What’s for dinner? The answers used to be chicken or beef, but to a growing group, it’s tofu. Called flexitarians, they eat less meat and more plants, abiding by rules that range from not eating red meat to being vegan before 6 p.m. to partaking in Meatless Mondays. The movement, whose supporters include Paul McCartney, Mark Bittman and Oprah herself, is a result of meat consumption being linked to everything from colorectal cancer to climate change to cholesterol. And dietitians and doctors are on board. “I often suggest to people that if they eat meat, to use it as a condiment [instead of as the main item],” says Victoria Pawlowski, registered dietitian and president of B.C.-based Springwell Nutrition.
These four meatless, dietitian-approved meals are packed with protein and fibre, but low in societal costs.
1. Balsamic-glazed peaches, arugula and chèvre salad
Chatelaine’s peach, arugula and chèvre salad is a great source of calcium, fibre, and antioxidants, says Erin Pinder, registered dietitian at Body Fuel Nutrition in Lethbridge, Alta. The goat cheese provides protein, but to make it a balanced, complete meal, Pinder suggests adding “nuts and dried fruits, such as figs, and having a whole-wheat bun or slice of bread on the side.”
2. Springwell salsa
When combined with high-quality tortilla chips, Pawlowski’s salsa makes a healthy after-school snack, full of protein and antioxidants. To make this fast-and-fresh snack, combine two 24 oz. cans of diced cooked tomatoes, two cloves of chopped garlic, 1 cup diced onion, 1 fresh chopped red pepper, 1 bunch chopped cilantro, 1 19 oz. can black beans and 2 cups cooked corn, plus chili peppers and sea salt to taste.
3. Spicy peanut, tofu and spinach stir-fry
While the hot-chili garlic sauce and all-natural peanut butter in Chatelaine’s peanut, tofu and spinach stir-fry bring the flavor, the spinach and tofu bring the calcium and protein. Tofu is made of soy, the only vegetarian source of whole proteins, explains Pinder.
4. Edamame quinoa salad
This 15-minute, one-pot meal can stand up as a supper or lunch. Take 1 cup rinsed, uncooked quinoa and bring to a boil with 1 3/4 cups water in a small pot for 15 to 20 minutes, and microwave 1 ½ cups of edamame for three to four minutes. Add ½ lb cooked green beans, ½ cup roasted red peppers, 1 15-oz. can of black beans, 1 tsp tarragon and a drizzle of Italian dressing for a meal that’s high in protein, healthy fats and fibre.