Guest Writer: Hannah Field
Going meatless can be a great option for you and your family. However frequently you choose to do it – all the time or just occasionally, and for whatever reason – religious, budgetary, or otherwise, there are many benefits. At the family level, a meatless meal is often cost-effective and can help you eat more veggies and legumes. On a larger scale, it can save energy because of the land and feed required to raise animals.
Many people worry about getting enough protein in a meatless meal. This is a valid concern, but it is actually less of a problem than you might think. There are lots of ways to go meatless and still get the recommended amount of protein in your diet. Also, different protein-containing foods can be combined to get all the essential amino acids that make up protein through something called complementation.
Complementation is when you combine two plant-based protein sources, often a grain and a legume. Foods that count as legumes are peanuts, and all beans and peas except snow peas and green beans. It is a general concept, so the proteins don’t have to be eaten together in the same meal to be beneficial. However, there are many delicious examples of these dishes in cultures around the world! Here are just a few:
- Pinto beans and rice
- Black beans and tortillas
- Noodles with tofu
- Hoppin’ John
- Lentil soup with barley
- Minestrone soup
Consider adding one of these international dishes to the meals you make, and your family won’t even miss the meat! They are filling, satisfying, and often warm, so they are perfect for chillier nights. Check out this recipe for flavorful West African Peanut Stew with brown rice – it is plant-based and protein-packed!
If your family makes meatless meals, share your tips and stories with us in the comments! Let us know what you think if you make the recipe, too!
-West African Peanut Stew
Serves 6. Cook time: 45 minutes
-1 Tbsp vegetable oil
-4 cloves garlic
-1 inch fresh ginger
-1 medium (1 lb.) sweet potato
-1 medium onion
-1 tsp cumin
-¼ tsp crushed red pepper
-1 (6oz.) can tomato paste
-½ cup chunky peanut butter
-6 cups vegetable broth
-½ bunch (2-3 cups chopped) collard greens
-3 cups instant brown rice, cooked
- Peel and grate the ginger using a small holed cheese grater. Mince the garlic. Sauté the ginger and garlic in vegetable oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic becomes soft and fragrant.
- Dice the onion, add it to the pot, and continue to sauté. Dice the sweet potato (1/2 inch cubes), add it to the pot, and continue to sauté a few minutes more, or until the onion is soft and the sweet potato takes on a darker, slightly translucent appearance. Season with cumin and red pepper flakes.
- Add the tomato paste and peanut butter, and stir until everything is evenly mixed. Add the vegetable broth and stir to dissolve the thick tomato paste-peanut butter mixture. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to high.
- While the soup is coming up to a boil, prepare the collard greens. Rinse the greens well, then use a sharp knife to remove each stem (cut along the side of each stem). Stack the leaves, then cut them into thin strips. Add the collard strips to the soup pot.
- Once the soup reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and allow it to simmer without a lid for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are very soft. Once soft, smash about half of the sweet potatoes with the back of a wooden spoon to help thicken the soup. Taste the soup and add salt if needed (will depend on the brand of broth used).
- While the soup is boiling, cook the brown rice according to package instructions.
Recipe adapted from the website Budget Bytes.
Hannah Field is an intern with Faithful Families. She is a junior at NC State University, majoring in sociology and social work.