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Change Up Your Menu for Vegetarian Awareness Month

By Samantha Bailey, Registered Dietitian

When you think of October, you likely picture pumpkins, candy corn and scarecrows, but do you ever dream of a plate full of colorful, nutritious veggies? If not, this is your time to start. Why?! October is Vegetarian Awareness Month! Studies have shown that following a vegetarian diet can reduce your risk of serious health conditions (think: heart disease, type two diabetes and high blood pressure). Vegetarian diets are also linked to an increased intake of vitamin C, vitamin E and fiber. Reap these various health benefits by trying a new vegetarian meal at least three times a week throughout the upcoming month. Here are some nutrient-filled recipes to get you started!

Veggie-fy Old Classics

Many classic, meat-centric dishes can be easily—and tastily—updated to omit meat. Case in point: this Vegetarian Lasagna. Libby’s® Mixed Vegetables stand in for ground beef, a flavorful trade that will set you on the right track for achieving your daily serving of vegetables. Serve alongside a warm loaf of your favorite whole grain bread for a filling, family-friendly dinner.   

Vegetarian Lasagna

The New Comfort Food

Soups make a hearty, satiating and naturally meat-less meal option—especially on those chilly autumn nights. When the temps drop, fire up your stove for this Roasted Carrot & Apple Soup. Made with Libby’s® Sliced Carrots, apples and onions and spiced just right with cumin and chives, it’s a colorful, aromatic blend that’s perfect for an easy weeknight dinner or cozy weekend lunch. 

Roasted Carrot & Apple Soup

Spice Up Burger Night

No need to forego burger night just because you’re eating vegetarian. Ditch your regular beef patty for this kicked-up, fiber-filled Mexican Salsa Veggie Burger. It’s concocted with pinto beans, oatmeal, spices, and Libby’s® Whole Kernel Sweet Corn—a winning combo so flavorful that you’ll forget what meat even tastes like. Give it a try and see that experimenting can be fun—and incredibly delicious! 

Mexican Salsa Veggie Burger

Vegging Out

More and more of us are realizing the benefits of a vegetarian diet, even if it’s just eliminating meat on Mondays!  Creating satisfying, balanced meatless meals that please the whole family might sound impossible, but here are some tips and recipes to ensure your vegetarian night still packs a protein punch and burst of flavor.

Skip the Beef, Not the Burger

Beans are a staple protein for vegetarians, and they are a smart substitute for beef in burgers.  To avoid bland veggie burgers, add flavorful ingredients into the burger mixture and top with zesty condiments. Check out these hearty Mexican-style Veggie Burgers made with Libby’s® Organic Pinto Beans and Libby’s® Whole Kernel Sweet Corn and garnished with a fresh salsa with a kick. Your carnivores won’t even miss the meat!

Fill Up on Soup & Salad

Hearty soups and crisp salads are a mainstay in vegetarian diets. Plus it’s a quick, easy dinner to prepare that provides a satisfying balance of warmth and freshness. And the combinations are endless, so get creative pairing various soups with salads. We like how the sweet hint in this Carrot Coconut Soup complements the zing in this Summer Garbanzo Bean Salad.

Breakfast for Dinner

Eggs and potatoes are a perfect substitute for the protein and heartiness that we get from eating meat.  Besides, what’s more fun than breakfast for dinner!  Libby’s® Sweet Peas and Sliced White Potatoes are the heroes in this Frittata that can be whipped up in about 20-25 minutes beginning to end!

What do you serve on Meatless Mondays? Leave a comment on our Facebook page to let us know!

Getting Comfortable With Going Meatless

Hi all – I’m Deanna – a mom to a 3 ½ year old and a dietitian who loves to cook and truly believes healthy can equal delicious. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing ideas on how to get your family to eat a bit wiser and tastier with simple tips that can add up to positive habits.

Have you heard about Meatless Mondays? Started during the first World War as a way to ration meat, this revived movement is inspiring us go vegetarian one day a week to improve our own health and the health of the Earth.

The new Dietary Guidelines recommend we eat more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts – foods that provide fiber, antioxidants and healthier fats. These nutrients are linked to lowered risks for heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and even obesity. And when it comes to the environment, eating less meat can save resources like fuel, water and soil.

There are varying degrees of meatless eating – in other words, it’s not an all-or-nothing diet. You can be healthy choosing a “flexitarian” route – going meatless for a few meals a week and making smart choices when it comes to animal products such as lean cuts of beef/chicken, eating more fish/seafood and low-fat dairy foods.

So, where to start? Try using familiar, comfort foods as a base for your meatless dishes like:

Peanut butter (One serving has 30-plus nutrients and more protein than any other nut.)

  • Mix with vanilla yogurt then serve with fresh veggies and fruit slices for a side dish (my daughter’s favorite snack)
  • Use as base for sesame noodles with green beans (mix with low sodium soy sauce and sesame oil)

Eggs (The average large egg is now 14% lower in cholesterol and 64% higher in vitamin D)

  • Toss sautéed onions, mushrooms and spinach into an omelet or a frittata
  • Make homemade fried rice with scrambled eggs and canned mixed vegetables

Cheese (Choose lower fat options like Cabot’s 50% reduced fat cheddar)

  • Melt cheese into macaroni mixed with pureed butternut squash
  • Mash pinto beans and spread onto corn tortillas. Top with zucchini, pepper strips and cheese. Microwave to melt, then wrap.