Take a Big Fat Break this Mardi Gras Because Carnival Means "So long" to Meat

Released: 25-Jan-2012 9:00 AM EST
Source Newsroom: Monday Campaigns
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- Meatless Monday campaign offers delicious recipes for the lean days ahead-

Newswise — For centuries, Mardi Gras – or Fat Tuesday, also called Carnival – has celebrated the last day of indulgence before the start of the Lenten season. During Lent, millions of households will cut back on meat and other rich foods during this period of purification. The word Carnival itself stems from the Latin carne vale, or “farewell to flesh.”

Today, there are more reasons than ever to take the occasional break from meat. Reducing the amount of meat in our diets can benefit our personal health, the environment and even our wallets. Meatless Monday, a public health initiative produced in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for a Livable Future, advises foregoing meat just one day a week as one way to reap these benefits. “It's easier than you think and the payoff can be huge,” says Robert Lawrence, MD, director of the Center for a Livable Future. “Eating less meat not only helps lower cholesterol and decrease cancer risks; it reduces your carbon footprint and helps conserve water. Plus, plant-based meals cost less, an added bonus during these economically tough times.”

Many Americans are heeding the call for a healthier diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that we will be eating about 12% less meat in 2012 than we did five years ago.

The simplicity of Meatless Monday has turned the initiative into a global movement. The campaign is now flourishing in 22 countries and counts among its followers such celebrities as film director James Cameron; co-host of ABC’s The Chew, chef Mario Batali; hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons; and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.

A poll conducted by FGI Research for The Monday Campaigns found that more than 50% of Americans were aware of the Meatless Monday movement, with 27% of those aware actively participating.

Meatless Monday offers hundreds of recipes in its online database to help observers through the “lean” weeks of Lent and beyond, including Smothered Mushrooms (http://www.meatlessmonday.com/smothered-mushrooms) and Spicy Rice with Kale (http://www.meatlessmonday.com/spicy-rice-with-kale).


Etouffee is a Cajun dish usually featuring crawfish, shrimp or crab, smothered in a spicy gravy. This veggie version of Etouffee subs the seafood with portobello mushrooms.

This recipe was created by Donna Kelly and Anne Tegtmeier, who write the blog Apron Strings. http://www.apronstringsblog.com/

Serves 4

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Hot sauce to taste
3 cups vegetable broth
2 portobello mushroom caps, chopped
1 bay leaf
The juice of 1/2 lemon
4 scallions or green onions, green and white parts, chopped

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Test the oil’s temperature by sprinkling a little flour into the pan. When the flour sizzles, the oil is hot enough for the rest of the flour. Whisk in the flour, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes, or until the roux is a deep caramel color.

Add the onion, celery and green peppers. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the garlic, and cook 2 minutes more, or until the garlic becomes fragrant.

Stir in the tomatoes. Season the mixture with black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, thyme and hot sauce to taste. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the sauce reduces slightly.

Stir in the mushrooms, broth and the bay leaf. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with scallions.

Calories 356

Calories from Fat 251
Total Fat 28 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 600 mg
Total Carbohydrate 25 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Sugars 7 g
Protein 5 g


This dish is reminiscent of traditional “dirty” rice, usually made with chicken livers. Brown rice has a hearty texture that stands out to the assertive flavors of winter greens and spicy soy chorizo, and its extra fiber will keep you fuller, longer.

This recipe was created by Stephanie Weaver, who writes the blog The Recipe Renovator.

1 tablespoon canola oil
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 bunch (about 1 pound) kale or swiss chard, trimmed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 package (6 ounces) soy chorizo
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup brown rice, rinsed

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the celery and onions and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, or until the veggies are softened.

Stir in the peppers and kale and season with garlic, cayenne pepper, cumin, oregano and hot sauce. Stir to ensure spices are evenly distributed and cook 5 minutes more. Add the soy chorizo.

Stir in the vegetable broth and bring to a light boil. Stir in the rice, reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

Calories 346

Calories from Fat 104
Total Fat 12 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 512 mg
Total Carbohydrate 53 g
Dietary Fiber 7 g
Sugars 5 g
Protein 12 g

Find more recipes with photos and great ideas about how to reduce meat in your diet throughout the year at meatlessmonday.com. For a short video on Meatless Monday, check out http://www.meatlessmonday.com/why-meatless/

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About Meatless Monday
Meatless Monday is a non-profit public health initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The goal of the campaign is to cut saturated fat intake, which in turn reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Going meatless one day a week can also decrease our carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel. Since its launch in 2003, Meatless Monday has become an international movement with support from celebrities, universities, and organizations around the world.

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