Food For Part-Time Vegetarians

There are two kinds of vegetarians. One is hardcore and full-time, the other casual and part-time. The former has gone beyond being an omnivore and has settled comfortably in a newfound healthy lifestyle. Those who belong to the latter still prefer veggies, but “cheats” every now and then to eat meat.

Sometimes, being a part-time vegetarian puts you on the road to staunch vegetarianism; most inveterate vegetarians start as part-timers. Sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, there is no question that both full-time and part-time vegetarianism comes with healthy perks.

Vegetarian meals can set a healthy lifestyle in motion. Vegetarian meals are rich with nutrients, e.g. potassium, vitamins C and A, and fiber as well as phyto-nutrients, e.g. lycopene and beta-carotene. If anything, these meals have minimal to negligible amounts of cholesterol, saturated fat and total fat.

Besides, vegetarian meals are more affordable, for the simple fact that meat costs more than vegetables. And with the environment ailing, there’s never been a better moment to eat zero-meat meals.

To wit, some ideas for your next vegetarian meal:

Frozen vegetarian delights

To start a vegetarian lifestyle, you don’t have to make an entire garden. Your nearest supermarket could help you take a breather from a carnivorous diet. The frozen goods section may have a treasure trove of ready-to-cook vegetarian food.

Many supermarkets stock on frozen veggie and soy burger patties, your healthier alternatives to beef. Notable brands include Gardenburger, Amy’s All American Burger, Morningstar Farms, and Whole Foods. Clearly you need not be a vegetarian at the expense of your burger habit.

Vegetarians also have their pizza fixes too. Look for frozen zero-meat pizza along such names as Freschetta, Amy’s Pizza Pesto, and Whole Foods.

In fact, you also have a choice in vegetarian tortellini and raviolis. Easily available in the frozen pasta section of the supermarket, these products take only 20 minutes to prepare. For this and other pasta dishes, the important thing is that you cut down on the meat and cheese.

Other zero-meat ideas

You could chuck meat for veggies in an infinite variety of sumptuous ways.

Tofu can substitute the beef in your burger or chili. Otherwise, you can go for the ever-reliable portabella mushroom.

Besides tofu and portabella mushrooms, beans make for amazing meat substitutes, with its superlative protein and fiber content. Try replacing the meat in burrito, enchilada, nacho, and other Mexican foods with beans and you’ll be in gastronomical heaven all the same.

And if you must go vegetarian, don’t just settle for any bland vegetable. Go for rich veggies like portabella mushrooms, eggplants, zucchini, and spinaches.  Spinach can replace the beef in lasagna, while eggplant can stand in for chicken in parmesan.

One bright idea: combine bell peppers with veggies and spices, and then side it with tofu, beans, portabella mushrooms, or veggie sausages. Or else, follow these certified vegetarian recipes:

Chickpea Salad

Ingredients (Serves 6)

15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 unpeeled and finely chopped cucumber
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
4 ounces finely diced mozzarella
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vinegar

Procedure

Put chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic, basil, mozzarella, and parsley, in a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle vinegar, salt, and olive oil. Toss. Place in the refrigerator for an hour.

Sausage & Saffron Rice

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 small red chili, finely minced
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 pinch saffron threads
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
5-6 ounces vegetarian sausage
1 cup diced tomato
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Procedure

Cut the veggie sausages into 1/2 inch slices. Set aside. Over medium to high heat, sauté garlic and chili in a saucepan of oil. Add brown rice. After a minute, add the sausage slices, veggie broth, saffron, bay leaves, and tomato. Boil. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the saucepan and wait for 40 minutes or until rice becomes tender. Put in the green onions. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Portabella Tacos

Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 medium portabella mushrooms, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
8 flour/corn tortillas
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano flakes
3 medium zucchini, cut into 2 inches long, 1/2 inch thick sticks
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced
4 ounces low-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup salsa
Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C. Meanwhile, toss mushrooms, oregano, zucchini, and onion in a bowl of oil. Transfer mixture to a jellyroll pan, covered with foil if desired. Put inside the oven for half an hour. Wrap tortillas in a moist cloth, and heat in oven for a minute or until soft. Pour the mixture on each tortilla. Add cheese and salsa.

Vegetarian Sausage Gravy

Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 vegetarian sausage links (or patties)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dried ground sage
Ground black pepper to taste

Procedure

In a large, nonstick pan, heat oil. Fry the veggie links (or patties) until they crumble. To make a paste, mix a fourth of the cup of the vegetable broth and flour in a smaller pan. Mix paste with the cooked links, pepper, and sage in oil. Let the concoction boil and stir for 2 minutes or until it turns thick. Pour in the leftover veggie broth.

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4 Responses

  1. sunni says:

    Everybody values good health, and staying healthy means eating healthy.

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  2. facelift says:

    This is great points about the health benefits of vegetarian cooking .Vegetarian dishes are a lot more likely to be high in fiber, low in fat, low in sodium and all around healthier than a typical meat-centered meal.

  3. Thank you very much for sharing your recipes here. I greatly appreciate your use of “part-time” vegetarian, which definitely, I am one of them. My passion is Gourmet Food and I guess putting a vegetarian twist to my recipes would help me capture customers who are semi-vegetarian. Thanks a lot!

  4. Nice article. It’s funny, we full time vegetarians stereotypically dislike the idea of you part-timers 😉 Personally, I think it’s hugely positive to see such a strong trend amongst meat-eaters to just eat less meat.

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