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'Meatless Mondays'

4:31 PM, Mar 21, 2011   |    comments
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GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WUSA) -- On average, Americans consume 8 ounces of meat per day, 45 % more than the USDA recommends. Cutting back on red meats, in particular, reduces saturated fat and lowers the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. One of the biggest food service providers in the US is working to reduce meat consumption with "Meatless Mondays."

National Executive Chef for Sodexo Healthcare Dave Willard says, "Meatless Monday is an idea that says, if you want to make choices to live healthier and also help the planet, choose not to eat meat one day a week. Let's do that on Monday. Monday's a great day to try something new."

Sodexo says cutting back on meat also helps limit our carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel. Since the company feeds some 10 million people a day throughout North America in hospitals, schools and businesses, its is uniquely poised to further this initiative. Chef Willard says putting flavorful meatless options on the menu every Monday has been met with great success.

One of the breakfast menu items they've developed in the Sodexo test kitchen in Gaithersburg consists of whole grain French toast made with an egg substitute, and served with warm cranberry chutney.

Other recipes they are developing include a vegetable lasagna made with part-skim ricotta, fontina cheese and spinach, and aromatically-spiced Indian samosas filled with lentils for added protein.

Another great dish is the sesame orange glazed salmon, bedded on some healthy greens and basmati rice. It makes for a flavorful fish dish for those avoiding meat on Fridays during the season of Lent.

As the new recipes are fine-tuned, and the menu items photographed to go out to Sodexo kitchens around the country, Chef Willard notes the key to meatless success is getting creative with whole grains, fruits and vegetables you may not have tried before.

"Good calories, healthy calories that metabolize well in the body," he says. "You feel good. You feel full, you're nourished, you're energized but not weighed down."

PORTOBELLO RUSTICO SANDWICH

Ingredients:

- Olive Oil 1 ½ Teaspoon

- Fresh Portabella Mushrooms Caps 2 ½ Ounce

- Mesclun 1 ½ Cup

- Balsamic Vinaigrette 1 Tablespoon

- Roll of Choice

- Margarine 1 Teaspoon

- Sweet Roasted red Peppers 1 Ounce

- Feta Cheese ½ Ounce

Directions:

- Brush each mushroom cap with olive oil. Grill for 2 minutes on each side or until deep brown and juicy. Then slice diagonally

- Combine mesclun and vinaigrette. Toss evenly to coat.

- Brush in side of toasted roll with melted margarine

- Load roll with mesclun mixture, 1 mushroom, 1 oz of roasted peppers and ½ oz of feta cheese

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