Photos by Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Swap meat: Pennington Biomedical Research Center talks healthier alternatives for 2020

Research consistently shows that decreasing the amount of meat and increasing the amount of plant foods we eat leads to better health outcomes, including lowered risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. However, many of us find the recommendation to eat less meat difficult to apply to our diets.

The PREMO study at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center aims to find out if substituting some of the meat in our diet with either potatoes or beans can improve blood sugar and fat levels. Instead of asking study participants to completely cut out meat at meals, the PREMO study replaces some of the meat in each meal with either potatoes or beans. As part of the study, participants receive all of their meals for eight weeks, returning each week to PBRC to pick up more food and meet with a registered dietitian.

This month, we are showcasing three recipes that study participants receive as part of the PREMO study diet. All three recipes contain meat or seafood supplemented with either beans or potatoes. Beans and potatoes (eaten with the skin) both contain important nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, potassium and dietary fiber.

Two of the recipes include potatoes that have been cooked and cooled. Cooking and cooling potatoes overnight can increase the amount of resistant starch they contain. This type of starch is digested more slowly and doesn’t affect blood sugar as much as the starch in potatoes eaten immediately after being cooked for the first time. Resistant starch is also a prebiotic, meaning it is beneficial to the “good” bacteria that live in our large intestines.

Interested in participating in a PBRC study? Visit the center’s website for details on current clinical trials. In the meantime, try out a few recipes from the PREMO diet at home.

Renee Puyau is a registered dietitian and the director of the Metabolic Kitchen at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Find more recipes at

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1 medium tomato, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup canned tomatoes with green chilies (about half of an 11-oz. can)
¼ cup salsa
1 cup canned, drained black beans
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Optional: Sour cream and fresh cilantro for serving
Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp to skillet and cook for 1 minute per side or until cooked through. Remove shrimp from skillet and set aside.
Add remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil to skillet and add onions and bell pepper. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until vegetables are beginning to soften, then add tomatoes. Cook together for 4 more minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, and salt to pan, and sauté ingredients together for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add tomatoes with green chilies, salsa, black beans, and cooked shrimp. Sauté ingredients together for 2 to 3 more minutes or until heated through. Top with cheese before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition info per serving: 260 calories | 13g fat | 4g saturated fat | 17g carbohydrate | 6g fiber | 20g protein


1 lb. lean ground beef (90/10), raw
1 large potato with skin, cooked, cooled, and mashed
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large egg
1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
Cajun seasoning to taste (see recipe below or use your favorite store-bought version)
Olive oil for the pan
Gently mix together all ingredients except Cajun seasoning and olive oil. Once ingredients are well combined, form into 8 patties about 3/4 inch thick. Sprinkle patties on both sides with Cajun seasoning mix. Add 1 to 2 Tbsp. olive oil to a frying pan and set over medium heat. Gently place patties into pan and cook for about 4 minutes. Flip patties and continue cooking on the other side for 4 more minutes or until cooked through. Serve on whole wheat buns or in lettuce wraps.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition info per serving: 155 calories | 8g fat | 3g saturated fat | 7g carbohydrate | 1g fiber | 13g protein
Cajun Seasoning Blend:
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. celery seed
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients.
Makes about 3 Tbsp. seasoning blend.

1 lb. ground chicken, raw
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup diced onion
1 large bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2  tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 large potato with skin, cooked, cooled, and diced
1/4 cup chicken broth
Set a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to skillet and cook until no longer pink. Once cooked through, remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
Set skillet over medium heat again, and add olive oil and butter. Add onions and bell pepper to skillet, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic to pan and continue to sauté for a few more seconds or until fragrant. Add cooked chicken back to pan, along with seasonings. Mix everything and let cook for about 2 minutes, then mix in diced potato and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Finally, stir in chicken broth and cook for 1 or 2 more minutes, until thickened.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition info per serving: 300 calories | 20g fat | 6g saturated fat | 16g carbohydrate | 3g dietary fiber | 16g protein