Consumer Reports: Ways to make meat last during shortage

Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 3:11 PM CDT
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One of the joys of summer is grilling on the patio or in the backyard. But if your supermarket meat case is looking a little bare or you just can’t find the specific cut you want, you may have to rethink your menu.

Think about the situation as an opportunity to develop a healthy habit: eating less meat. That can lead to a healthy and more sustainable diet. Those that focus on fruits and vegetables and a variety of plant-protein sources are consistently linked to better health.

Love a juicy grilled burger? Make a smaller amount of ground beef go further—and make a healthier burger—by adding chopped mushrooms.

Mushrooms can be an almost magical secret ingredient, adding moisture, bulk, and flavor when you sub them in for half the meat called for in burgers, meatloaf, or meatballs.

Grill up a smaller portion of meat, and then add veggies, beans, and grains to your plate. That allows meat to play a supporting role instead of being the main course. Meat should take up just one-quarter of your plate.

Consider a whole chicken: Instead of your family eating the whole thing at one sitting, divide it up and use some for grilled chicken that accents a salad or grain-based dish that includes legumes. Save leftover chicken for a stir-fry or enchiladas another day.

Or skip the meat altogether and give tofu a try. If you’re grilling shish kebab, you can use an extra firm tofu in place of meat.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can take some of those black beans and quinoa you may have stored in your cupboard and make your own veggie burgers to grill.

This recipe has two variations, black bean and corn, and carrot and parsley. You can make a big batch to freeze, so you have them at hand for a quick meal. Wrap the uncooked burgers individually, and once they’re frozen, put them in a plastic zip bag. Don’t thaw before cooking.

1. Make the Base

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sauté ¼ cup each finely chopped onion and red pepper and 1 clove minced garlic until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Place in a large bowl and add 1¼ cup cooked quinoa, ½ cup panko bread crumbs, 1 egg, ½ cup grated sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, and ⅛ teaspoon each salt and black pepper.

2. Choose Your Style

For black bean and corn: Add ½ cup black beans, ½ cup corn, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, and ½ teaspoon chili powder.

For carrot and parsley: Add 1 cup grated carrot, 1 tablespoon tahini, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon cumin, and ¼ cup chopped parsley.

3. Chill and Cook

With wet hands, gently form six patties. Refrigerate, uncovered, until firm, at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat or on a grill. Cook until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook about 5 minutes more.

4. Top and Serve

Top black bean burgers with salsa and avocado. Top carrot burgers with tzatziki.

Nutrition Information Per Burger

Carrot: 170 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 17 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 6 g protein, 150 mg sodium.

Black bean: 180 calories, 8 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 20 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 1 g sugars, 7 g protein, 210 mg sodium.

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