There’s been a lot of gory meat-eating on-screen this holiday season. Tarantino’s perhaps most bloody movie yet, Hateful Eight, is replete with closeups of snarling into old-timey beef jerky, and Iñárritu’s The Revenant boasts a pretty scene in which Leo pulls a hot liver out of a barely-dead animal and eats it bare-handed, as we watch aghast.
Clearly, the frontier was an eat-meat-or-die time for a pioneer. But now, the lucky millennial ducks we are have options!
We can choose to eschew meat and still live! We can give it up altogether or just for a meal now and then, by swapping out traditionally meat-centric dishes to healthier, lighter, more nutrient and mineral-dense fare.
Here are six ways you can get hip to the new veggie-swapping trend in food while getting your recommended daily servings. Three out of four moms and dads approve (and two of them are divorced and can’t agree on anything).
1. Cauliflower Steak
A real TBH moment: I’m an eater, not a cooker. I’d rather eat what others have made than attempt to follow some recipe any ol’ day. If I have to cook, I usually end up doing most of it standing up in my kitchen, attempting not to dirty more than one plate if at all possible. In light of this, recipes that involve four ingredients are my favorite kinds!
Cauliflower is so adaptable it can replace both steak and potatoes. These steaks are so simple, even I can make them, but don’t. My husband does – voluntarily! One-inch thick cauliflower steaks are grilled and placed atop a gentle puree of – you guessed it – more cauliflower. It would be a borderline cannibalistic palate if it weren’t vegetarian.
2. Zucchini Pad Thai
So, you didn’t get a spiralizer for Hanukkah, despite asking no one. Never fear, you can nab a great one for under $30 on Amazon: the Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer. This thing can render a bevy of vegetables into a noodle, a ribbon, or a curl! It’s essentially a very boring yet colorful game of Choose Your Own Adventure.
While pad thai often gets made with meat or seafood, tofu makes an excellent choice. Additionally, we’ve replaced the noodles with spiralized zucchini to turn this carby dish into an extravagantly veggie option.
3. Portobello Burger
Portobello mushrooms are and remain the original burger substitute. Their size fit buns perfectly with a flavor that is decidedly meaty, particularly if you find an easy burger marinade.
Bonus? They’re low in calories, which in my book means you get to have another piece of cake after your breakfast tomorrow. If you are looking to go bun-less, butter lettuce makes for an excellent replacement.
4. Jackfruit Tacos
Jackfruit is one of those vegetables (well, okay, fruits) that fly way under the radar as a perfect meat substitute.
Content to wear sunglasses and a baseball hat while tempeh, seitan, and portobello mushrooms wear flashy sundresses out to brunch spots hounded by paparazzi, the jackfruit is a fig-family member that plays a little hard to get with its tough exterior and slightly messy interior.
It has a sweet flavor akin to a mashup of a pineapple, apple, and banana but is adept at taking on whatever flavors it’s surrounded by and when shredded, it makes an ideal substitute for carne asada!
5. Seitan Chicken Fingers
“My friend” once dated a grown man in his mid-20s who only ate cereal and pizza, ever. I’m not exactly sure why he never became jaundiced by the time I met him, but regardless, that insane enthusiasm for his childhood palate is not insurmountable.
If you’re one of those chicken-finger, tater-tot loving adults, there is hope for you yet. Your vegetables don’t ever have to taste like vegetables if you don’t want them to.
Seitan is wheat gluten, yes gluten, that is high in protein and makes for excellent meat replacement both in flavor and texture.
6. Broccoli Meatballs
While the very idea of this dish might make your Italian relatives roll over in their graves, it is possible to have a meatless meatball!
But cara mia, meat is in the name, they cry from their graves, clutching their Italian pearls. “What’s in a name?” you say in the direction of six feet underground. You wait, and…hear nothing! Ha! You won this one!
Broccoli-parmesan meatballs are mostly healthy, incredibly tasty, and happen to be the most delightful way to get your daily serving of vegetable: in crispy ball form. Who doesn’t love a good food-in-ball-form?
Embed them in a sub roll and throw on some cheese and marinara sauce, and you’ve got yourself a meatball-less sub sandwich! Time to start some new traditions.