This time of year always brings on lots of buzz about healthy resolutions and diet changes. More and more Americans have been making the shift towards a vegetarian or vegan diet, and what better time to start than the beginning of a new year? Perhaps your resolution is to move towards a more plant-based diet, or make the full shift from vegetarian to vegan eating. Or maybe you’re just looking for ways to improve your health by including more fruits and veggies into your diet while cutting back on meat and dairy. Whatever your reason, here are four ideas to help you stick with your 2013 resolution to improve your health with more plant-based eating.
The terms “healthy” and “vegetarian” may seem synonymous but that’s not always the case. All the selected recipes meet our healthy criteria for calories, fat and saturated fat. In addition, in order to meet the nutrient requirements of a vegetarian, a variety of recipes that include whole grains, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies were selected.
Although there are various types of vegetarians, we stuck to the basics. These recipes don’t include any meat, poultry, fish or seafood. Some do include dairy and eggs and would be appropriate for a lacto- or lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
- Tomato Bruschetta
- Chile Garlic Edamame
- Porcini and Nepitella
- Spinach and Goat Cheese Tartlets
- Stuffed Mushrooms
If you have a smartphone, you know there’s an app for almost anything, including great vegan and vegetarian resources. As someone who frequently searches for vegan recipes on my phone while waiting in a long line or stuck in traffic (when I’m the passenger!), I rely on a handful of apps to provide me with recipe and restaurant inspiration. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite free apps that provide recipes or restaurants in a pinch:
Vegan Yum Yum (free): If you like this amazingly creative vegan blog, you’ll love the Vegan Yum Yum app. Vegan blogger and cookbook author Lolo created the app to make some of her best recipes easily searchable on your phone, which comes in handy as you’re wondering what to cook while wandering through the grocery store aisles. This app has one of the most clean, easy-to-read displays I’ve seen in an app, and even allows you to check off ingredients as you buy them. (This is the perfect time of year to try Vegan Yum Yum’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling!)
Turkey Day by name doesn’t sound like the most enticing holiday for vegetarians. Luckily, this meal is all about the side dishes, many of which are meatless, or can be easily adjusted into vegetarian recipes. These healthy recipes are all meatless so will please vegetarian guests, but are so delicious they’ll be favored by meat-lovers as well.
Corn and Squash Pudding (above) This tasty side dish gets a twist with the added bonus of squash. Not only does the squash add a vibrant color and tons of vitamins to the dish, it provides a creamy texture that plays well off the crisp corn kernels.
Quinoa With Garlic, Pine Nuts and Raisins This flavorful, protein-packed quinoa side dish will please everyone at your Thanksgiving feast: It’s gluten-free, vegan and delicious enough that everyone will be asking for seconds.
Curried Spaghetti Squash The secret to this quick-cooking spaghetti squash is the microwave: spaghetti squash cooks in under 20 minutes when you zap it, so this Indian-flavored dish won’t take up any precious oven or stove-top space on Thanksgiving day.
What would Thanksgiving be without stuffing? If you’re looking for an allergen-friendly recipe or just a delicious new take on this holiday staple, you’ve found it here! I’ve created a sweet stuffing that is perfect for kids and adults alike. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan so you can easily serve this to your entire Thanksgiving table without having to worry about food preferences. If nut-allergies are a problem, you can easily substitute in ground flax seeds for a similar crunch and nutty flavor.
For my last post, I wrote a round-up of some of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks. But these days, I’m turning to blogs more than books for recipe inspiration. I love when I Google a recipe and a new-to-me blog pops up with the perfect meal inspiration. This is my favorite way to come across new blogs, and fill up my reader with vegetarian meal inspiration posts. Here are a handful of my current favorite vegan and vegetarian blogs.
Fat Free Vegan Kitchen – Susan Voisin’s blog is filled with creative vegan recipes, without the use of any added fats from oil. FFVK is actually the very first blog I ever subscribed to, about six years ago, and I’ve been a loyal follower ever since. I do use oil in my own cooking, and don’t really hold back on added (healthy) fats, but Susan’s recipes are always creative and flavorful. My favorite of her recipes is the Cumin-Grilled Tofu With Papaya Salsa. And for someone who doesn’t typically love chocolate cake, I was completely smitten by her decadent Chocolate Covered Cherry Pudding Cake.
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!
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?
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.
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.