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October 1st is World Vegetarian Day and if you or someone in your family is considering making the switch to a vegetarian diet, it’s important to get all the facts about this important lifestyle decision.  First and foremost, a well planned vegetarian diet is a healthy diet that does provide all the necessary nutrients your body needs.  The key is making sure that you supplement new foods that will provide specific nutrients you would normally get from eating other foods (i.e. meat).  For example, beans, seeds, nuts and tofu are ideal sources of protein that one would normally get from eating meat.  Depending on how restrictive a diet you have, depends on how much more planning you must do to ensure you’re getting all the nutrition your body requires.

 

In terms of restrictive diets, there are different types of vegetarians.  All vegetarians eat vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, seeds and beans, but some do not eat some or any animal products.  Here is a list of the different types and what they will eat:

 
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian – will eat dairy and egg products.
  • Lacto vegetarian – will eat dairy products, but not eggs.
  • Ovo vegetarian – will eat eggs, but no dairy products.
  • Pesci vegetarian – will eat fish.
  • Semi vegetarian – will eat fish and poultry.
  • Vegan – will only eat food from plant sources, no eggs, dairy products or honey. 
 

Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has more information about vegetarian diets and the “at-risk” nutrients you should pay attention to when planning your diet.

 

 

Cooking vegetarian dishes doesn’t have to be boring either! There are plenty of delicious recipes available and many that are quite popular.  Just think of some common entrees like Pasta Primavera, Veggie Stir Fry over Brown Rice or Spinach Lasagna.  Here is a great recipe from The Mushroom Channel for Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Tacos.  This recipe is part of their Meatless Monday campaign and it’s perfect for a weeknight–simple and easy to make.  Plus, everyone loves tacos!

 

Mushroom Tacos

 

If you’re looking for something a little more decadent, maybe worthy of Sunday dinner, try this recipe for Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Sage Browned Butter.  In addition to the butternut squash, the shells are stuffed with ricotta cheese and fresh spinach.

 

butternut squash stuffed shells

 

Even if you’re not looking to move your diet to a completely vegetarian one, try working in a meatless meal once or twice a week.  There are plenty of tasty options to choose and as an added bonus you may even see your grocery bill shrink a bit!

 

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Autumn is the season when root veggies are popular.  You probably enjoy preparing carrots, yams, potatoes, but how about parsnips?  In recent years I’ve seen an increase in recipes either featuring parsnips or incorporating them as an ingredient.  I’ve also found that they are more readily available in my local supermarket (especially this time of the year) than ever before.

 

 

Parsnips resemble carrots and are prepared in similar ways.  However, they have a sweeter flavor, especially when cooked.  These veggies are quite nutritious, they are a good source of Vitamin C, folate and fiber. In addition, parsnips are rich in potassium.

 

As I mentioned, parsnips can be prepared in many ways as you would carrots–baked, roasted, etc., but I wanted to share some really interesting recipes I found that used this delicious veggie in ways that were out of the norm.  Herbed Parsnip Fries caught my eye right away.  These “fries” are baked and a mixture of garlic, rosemary and sea salt gives them a different flavor than your average fry.

 

Parsnip Fries

 

Roasted Parsnip and Garlic Soup with Mushrooms is perfect for fall!  Right now you’re probably seeing a lot of roasted butternut squash soup or something similar, but this one has a slightly different twist.  This particular recipe is a vegan version, but of course you can substitute regular chicken broth in your recipe if you choose.  This dish really is packed with veggies–great northern beans are included, as are onion and celery (along with the main ingredients parsnips, garlic and mushrooms).

 

parsnip garlic soup

 

I personally love potato pancakes or “latkes,” so when I saw this recipe for Parsnip Pancakes I was intrigued.  It really makes sense since the parsnips have that signature sweet flavor.  Combine that with the onion and chives and the flavors blend incredibly well.

 

parsnip pancakes

 

I hope these recipes will give you some ideas to try this fall while parsnips are available and in season.  Or simply add them to your next root veggie roast, you won’t be disappointed!

 

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We celebrate Eat Dinner Together Week this week and for many families this can be a challenge.  Busy schedules that include work, school, sports practices, and other extracurricular activities, make it difficult to sit down together and enjoy a nightly meal.  I understand that gone are the days of Leave It to Beaver where June Cleaver had all day long to prepare dinner for her family.  The key to providing a nutritious meal is to be able to prepare something quickly or without much preparation.  Otherwise, you’ll be reaching for the takeout menu.

 
Thankfully, there are many options that don’t require a lot of cooking time or much preparation.  In fact, Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has an entire recipe section devoted to quick and easy meals, namely their 30 Minutes or Less section.  Select from entrees, side dishes, and desserts like Chicken Veggie Risotto or Spinach Pesto Pasta.  Pinterest has a number of quick family meal ideas as well–just be careful as some of these selections might not be quite as healthy.  I did narrow my search and found a few healthier choices, which I’m sharing with you below.
 

