Monday, April 13, 2009

Quick Easy Recipes Vegetarian Eaters will Love

Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean that you have to give up some of your favorite dishes. In fact, there are some amazing quick, easy recipes vegetarian eaters will love and make time and time again.

One delicious dish is a creamy cheese fondue. In a fondue pot or in a saucepan on the stove, melt a little bit of butter. Add a little bit of minced garlic for added flavor. Then, add some sweet white wine and a splash of brandy or cognac to the pot and boil. Slowly add small pieces of cheese that you have coated with a little bit of cornstarch to help thicken the fondue. You can use any cheese, but Swiss cheeses like gruyere and emmentaler are two wonderful options that blend really well with the wine and brandy and taste great. Serve after the cheese is melted and the fondue is creamy. Serve this fondue with bite-size pieces of crusty bread, carrots, pear and apple slices, grapes, cherry tomatoes, and any other kind of vegetable that you have on hand. The best part of this recipe is that you can serve it as a simple appetizer with only a few dipping options, or put out a large tray of food to dip in the fondue and make it a complete meal.

Another quick, easy recipe vegetarian diners will especially enjoy is stuffed peppers with white wine risotto. Remove the tops from bell peppers and clean out the insides of the peppers. Place them on a rimmed baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, peeled garlic cloves, and a sprinkle of salt, and bake until the peppers are just starting to get soft. While you are waiting for the peppers to roast, in a small pot, heat some vegetable broth and dry white wine until hot, but be careful not to bring it to a boil. In a skillet, add some olive oil and sauté chopped scallions and garlic cloves. Add some risotto rice and some sliced mushrooms and cook until the rice is toasted, stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn the rice. Slowly add some of the wine and broth mixture to the rice, cooking until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue to slowly add the wine and broth mixture to the rice until all of the liquid is absorbed. Right before it’s done cooking, add a little bit more butter and wine. If you like cheese in your dish, add some shredded cheese to the risotto and constantly stir until the cheese is melted. Spoon the risotto into the roasted peppers, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and then bake for another ten minutes. This dish makes an amazing main course served with a side salad, and is absolutely delicious.

If you have paired these two recipes together for an appetizer and a main course, a wonderful, romantic dessert that goes well with both of them to complete the meal is a chocolate fondue. Heat up some heavy cream in a small pot on the stove. Slowly whisk in pieces of dark, milk, or white chocolate until fully combined and melted. If you want to add a little different flavor, sprinkle in a little bit of cinnamon. Pour the mixture into a fondue pot and serve with bite-size pieces of pound cake, strawberries, and pretzels. Keep in mind that you cannot add any water to the melted chocolate, or the whole batch will be destroyed. This means that you make sure that your fondue pot is completely dry before adding any chocolate.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easy Vegetarian Mexican Recipes for Delicious Appetizers

It seems like whenever you walk into a grocery store, the aisles are stocked with a variety of already-made Mexican appetizers. Unfortunately, most of the time, they are not made with vegetarians in mind. Luckily, though, there is almost nothing easier than making your own easy vegetarian Mexican recipes at home. If you’re looking for some delicious and quick vegetarian appetizers you should look no further than these easy vegetarian Mexican recipes.

Chips and salsa are high on most people’s list of vegetarian appetizers, but on whole opening a jar of salsa and pairing with some chips isn’t very filling. One option to change this up a bit is to make your own salsa. If you have a food processor, it’s extremely fast, but it’s an easy project even without one. Roast some tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, chilies, and garlic in your oven until soft, chop them up in small pieces, and stir them all together for a smoky, spicy salsa. If you prefer a fresher, lighter taste, don’t roast anything, and chop up a bunch of the same ingredients and blend them together. To both of these options, add some fresh, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and you have some fresh, healthy salsa that tastes wonderful compared to what you find in your supermarket. You might never buy canned salsa again once you learn how to do this.

Of course, once you get the fresh salsa down, instead of serving just plain chips and salsa, you can make a big plate of nachos that will impress any audience. Layer the chips with salsa, vegetarian refried beans, some sliced jalapeno peppers, and top with shredded cheese. Stick the whole concoction under your broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese (make sure you have the nachos in a broiler-safe pan!), and you have a crowd-pleasing dish of vegetarian nachos. Even better, if you have carnivores in your crowd, they’re not even going to notice that there is no meat in this dish.

