6 Food Swaps When You’re Cutting Back on Meat

You wont miss meat after trying these scrumptious stand-ins!

Thinking about cutting back on meat but not quite ready to plunge fully into a vegetarian lifestyle? We don’t blame you. Among the numerous reasons why many are gradually steering away from meat, some include the impact an animal-based diet can have on your health. Despite its high protein count, meat tends to carry fat, cholesterol, and a boatload of calories that not only can impact your weight, but also can invite serious health issues down the road. Perhaps the most frightening aspect, however, is the commercial meat industry’s heavy use of hormones, antibiotics, and other veterinary drugs.

We wont deny meat tastes great, and giving up the food group cold-turkey is virtually impossible for some. Luckily, here at Skinny Ms., we’ve grouped together some fantastic food swaps when you’re cutting back on meat that will fill you up, without making you feel deprived. These meatless recipes deliver that hearty, filling character you love about meat, while also using 100% clean and wholesome ingredients you can feel good about.

So whether you want to boost your health or the health of the environment, we’re here to facilitate the process with these drool-worthy dishes you can enjoy totally guilt-free.

1. Tofu and Tempeh:

As awesome substitutes for pork, chicken, and beef, tofu and tempeh are made from soybeans and packed with nutrients and protein. Pressed tofu can taste chewy and firm, delivering that meaty consistency you love. Meanwhile, the superfood’s spongy texture makes it amazing at absorbing flavors. Tempeh has a grainy, nutty texture that differs from tofu, and imitates fish dishes quite well. Brimming with fiber, calcium, vitamins, and protein, tempeh makes for an uber-healthy alternative to meat, and tastes delicious.

For recipe ideas, whip up this scrumptious Spicy Grilled Tofu with Szechuan Vegetables dish, or try this nourishing Maple Glazed Tempeh with Quinoa and Kale recipe tonight!

2. Black Beans:

Cheap, substantial, and tasty, black beans make it easy to replace your missing protein when you’ve decided to cut back on meat. Unlike meat products, black beans boast a high dietary fiber count, and usually contain little/no fat and cholesterol. The superfood flaunts a distinctive flavor that tastes delicious when paired with onions, savory spices, or rice.

And when it comes to burger recipes, black beans steal the spotlight. When merged with scrumptious ingredients and formed into patties, black beans put traditional burgers to shame. Not to mention, they’ll leave you feeling much healthier afterward! Whip up these crave-worthy Black Bean Mushroom Burgers  or Black Bean Superfood Burgers for meatless burgers certain to satisfy!

3. Lentils:

A scrumptious stand-in for meat, lentils are a nutrient-rich, inexpensive legume harvested from small plants. They boast awesome amounts of lean protein, fiber, folate, and iron your body will certainly thank you for. These legumes give off a small, lens-like shape that emulates ground beef super well, and makes a wonderful meatless filling for tacos and burritos. After dressing up in seasonings and spices, cooked lentils have a comforting consistency that’ll fill you up and warm your belly.

Throw together these easy-peazy Lentil Zucchini Pancakes or whip up these crowd-pleasing Crock-Pot Sloppy Joes made with Lentils for tonight’s dinner!

4. Chickpeas:

Perhaps one of the most nutritious substitutes for meat, chickpeas carry a laundry list of impressive health benefits, from improving digestive health and heart health, regulating blood sugar, reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol. A scrumptious staple in Middle Eastern cooking, chickpeas can star in soups, stews, and chilis, and they can mimic ground meat when mashed. You can also puree the superfood into a rich and creamy hummus spread that’s packed with protein.

For meatless recipe ideas you’ll fall in love with, dig into these drool-worthy recipes for Garbanzo Curry Burgers or Buffalo Ranch Chickpea Burgers, or dish up this impressive Chickpea and Portobello Meatless Meatloaf for your next dinner party!

5. Portobello Mushrooms:

When it comes to amazing meat mimickers, portobello mushrooms top the charts, hands-down. These earthy vegetables deliver that tender, juicy consistency you love about meat. They come with a way cheaper price tag than processed faux meats, though. When sliced and sautéed, mushrooms make a scrumptious stand-in for steak. And, when tossed on the grill and thrown in a bun, they form bomb burgers.

Fire up the grill and whip up these Portobello Burgers with Savory Balsamic Marinade! And we promise you wont miss meat after sinking your teeth into these crave-worthy Caprese-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms!

6. Quinoa:

When it comes to meat alternatives, quinoa reigns supreme. It is one of the only meatless foods to provide the nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce on their own. Not to mention, the nutty superfood contains a boatload of nutrients, including fiber, protein, iron, and magnesium. But with all the amazing health benefits aside, quinoa tastes downright delicious and is super versatile.

These Southwestern Meatless Meatballs make a tasty, protein-packed addition to pasta dishes, and will also star at game nights!

Meanwhile, our scrumptious Quinoa Mushroom Burgers and Quinoa Lentil Burgers will hit the spot any night of the week, and satisfy your meat cravings while loading you up with clean ingredients.

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Ellie Krasner

Ellie is a full-time violinist living in Las Vegas, and a writer with an insatiable appetite for clean eating and fitness! She is a graduate of Binghamton University with degrees in English literature and violin, and loves investigating the world of healthy living.

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