Meatless Bolognese

By Wendy Monro

Many of my friends and family believe that by cutting some of the meat out of their diets, they will become healthier and lose weight in the process. I know that I personally shed twenty-five pounds since I changed my diet to include very little animal products and almost no oil. I also lowered my cholesterol into the normal range when I changed what I was eating. My cholesterol used to be very high. I am not a doctor, but I can see how lowering your intake of meat benefits weight loss. When I used to count calories, the majority of the calories were in the meat. So, when I removed it, I was cutting my caloric intake by sometimes more than half for each meal. It just made sense to me.

I used to have every meal revolve around the meat I was cooking. The meat was the centerpiece and the grains, fruit or vegetables were just side decorations. Once I shifted the focus to the vegetables and grains, my cholesterol lowered and I went back to my pre-pregnancy weight in about six months and it has stayed off for the past five years just by maintaining this pattern of eating. In many of the healthiest places in the world, diets consist of mostly fruits and vegetables and meat is an occasional treat.

One friend, Robert, has gone so far as to cut all animal products from his diet on the advice of his doctor. Robert is fifty years old and has struggled with weight loss since we met him about seven years ago. He smoked, drank a lot, and really enjoyed eating all foods. Then, eight weeks ago, he had a check up with his doctor. His doctor said he would have to go onto medication to lower his cholesterol and blood pressure unless he made some changes. He decided to change his diet instead of taking pills.

Then, this week, my dad came over and asked me what he should eat to lower his cholesterol because he had just been to the doctor. I told him to do what Robert is doing and to cut the animal products in his food down drastically. He asked for a list of what he should eat. He wanted to know what to buy at the grocery store. I sent him a text later that day: any fruit, any vegetables, beans, lentils, oatmeal, quinoa, granola, pasta, marinara pasta sauce, etc I told him to make lots of salads, soups and smoothies. Then, for dinner, he could make his favorite dishes but substitute different things for the meat. For example, mushrooms are a great substitute for beef. A big portabella mushroom cap can be grilled and used as a burger. Then, I sent him many of my meatless recipes I have written for this column over the years. I was surprised at how many I had. I told him to also look online because there are so many recipes out there for thousands of meat dishes while providing a vegetable substitute. Since I have vegetarian kids and a meat-eating husband, I have been working on substitutions for years. It’s not very difficult.

Robert called yesterday and wanted to come over to visit. He hasn’t had an alcoholic drink, a cigarette or any animal products for eight weeks. He has lost twenty-two pounds. I wanted to cook him dinner to celebrate his success. I also wanted to make a typically meaty dish and try to make it taste like the original while substituting out the meat. Originally, I wanted to make lasagna. I would have to come up with a bchamel substitution without using oil. I haven’t figured that one out yet. Instead, I decided to make it simpler and chose to cook a Bolognese. I decided to make a meat version, for Claud, and a vegetarian or plant based version for the rest of my family and Robert. I prepared everything exactly the same except for the meat. I used “Beyond Beef”, which is sold at Walmart. These two sauces took the same time to cook. They looked the same. However, the proof was going to be in the taste. Claud took the first taste test. He told me he didn’t think the vegetarian version had the same depth of flavor without the real beef but that it was really very good. He said, if it weren’t side by side, he wouldn’t miss the meat version. That is something coming from him. I take that as a win. Robert and everyone else loved the veggie version. I really didn’t notice a difference and thought it tasted just as good. I think I might make the meatless Bolognese again and try to figure out the how to make a healthy bchamel sauce so I can make a delicious lasagna. When I come up with it, I will let you know.

Meatless Bolognese:

Serves: 6

Time: 1 hour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

5 stalks of celery, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon oregano

1 pound meatless ground “beef”

3 cans crushed tomatoes

1 jar spaghetti sauce

bottle dry red wine

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Saut until the onions are clear (about five minutes). Add the bay leaves and oregano and saut another five minutes. Add the “beef”, tomatoes, sauce and wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for a half hour or until the liquid evaporates to half. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over cooked spaghetti.

0 0items

Your shopping cart is empty.

Items/Products added to Cart will show here.