What’s for dinner tonight?
Ah yes, the age-old question. Perhaps you like to make a weekly meal plan. Or maybe you come home from work and let your mood dictate what will be on the table that night. Regardless of your dinner style, do you ever build your meal around some of the meat alternatives found in Canada’s Food Guide? Think beans, lentils, eggs, nuts, tofu – all of these are great vegetarian protein sources to incorporate into your diet. If these foods haven’t been on your dinner radar, they probably should be! Adding a vegetarian meal one night a week can be a great thing to do for you and your family!
So, what makes adding vegetarian meals to your weekly rotation so great?
- Economical: Vegetarian meals are often more budget-friendly than meals based around meat or seafood. Beans, lentils, eggs, and tofu are all easier on the wallet than chicken, steak, or salmon.
- Variety: Adding vegetarian meals to your weekly rotation can add great variety to your diet as you experiment with different recipes or revamp your favourite to make them veggie-friendly.
- Healthy: Choosing vegetarian protein options like beans, lentils, nuts, and tofu can be great for your health. These foods are lower in saturated fat than meats and high in fibre, which can help keep your heart healthy and decrease your risk for other chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
- Convenient: Cooking up a vegetarian meal is easy. Lentils and eggs can be cooked up in a flash, and canned beans are a great staple to have on hand.
- Delicious: Yes, vegetarian meals are delicious! Think hearty bean chili, comforting lentil soup, fragrant tofu Thai curry, or a fancy spinach and mushroom quiche. Yum!
If you want to start incorporating more vegetarian meals into your rotation, I suggest starting with some of your favourite foods and seeing how you might turn those into a great vegetarian meal. Family favourites like pizza, shepherd’s pie, burritos, chili, and burgers can all easily be made vegetarian. In fact, my favourite weeknight vegetarian meal is a super simple veggie burger made using chickpeas. They are reminiscent of falafel and, best of all, they are quick and delicious. Give them a go!
Falafelly Good Chickpea Burgers
Recipe from French Fries to Flax Seeds.
Makes 4 burgers.
- 1 can (540 ml or 19 oz) no salt added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup white or red onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher until just a little lumpy – you want some texture.
- Add in garlic, parsley, onion, flour, olive oil, cumin, and cayenne. Mix until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Divide the mixture into 4 equal-sized balls and form into patties. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, adding a small amount of oil if the pan is not non-stick. Fry the patties until golden brown and cooked through – about 5 minutes on each side.
- Serve on whole wheat burger buns with your favourite burger toppings, or dress them up like you would a falafel.
Note: Feel free to switch out the fresh herbs for whatever you have on hand – dill and basil are both great choices!
For more delicious ways of incorporating beans and lentils into your meals, check out Pulse Canada.
About Marianne Bloudoff
Born and raised in BC, Marianne moved from Vancouver to Prince George in January 2014. She is a Registered Dietitian with Northern Health's population health team. Her passion for food and nutrition lured her away from her previous career in Fisheries Management. Now, instead of counting fish, she finds herself educating people on their health benefits. In her spare time, Marianne can be found experimenting in the kitchen and writing about it on her food blog, as well as exploring everything northern B.C. has to offer.