5 Great Vegetarian Meals to Cut Down on Meat

5 Great Vegetarian Meals to Cut Down on Meat

 

Vegetarian meals can be both flavorful and fulling. The trick is to include hearty vegetables and legumes then layer flavor profiles. With these five vegetarian meal ideas, you won’t even miss the meat.

 

BEAN CHILI

An easy route for introducing meatless meals is chili. Make your favorite chili and switch out the meat for kidney beans. The beans are hearty and filling enough to satisfy even the most diehard meat-eater.

 

SWEET POTATO LASAGNA

For a great vegetarian meal that’s also gluten free, take your favorite lasagna recipe and replace the noodles with thinly sliced sweet potatoes. You’ll need a mandolin to achieve the perfect slices and remember that slicing through every bit of potato isn’t worth shaving a finger so stop when you have about 1/4 inch of potato remaining.

For the sauce, replace any meat with spinach or kale. Then layer ricotta cheese mixed with a bit of mozzarella for extra creaminess, and top the whole thing with a final layer of mozzarella.

 

SOUP AND SANDWICH

Vegetarian versions of the comforting combination of warm soup with a savory sandwich are delicious. For soups try tomato, broccoli and cheese, butternut squash, or simmer some kale, navy beans and garlic in vegetable broth.

A grilled cheese sandwich is an easy accompaniment to the soup of your choosing, but step up the classic sandwich. Try mozzarella, fresh tomato, basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar glaze for a Caprese style sandwich. Slice up a Bosc pear or apple, top with Brie, or gorgonzola cheese for savory-sweet combinations. If you’re a fan of French onion soup, sauté some onions until they’re nice and caramelized then sandwich between swiss cheese and some hearty bread. The combinations for vegetarian soup and sandwiches are endless.

 

CAULIFLOWER TACOS

Replace the meat in your tacos with cauliflower. Just cut up the vegetable into bite sized florets, coat with oil and taco seasoning, either store bought or a mix of your own: cumin, cayenne pepper, chili pepper, crushed coriander seed, onion and garlic powers, salt and pepper. Get the florets nice and coated then sauté until tender. Top as desired.

 

SUBSTITUTE CHICKEN WITH TOFU

Tofu is a blank canvas, and an excellent swap for chicken in many dishes. Purchase an extra firm block (found in the refrigerated section near the produce). You’ll need to get all the water out; to do this place the block of tofu in between paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, then place a bowl or plate on top with a weight such as a can of beans. Let it sit for about an hour, replacing the towels once or twice. To speed the process along, you can slice the block length wise.

When the excess liquid is out of the tofu, you can infuse it with your favorite marinate then bake in at 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway. Try an Asian marinade then add the tofu over stir fried vegetables and serve over rice.

 

Image Credit

Chicken Stew

14-01-27 chicken stew 900x602

Winter can be an especially brutal time of year. The days are short on sunlight and long on cold. Deep into the cold winter, a beautiful and hearty soup or stew seems to be just what is needed. Plus, a large batch of soup or stew can be made once, frozen and reheated as needed to be enjoyed throughout the rest of the month.

Unlike in summer, there may not be the rich array of fresh, healthy foods easily available. However, that does not mean that one has to serve up a bland or unhealthy dish. In cold winter days, a hearty and healthy chicken stew can be just the thing and can incorporate the flavors of the season.

One such recipe for a chicken stew that is both hearty and healthy and makes 12 servings is:

8 cups cooked chicken breast meat cubed
10 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cooked barley
3 cups chopped parsnips
6 cups cooked, diced sweet potatoes
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion, sauteed in olive oil
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste

Start by cooking the chicken breasts in your preferred manner. Cook barley according to package instructions. Saute onion in olive oil. Cook and dice the sweet potatoes.

In a large saucepan, combine the vegetable broth, barley, parsnips and celery. Cook at a simmer over a medium heat for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until ingredients have reached the desired level of softness.

Add the cubed chicken, barley, onions and sweet potatoes to the mixture. Cook this mixture for an addition 10-15 minutes. Stir in flour to thicken the sauce. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

For a variation on this, replace the cooked barley with cooked brown rice. Instead of vegetable broth, chicken or beef stock may be substituted. Scallions may be substituted for the onion, or they may be used in addition to the onion. You can also puree a few veggies to thicken the stew, such as cauliflower or carrots, or even 1-2 potatoes.

This hearty chicken stew can be dressed up by sprinkling it with a bit of fresh parsley. Alternatively, this dish may be spiced up with the addition of a bit of crushed red pepper or pepper flakes. You can also add frozen veggies, of course.

This healthy and hearty chicken stew may easily be cooked, frozen and reheated for later dinners as needed throughout the month. This is a wonderful stew for cold winter days, and it is something that the entire family can enjoy.

 

Cream of Zucchini Soup

13-08-19 cream of zucchini soup 535x535

If you're a mom on the go, you're likely always looking for recipes that you can freeze or make ahead of time. Cream of zucchini soup is a delicious addition to a fall meal. The soup is rich in fiber and protein, and will go great with entrees like grilled chicken breast or a grilled cheese sandwich. This recipe is low in fat and easy to prepare--the whole family is likely to ask for seconds.

You can make the dish creamy by adding soy or low-fat sour cream, or chicken broth and low-fat butter, so you don't have to use heavier ingredients for the entree to be tasty. You'll need about six medium zucchini to make this tasty soup, so that you'll have enough to save for later. Adding squash or eggplant makes the entree even more nutritious and colorful. The rest of the ingredients you need for the recipe are:

4 garlic cloves
one small onion, chopped
64 oz of fat free, organic chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make the dish vegetarian)
4 tbsp of low-fat sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the chopped vegetables and broth in a large pot and cook on medium heat. Let the mixture boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot. Simmer the soup for about 20 minutes to help give it a creamy consistency. Take the dish from the heat and add the sour cream. With an immersion blender, mix all the ingredients in the pot until they are smooth. You can add Parmesan cheese to the dish as well for added flavor.

If you want to eliminate cream from the entree altogether, boil one large potato and puree it before adding it to the dish. Then, use the hand blender to make the recipe especially thick and rich.

In addition to eating this entree with grilled lean meat or a sandwich, you can serve this savory treat with grilled garlic bread or roasted vegetables like asparagus, sweet potatoes and carrots. After your family has their fill for the night, pour this delightful zucchini dish into freezer-safe bags so you can freeze it and use it as a make ahead meal for another night. Enjoy!