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A Guide to Lenten Dinner Ideas and Frugal Meatless Meals



Introduction:

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift towards embracing meatless meals, not only for ethical and environmental reasons but also for their myriad health benefits. Whether you're observing Lent or simply looking to incorporate more plant-based options into your diet, exploring the world of meatless meals can open up a wealth of culinary possibilities and add a ton of nutritional benefits.


In this blog we’ll cover plant-based proteins that stand out for their versatility, nutritional value, low cost and culinary appeal! They might just become prized staples in your homemade meatless dishes, on Fridays during Lent or anytime!


1. EGGS:


Eggs are an inexpensive nutritional powerhouse, packed with high quality protein and 13 essential nutrients and vitamins. They are particularly rich in choline, which supports brain health and lutein and zeaxanthin, which is important for eye health. Eggs are a complete protein, providing all essential amino acids and are extremely versatile. 


If you’re looking to create a fun dish with eggs that pack in the flavor check out Çılbır, or Turkish Poached Eggs. According to Dietitian Kristin Grimes, RDN, LD, CPT owner of Dietitian Kristin, “Çılbır is a quick and easy meatless dish made with ingredients most of us already have on hand. This simple dish pairs fresh herbs with garlicky yogurt, a kick of chili pepper and the perfect poached egg to give you a protein-packed meal that will leave you satisfied and energized. Not to mention you'll also be getting a solid dose of Calcium, Vitamin D and B12, which can often be lacking in meat-free diets.”


Turkish poached eggs

2. LENTILS:


Prized for their rich protein and fiber content, lentils are a staple in the meatless world. They are also less than $5 per 16-ounce bag in most local grocery stores, which makes them an amazing meat free food. They are high in folate, iron and potassium. Lentils are also particularly abundant in manganese, which plays a crucial role in thyroid health, helping protect the gland from oxidative stress. Manganese also helps convert enzymes responsible for the type of thyroid hormone most available to the body, so it has a pretty important job! 


Dietitian, Lori McCall, MS, RDN, LD shares that “lentils make a fantastic vehicle for flavor when avoiding meat. My favorite pick is a lentil “meatloaf” using lentils, tofu, and walnuts in place of ground beef. Now you’ve got a healthy boost of fiber to complement plenty of iron and protein!” Her favorite recipe is Oat and Lentil “Meatloaf”, a protein-rich BBQ glazed dish that looks and tastes just like traditional meatloaf. Try this one with the kids who won't know any different! 




3. TEMPEH:


Tempeh is a fermented soy product that originated in Indonesia and has gained popularity in a variety of meatless dishes. Unlike tofu, tempeh retains the whole soybean, providing a chewy texture and nutty flavor. It also contains probiotics, which support a healthy gut, all for $3 to $6 per pack.


“Tempeh is a great alternative for meatless meals that pack protein and micronutrients like iron and calcium, " says Haley Bishoff, RD, LD plant-based dietitian and owner of Rūtsu Nutrition in Las Vegas. “It is a versatile protein source because it’s naturally bland in flavor and absorbs whatever seasonings and spices you add. Tempeh is a delicious addition to nachos, sandwiches, salads and more! I love this Tempeh Nacho Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing from Forks Over Knives.”



4. CHICKPEAS:


Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are a versatile legume that is widely used in Mediterranean dishes and Middle Eastern cuisine. They are rich in fiber, protein and vitamins like folate, iron and zinc. You can add them to your plate for only $2.25/can, which makes them a great option for a frugal meal. 


While most of the world knows chickpeas as “hummus” there’s so much more to this legume. They are the center of the plate in dishes like this chickpea kamut curry, provided by Moushumi Mukherjee, MS, RDN, owner of DietitianMoushumi.com, Mukherjee loves sharing this chickpea dish because it “is filled with flavor, is a great protein source and will add a cultural twist to traditional lent dishes. It also has spinach in it so it is a complete meal with whole grains.” 





5. BEANS:


Beans encompass a diverse range of legumes, including black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and cannellini. Each bean offers its own flavor, texture and nutritional profile. They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, potassium and magnesium. 


“Beans are my favorite plant-based protein source, " says Melanie Betz, MS, RD, CSR, FAND, Founder and CEO of the Kidney Dietitian. “These Stuffed Poblano Peppers are a great way to add variety to fish fries during lent. They are packed with protein from beans and have a whopping 8 grams fiber per pepper.”


While not a “meal,” one of my favorite ways to add more beans to my diet include adding these crunchy roasted beans by Badabean. They pack 6 grams of protein per serving and come in a variety of flavors such as sea salt, garlic and onion and sweet sriracha. Click here and save an extra 15% off upon checkout.




Stuffed Poblano pepper


A Final Note


Here at Nutrient Rich Life we believe that variety is the spice of life! We encourage everyone to make all foods fit as much as possible and that includes eating more plants and cooking in a way that adds fun and flavor to your life! 


The meatless meals featured here do just that, so give them a shot, whether you’re exploring Lent dinner ideas, or simply seeking frugal meatless options. The world of plant-based cuisine awaits with endless possibilities. Now all that’s left is for you to try it! Enjoy! 


Amanda Liptak

Hi, I'm Amanda!


Functional weight loss coach, registered dietitian nutritionist and mom of one picky eater with multiple food allergies! I'm a big believer that if you can learn to fish -- you can eat for life! So this blog is dedicated to helping you learn to toss out the food myths that result in unnecessary food stress so that you can become a confident, healthy eater!






 

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