You Could Win a Great Foodie Prize Pack!

September 30, 2013 | By | Comments (68)
Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce

Make Mexican favorites meat-free. Try our Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce.

Tomorrow is World Vegetarian Day, and October is Vegetarian Awareness Month. It’s a 31 glorious days to celebrate all things leafy, earthy, and delicious. But you need not be a full-time vegetarian to go meat free from time to time. We advocate going meatless one day each week as part of our 12 Healthy Habits monthly challenge. Monday is a great way to adopt that challenge, but you could go meatless any day of the week.

To help embrace the challenge and celebrate a meat-free month, we’re teaming up with Gardein to give away a great foodie package. Gardein makes delicious meat-free protein options. Our favorite is the Crispy Chick’n Sliders. A smear of mayo and a pickle, and you’ll never guess they’re meat-free.

Here’s how you could win. Describe for us here in 100 words or less: What’s your best advice for making family favorites meat-free? Entries should be typed into the comments field of this post. Entries are due by Friday, October 4 at 11:59 EST.

One grand prize winner will win a prize pack complete with:

gardein_ChicknSliders_US$75 worth of Gardein product

  • 5 Crispy Chick’n Sliders
  • 3 Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips
  • 3 Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n
  • 3 Ultimate Beefless Burgers
  • 3 Ultimate Beefless Sliders

$50 Whole Foods gift card

Two semi-finalists will receive Cooking Light Way to Cook: The Complete Visual Guide to Everyday Cooking.

Editors will select their favorites based on originality, creativity, and how well you address our question. Winners will be notified via email by October 31, 2013. See the full contest rules.

Once you’ve entered the giveaway, check out all of our 25 Best Vegetarian Recipes. And if you’re looking for Meatless Monday dinner ideas, see our collection of Quick and Easy Vegetarian Dinners.

UPDATE: Here are our winners. Congratulations to these lucky readers, and thank you to everyone who participated!

Winner: “Instead of trying to make family favorites be meat-free, my best advice is to find NEW favorites that are naturally meat-free. It will be nearly impossible to recreate the exact taste of a favorite meat dish without the meat, leaving everyone disappointed and less likely to try meat-free dishes in the future. Instead, find new, flavorful meat-free dishes that everyone less and serve those up instead. Ethnic foods (think pizza, Mexican dishes, Chinese food) are often naturally meat-free or easy to adapt to be meat-free, so those are some of my favorites to try!” – Laura

Runner-up: “The easiest way to make family meals meatless is to do so gradually. Start with 1/2 ground beef + 1/2 lentils or tempeh. Using beans and vegetables as fillers provides great texture and extra nutrients. Eventually, as the “blended” meals become acceptable, you can do the full swap with less resistance. Make sure to load the meal with extra vegetables and spices so the meal is full-bodied and flavorful. Healthier and enjoyable? Meatless meal for the win!” – Lauren M.

Runner-up: “Beans are a wonderful meat substitute. There are many different varieties, which can be boiled, mashed, pan-fried, tossed into soups, salads and casseroles. By varying the use of spices, the taste of beans can change dramatically. Luckily, my family loves them… even with the occasional side effect.” – Li


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    November 15, 2015 at 4:35 am
  2. Jessica

    Start with the veggies that you know your family likes. Scout for veggies that are similar. Keep it simple to begin with, phasing meat out of recipes you already use that won’t really miss the meat. Recipes that already have veggies can be bulked up a bit more with one or two extra veggies. Make preparation of new veggies and fruits accessible for family, and let them help prepare. Taste testing while cooking is one of the best ways to get comfortable with new ingredients and to learn to enjoy them. When that happens, some great ideas for meal combinations can come from everyone in the house and that can especially help the children get invested in the meals. We’ve gotten to the point where when even my pickiest eater (she has Sensory Processing Disorder and is autistic) will ask for new veggies to put on the grocery list to try. This is huge for us. Whether or not she likes them doesn’t matter… she tries them! She actually ate vegetarian tacos made with Gardein crumbles! And liked them! And finished two of them! I keep the veggies and fruits available to them to try at any time, open to new combinations and happy to work with old favorites. I’ve been so thankful to Gardein for allowing me to “sneak in” alternatives that help me transition my family to healthier options. They may not become full vegetarians like me, but they’re enjoying it more.

    October 9, 2013 at 10:41 am
  3. Latasha S

    Use chunky meaty vegs, such as mushrooms, eggplants, potatoes & squash to replace meat in recipes.

    October 7, 2013 at 10:54 am
  4. taramoeller1234

    Make the focus of your meal great tasting vegetables. My family started with a couple of meatless meals a week, where dinner focused on great a vegetable dish that was filling, like roasted brussels sprouts and parsnips with garlic and olive oil. Now, my daughter and I are vegetarians. Branch out to new vegetables, too, to keep things interesting.

    October 6, 2013 at 3:42 pm
  5. Susan Thornton

    The internet (including websites like Cooking Light) has an abundance of recipes and ideas. Start your search with family favorites made vegetarian. Then try new ideas based on flavor profiles you like. I was raised quasi vegetarian and generally we didn’t use meat substitutes (there weren’t many then). We did use protein substitutes including cottage cheese, beans, lentils, etc. Lentil soup with carrot, onion and hearty, leafy greens is still a favorite of mine.

