We begin October later this week and with that marks Vegetarian Awareness Month. In recent years there has been a push for Americans to incorporate more meatless meals into their diets. Meatless Monday is one popular initiative designed to get people to start off their week making healthier decisions for their bodies and the planet. There are definite health advantages to reducing the amount of meat you regularly consume, but a vegetarian diet is also one that must be well-balanced in order to obtain all the necessary nutrients your body requires. To learn more about the different kinds of vegetarian diets there are, check out our vegetarian diet breakdown for detailed information. There you will also find the vitamins and minerals that vegetarian diets may be lacking and what foods will supply these nutrients.
For those of us who are interested in adding a meatless meal to our regular routine, you simply can’t go wrong. Not only will you do your body good, but many times you’ll also reduce your food bill as meat tends to be one of the higher priced grocery items. Since we’re entering the cooler weather season and comfort foods are more popular now, I wanted to feature some vegetarian meals that were “hearty.” I found recipes that are traditional favorites–only using veggies in place of meat.
I’ll start with this White Bean and Mushroom “Meatball” Sub recipe, which is my personal favorite. I think so many kids and men love to enjoy a good meatball sub, at least they do in my house. This version uses a combination of white beans, mushrooms, bread crumbs, parsley, onion and spices in a food processor. The “meatballs” are baked and then heated in marina sauce before added to fresh sub rolls. This recipe is vegan, but feel free to add some low fat mozzarella cheese to your subs if you like.
Photo courtesy of Sobremesa
Chicken Tetrazzini is a popular, hearty casserole, so I was excited to find a meatless version with this recipe for Vegetable Tetrazzini. It’s got all the same good things as the original (white wine, Fontina cheese, cream, garlic and spices), but in place of the chicken you use lots of veggies. Mushrooms, leeks and asparagus are combined with farfalle (bowtie) pasta. It’s so flavorful you’ll never miss the chicken in this dish.
Photo courtesy of Oh My Veggies
Another cool weather comfort food is Shepherd’s Pie. It’s traditionally made with beef or lamb and topped with mashed white potatoes. Lentil and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie uses a combination of lentils, carrots, spinach, onions and tomatoes in place of the meat and tops it with mashed sweet potatoes. It’s filling and really packed with flavor, not to mention the fact that it has a lot of protein and fiber.
Photo courtesy of One Ingredient Chef
I hope you’ll work some of these meatless entrees into your weekly menus for a healthy change. Next week I’ll share some delicious fall desserts that you don’t have to feel guilty enjoying.
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September is All American Breakfast Month. I love healthy breakfast foods at the traditional time of day (morning), but every now and then I enjoy serving breakfast foods at dinner time. The key to taking breakfast foods to the dinner table is to focus on the heartier recipes. And, that doesn’t mean they need to be laden with sausage and bacon! I’ve collected some great recipes that will have you making breakfast a regular dinnertime routine in your house.
This Cheesy Zucchini Quiche is one of my personal favorites. I use store bought crust to make it simple, but feel free to make your own if you’re so inclined. It’s packed with fresh zucchini, sliced onion and spices. Add some low fat mozzarella, eggs and prepared mustard. Not only does this quiche taste amazing, it’s really easy to prepare. Serve it with a salad and you’ve got terrific meal.
Photo courtesy of Taste of Home
If you love potatoes, you’ll definitely go for Hashbrowns, Spinach and Tomato Pie. It uses frozen shredded potatoes as the base. Low fat mozzarella cheese, fresh spinach, beaten eggs and grape tomatoes, along with some spices are layered to complete the pie. You can serve this with some turkey bacon and a fruit salad for dessert.
Photo courtesy of Diethood
Bell Pepper and Vidalia Onion Strata with Fresh Salsa is one of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters featured healthy plate recipes. At only 240 calories per serving, this is the perfect dish for anyone watching his or her weight. Pair it with a salad or some fruit and you’ve got the ideal light dinner.
Another Fruits & Veggies–More Matters healthy plate meal is this Garden Frittata. It’s packed with veggies like red potatoes, onion, kale and bell pepper. Eggs and seasonings are blended in to complete the dish. Serve the entrée with some sliced fruit and low fat dairy.
I hope these recipes help you expand breakfast dishes to your dinner table and incorporate more fruit and veggies into your breakfast meals. I’ll return next week with some entrees that are flavorful, filling and meatless.
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If you’re a busy parent, especially if you hold down a job in addition to your parenting role, you know that it’s difficult to always plan and prepare a healthy meal. This is why I regularly try to feature ideas for easy-to-prepare dinner ideas in my blog. Weeknights can be especially tough with after school practices and rushing home from work. It’s not surprising that many times it’s easier to grab the takeout menu and call in for a pizza or some other fast fix for dinner. I’ve done it myself.
This is why I was intrigued when I discovered a number of services that provide weekly delivery directly to your home that actually teach you how to create healthy and delicious recipes yourself. There are a number of delivery services available–Blue Apron, Marley Spoon, Fresh Direct, Hello Fresh and Plated are a few of the more popular. The great thing is the fresh ingredients are delivered to your home each week, including everything you need to make a full dinner (and I mean everything!). You are able to customize your plan to select what you want (I chose to do the menu for four), you can choose which menus are more to your liking (I prefer those that are vegetarian or with chicken and/or fish), and you can get it for two days a week or four (I chose two). You select which day of the week you want your delivery to come and everything comes fresh and labeled. The services may vary slightly, but you can skip weeks and end at any time. I decided it was worth a try.
I’ve been using Blue Apron as my service for about three weeks and have been pleased. I like the fact that the menus are heavy on veggies and the ingredients are fresh. For my blog today, I’m featuring a menu item I prepared last week. I had two entrée recipes and their ingredients delivered–Seared Salmon and Salsa Verde with Summer Vegetable and Quinoa Salad, and Pasta and Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Summer Squash and Red Leaf Lettuce Salad.
Photo courtesy of Blue Apron
Along with the fresh ingredients, I receive an 8 1/2 x 11 recipe sheet with detailed instructions on how to prepare the dish. This includes color photos that would be very helpful for a novice cook. In addition, each week the service sends an info sheet on one of the featured produce items. Last week it was yellow squash. The sheet contains information about the varieties, their origins, storage tips, and some fun facts. It also provides information about the farm from which the service gets their squash. It was nice to actually see the farm (and the farmer!) where the food was grown.
As I mentioned earlier, the service ensures you have everything you need to make the recipes. The only thing I’ve ever needed was a bit of oil to cook the veggies or fish. Each time I receive a package, items are well labeled so it’s easy to sort through which item goes with what recipe. I’ve had my daughter (who doesn’t cook), follow along and she’s been able to understand the directions with ease.
My pasta dish turned out perfectly (as you can see below) and I actually added a fresh tomato from my sister’s garden to the salad since I had it on hand.
While I won’t use this service every week, I like that I have the option for those extremely busy weeks instead of turning to the take out menu. With each entrée coming in between 500 and 700 calories and each weighing heavy on the veggies, I know this is a much healthier option for my family. Another bonus is that if I really like the recipe, I can recreate it myself any time in the future! Cost? The service is $69.99 for a family of 4 for 2 meals. I’ve done the numbers for my family if we order out and this is in line with what we spend at our local take out restaurants ($35 per meal for all of us). It’s also a nice way for someone who may not be so familiar with different kinds of vegetables to begin incorporating them into his/her diet. One week they sent me purple potatoes as a side dish!
I hope I’ve given you another quick dinner option. I’ll be back next week with ideas for taking breakfast foods you love and turning them into creations hearty enough for dinner.
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