Meatless May Week 4 Meal Plan – The End!

July 7, 2013 by

Wow that went by so quickly!! The last week of Meatless May is over and I seriously can’t believe how quickly it has passed. I decided to do Meatless May again this year because it’s a really great way to remind myself just how much meat should be appreciated, and how easy it is to cut back on eating meat and to stop relying on it to make a meal. If you are worried about being hungry or not getting enough protein (unlikely if you are just eating meat free meals a few days a week), I recommend you start with Asian food – fried rice, curries and stir fries. They are easy to make with a load of vegetables and you will never, ever notice that there is no meat. It can be hard if you are used to eating meals that revolve around meat to think of any kind of dish that would work if you took it away.

Put it this way – you will not die if you don’t eat meat for a meal, or even a day, and you probably won’t feel as hungry as you think you will. You don’t need to run out to the shops and stock up on beans, lentils and tofu and my two Meatless May’s are proof of that. Vegetables and other carbohydrates are enough to sustain you, and you get plenty of protein from grains, nuts and eggs to make it through a month. You will not end up with a vitamin K deficiency or low iron simply from going meat free even for a whole month! The other thing about Meatless May is that it gets you into the habit of eating vegetables. Tim and I are certainly guilty of eating meals that are only beige and brown (potatoes and meat) and simply forgetting to incorporate vegetables into the meal. Meatless May always reminds us of how we want to eat, which is cooking with a variety of fresh vegetables at every meal. This is why we love stir fries so much, because it’s the easiest way to use a ton of vegies (but we do need to be careful of the levels of salt in Asian sauces).

There are hundreds of excellent vegetarian blogs that you can use as resources if you want to try new recipes. Alternatively, do what I did this year and keep enjoying some of your favourite meals, just with a few extra veggies and no meat.

Wednesday Honey Ginger Noodle Stir Fry. The marinade for this recipe is from the last series of My Kitchen Rules, and it’s really fantastic. You could use it as a marinade for any meat, but it works just as well as a stir fry sauce. Plus, it takes 2 minutes to make and unlike shop bought sauces, doesn’t have any extra salt added, nor any nasty gums, thickeners or colours. (A big reason why I never buy sauces from the supermarket.)

Thursday Arancini. I think this is one of my all time favourite meatless meals. When I make a big batch of risotto I make up the arancini balls and just freeze them (before cooking), along with the sauce in a separate container, ready to be taken out for a nice meal. All I need to add is some rocket, balsamic glaze and parmesan.

Friday A platter! We love having ‘finger food Friday’s’ or ‘wine and cheese’ nights. In Adelaide the Central Markets (where you buy fresh produce and artisan products of all kinds) are buzzing on a Friday night, so we like to go and get a selection of things we can just munch on while watching a movie. For savouries we get bread, cheese, dips and olives, varying the textures and tastes to make it interesting. We add vegetable crudites to bulk out the meal and counteract the fat in the cheese and dip (oh but we also serve flavoured extra virgin olive oils too…). There is one stall that sells the loveliest proper bite sized petit fours – miniature cheesecakes, caramel tarts, coconut macarons, and more. There are also plenty of gluten free macarons (the macaroon kind if you’re Australian) to choose from as well. If you want to, you could add other types of antipasto vegetables. If you have really great bread, it’s also good to roast a whole garlic bulb, and when it’s soft and sweet, squeeze out the cloves and mash them with a pinch of salt for a beautiful garlic spread that is perfect on grilled bread.

Saturday French Onion Soup. I bought the latest Good Taste magazine and it featured a recipe for French onion soup so I took that as a hint. I changed it slightly, adding chicken stock instead of beef as I prefer the flavour (next time I would also try it with veal stock, I think beef is too rich and salty). I treated myself to some French bread to make the traditional gruyere croutons which were amazing (cheese on bread always is).

Sunday We were pretty tired, so we just indulged in an old meat free favourite most people love to eat – toasted cheese sandwiches (well, I wasn’t going to let that gruyere go to waste! It was that or fondue).

Monday Stir Fried Vegetables with Cashew Nut Sauce. Do you often order the chicken with cashew nuts at your local Chinese place? If so, the meatless version loses nothing of the flavour because for me it’s the vegetables and the sauce that are the best bits! You could substitute cashews for peanuts if you wanted. I use big chunks of broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, baby corn and green beans in this dish.

Tuesday Roasted Cauliflower Pasta in Spicy Tomato Sauce. I often put broccoli in vegetarian pasta dishes but sometimes I find it imparts a bit too much broccoli flavour. I decided to try some cauliflower since its in such abundance at the moment and serve it with a sauce similar to a Penne Alla Vodka but with 1/2 teaspoon of crushed chilli flakes (I pick out all the seeds too, that’s about all I can stand!). You could also use cayenne pepper instead. This was a great meal and something different for us.

Wednesday Rosemary, Garlic and Harissa Vegetable Kebabs with Chargrilled Potato Salad. Vegetable kebabs are obviously a popular vegetarian choice and very easy to make. Pairing them with the chargrilled potato salad means the meal is more substantial, and you get heaps of greens from the herbs and rocket in the salad. The harissa gives you a nice spicy depth of flavour and that richness is what helps you forget there is no meat.

Thursday Garlicky Rice Soup. I seriously cannot get enough of this soup. I made it twice in the week and adding rice one day and rice vermicelli noodles on the other. It takes 5 minutes to prepare, and you can pretty much just bung it on the stove until it’s done then serve yourself a really big bowl of it. It seriously does. not. need. the. meat! Don’t feel like you need to add chicken. If you are worried you’ll be left hungry, serve it with a good chunk of bread spread with lashings of butter (or whatever butter impostor you like).

Friday Supreme Vegetarian Pizzas. I reported in one of my earlier weeks my fail with gluten free pizza, but I found at the supermarket this week HealthyBake Spelt Pizza Bases. If you have a gluten intolerance or wheat sensitivity, I can’t recommend these products enough. They have an amazing texture and are devoid of traditional wheat flour, opting instead for spelt, khorasan, soya and pharoah flours. Although these contain gluten, I certainly find I can eat them a few times a week and feel fine. The Organic Khorasan bread is my absolute favourite and it lasts for ages (considering it has no preservatives) which is what you want in an expensive loaf. The spelt pizza bases are lovely and nutty with a pretty good texture.

You don’t need to go meatless for a whole month, and you don’t need to do it in May, but I would urge you to start incorporating more meat free meals into your diet. I think I’ve proven just how easy it is!

2 Comments

  1. d

    Fantastic idea and some great meal ideas! I’ve always wanted to go meatless for a day or two and should really give it a go and incorporate it into my weekly schedule. “Meatless Mondays” sounds like a great place to start. Loving that idea of the platter!

  2. Cat

    Do it, it’s so easy!! :)

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