While I typically pull most of my recipe inspiration from vegetarian food blogs or websites, sometimes I like to curl up on the couch with a hot mug of tea and thumb through my collection of cookbooks to menu plan for the week ahead. Here are the top three vegetarian cookbooks in my collection:
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
I’ve been a fan of Mark Bittman ever since I read his book, Food Matters, and started following his blog posts on the New York Times Blog. He has a witty, easy-to-like writing style that I knew I’d enjoy in his cookbooks as well. I couldn’t wait to dive into How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food. Bittman’s cookbook speaks to not only vegetarians, but omnivores as well. He states in his introduction that his goal isn’t to convert readers to vegetarianism but to, “Increase the proportion of non-meat items in your diet,” by making vegetarian items more appealing. His recipe I can’t get enough of? The chocolate pudding made with tofu and a kick of spice from chili powder. It’s decadent with a protein boost!
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- McDonald's new Mcaloo Tikki will make its debut in India in 2013.
McDonald’s may best be known for its hamburgers, but the fast-food chain is changing out its trademark beef patties for the potato variety—well, in India at least. The fast-food chain is planning to open two new vegetarian-only restaurants in the predominately Hindu and Muslim country next year; menu items will include locally-inspired dishes like the Mcaloo Tikki, a burger made with a breaded potato and pea patty, special vegetable sauce, ketchup, red onion and two slices of tomato. The restaurant will also offer the McCurry Pan, a dish of curried broccoli, baby corn, mushrooms and red bell pepper that’s baked in a crust.
McDonald’s locations in India already don’t sell beef or pork, and the kitchens are separated into vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections. The new restaurants are set for locations in “northern Indian cities that are pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Sikhs,” according to Rajesh Kumar Maini, a spokesman for the company’s north and east Indian operations who was quoted in a recent article.
To learn more, read the full article.
What do you think about the chain’s vegetarian options? Is it a ploy to get customers in the door, or just a new localized offering?
- Grilled Zucchini and Tomatoes, from Food Network Magazine's 50 Things to Grill in Foil.
Most grill recipes may focus on meat, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an assortment of great grilled vegetarian dishes that can be prepared on everyone’s favorite summer cooking appliance. Whether you’re heading to a barbecue or cooking for friends, there are a few things to keep in mind when grilling a mix of meat and non-meat dishes.
Most vegetarians would prefer that their food isn’t touching any meat remnants on the grill. Be sure to thoroughly scrape and clean your grill before cooking any vegetarian foods. You can also keep vegetarian food separate by cooking it on a specific portion of the grill that doesn’t touch meat. Grill baskets are a great way to ensure you don’t lose any small pieces of food between the grates, but it’s also a helpful way to keep foods separate.
Now that you’re ready to get your grill on, here are some of my favorite ways to use the grill each summer (and into fall!), sans meat:
- Slice zucchini, eggplant, and portobella mushrooms into thin strips. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper before grilling. Use these as the filling in a healthy panini, or to top a veggie burger.
- Bake potatoes right on the grill. Simply pierce the spuds a few times with a fork, brush with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and place the potatoes directly on hot grill coals for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the size, until the potato is cooked through.
- Grilled veggie foil packets mean everyone can put together their own packet with favorite summer veggie combos. Cut a variety of vegetables – potatoes, onions, and peppers, for example – into evenly-sized pieces. Create pockets using heavy duty foil (about 12” square) and place veggies with a dash of salt and garlic powder inside. Drizzle on a teaspoon of olive oil, and close the foil pocket tightly by folding over the edges. Grill covered for about 15 minutes on each side.
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- Is your vegetarian plate a balanced one?
I’ll never forget a client I had who was following a vegan diet but – get this – hated vegetables! Imagine me trying to conceal my shock and concern as she described her “plant-based” diet that was loaded with refined carbs and processed mock meats. We worked together to build her taste and appreciation for dark leafy greens and brightly colored vegetables and ultimately got her plate in shape and her diet more well-rounded.
This year’s National Nutrition Month theme is to Get Your Plate in Shape and I want to stress how important that is for vegetarians and vegans, or those who are focusing on a more plant-based diet, to make sure our plates are well balanced with complex carbs, plenty of protein, and of course, vegetables. All too often have I seen people make the swap from meat-eating to plant-based diets and simply omit the meat without replacing it with plant sources of protein. Not only does that create a void in the diet, but also a void in your stomach, leaving you hungry and unsatisfied.
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- Barbequed Tofu
If you’re looking to reduce your cholesterol or eat more plant foods, tofu is an excellent protein-packed option. Choosing the type of tofu can get a little confusing, but we’ve got you covered along with recipe ideas too.
