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So You Want to Give Up Red Meat

Quite a few people are trying to give up meat in the new year—either for health reasons or because they want to be semi-vegetarians. Here are a few strategies for the meat lover trying to survive without beef, lamb, and pork. (In case you were wondering, I DO know that tofu is a great source of protein, and that it melds beautifully with whatever sauce you throw it into. But I'm not a tofu fan so I left it out!)

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2. Forget about bacon.

In my opinion, substitutes like turkey bacon simply can’t compare with the real thing. Looking at them on the breakfast plate, one just longs for actual bacon. Do yourself a favor and don’t bother.

3. Don’t forget about smoked turkey, turkey kielbasa, and their ilk.

Poultry sausages don’t have all the flavor and fat of their pork and beef cousins, but they can certainly hold their own. Chicken sausage now comes in many delightful flavors, including andouille. And I love to throw a little turkey kielbasa into my jambalaya.

4. Learn to love chipotle.

When you’re cooking up a stew, a soup, or a pot of beans that would call for a ham hock or bacon, try throwing in a couple of chopped chipotles in adobo (along with some of the sauce that accompanies them in their can). Chipotles are smoked jalapenos; they add just the right hint of smoky flavor, as well as a little kick. Here's a recipe for chipotle corn chowder.

9. Think stir fry.

Traditional Chinese food uses lots of vegetables to supplement just a little chicken or seafood. Pick up a good Chinese cookbook and start experimenting. You may find that at some point you may not even want the chicken and seafood.

10. Remember that a little sauce can make a big difference.

If you feel stuck with plain chicken, try chicken satay with peanut sauce. (This recipe calls for beef, but boneless, skinless pieces of chicken work just as well.) The chicken takes on the character of the sauce—and you end up with great leftovers.

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