Let’s face it, switching to a plant-based diet for the first time is a slightly scary notion. For one, not many of us know of balanced dishes that do not contain meat or other dairy products. In fact, most vegetarians that are starting out find themselves restricted to eating frozen deli foods like vegetarian pizzas and burgers. It is no wonder that not many of them make it past the first month.
However, a little bit of digging unveils recipes for some of the tastiest, most balanced dishes that both vegans and non-vegans can heartily enjoy. These four easy, healthy and delicious home recipes are no doubt the best recipes for vegans that are starting out.
1. Three-Bean Chili with Spring Pesto
Once you take the plunge into the no-meat-zone, you have to source your daily protein content from other foods. This three-bean chili satisfies your protein requirements as it is made using three high-protein legumes: kidney beans, chickpeas, and cannellini.
· 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained.
· 1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained.
· 1 can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained.
· 3tbsp of chopped pine nuts.
· 2 carrots, diced.
· 1 can of diced tomatoes.
· 1 yellow onion, chopped.
· ¼ cup of extra virgin oil.
· 1 clove of garlic, chopped.
· 1 cup of parsley, chopped.
· Salt and black pepper.
a) Heat 1 tablespoon of the virgin oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the diced carrots and the chopped yellow onion and cook until tender.
b) Add the can of tomatoes, liquid and all, � teaspoon of pepper and 1 � teaspoon of salt. Let it boil.
c) Add the cannellini, the kidney beans, and the chickpeas and cook for about 3 minutes.
d) Throw in the remaining ¼ cup of virgin oil, � teaspoon of salt, � teaspoon of pepper, the chopped pine nuts, the garlic and the parsley into a small bowl.
e) Serve the three-bean chili in separate bowls and top with the pesto. This dish can also be served with warm, crusty bread.
2. Asian Hot Pot
One of the perks of being a vegetarian is that there is a wide variety of exotic foods you get to try now that your mind has been opened to different flavors. This exotic Asian noodle soup incorporates mushrooms to create a tasty, well-balanced dish.
· 1 3.75oz package of thin rice/bean thread noodles.
· 8 ounces of edible mushrooms (preferably shitake), thinly sliced with stems removed.
· 6 cups of vegetable or chicken broth (preferably low-sodium chicken broth).
· 2/3 cups of soy sauce (low sodium).
· 8 ounces of green beans cut into 2-inch pieces.
· 4 carrots, sliced thinly.
· 4 scallions, sliced thinly (green and white parts only).
· 2 tbsp. grated ginger.
· 1 tbsp. olive oil.
· 1 tbsp. chili sauce (optional).
a) Follow the instructions on the noodle packaging and prepare the noodles. Thereafter, drain them and cut them into 3-inch pieces.
b) Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes while occasionally stirring.
c) Add the grated ginger, the broth, the soy sauce and the chili sauce and mix well. Let it boil.
d) Throw in the green beans, the scallions, and the carrots and cook for about 6 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
e) Serve the noodles in separate bowls and spoon the soup over them.
3. Eggplant Curry with Basil and Tomatoes
Eggplant is a vegan favorite for many, not just because of its meaty texture, but also because of its mildly unique taste. You can use it as a protein substitute in a number of vegan dishes and try it out with different sauces for a truly enjoyable treat.
· 1 eggplant, cut into �-inch pieces.
· 1 cup of rice (preferably white basmati rice).
· 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved.
· 1 onion, finely chopped.
· 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained.
· � cup of basil.
· ¼ cup of low-fat Greek yogurt.
· 1 � teaspoons of curry powder.
· 1 tbsp. of olive oil.
· Black pepper and salt.
a) Cook the rice in a medium-sized saucepan with a tight lid with 1 � cups of water and � a teaspoon of salt. Let it boil, stir the rice, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 18 minutes. Thereafter, set aside the saucepan and let it stand covered for about 5 minutes.
b) Heat some oil in a saucepan, add the onions and cook for about 6 minutes until softened.
c) Add the tomatoes, the eggplant, curry powder, a teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. Stir the ingredients in for 2 minutes until the mixture becomes aromatic.
d) Add 2 cups of water to the mixture and let it boil. Afterward, reduce the heat and let it simmer for around 15 minutes until the eggplant becomes tender.
e) Add the chickpeas and stir for about 2 minutes until heated.
F) Set aside the saucepan and add stir in the basil into the vegetables. Serve the rice into individual bowls and scoop the vegetables over with yogurt, if preferred.
4. Peanut Squash Stew
This delicious and nutritious squash stew is served with rice and a sprinkling of chopped peanuts for added flavor. Special thanks to John James for pointing out this one. Get creative with some ingredients to create your own recipe for this tantalizing dish.
· 1 medium-sized acorn squash, peeled, seeded, cut into inch-thick crescents.
· 4 cups of vegetable broth.
· 2 cans of black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained.
· 2 � cups of tomato puree.
· 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic.
· 2 cups of finely chopped yellow onions.
· � cup of peanut butter, smooth.
· 1 finely chopped green Serrano chili.
· 1 tablespoon of grated ginger.
· 2 tablespoons of peanut oil.
· 2 teaspoons of salt.
· 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
· 1 teaspoon of ground cumin.
· 2 tablespoons of roasted peanuts, chopped.
a) Heat the peanut oil in a skillet and add the onions. Cook for about 15 minutes then adds the chili, garlic, ginger, cumin, and salt. Cook for another 5 minutes while lightly stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato puree, peanut butter, acorn squash and brown sugar.
b) Cover it and let it cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes until the squash becomes tender.
c) Throw in the black-eyed peas and let them heat through. Serve the stew over white or brown rice and sprinkle with the chopped roasted peanuts.
Some of these recipes are downright amazing. What’s more, you do not need a pantry full of meats and cheeses to make any one of them. Always give yourself ample time to prepare the meals as you may not be used to preparing some ingredients. These recipes are not only healthier than convenience foods, they are also tastier and more satisfying. Do not be shy to visit the produce section. Most importantly, have fun in the kitchen.
More to come! Visit us next week.