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October is a great time to incorporate some plant-based meals into your repertoire. The farmers markets are bursting with fresh fall produce, and as the days become shorter and colder the warmth of these vegetarian or vegetable first recipes, are sure to satisfy.
Meatless Mondays is also a fantastic way to explore a world of taste. Every cuisine from Greek and Italian, to Indian and British, include easy vegetable first recipes, or even typically meat-centric dishes that you can readily adapt for a once a week foray into vegetarianism. International markets have popped up in towns and cities across the country, and online sources are making it easier and cheaper than ever to access a diverse array of unique global ingredients. You can kick up your average Monday night and make it a journey into a worldly and healthful adventure.
Adding a few vegetable recipes into the rotation will increase your intake of vitamins C and E, fiber, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and carotenoids and flavonoids. If you don't already know, this is all good stuff! The skin loving, illness fighting, digestive enhancing, energy boosting, anti-inflammatory gifting, kind of good stuff! The even better news is that in addition to giving your body more of what it needs you can also do a little for the health of your wallet.
Making an effort to cut back on your meat intake and up your veggie game, even if it is only once a week, can have an impact on your health. Recent and ongoing studies are showing that plant-based diets may reduce your risk for chronic diseases and certain cancers. By making fruits and vegetables a more significant percentage of your diet, you have a good chance of lowering your bad cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index. The lowering of these three factors is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
The following dishes are fabulous examples of how inexpensive, tasty, and effortless adding more veggies to your diet can be.
After you sample my recipes, feel free to post your homemade creations on social media using the tags #ICookedThis #RecipeSavants and #NationalVegetarianMonth.
This recipe is inspired by the famous soup served at the Olive Garden. It is one of my favorite vegetable first soups, and during the fall and winter months, I will often make in the slow cooker for a super easy weeknight meal.
Shepherd's Pie is the quintessential comfort food. Although, you can cover anything with mashed potatoes and it is going to be delicious. Carrots, onions, mushrooms, and peas swimming in a pool of herbaceous red wine gravy topped with mashed potatoes? Yes, please! This is a great recipe if you are looking to sneak more vegetables into your children's diet. I don’t miss the meat in this recipe, the mushrooms make this meatless wonder hearty and satisfying.
This homemade gnocchi recipe, is super easy – if you have never made gnocchi be prepared to be shocked, they are super easy yet super delicious. In this recipe I toss the homemade gnocchi with my quick pesto – and dinner is done. It couldn’t get any easier.
If you have yet to explore Greek food, Spanakopita is a brilliant place to start. Creamy, cheesy, savory spinach wrapped in flaky pastry. You can make it ahead of time and pull it out of the freezer for another near effortless Meatless Monday. Working with the Phyllo dough is a bit of work, but with practice, you can master the skills to make this delicious and straightforward Spanakopita.
Sticking with the Greek theme, Dolmas are stuffed grape leaves. These take a bit of practice to wrap up, but they work well as finger food or main dish. Filled with rice, herb-infused and lemon infused, perfect for a casual get-together or family dinner.
Ready to see how much flavor can cram into one meat-free dish? You need to try this Indian delight. Made with split yellow peas and a host of warm aromatic spices, Dal Tadka is the introduction to Indian cuisine that you didn't even know you needed. This recipe is made in an Instapot, but it can also be done quickly on the stove with minimal effort.
Folks shy away from doing Meatless Monday for a variety of reasons. It's too time-consuming, complicated, costly, bland, and boring. When in reality, those reasons are a complete fallacy. In addition to the recipes highlighted here, there are countless adaptations that you could use to turn your family favorites into meat-free variations. Shake things up a little. Explore some global cuisines that have always piqued your curiosity but that you have never tried. Incorporating more veggies and cutting back just a little on the meat can improve your health, keep a little cash in your pocket, and introduce you to a world of flavors!
Please take some time today, and celebrate National Vegetarian Month, in style, try one or two of my featured recipes, and make sure to post your successes to social media. Happy eating!
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