Healthy Red-Meat Substitutes You'll Love

By Jessica Harper

In the wake of the latest study that seems to bring the hammer down on red meat-daily consumption may inflate your risk of premature death, especially from cancer and heart disease-there actually is some hope out there for meat-lovers. It's not all or nothing. Cutting back to just a couple of servings per week can make a difference, especially if you stick to unprocessed varieties (the study pegged processed products, such as bacon and hotdogs, as the most dangerous). But what seems to really lower the risk is to replace red meat with healthier proteins, like poultry or fish, the Harvard School of Public Health team found.

[See: Red Meat Shortens Life? What to Do]

If you like hamburgers, why not consider a turkey patty instead? It can be just as flavorful with far less fat. Even if red meat is your first love, you can fall for healthier proteins. There's no shortage of ideas online or in cookbooks. (Turkey or tofu bacon BLTs, perhaps?) Unpersuaded? Robyn Webb, nutritionist and author of The Diabetes Food and Nutrition Bible thinks she can help nudge red-meat fanatics toward meatless alternatives at least once or twice a week. Her recipes below should make for appealing hamburger and steak burrito substitutes.

Instead of a hamburger, try:

Veggie burger

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

kosher or sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 cup pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup cooked brown basmati rice

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

cooking spray

6 whole-grain buns

1 large tomato, thinly sliced

6 butter lettuce leaves

whole-grain mustard or chutney of choice


1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 4 minutes. Add in the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Add in the beans and turn the heat to high. Mash the beans coarsely as you cook them over high heat for about 3-4 minutes, careful to not let the beans burn. Mash to a coarse consistency.

2. Add the mashed beans to a bowl. Add in the rice, breadcrumbs, and parsley. Form into 6 patties. Add the patties to a plate and let rest in the refrigerator for ½ hour.

3. Coat a large skillet (cast iron preferably) with cooking spray. Add the patties (in batches if necessary) and cook for about 4 minutes per side. Serve on whole wheat buns with tomato, lettuce, and mustard or chutney of choice.

[See: What Makes a Healthy Diet?]

Instead of steak burritos, try:

Sweet potato and black bean burritos with salsa fresca


• 1½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, rinsed, and cut into bite-sized chunks

• 1/4 cup vegetable broth

• 3 scallions, minced

• 1 teaspoon dried thyme

• 1 teaspoon chili powder

• ½ teaspoon cumin

• sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

• 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed

• 4 large whole-wheat tortillas

Salsa fresca

• 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

• 3 tablespoons minced red onion

• 3 tablespoons minced cilantro

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

• sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste


1. Add the sweet potatoes to a medium saucepan, and add water to cover. Bring the sweet potatoes to a gentle boil for about five to six minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender. Drain.

2. Heat the broth in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sweet potatoes and scallions and cook for about three minutes. Add the thyme, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook for about three minutes. Add the black beans and cook for one minute

3. Combine all the ingredients for the salsa fresca and set aside.

4. Warm the tortillas by placing them one by one in a dry skillet over medium heat, turning once for a total of about one to two minutes per side. Divide the sweet potato mixture evenly over all tortillas and roll them up to seal. Serve with the salsa fresca.

[See: Best Diets for Healthy Eating]