Here’s a great recipe for Oven Baked Fajitas using chicken and whole wheat tortillas.  I love that they also make the marinade in the morning, let the chicken, onions, and peppers marinate all day and then everything is ready to go when you get home from work.  Oh, and kids love the “hands on” of putting together their own fajita too!

 

fajitas

 
Here is a perfect one-pot meal for the cooler weather and one that is always a hit in my house–chili!  This recipe for Turkey Chili is prepared using your slow cooker or crock pot, one of my favorite kitchen appliances.  Seriously, there is nothing better than coming home, after a hectic day, and having dinner ready and waiting for you.  This recipe is packed with veggies–tomatoes, corn, peppers, black beans, and kidney beans.  Serve it with a side of corn bread and you’re set.
 

chili

 

I hope you’ll try some of these recipes and enjoy mealtime with your family.  While it takes a little effort, the payoff is definitely worth it.

 

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September is All American Breakfast Month and that’s a reason to celebrate and an opportunity to include more fruit and veggies into your breakfast routine.  While I know many of us do a decent job serving up veggie omelets or a bowl of hearty oatmeal, topped with dried fruit, I’ve got some interesting choices you many not have considered that will tempt your tastebuds, as well as provide you with a serving or more of nutritious fruit and/or vegetables.

 

Instead of the traditional omelet, Fruits and Veggies–More Matters has a recipe for Garden Frittata.  Packed with kale, potatoes, onion and bell pepper, this dish is a colorful blend of eggs and veggies.  Spinach or other greens may be substituted for kale.

 

Garden Frittata

 

Another recipe from Fruits & Veggies–More Matters that is a step away from the typical breakfast fare is Avocado Breakfast Bruschetta.  Avocados, tomato, hard-boiled egg and ricotta cheese top toasted rustic whole grain bread for a new twist to your morning meal.

 

Breakfast Bruschetta

 

Here is an interesting way to add some fruit to your morning–a Breakfast Parfait made with quinoa of all things!  Quinoa is known for its high protein content.  It’s also a good source of dietary fiber and iron.  This recipe combines quinoa with Greek yogurt and fruit such as bananas and nectarines for a delicious breakfast treat that will also provide you with energy to last you until lunchtime.

 

Quinoa parfait

 

For those days when you’re on-the-go, a breakfast smoothie is the perfect choice.  This Berry Green Smoothie for Kids recipe is great for everyone–spinach is the “secret” ingredient that you’ll never know is hidden in this sweet drink.  Greek yogurt, banana, pineapple, mixed berries and chia seeds are blended to give the smoothie its delicious flavor.

 

Breakfast Smoothie

 

Visit Fruits & Veggies–More Matters and search their healthy recipe index for more breakfast options that include fruit and veggies to explore many more creative ways to make your morning a healthy one!

 

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Here’s a fun fact–according to the USDA, each American eats 112 pounds of potatoes each year.  Now, that’s a lot of spuds!  Of course, it’s no wonder since potatoes are so delicious and versatile.  One thing many people don’t realize is how nutritious these tasty veggies are.  Potatoes are fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free, high in Vitamin C and a good source of potassium.  The key is how you prepare them–many times it’s the high fat/calorie toppings that give potatoes a bad rap.

 

Since September is National Potato Month, I decided to share some healthy ways to serve up one of America’s favorite vegetables. I know I have relied on taking a large potato and placing it in the microwave to “bake” it quickly for a filling meal.  Then top it with some low-fat toppings.  My personal favorites include cooked broccoli, low-fat shredded cheddar cheese and stewed tomatoes.  A more gourmet version is Fruits & Veggies More Matters recipe for Potato Skins with Buffalo Chicken.  This healthy plate has the flavor of buffalo chicken wings minus all the fat and calories.

 

potato skins

 

Potatoes can also make great main dish meals.  In addition, they can be used as substitutes for grains in some traditional dishes like this recipe for Quick and Healthy Gluten Free Potato Lasagna.  Layered Yukon Gold potatoes take the place of lasagna noodles in this dish, while turkey sausage and fat-free ricotta cheese reduces the calorie count.

 

US Potato Board

 
One of my personal favorite ways to enjoy potatoes is by roasting them.  I love this cooking method because it brings out the natural flavor of the potato and because you can enhance them with so many different herbs and spices.  Think rosemary and garlic or something like this recipe for Chipotle and Lime Roasted Potatoes.  This only takes 10 minutes of prep time and 45 minutes in the oven.  Fresh cilantro is added to the potatoes right before serving for added flavor.
 

roasted potatoes

 

Visit this great “Pototo Types” board courtesy of the US Potato Board and check out the different kinds of potatoes there are.  You’ll be surprised to see the vibrant hue of purple that are along the usual white and red-skinned potatoes.  And, be sure to add more of these healthy veggies to your meals in celebration this month!

 

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