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Meat-Free and Healthy Meals for Lent and Beyond

My favorite meatless and good-for-you choices at restaurants around town.

As a practicing Catholic, I take the Lenten season pretty seriously (check out about my thoughts on giving something up for Lent). As a person who writes about healthy living, I also take my health seriously and as a foodie -- well, I take the deliciousness of my food very seriously.

For anyone familiar with Lent, you know that during this time Catholics refrain from eating meat or poultry on Fridays for the duration of the Lenten season. For most people this means unhealthy fried fish or meals overloaded with carbs. I wanted to share with you some meat-free and healthy options at restaurants right here in town. Meat-free (aka guilt-free), healthy, delicious and local -- what more could you ask for?

Paolo’s: Seafood Fra Diavolo -scallops, shrimp, mussels, and clams in a spicy marinara sauce with linguine pasta. This dish is fantastic loaded with all different kinds of seafood (amazing sources of lean protein) and a delightful sauce with a little kick. To add an extra veggie boost and to cut out some calories ask the waitress to substitute the linguine for spaghetti squash.

The 99: Herbed Salmon and Veggies -- A fresh filet of North Atlantic salmon, seasoned with select herbs and spices and oven roasted. Served with fresh broccoli, grilled tomato and grilled asparagus. Taken right from their brand new “Fit For You” menu, this flakey salmon with grilled veggies is only 440 calories! It is a well balanced, low calorie and meat-free meal.

The Warren Tavern: Arugula & Pear Saladwith Great Hill blue cheese, candied pecans & lemon vinaigrette. This salad is pretty unique. The flavors of the arugula, sweet pears and candied pecans with the contrast of the salty blue cheese are a fantastic pairing. No need to worry about the fact that there is not meat or seafood in it. The combination of the cheese and pecans will give you enough protein to keep you full. The light lemon vinaigrette is perfect for a salad with so many flavors; for portion control as for the dressing on the side and dip each bite into the dressing rather than having the salad coated.

Chow Thai Cafe: Vegetable Rainbow with Tofu - fresh snow peas, celery, broccoli, carrots, onion, mushrooms, peppers, squash, and bamboo shoots in Chow Thai’s stir fry sauce. This stir has it all: a vast array of veggies, lean soy protein (I am a huge lover of tofu!) and an incredible light but savory sauce. For some complex carbs add a side of steamed brown rice.

Ironside Grill: Vegetarian Burger - topped with mushroom, peppers and onions. No meat-free and healthy list is complete without a veggie burger. This one is my favorite around town because the grilled mushrooms, peppers and onions add so much flavor without adding too much fat (like cheese or mayo would). They will gladly sub the buttered bun for toasted whole wheat bread for you. You get the choice of steak fries or sweet potato fries, sweet potato fried would be the healthier choice; but if you want to go super healthy ask for a side salad in lieu of the fries altogether.

Those are my favorite healthy meat-free options in town. I hope that helps when you are deciding what to eat during Fridays this Lent.

Karen Fabian March 19, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Ali, thanks for the tips. I'm always looking for good veggie options. I haven't tried the Ironsides veggie burger..that'll be next on my list! Keep up the great articles!

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