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Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Miracle of One Pound of Hamburger Meat

I often think that for most people instead of going totally meatless it maybe easier to go "less meat". Let me give you and example. I made one pound of hamburger meat the other day and seasoned it for tacos (cumin, chili powder, adobo). I mixed the meat with a couple tablespoons of salsa and we made tacos with meat, cheese, salsa, fresh tomatoes, lettuce and plain yogurt (instead of sour cream). We had beans and rice as a side dish. We did not finish the meat. The next day my husband took two tacos to work for lunch. That night I took the remaining meat and beans and mixed it with some freshly prepared penne pasta and made soup, topped with a little sprinkle of cheese and served with freshly baked bread. If you sub in more vegetables in place of meat you will be eating lighter, cheaper, and more healthfully. The trick is to think of meat as a seasoning or a flavoring device. It is not uncommon for us to eat a pot of collard greens flavored with a couple ounces of pork belly or bacon, a pot of black eyed peas and rice and a pan of corn bread. Is that vegetarian? Clearly not, but is it healthy and delicious and cheap? Certainly!

Another meal we are found of here is to make large backed potatoes, stuffed with cheese and bacon and broccoli, served with a large salad and some steamed green beans (perhaps flavored with bacon grease?) and dinner is ready and decadent. What about stuffed cabbage or stuffed peppers, mixing the meat with cooked rice was a way of stretching the meat for economy but the result is truly delicious food. Many hamburger patty, meatball and meatloaf recipes can be combined with bread crumbs, cooked lentils and/or shredded vegetables to add nutrition and flavor and use less meat as well. We often make a chicken stir fry or fajitas with just one chicken breast in it. Just add more peppers or bok choy or beans as needed. A chicken/rice/broccoli casserole is equally delicious with more broccoli and less chicken in it. Make a French onion soup with leftover chicken broth and top with baguette slice and cheese! The possibilities are nearly endless.

If you wish to go vegetarian because you don't want to eat animals then obviously this won't work for you, but if you'd like to consume less meat for your health, for economic reasons, to ease into full vegetarianism, or for the ecological impact then this might be a good technique for you to explore.

By the way, we are a family of 4, one grade schooler, 1 preschooler and 2 adults. If you are a family with three rapidly growing teenagers or hearty eaters or more just a lot more people then obviously you must adjust your amounts accordingly. :)

1 comment:

  1. Exactly how I feel. I've reduced the amount of meat we eat by about 50% over the past few years. I do a lot of those tricks - mix lentils in with mince, extra veg, etc., etc. I'm not going to become a vegetarian any time soon, but I do try and cook with less meat, mainly for environmental and health reasons.