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Easy Meat-Free Monday Recipe Challenge (By A Nutritionist)

If you have ever wanted to go vegan or explore the health benefits of going more plantbased, this easy meat-free blog series is just the thing for you. This series was created by a qualified Nutritionist to help people eat more wholefood and ease into a more plantbased diet and lifestyle. The Meat-free Mondays Challenge starts now and you're invited to join in! So, come on, grab some kale and let's get cooking!

What Is Meat-free Monday?


Meatless or "meat-free" Monday is a global movement that encourages people to skip meat one day a week, usually on Mondays. It's all about promoting better health and at the same time, the environmental impact agriculture farming has on our planet. By going plantbased on Mondays, you can join a growing movement of people wanting to eat better and support the health of our planet.


Even just one day of going meatless can make a difference. A diet of plantbased foods has been shown to lower the risk of chronic diseases, improve gut health and insulin balance, while helping to maintain a healthy weight and overall body. Going meatless creates an fabulous opportunity to explore new and healthy recipes made from delicious fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes. In addition, you can experience:


Benefits of Meatless Monday:


  1. Nutrient Boost: plantbased meals are rich in essential nutrients, high in dietary fibre, and provide your body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that contribute to a healthy body.

  2. Weight Management: adding more plantbased meals into your week and diet can help support weight management. Plantbased foods are often lower in calories and saturated fats, and provide a great source of fibre to help keep you feeling fuller.

  3. Environmental Impact: going meatless even for one day reduces your carbon footprint and supports sustainable food practices. Whether that is something you are passionate about or not, it's just another benefit of meat-free Mondays.


What Can I Eat On Meat-free Mondays?


Before we get any further, please don't feel that Meat-free Monday means you have to adhere to a strict eating plan. In reality, it is a flexible initiative that simply encourages dining from vegan and plantbased sources of food. The rules are honestly few, and straightforward:


Every Monday, consciously exclude meat and animal products from your diet. This includes all types of meat, such as beef, pork, poultry, and seafood. You can also choose to exclude eggs and dairy products. Here are some general guidelines to help you adapt:


Plantbased Proteins:

Focus your plate on a palm-size serving of plantbased protein such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, and edamame. Be sure to add in some nuts and seeds, like almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. These are also excellent protein options and a source of healthy fats.


Fruits and Vegetables:

Feast on a variety of fresh high-fibre fruits and water content vegetables. These provide your body with essential vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, and antioxidants. Go for a colourful mix on your plate at each meal to ensure you get a broad spectrum of nutrients.


Whole Grains:

Choose whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, barley, and rolled or steel cut oats. Whole grains are a great source of complex carbohydrates and dietary fibre.


Dairy & Plantbased Alternatives:

If you choose to keep the dairy in, go for wholefood options like plain Greek yogurt, whole cow or goat milk, and cheese. Plantbased alternatives for dairy include almond milk, coconut or oat milk, soya milk, and vegan cheeses made from cashews, coconut or other vegan ingredients.


WARNING: A word of caution, just because it is plantbased, does not automatically mean its better for you. Many plantbased and vegan products can be filled with sugar, excessive sodium, additives, fillers and artificial flavours. Always read the ingredients lists to see what you are actually getting for your meatless swap.


Healthy Fats:

Be sure to include a small serving of healthy fats with your meals. Choose from sources such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. These fats are essential for overall health and can add flavour and richness to meatless meals.


Plantbased Meals:

These days there are an incredible selection of plantbased and vegan meals on the market. These include pre-made salads, stir-fries kits, pre-made soups, grain bowls, and pasta dishes. Again, I caution you to read the ingredients list to see exactly what you are getting. In many cases, it is better to attempt to make your own meal from scratch, and use the commercial offerings as your inspiration.


How To Start Meat-free Mondays

How To Start Meat-free Mondays (By A Nutritionist)  |  Eat Nourish Glow
How To Start Meat-free Mondays (By A Nutritionist) | Eat Nourish Glow

Ready to kick things off? Meat-free Monday is super fun. It is easier than you might think to hop on the trend. To get started, you simply just need to choose a specific day of the week and go for it. Pick a day that works best for you, as you may need to take a little bit of extra time preparing new recipes and meals. Then follow this up by planning out your meals in advance, and make a grocery list with all the plantbased ingredients you'll need.


