Where’s the beef?

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Our daughter Kady drew this picture a few years back as part of a school assignment. Kady is our resident vegetarian. As a result, our whole family has pretty much moved to a vegetarian lifestyle. Her reasons are not so much health-oriented as they are morally-driven. She just doesn’t think we should eat animals. And, it turns out, we don’t really need to. We’ve done lots of studies on this topic as nutritionists and whether you are vegetarian or not, there are lots of great health benefits to learn from a vegetarian lifestyle – so, it’s worth opening your mind to exploring.

Let’s talk about lean protein.

Where’s the beef? is a phrase that was popular back in the 80s (for those of you our age). It became mainstream through a popular Wendy’s commercial. We use it rather ‘tongue-in-cheek’ here on our site, but it is definitely an important question for your diet.

Many people are looking for ways to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet. Others are trying to figure out the magic balance of meat in their diet. Some families have a combination of both types of people in the house.

No matter which side of the fence you’re exploring, The Kitchen Skinny menus will help guide you so you can discover what works best for your body.

How?

The first thing you’ll notice with our healthy recipes is that they are primarily plant-based. You’ll find a few recipes with eggs and a few with cheese, but primarily they are all plant-based.

Does that mean you have to be a vegetarian or that we encourage vegetarianism? No.

However, our recipes don’t require meat, so if you ARE a vegetarian or you have a kid that is vegetarian or you’re trying to cut back on your meat intake, you’ll find our recipes very conducive.

The reason we put our focus on plant-based recipes is because research now indicates that eating a more plant-based diet is key to weight management and the prevention of most major diseases. As a result, the USDA has changed its dietary recommendations to encourage people to focus on more fruits and vegetables and to reduce meat intake. USDA MyPlate recommendations

Here’s an excerpt from the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines, Chapter 5, page 45.

Research on vegetarian eating patterns

“The types of vegetarian diets consumed in the United States vary widely. Vegans do not consume any animal products, while lacto-ovo vegetarians consume milk and eggs. Some individuals eat diets that are primarily vegetarian but may include small amounts of meat, poultry, or seafood.

In prospective studies of adults, compared to non-vegetarian eating patterns, vegetarian-style eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes—lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and lower total mortality. Several clinical trials have documented that vegetarian eating patterns lower blood pressure.

On average, vegetarians consume a lower proportion of calories from fat (particularly saturated fatty acids); fewer overall calories; and more fiber, potassium, and vitamin C than do non-vegetarians. Vegetarians generally have a lower body mass index. These characteristics and other lifestyle factors associated with a vegetarian diet may contribute to the positive health outcomes that have been identified among vegetarians.”

Does that mean you have to follow a strict vegetarian diet to be healthy? Not necessarily. However, the USDA is definitely suggesting we take a more ‘vegetarian-style’ approach to eating.

Most Americans eat a lot more meat than the daily recommended amount and don’t even realize it. Take a look at the recommendations and see where you come out with your daily intake.

While a lot of us are starting to cut back, it’s a huge challenge because we don’t know enough about protein. We think that if you don’t eat meat, there is no way to get enough protein.

We also don’t really know how to plan a meal without meat. If you’re anything like us, you grew up in a world where a traditional meal is centered around a piece of meat. Meat, veggie, starch, right? Those have been the main components of our dinner plate here in the U.S. for most of our lives.

We were so worried when Kady became a vegetarian because we weren’t sure she would be getting the protein she needed. Now that we’ve studied nutrition for years, we know better. You’ll learn a lot about this as we go along.

In the meantime, if you eat meat, don’t stop eating it (unless you want to). Instead, we just want you to start thinking of it a little differently.

The goal is to make meat a side dish, rather than central to any given meal.

You can add a side of meat to almost any recipe at The Kitchen Skinny. The beauty of our recipes is that you have a choice and you can make adjustments based on what works best for your body and your family. They are also very easily adapted to be gluten-free or vegan or simply to avoid ingredients that you are sensitive or allergic to.

Recommended Sources for Meat:

 

One of the other reasons we try to help people trim back on meat is because as you’ve probably been hearing, there’s a lot going into our meat that is becoming a problem for our health – the meat most of us have access to is not the healthiest. So, whatever meat you do eat, get the best you possibly can. It’s better to spend a little more on good quality meat and eat a little less, than it is to eat more and spend less. Great rule to live by.

