Countdown to New Year’s: No-Resolutions Resolution Week 2

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If you're just joining us, it's not too late to get on board with our No-Resolutions Resolution plan for 2015. We’re grabbing hold of the reins now so that come January 1st, we haven't totally fallen off the (wholesome-eating) wagon.

This week (and for the next five weeks) it’s time to take the Vegetarian Vow. We’re taking Meatless Mondays one step further by suggesting what cookbook author Mark Bittman refers to as “VB6.” No, it’s not a fancy vitamin. The VB6 concept is to eat a plant-based diet for breakfast and lunch, thus becoming Vegan Before 6 p.m.

A vegan diet shines a spotlight on plant-rich foods. Unlike a vegetarian one, it does not include eggs or dairy — that means no milk, cheese or yogurt is allowed. And, of course, there is no pork, poultry, beef or meat of any kind. Research has found that decreasing meat intake may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer. Evidence has also shown that when you add more vegetables and fruit to your table, replacing the meat, it positively impacts lifespan.

For most people the first question that comes to mind when eliminating meat and eggs is, "How will I get my protein?" Beans and peas are a great way to go; they not only offer protein, but they are high in fiber, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium. By choosing beans as a source of protein versus meat, you'll also be reducing your saturated fat intake.

If becoming vegan during the day is too much, start by eliminating meat once a week in favor of fish and adding one new vegetable to your diet per week. If you've had spaghetti squash but never tried kabocha, a short and stout cousin of the pumpkin, give it a whirl. Also, experiment with new ways to prepare vegetables that you are already familiar with. Kale salads are great, but heat things up by sauteing that same kale with olive oil and garlic, or try Bobby Flay’s version, which uses vegetable stock. While kale is often touted as the star ingredient, don't forget about introducing a few supporting cast members — think mushrooms, grains and nuts, like in Rachael Ray's bowl of Farro with Asparagus, Hazelnuts and Kale Topped with Roasted Mushrooms.

Other cooking techniques you normally employ for poultry or fish can apply to vegetables. Poach a whole head of cauliflower in equal parts chicken broth and white wine, then slice like a steak and top with sauteed butternut squash. Or roast cauliflower in the oven and top with mustard breadcrumbs. Go beyond seasoning with lemon, salt and pepper, and stock your cabinet with ethnic spices and condiments. There are endless possibilities to marry with your chosen vegetable of the week.

If you're worried what you can substitute for your lunchtime turkey and Swiss sandwich and morning granola with milk, we have a few ideas to kick-start your Vegan Vow:

Monday
Breakfast:
Lunch:
Tuesday
Breakfast:

Vegan Blueberry Muffins (Freeze the remaining muffins for another breakfast)

Lunch:
Wednesday
Breakfast:

Whole-Grain Breakfast Porridge (Save the extra servings in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days)

Lunch:
Thursday
Breakfast:
Have another blueberry muffin!
Lunch:

Great Grilled Vegetable Sandwich (Substitute the homemade mayo with a Dijon mustard)

Friday
Breakfast:
Lunch:

Quinoa-and-Vegetable-Stuffed Peppers (skip the cheese and be sure to use vegetarian stock instead of chicken stock)

Next week, combat calories!

Kiri Tannenbaum is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris and holds an M.A. in food studies from New York University where she is currently an adjunct professor. When her schedule allows, she leads culinary walking tours in New York City and is currently at work on her first book.

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