Also called soybean curd, tofu is made by curdling soy milk with a coagulant (such as calcium sulfate or nigari, which is found naturally in ocean water). It’s then pressed (similar to cheese) and the firmness depends on the amount of liquid that’s extracted. Tofu has a bland, slightly nutty flavor that absorbs the flavors you combine it with.
There are 3 types of tofu available at the market: firm, soft, and silken. Firm tofu (also found as “extra firm”) holds up well in dishes where you want it to maintain its shape like on the grill or in a stir-fry. Soft tofu is appropriate for recipes where you blend the tofu like puddings, tofu scrambles or eggless egg salad. Silken tofu is made by a slightly different process where the end result is a custard-like product. It’s great in pureed dishes like smoothies and mousse.
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- Mexican lasagna: Meat-free and flavor-packed.
Lasagna is one of those dishes I reserve for the winter months, when I want something warm and comforting. This Mexican Lasagna, which uses tortillas in place of lasagna noodles, has some added heat from the salsa and jalapenos to really warm things up on a cold winter day. If you can’t stand the heat, use a mild salsa and omit the jalapeno.
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- Your vegetarian friends won't mind if there's turkey on the table, as long as there's plenty of veg-friendly fare for them to eat.
A 2008 study called Vegetarianism in America, published by Vegetarian Times, showed that 7.3 million people, and growing, follow a vegetarian diet. That means that there’s a good chance a vegetarian may be coming to your Thanksgiving dinner this month. If you’re not a vegetarian, you may be wondering how to accommodate an herbivore while keeping your favorite foods on the table. With a few simple recipe tweaks, you’ll be able to please both the meat and non-meat eaters alike without having to overhaul your entire menu.
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- Natalie Portman
Some of Hollywood’s elite refuse to eat meat. See why these famous folks made the switch:
The animal rights activist and actress began a vegetarian lifestyle when she was still a kid. Eventually, she became a devout vegan. Portman feels so strongly about the equal treatment of animals that she started a vegan shoe line in 2009. When pregnant with her first child, however, Portman switched to a vegetarian diet because she says her body was craving eggs and dairy.
The former president used to be known for his love of McDonalds, and junk food in general, but after two separate heart procedures, Clinton shied away from the bad stuff. Clinton changed to a vegan diet when he realized a major food overhaul was necessary for his health to truly improve. The former president now says he no longer consumes meat, dairy or eggs, and consumes very little oil.
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- Do vegetarians get the nutrients they need?
The term “vegetarian” can pretty broad and can mean different things to different people. We’ll walk through the basic types and fill you in on which nutrients those with a meat-free diet need to pay special attention to.
There are different types of vegetarians depending on what someone chooses to include in their diet. But all vegetarians include plant foods from the following categories:
- Grains such as rice, wheat, oats, and millet
- Legumes which include beans, peas, lentils
- Seeds like sesame and sunflower
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- I like to take my lunch out of the container I packed it in and eat it from a nicer bowl.
We’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.
Confession: I bought lunch yesterday just because I could. I walked over to Taim, my favorite falafel place in the whole city, and I bought a falafel for lunch. I have no idea how much fat or calories the sandwich contained, but the sandwich was large so was likely not very diet-friendly. I justified the splurge because I’d been to the gym that morning, and because it was the last day I could eat a restaurant lunch before the Brown-Bag Challenge. This splurge cost me $8.
Today’s lunch is smarter in so many ways. When I was searching for recipes, I was looking for something healthy to make with potatoes, because I have a whole bunch from my CSA that I wanted to use up. I found this recipe for Curried Potatoes and Chickpeas from Food Network Magazine; it’s from a story they did last year on using leftover crunchy onions — those things that go on top of green bean casserole. It looked quick and easy enough to make on a busy weeknight, and Toby, one of our resident dieticians, confirmed that it meets our Healthy Eats nutritional guidelines; it has 290 calories per serving and 15 grams of total fat (saturated fat = 7 grams).
I had potatoes, spices, limes and jalapenos at home, so I bought the following at the store:
Chickpeas: $1.79 (I bought the 29-ounce can even though the recipe calls for 15 ounces. It was a better value, and I’ll use the leftovers to make hummus)
Fried onions: $2.89
Greek yogurt: $1.25
My grocery store total was $7.92. I spent nearly the same amount on all the ingredients for an entire recipe as I did on one lunch. And since the recipe makes 6 servings, that comes to $1.32 per serving. Less than two dollars per serving. Makes my $8 falafel seem pretty frivolous.
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