Every so often, I set challenges for myself throughout the month. Two September's ago, my husband and I set a no drinking challenge: no booze, wine, limoncello, you name it. This past month in March, I decided to try a new challenge and go meatless. I had a feeling it wouldn't be too hard for we already ate a lot of plant based protein, however we did like to mix things up especially at dinner time. Chicken stir fry, turkey meatballs with spaghetti, kale salad with grilled chicken, all of the above are so delicious. For me this wasn't an animal rights stance (not that I don't want to help animals--I volunteered in the past and currently fundraise for animals shelters) however I primarily made this choice for my health. It first started when my husband came home from a medical exam, he had a clean bill of health except for one area. It wasn't even a big deal, the doctor found a higher level of triglycerides and suggested to cut down on meat. We started only eating lean meat once per week, completely cut out red meat, however I noticed I started to feel a little leaner myself after the cut back. I was sitting in my room and then it occurred to me, I feel so much better with the cut back why not try going a full month without it. I yelled out to my husband who was in the opposite end of the house, "BABE WE'RE CUTTING OUT MEAT THIS MONTH". And the rest is history ;D

Trader Joe's Protein Patties with kale chips

People think that being a vegetarian is hard; trying to find protein substitutes and is more expensive, not knowing how to cook certain things, how to season a vegetable, however I must say that I didn't find that. Lot's of different brands of plant based "meats" were around the same price as a pound of ground beef. In the past, vegetarian protein options were not easily found and lots of people turned to pasta, rice, and processed nut butters. Today markets such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's hold a variety of plant based "meat" proteins including burgers. Pasta is now being derived from plant proteins as opposed to simple white carbohydrates; Target holds Banza pasta which is made of chickpeas and holds 13g of protein per serving ( I highly recommend!). Sometimes even when you look up a vegetable, you will find several recipes on how to cook and season it, God I love the internet! Believe it or not, vegetables themselves hold protein! Below is a list from of vegetables with the highest level of protein:

1. Soybeans-- 22g per cup

2. Lentils-- 9g per 1/2 cup

3. Sugar snap peas-- 5g per cup

4. Broccoli rabe-- 3g per serving

5. White mushrooms-- 3.5g per cup

In case you yourself are thinking of trying out vegetarianism and are not sure which brands to look for, I've found quite a few in several different shops:

1. Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's Sausageless Sausages (can be found either where the sausages or where the guacomole and cheese is depending on your store), Trader Joe's Protein Patties (can be found in same section as sausageless sausages), Trader Joes High Protein Veggie Burger (can be found in the frozen section and are comprised of pea protein).

2. Whole Foods

Beyond Meat- Beyond Burger, Beyond Meat- Ground Beef (great for taco night!), Upton's Naturals, No Evil Foods (super good "chicken").

Now you might be thinking wow there are so many meatless burger options I should order or buy some french fries to with it! Well you could do that or you could try this healthier alternative that I make with my burgers! Pictured above are the Trader Joe's Protein Patties along with my kale chips! They're sinfully easy to make and taste AMAZING!

1. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. De-stem kale and mix in a large bowl with small amount of olive oil (too much makes it soggy) and seasonings of your choosing! I like to use garlic powder, minced onion, and parmesan cheese.

3. Bake in oven for five minutes, turn once, and bake for additional five minutes. Enjoy!

Easy as that! You could also make roasted butternut squash which is very similar:

1. (Same as step one above)

2. Mix in large bowl with small amount of olive oil and season with dash of salt and pepper, and cumin and paprika (I apologize I don't have exact amounts I just throw it all on there)

3. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, turn once, and bake for additional 15 minutes.

Trader Joe's Protein Patty with roasted butternut squash and baked sweet potato

These are all amazing lunch and dinner options but what about breakfast food? I have amazing breakfast options for you as well don't you fret! You can have something as simple as a yogurt bowl with fruit and powerhouse seeds (chia and flax) or you could have a baked sweet potato with a tbsp of natural peanut butter (I like to use schmuckers all natural or Trader Joe's brand).

I hope this was helpful for anyone who has and is considering going vegetarian! If you have any questions, tips, or other recipes you would like to share please comment below, shoot me an email, or check out my latest forum post! I hope you all have a fantastic rest of your weekend and a great week! Sending all my love from my house to yours :)

It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver
Mahatma Ghandi

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