Almost Meatless

Recipes That Are Better for Your Health and the Planet

By Joy Manning; Tara Mataraza Desmond
(Ten Speed Press, Paperback, 9781580089616, 160pp.)

Publication Date: April 1, 2009

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A Little Meat Can Go a Long Way

We all know that eating less meat is healthier, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly, but how do we cut back without sacrificing flavor or resorting to a carb-heavy diet?

For today’s health-, budget-, and eco-conscious omnivores, Almost Meatless offers ingenious ideas for creating delicious, nutritionally balanced meals in which meat is an enhancement rather than the centerpiece. From all-American comfort food to global favorites, you’ll find more than 60 satisfying, easy-to-prepare main dish recipes that go light on the meat, including:

Beefed-Up Bean Chili
Eggplant and Chicken Puttanesca Stacks
Shrimp and Slow-Roasted Tomato Risotto
Sweet Potato Chorizo Mole
Tofu-Turkey Sloppy Joes

Almost Meatless also presents guidelines for buying poultry, meat, seafood, and other animal products responsibly, to ensure the best quality, flavor, and value. No matter what your reasons are for reducing your meat consumption, you’ll discover versatile cooking solutions that maximize flavor while minimizing your grocery bill.


About the Author

Erstwhile vegetarian JOY MANNING is the restaurant critic for Philadelphia magazine, where she also writes for their Daily Taste blog. She was previously senior editor at Philadelphia Style. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


What was your inspiration for writing Almost Meatless?
My inspiration came from my own experiences loving to cook and making the journey from vegetarian to responsible meat eater.

Do you eat your vegetables?
Yes–I love all vegetables, even lima beans.

Name the most horrifying dish that your mother used to make.
Hotdogs wrapped in canned crescent rolls and baked served with instant potatoes au gratin from a box.

What do you like to make by hand?
Mayonnaise. It's a lost art. But it's very easy and I don't understand why everyone doesn't do it.

How did you learn to cook?
About seven years ago, my sister was dating a chef. Hanging out with them, I became interested in cooking and he taught me a lot of basic techniques. I was inspired to start experimenting on my own. I just started cooking a lot, reading a lot of cook books, and watching endless hours of food TV. When I met my husband, he had the same interest so it was something we got more and more into together. Then I started writing about restaurants for work, which keeps you out of the kitchen to some extent but really exposes you to interesting ideas about food. My most recent round of education has come from working with Tara on Almost Meatless–as a culinary school graduate, she knows everything.

TARA MATARAZA DESMOND is a food writer and recipe developer. She has contributed to television productions for the Food Network and to several cookbooks, including those for Philadelphia restaurants Fork and Vetri. Her writing and original recipes have appeared in Philadelphia Style magazine and Philadelphia Inquirer.


Who would you cast as yourself in a movie of your life?
Tina Fey or Gilda Radner, if we were lucky enough to still have her here making us laugh.

When did you know you were a writer?
At a Walden Books at the Poughkeepsie Galleria in 1985 where I begged my mother for my first diary: a sky blue journal with a rainbow, a poem on the front, and a lock on the side.  She made me promise that if she bought it, that I'd write in it.  Twenty-three years later, I have filled the pages of 13 journals.

How do you cheer yourself up when you're feeling down?
Listen to music (I listen to song lyrics the way some people read poetry), cook (and eat, of course), and run (currently training for my 2nd marathon).

Favorite foods?
Cheese, popcorn, bread, chocolate, milk, tomatoes (in no particular order)

What did you want to be when you grew up?
As a teenager, I wanted to work with girls struggling with eating disorders. After watching a close friend and her family suffer through her anorexia, the disease and its frustrating repercussions became too close for comfort, and I opted against pursuing the career. Ironically, years later, my work is focused on food and its impact on our lives.

Praise For Almost Meatless

“Meals that are both tasty and filling without having a slab of meat as the overbearing star ingredient”
—Publisher’s Weekly
“The authors of the new book Almost Meatless make a satisfying case for eating less meat and more vegetables and grains...The resulting dishes are healthier, less expensive and beautifully balanced.”
—Chicago Sun Times
“The recipes look good enough for carnivores to enjoy as well”
—Tampa Tribune
“This way of eating makes sense not just for saving money, but, as the authors say in the subtitle, for the planet.”
“Show[s] that a less meatcentric diet than the typical American one can still be satisfying and delicious”
—Library Journal
“Filled with recipes that use only a small amount of meat in each dish, a flavorful accent rather than the star of the show”
—Boston Globe

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