    October 6, 2013 at 8:35 am
  6. Rosie

    Many folks who typically have meals based on meat feel something is missing if there isn’t any! The easiest way to start meat free meals is to go a store like Whole Foods and ask the nutritionist to show you the foods in the store such as Gardein. Bring a notepad! Start by subbing meat free versions such as sausage in your favorite recipes, for grinders, pasta dishes. Once your family realizes they love these meat free meals, add meals based on lentils or beans, such as tacos, lentil soup. Start slow, because you need to learn how to tally up protein and B-vitamins, and develop new routines.Your family will be asking you to make their new favs and you’ll be thrilled to oblige!

    October 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm
  7. Maisie Greene

    The best way to make family favorites vegetarian is by focusing on developing bringing out the natural richness of the vegetables so the meals feels and is as full bodied as what is traditionally only associated with meat dishes.

    Personally, I love roasting vegetables before using them in dishes to really caramelize them and make their flavors stand out to the best of their abilities. Another fun project: find a new veggie you don’t use often with your kids/family once a week and have a set night of the week dedicated to learning how to prepare that veggie in a fun and delicious way (meatless Monday, anyone?). It’s a sure way to make you and your kids more comfortable in the kitchen and a chance to get a new healthy dish you all love on the table 🙂

    October 5, 2013 at 11:54 am
  8. audrey walker

    The best thing to remember is to incorporate all different textures. A lot of veggie protein like tofu and beans have soft textures so make sure to add a crunchy element like fresh veggies or nuts.

    October 5, 2013 at 5:23 am
  9. ariana amir

    i have lost 20 lbs in the past few months, alot of that came from preparing my own meals and thinking of new ways to make delicious meals, with less meat, fat, and processed foods. i make my own wonton raviolis with spinach, squash, or pesto stuffing.I also use tofu noodles which are great for a pasta substitute and can be added to pretty much anything! for my love of pizza, i started making zucchini mini pizzas,and also using cauliflower as a crust. all of these new meals taste delicious and i i actually enjoy them more then some greasy hamburger or steak!

    October 4, 2013 at 11:11 pm
  10. LNicole G

    Beans and greens. A smoothie with kale, pineapple, banana, peanut butter powder is great for breakfast or anytime. Adding extra black beans to a sweet potato, butternut squash and black bean chili is spicy and sweet and oh so filling!

    October 4, 2013 at 11:01 pm
  11. Jean Platow

    Confession of a single person: cooking for just yourself, I don’t always aspire towards great culinary concoctions. And I have been prone to shortcuts. Until recently, I didn’t realize what gastronomical sin canned beans are and I was guilty. I have always liked chickpeas and other bean varieties and those were coming out of a can. Rinsed of course to get that weird gooey syrupy sub stance off, but the beans were, for the most part, mushy. Like barely required chewing. And then my sister was telling me how she buys dry chickpeas on the cheap and hydrates them at home, as needed. No leftover mushy beans hanging out in a Rubbermaid in my fridge for a week (because I’m single and an entire can of beans in one meal is not on the menu)? I am a reconstituted bean- aholic now. Less meat, more legumes (tasty and with texture, thank you!) With eggs for a brunch-like meal, in salads, pasta, in tacos/burritos, as a side. Dried beans have been a meal and diet changer!

    October 4, 2013 at 7:18 pm
  12. Jill I

    We make new family favorites!! We have at least one meat-free meal a week… Cauliflower Mac n cheese, carrot-kale-pepper pasta, quinoa or egg salads are some of the few! We have little pallets to train, so we are staring them young!

    October 4, 2013 at 6:57 pm
  13. Lisa Stowell

    One of our favorite meatless meals is whole wheat pasta with fresh vegetables and a creamy herb sauce. I scoop out the pasta and cook the veggies while making the sauce. I use low fat cream cheese, thin it using the pasta water, add fresh herbs and parmesan. Mix everything together and serve with crusty bread. Easy and tasty.

    October 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm
  14. Maria longoria

    Nothing tastes better than a nice warm homemade tortilla stuffed with all kinds of veggies and our family favorite is lettuce, tomato, cucumber and avocado with onion topped with lime juice. It’s so yummy.

    October 4, 2013 at 6:22 pm
  15. karen nichols

    We enjoy meatless meals by using in season vegetables. Right now we are enjoying butternut squash mac and cheese and baja butternut squash soup.

    October 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm
  16. Stephanie

    I feel that it is very easy to make a delious nutritious family friendly meatless meal. My family and I started with “meatless Mondays” and after a few months, now many of our meals do not contain any meat at all. I like to substitute beans and Gardein products for a healthy protein source. I use a lot of herbs, seasonings, and healthy fats like olive oil instead of the fats contained in coloric red meat. We are just as satisfied with our meatless meals!

    October 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm
  17. Michelle

    My family enjoys our meatless mondays, they know they are going to get a delicious veggie panini….portobello mushroom, red onion, roasted red peppers, two kinds of cheese, and pesto on a ciabatta bun! YUM!!

    October 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm
  18. kristina corcoran

    My husband is a steak and potatoes guy and my son was a picky eater for awhile too. To get them to eat more meatless dishes, I learned to make food seem like the dishes they loved. I added pureed califlower to mac and cheese and mashed potatoes, substituted veggie dogs for regular ones with all the fixings, added veggie crumbles to spaghetti sauce and experimented with different comfort foods like using portebello mushrooms instead of traditional burgers. Now they love vegetarian meals and look forward to Meatless Mondays every week.

    October 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm

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