10 easy ways to go Meatless Monday

10 easy ways to go Meatless Monday

Haven't heard of the Meatless Monday campaign? Well, you're about to.

The healthy eating initiative, which advocates going vegetarian once a week, has made waves in the US and is winning fans worldwide.

Its claim: By replacing high-fat red meats with fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables, you'll lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

You'll also help save precious resources - such as fossil fuel and water - that are used in large quantities by the livestock industry.

You could probably go meatless any day of the week, but studies suggest that people are more likely to sustain behaviours that begin early in the week.

Add this crop of palate-pleasers to your repertoire of vegetarian dishes and you'll likely never fall into a food rut again.

CHAYOTE

Also known as Buddha hand melon locally (because of its likeness to hands clasped in prayer), you can prepare this crisp, green food in a multitude of ways: raw in salads, fried, poached, or baked with butter.

Its ability to retain its firm texture even after cooking makes this ideal for stews and pies too.

As it has such a light taste, it takes on the flavours of the seasonings you cook it with, so add this vitamin C-rich fruit to as many dishes as you like.

One point to note though: When cut, it secretes a sticky, slippery sap that's hard to wash off , so wear gloves before handling it.

FOUR-ANGLED BEAN

This curious-looking green is also known as a "winged bean" because of its frilly corners.

A good source of protein (100g gives you almost half your recommended daily intake), this mild-tasting legume is usually sliced and added to Thunder Tea Rice (a rice dish with green tea broth).

It's also delicious sautéed with shallots and chilli.

SWEDE

Popular in the UK, it is also referred to as yellow turnip, which is more flavourful than the white one we're used to.

It doesn't pack much fibre (only 3.5g per cup), but it does boast up to half a day's worth of vitamin C.

For a nutritious snack, chop it into cubes and munch on them throughout the day.

BELGIAN ENDIVE

Crisp and tangy, it holds up better than other salad greens in the fridge, so it's always good to keep some around.

Low in calories and high in fibre, we like using the leaves as edible "spoons" for dips like guacamole and salsa.

FENNEL

A good source of heart-healthy potassium and B vitamins, this will add a nice kick to your salad.

Trim off the feathery bits on top, then shave thin slices of the bulb over your greens.

This crunchy veggie has a unique anise flavour that pairs well with citrus fruit dressings. Try this as a pizza topping too.

SHARK'S FIN MELON

Said to have glucose-regulating compounds, this gets its name because its flesh resembles shark's fin when boiled.

More commonly used in savoury soups, this ingredient also features in desserts.

Peel, chop, and boil it with red dates, wolfberries, rock sugar, pandan leaves, dried longan, lohan guo (siraitia grosvenorii) and gingko nuts for a refreshing treat.

BURDOCK

Typically sold in metre-long portions, the root, which resembles a whip, has a similar bite to lotus root.

High in fibre, amino acids and calcium, it's also believed to have detoxifying properties, according to traditional Chinese medicine practitioners.

It's usually boiled in soup with wolfberries, dates and pork ribs, but you can have it another way: The Japanese prepare it kinpira style, where it's washed, peeled, julienned and soaked in salt water for five to 10 minutes (to draw out bitterness and prevent oxidation) before it is stir-fried with sesame seeds and soya sauce.


ARTICHOKE

This may be a little tedious to prepare, but don't dismiss it just yet. It's absolutely delicious, and is rich in fibre as well as anti-cancer flavonoids.

To make your own healthy appetiser, cut off the bottom and an inch off the top with a serrated knife.

Using a pair of kitchen scissors, snip off the sharp tips of the leaves, then pry them away from the centre to expose the inedible furry middle; scoop that out.

Rub the bud with a halved lemon to prevent browning, then cook it in boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes until tender.

Drain, cool and cut into quadrants. Marinate it overnight with a pinch of salt and pepper, some chopped garlic (one clove), a sprinkling of parsley leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

CHINESE MUSTARD GREEN

More commonly sold in pickled form, this vitamin- and mineral rich vegetable is a popular accompaniment to Teochew porridge and is usually paired with stewed pork dishes. How we like it: fresh, chopped and stir-fried with garlic and shallots.

PARSNIP

Does this resemble a carrot? You're right if you guessed that they're related.

Sweeter than its coloured cousin, parsnip is higher in vitamins E and C as well as minerals like potassium. Like a carrot, it can be baked, roasted or added to soup.

MEAT YOUR NEEDS

To get your recommended daily dose of protein (58g), go for…

5 cups of baked beans = 3 ½ pieces of roast chicken breast (52g each)
2 cups of sunflower seeds = 3 T-bone steaks (85g each)
1 ½ cups of firm tofu = 24 slices of turkey breast (15g each)

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