 

Chicken:  Unfortunately, it is very hard to get your hands on chicken that is raised without antibiotics, hormones, and that is fed its natural diet & healthy itself (you are what you eat). We don’t currently have a vendor that we recommend. But you should be able to find a local resource to get good quality chicken. It’s always best to start local when it comes to meat – if you have a farmer’s market nearby you can talk to people there to find something.

 

Fish: Wild Alaskan Salmon is a great option as one of your meat choices for the week. Mercury and other contamination is a big concern when it comes to fish, so we have established an affiliate relationship with Vital Choice – a source we trust for our members. You’ll always see a link to them in the right sidebar on our site. You can order right here from our site.

 

Red Meat: If you enjoy red meat, by hooking up with a grass fed meat co-op or something, you can actually get fairly lean red meat. So, if you enjoy that, check into that as well. We have a local resource here if you’re interested in that.

 

Again, we’re trying to help people move away from meat as much as possible simply because with our top killers today, a more vegetarian style, more plants / less meat lifestyle is the way to go.

 

The first few menus because of all the beans probably seem very vegetarian, but you’ll see as you go along that it’s easy to add sides of meat to many of the recipes. So, don’t hesitate to do that. As you go along and experiment with more of the meat-free meals, you’ll find a few favorites that you prefer that way and it will help you trim back on meat without having to let it go completely.

 

AT OUR HOUSE

Not too many years ago, we were big meat eaters at our house. In fact, we were always looking for ways to eat more protein to help our fitness goals. However, when we found ways to increase our plant-based protein and to reduce our animal-based protein, we started feeling better and seeing our body composition change becoming more lean and muscular.  Today, we can’t claim to be full on vegetarians, but we rarely eat meat and we don’t cook it at home.

As we mentioned, one of our daughters is a die-hard vegetarian. We know a lot of parents struggle when their kids go vegetarian because they are worried their child isn’t getting enough nutrients or protein, etc. And, with the traditional American diet, they are right.

Thankfully, we never have to worry about whether our daughter is getting enough protein. We have learned how to cook and plan meals that offer plenty of plant-based protein. There are many ways to get enough protein into your diet – even without meat. This is something we’ve learned over time and we know it can help you, too.

VEGETARIANS HAVE TO EAT HEALTHY, TOO!

Vegetarians have to watch out for variety and balance in their diets the same way that meat eaters do. There are plenty of vegetarians that struggle with weight management and other health concerns. So, meat or no meat…eating healthy is something you have to learn.

The Kitchen Skinny will teach you how to incorporate more plant-based meals and protein sources into your diet so you can learn ways to rethink your plate to better match the USDA’s recommendations.

WE HELP BOTH VEGETARIANS & MEAT EATERS EAT HEALTHIER

Here’s how The Kitchen Skinny will help you rethink your dinner plate if you are a big meat eater.

There are 7 days in a week. Each week, we provide our members with 5 recipes. That means you have two meals each week to eat whatever you like. For most of our members, they eat what they want on the weekend and use our menus during the week.

Out of the five recipes we send you each week, two will usually have clear options for adding meat. Just look for the tips at the bottom of the recipe for: Where’s the beef?

If you are a meat eater and you use all five of our recipes during the week, you will probably eat three of those meals without meat and two with. And, we assume that you will eat meat on those two nights during the week that you do not use our recipes. That means you’ll have four dinners each week with meat and 3 dinners without. That’s a great balance and will help you trim back and get into a healthier zone.

However, it’s not just about the number of meals with meat. It’s about how much you consume throughout the day. We recommend that you get to know the USDA recommended allowance for protein so you can make adjustments on a daily basis.

The Kitchen Skinny only provides your dinner menu so we don’t know what you’ve had for breakfast or lunch. You’ll need to adjust your dinner to make healthy choices. If you ate your allotted meat for the day during breakfast and lunch, you might want to opt for preparing your dinner as presented (without meat).

Getting exposure to recipes that incorporate more vegetables and healthy ingredients, while cutting down on meat intake is one of the unique benefits of this program.

That’s what you’ll learn here at The Kitchen Skinny. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us: tk@thekitchenskinny.com.

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