Getting Prepared: You may want to search up plantbased and meat-free recipes on Pinterest, or explore the mouth-watering plantbased and meat-free recipes right here on the recipe blog for inspiration and to help get you started. I also invite you to jump in my free Facebook Community where we practice Meatless Monday every week! Come join us, here!


What Foods Are Not Included?


The Meat-free Monday Challenge is pretty straightforward. Other than animal products, try to deliberately exclude processed foods and added sugars. Instead, prioritises whole, nutrient-dense food and highly nutritious ingredient choices. By omitting these less nutritious foods, going meatless can help your body naturally cleanse and bounce back from poor eating habits.


The Meat-free Monday Challenge is completely free of the following:


  • all meat sources including eggs, and dairy (optional)

  • pre-packaged and overly processed food

  • refined sugars

  • processed and empty carbs

  • colas and sugary drinks (optional)


While this challenge suggests a balanced and nutritious menu, this does not cater to individual dietary requirements as these may vary. If you'd like a specific plan, one that is more customised for your unique health goals, click here.


Let's Do Meat-free Monday


For the next month, each Monday on the Meat-free Monday Challenge you are going to choose a plantbased recipe for breakfast and dinner, plus a healthy vegan lunch recipe as well as a vegan dessert or snack. All you need to do is follow the meatless eating plan using the suggested recipes and menu below. Be sure to keep fully hydrated throughout the entire day as you will be consuming an increased intake of high fibre foods. You may find it helpful to track your food intake and see how it makes you feel to eat healthier, high fibre foods.


Don't' forget to come jump in my free Facebook Community where we practice Meatless Monday every week! Let's get the party started, here!


Example Meat-free Monday Menu


Here's an example how you can do Meat-free Monday for the full day. If you'd rather just swap 1 or 2 main meals for plantbased, you can try that instead. There are no hard rules here, just a focus on eating more plantbased foods and a little less meat products.


Morning Hydrate

  • organic green tea or 400ml water upon waking for 20 minutes before eating

  • 1/2 lemon, cut into wheels or wedges (optional)


Breakfast

Vegan Fruit Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 250ml almond milk, unsweetened

  • 1 cup spinach, shredded

  • 1/2 ripe banana, frozen

  • 1/2 cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen

  • 1 scoop (30g) Vanilla favoured vegan protein powder (optional)

  • 1/2 cup crushed ice (makes smoothies thicker)


Method

In a high-powered blender, add all the ingredients by starting with the liquid first. Blend on high until thick and creamy. If you like a more drinkable smoothie, omit the ice and use a room temperature banana instead.


Mid-Morning Tea

Sip on 500ml of blackberry and mint infused water, making it last for up to half an hour. If you find you are hungry by this point snack on 10 almonds and a small handful of fresh berries (any type).


Lunch

Enjoy this salad bowl made from nutrient-rich kale topped with warm sweet potato and healthy fat from half an avocado. Enjoy a cup of fennel or liquorice herbal tea afterwards to aid digestion and keep hydrated throughout the afternoon.


Dinner

Vegan Zucchini Pasta

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 cups spiralised zucchini noodles

  • 1/2 block firm tofu, organic

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped

  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup spinach, organic

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin

  • 1 tbsp Italian herb seasoning (or your favourite)

  • 1-2 tsp garlic, minced


Method

In a hot skillet, sauté the onions, tofu and tomato in 2 tbsp oil and garlic. Add the herbs and spinach once the onions become translucent. Sautee for 2-5 minutes until the spinach wilts. Add the spiralised zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes, just enough to heat through the noodles. Drizzle with a little extra oil to serve.


Dessert/Snack

Enjoy one of these guiltless, vegan chocolate biscuits with a cup of peppermint or liquorice tea to aid digestion. These are made with raw cacao which contains minerals like magnesium that calms and aid sleep. Dairy-free, sugar-free.


