• melissa7981

The COVID Meatless Challenge

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

Seven days of no meat helps you live healthier for a lifetime.

Sometimes life creates frustrating barriers to our normal, everyday routines that challenge the ability to maintain life as usual. Routines, after all, help the brain go on "autopilot" -- saving precious brain power to tackle new and different problems that arise. When these routines unravel, the brain revolts. It's uncomfortable to creatively problem-solve an issue that you've already (successfully) addressed. While hard to do, what if you allow yourself to reimagine these events not as obstacles but instead as interesting opportunities? Your reaction might change from frustrated to energized.

One such hurdle is happening as we speak. Right now, high-quality meat is noticeably difficult to procure. This is exceptionally challenging for the Midwest because, afterall, we are "meat-and-potatoes" land. Since moving to St. Louis, I've noticed that nearly all meals revolve around the main, animal-based protein being served. To be clear, I know that I'm an outsider. Born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., I've lived all over the country and picked up mannerisms, phrases, and dining preferences from each locale. Yet, St. Louis quickly became home, and I've adopted a taste for a few delicacies (like toasted ravs!). While I'm not an especially passionate meat-eater, one of the things I've found most enjoyable is the abundance of cost-effective, high-quality sirloin. Yet, even in this "midwestern meat Mecca", the grocery store shelves remain eerily empty.

Forced to find new ways of doing...well, nearly everything, it's understandable that cooking fell into this category as well. As many people on social media have pointed out, though, now's an especially good time to evaluate many of our habits of normal life. Perhaps the opportunity has presented itself to re-evaluate our reliance on beef, chicken, and pork.

So, with my thoughts already open to new ideas, I turned to reading "How Not to Die", by Gene Stone and Michael Gregor.

Catchy and quippy as the title is, the book is full of interesting facts. The authors go through diseases one by one, using almost a century's worth of evidence-based and peer-reviewed research (meaning that the articles were reviewed by experts, or "peers", in the field for validity, rigor, and content) to support their claim. Ultimately, from cardiovascular concerns and cancer, to diabetes and obesity, the authors present compelling reasons why consuming meat may be a big part of our public health problems.

What serendipity, I thought.

I'm reading this book about plant-based diets, and we already use many of the powerhouse plants recommended. In a time when we're trying to quarantine and stay home, I don't actually have to go anywhere but my pantry to find healthy foods.

"In a time when we're trying to stay home, I don't actually have to go anywhere but my pantry to find healthy foods."

I began to reimagine the inconvenience of lacking meat as an opportunity to focus on meatless eating: enjoying whole, plant-based foods from the pantry or freezer. 

So, here's your challenge:

Each day over the course of one week, select one freezer or pantry staple item, learn more about its health benefits, and find a creative way to prepare it for you and your family.

I'm calling this the COVID Meatless Challenge:

Since I already owned several delicious and nutrition options, I've selected the following seven foods:

  • Lentils

  • Broccoli

  • Quinoa

  • Sweet Potatoes

  • Spinach

  • Beans

  • Berries

Each is listed with some information about why they're delicious AND nutritious, and I provide a linked, pre-tested vegetarian recipe for each.

Enjoy the journey, my friends. I plan for mine to be a long one.

Recipe: Red Lentil Loaf with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Recipe:Broccoli Egg Bites

Recipe: Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

Recipe: Greek Spanakorizo

Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Tacos

Recipe: Black Beans and Rice Pilaf

Recipe: Mixed Berry Baked Oatmeal Cups

Did you try any of these recipes or make any of your own? I'd love to hear from you!


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