourselves to having meals out and preparing big dinners as a way to visit with one another. The result from all of this is leftovers in mass amounts. Especially after holidays, such as Easter, I find myself returning to my college apartment with enough Tupperware to fill the entire fridge. So how do I restrain myself from continuing the indulgent eating for the rest of the week? I get by with a little help from my roommates. I'll send pictures, texts, and snapchats of the food I'm eating while at home, with a little disclaimer saying something along the lines of "Get ready to help me with the leftovers." And then, I'll plan a meal either Sunday night, or sometime early in the week to heat up all of my leftovers, and have a 'family' dinner with all of my roommates. They are always excited to help out, as there is something special to a home cooked meal when at college. But the best part is, I can share a meal with my friends and get rid of my leftovers all at the same time! This is incredibly helpful to know that I will only have one indulgent meal that week, rather than multiple as I try to chip away at finishing all of the food.

Another trick that I have learned over the years, is to always have a healthy breakfast and lunch on Monday. I know that if I can make the first two meals of my week something healthful, than it will be easier to continue doing so. And this is easy when you make sure to stock your cabinets with only healthy foods, or when you go into the dining hall already knowing what you'll get rather than browsing the options. I make sure that when I go grocery shopping, to buy only healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, and whole grains. That way, when I'm home cooking, I only have the option to make something that is good for me. My breakfast usually consists of oatmeal with fruit, or eggs with whole grain toast. Starting my Monday off this way gets me in the mind set of eating well. Then, for lunch on Monday, I make sure to tell myself that I will have a salad in the dining hall. When I get there, I must force myself to walk right over to the salad bar instead of perusing the other options. This way, I can't be tempted or change my mind if I see something else.

These are just a few ways I begin my week in a healthy way, even if there are situations that make it harder to do so. A healthy Monday can really affect my week in a positive way, and I hope that these tips will allow you to do the same.

Happy Meatless Monday!
- Jackie

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