The Meat-free Mondays Challenge


Feeling inspired? I hope I have encouraged you to get creative and craft your own meat-free challenge just like this one by incorporating more plantbased recipes into your weekly menu. Or hop back on the blog where you'll find heaps more mouth-watering meat-free vegan recipes, and the inspiration to not only eat more plants, but also improve your eating habits and nutritional intake in simple ways. You can use any of my wholefood-based recipes as a starting point, and experiment with different meatless swaps. During this food play, you might just discover recipes that become a staple in your weekly menu.


Tips for Success While On The Challenge


Stay Hydrated: drink plenty of water throughout the day to aid the digestion process. An average, adult woman needs 2-3 litres of water per day to function her best. Try my nutritionist-approved infused water recipes to help you hydrate.


Wholefood Focused: choose whole, unprocessed ingredients to maximise the nutritional benefits of going more plantbased. The least processed foods are usually the healthiest for you and contain more nutrients and dietary fibre. Make the focus of all your main meal on lean vegan protein and high-fibre foods. These two macronutrients are essential for a well-balanced plate, and help to keep your appetite in check while nourishing your body with the purest nutrition.


Consistency is Key: for the best results, stick to the challenge for the recommended duration. Make a commitment to your body that you will see the Meat-free Monday through to the end. This isn't about restriction, but rather refocusing your attention and meal planning on choosing the most wholefood, nutrient-dense food choices available to you.


Listen to Your Body: if you feel hungry, snack on raw nuts, seeds, or fresh veggie sticks. As with any shift in your diet, it can leave you feeling a void. That sleepy-so-stuffed feeling isn't actually normal, so if you often eat from stress or tend to overdo it, accept that you may feel different. I promise you it won't last IF you stick with this and push through. Your body will realign naturally to a healthier eating plan. If it gets hard, just remember that on the other side awaits more empowered eating habits and a healthier, happier body.


After The Challenge


So now what? The Meat-free Monday Challenge is just a starting point to help ease you into making healthier food choices using plantbased ingredients. Now that you have completed a day of densely nutritious eating, I encourage you to stop and reflect. Keeping a journal or food diary is a really good reflection tool to help you do this. Ask yourself these questions:


  • What noticeable changes have you experienced today?

  • Does your body any feel different, and if so, how exactly?

  • What are you craving less of, versus what you might be you’re craving more of?

  • Did you notice any difference in your bodily functions such as bowel or sleep?

  • Has your physical energy shifted? Are you feeling more energised or less?


Journal your experience or come share with us in the Facebook Community. Share your journey on social media using #MeatfreeMondayChallenge and inspire others to join the movement towards a healthier, happier lifestyle. Every little change that you choose to make, builds a happier, healthier body day by day. Keep the momentum going and come explore my other Nutritionist-led meal plans, challenges or join a program for self-paced, group or practitioner-led guidance.


One Last Thing, Before You Go...


If you really enjoy these recipes... stick around with a cup of peppermint tea and browse this blog for more clean eating recipes, nutrition and healthy eating guides, and be sure to grab my free Wholefood Recipe Collection, click here. You'll receive my Nutritionist-approved clean eating recipes to sample this week. Learn how to ease into healthy, wholefood eating that won't take you hours in the kitchen to eat clean and healthy. Come grab a copy, click here.


Emma Lisa, Nutritionist & Women's Practitioner

Emma Lisa, Nutritionist at Eat Nourish Glow

Emma Lisa is a Nutritionist & Women's Health Practitioner with over 12+ years experience in wholefood nutrition, meal planning and health coaching. She is a published cookbook author, passionate food recipe creator and lifestyle blogger, and an advocate for women's health and anti-diet culture. When she's not in clinic, Emma is mum to five kids, in her test kitchen and a wellness digital creator. She lives in Sydney, Australia.
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Healthy + happiness,

Emma Lisa xx

HEALTH & NUTRITION PRACTITIONER
IICT Member, International Institute for Complimentary Therapists




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