Skip Meat One Day Each Week

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The USDA and nutrition experts extol the health benefits of eating more vegetables, fruits and grains. Plant fiber, protein and nutrients are healthy for you. Lean red meat, fish and poultry are good sources of protein that your body needs, but they aren’t the only source of protein. Vegetarians and vegans do not eat meat and are still healthy and energetic because they get their energy from plant sugars, proteins and plant nutrients. People who eat less meat or no meat have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and weigh less than meat eaters. You can still maintain a healthy body and weight if you enjoy meat and other animal products, like milk, eggs and cheese. Eating less meat, especially beef and pork, and eating more fruits, vegetables and grains while exercising regularly can help lower cholesterol, reduce body fat and help you feel better. You don’t have to stop eating meat altogether to lose weight and lower your cholesterol. One way to reduce the amount of meat in your diet is to skip meat one or two days each week. When you do eat meat, it should not be more than 1/4 of your total meal. One-half of your meal should be fruits and vegetables. The remaining 1/4 of your total meal should be whole grains, like wheat, rice or barley. 
Choose one day each week and vow to not eat meat that day. Plan ahead and shop for meatless plant- based food alternatives for every meal that day. Skip the sausage links, bacon and eggs. Instead, start your meatless day with a bowl of hot whole grain oatmeal, fruit, juice and low-fat milk. A bowl of whole grain cereal without added sugar, orange juice and low-fat or skim milk is a nutritious way to start your day. Add some blueberries, strawberries or sliced banana to your cereal for natural sweetness and extra vitamins and minerals. Have a mid-morning snack of fresh fruit, nuts or whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheeses to avoid hunger and over-eating at lunch time. Beans contain an abundant source of plant protein, fiber and vitamins. Have a bean salad, bean soup or a vegetarian refried bean taco or burrito for lunch. Put some lettuce, chopped tomatoes and shredded carrots on your taco or burrito to add flavor and nutrition. If you use sour cream, opt for a low-fat, vitamin fortified brand.   

Munch on some apples or orange slices mid-afternoon for a boost of energy. Replace meat at dinner with tofu. Chop tofu into cubes and stir fry with vegetable. Flavor with low-sodium soy for a tasty meal. Use olive oil or vegetable oils in meal preparation and avoid butter and solid fats. Pea soup, meatless lasagna and vegetarian spaghetti are also tasty ways to enjoy vegetables and go meatless. Slice zucchini or squash and layer it with low-fat cheeses, tomato-based sauce and whole grain lasagna noodles. Add some mushroom and chopped tofu to spaghetti sauce for extra flavor and plant proteins. 

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