Recipes for a meat-free Monday

Although not promoted in New Zealand yet, the Meat-Free Monday campaign has been running in the United States and United Kingdom and other countries for almost a decade.

It encourages people to make healthy eating decisions at the start of the week and to help the health of the planet. UN figures suggest that meat production puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than transport. If enough people consume less meat, it will make a difference to both their health and that of the planet.

Now there's a Meat Free Monday Cookbook (Kyle Books) which is divided into four seasonal sections, each with 13 weekly recipes for breakfast, lunch or a packed lunch, a snack or side, a main dish and dessert. There are a lot of enticing recipes here: spicy falafel with tahini sauce, spinach tart, Sicilian cauliflower pasta with garlic, and salads of all sorts, and all are vegetarian. With attractive recipes like these, it would be easy to have several meat-free days.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wha) is much lauded these days for its nutritional value. A grain-like seed originating from the Andes in South America, it is said to be very high in vitimins, and protein and contains all the essential amino acids, which is rare for a plant food. Rena Patten, author of Cooking with Quinoa, has now written Quinoa for families (New Holland) with recipes for it in flake, flour or grain form. It is especially useful for those on gluten-free diets. There are soups, salads, meat, fish and vegetarian dishes as well as sweet things and little dishes to appeal to children.

Other recent books for those avoiding gluten are The family friendly gluten-free cookbook by Sarah King (New Holland) and Gluten-free cooking for kids by Paul Vickery (Kyle Books). King, who runs the Gluten-free Grocer in Auckland, concentrates mainly on baking, the most difficult aspect of a gluten-free diet, and many of her recipes are also dairy and egg-free.

Vickery's book is aimed at parents whose children have been diagnosed with coeliac disease. It starts with baby food and goes on to all sorts of other child-friendly food.

Gordon Ramsay and his team produce a cookbook each year: this year it is Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course (Hodder and Stoughton). It is not exactly a cookery course, but there is a lot of useful information in the introductions to each section.They include classics with a twist, spiced dishes, economical dishes, cooking for one or two, or a crowd, and cooking ahead, as well as recipes for meat, fish, and baked goods. Many of the recipes are inspired by his visits to India and Southeast Asia, but there are classics like fish pie, and bread and butter pudding.


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