If you want to take this one step further, though, you can also make a traditional, but vegetarian, seven-layer dip, which you can serve with a side of tortilla chips. Combine your fresh salsa with some vegetarian refried beans. Take a baking pan, and spread a layer of the beans and salsa on the bottom. Your next layer is sour cream, which you can flavor with taco seasoning if you desire. Next, spread one layer of each of shredded cheese, sliced black olives, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, diced avocados, and chopped green onions. If you want to add another layer to this dip, you can top it with more shredded cheese. Put the whole thing in the refrigerator to set, and you have a ready-to-go, delicious, vegetarian Mexican appetizer. And, again, none of your meat-eating guests will even notice that you used vegetarian refried beans or left out any ground beef from the final dish. They’ll be way too busy licking their fingers and digging in for seconds.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Autumn Vegetarian Soup Recipes

When the weather starts to get cold out, you start craving a warm, satisfying meal, and a bowl of homemade soup is a great choice. While you could open up a can of soup and heat it up in a pot or in the microwave, you can make better tasting soup easily on your own with these ideas for vegetarian soup recipes.

There are a wide range of vegetables that are amazing in an autumn soup. To make a delicious cream-based soup start by sautéing some chopped onions in a little bit of butter or olive oil in a pot or Dutch oven. Once those are cooked, add your choice of diced autumn vegetable. Among the best vegetables to use are baking pumpkins, parsnips, squash—butternut is a great option—pr carrots. Then, add your choice of spices along and cover the entire thing with some low-sodium vegetable broth, which you can find at your local supermarket. After the vegetables are soft, blend the soup until smooth, either using a hand-held immersion blender or by pouring it into patches into a regular blender. (Just keep in mind that the soup is hot, so you have to be careful.) Once it’s all blended together and back in the pot, whisk in some cream, half-and-half, or milk. If you don’t want to add milk, you don’t have to, just keep in mind that the soup will be thinner than it should be. If you let it cook down a little bit more, though, or add a bit of cornstarch or flour dissolved in a little bit of water, it will thicken up a bit more. Serve with some crusty bread, and you’ll have a bowl of soup so good that you’ll want to make it again and again.

If you prefer non-cream-based soups, then make your own broth-based vegetable soup. The easiest way to make your own vegetable soup is from a store-bought, low-sodium vegetable broth. Just like a cream-based soup, it’s a great idea to start your broth-based vegetarian soup with some chopped onion sautéed in a little bit of butter or olive oil. Then, add some minced garlic for a couple of minutes or until fragrant. This will give you a flavorful base for your vegetable soup. Then, add a variety of diced vegetables and herbs to the pot. Some great choices are carrots, potatoes, shallots, celery, peas, and a variety of beans. Even better, you can add some pasta or rice to the soup to make it much more hearty and wholesome.

Whatever types of vegetarian soup recipes you finally decide to try out, don’t be afraid to experiment with whatever kinds of vegetables you find fresh in your store. The best-tasting vegetables to make into a vegetarian soup are those that are in season. Visit local farmers’ markets to see what’s fresh. To make an even more complete meal, pair your bowl of soup with some warm bread and a small side salad.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The best free vegetarian recipes

The best way to create free vegetarian recipes is to cook out of your cupboard. Of course, to do this successfully, you must understand the best way to actually stock your pantry so that you always have the right ingredients on hand to cook with.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are always the best, but if you’re shopping for the long haul, you’ll also want to buy frozen vegetables. While canned vegetables might be cheaper, they are also less nutritious and less fresh than frozen vegetables. Besides buying fresh fruits and vegetables when you make your weekly (or monthly) trip to the grocery store, stock up on frozen peas, broccoli, and other types of mixed vegetables. This way, you’ll always be able to throw together a quick, last minute stir-fry or even a shepherd’s pie. Also, make sure that you always keep fresh yellow onions, potatoes, and bulbs of garlic on hand since they make the basis for so many different recipes. Store these ingredients in a cool, dry place so they last longer.

In terms of the best grains, make sure that you always have a selection of white and brown rice, couscous, and quinoa, along with a variety of dry pasta, like angel hair, penne, and rigatoni. If you can find it in your grocery store, buy enriched pasta which is full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that you don’t always get from a vegetarian diet. Also, keep a variety of oats and whole-grain cereals on hand, especially if you have children, so you can always serve a healthy, fast breakfast.

Then, it’s also a good idea to keep a variety of eggs and low-fat dairy products on hand in your refrigerator. Buy skim milk, low-fat cheeses, and unsweetened yogurt, which are great to include in many vegetarian recipes. There are also a number of other staples—tofu, olive oil, soy sauce, and chili paste come to mind—that you should always keep handy since you will use them so often.

Then, once you have a fully-stocked pantry, make a list of the ingredients you have and try to plan out a weekly menu. Tell yourself that you have to cook for a month with what you have in your house, and come up with a variety of recipes that will allow you to cook through your ingredients while not spending any additional money. At the end of the month, you’ll be amazed at not only all the different recipes you were able to create that tasted great and were healthy and filling, but also by how much money you saved.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easy and healthy vegetarian recipes for kids

If you’re a vegetarian, you probably want your children to eat vegetarian, at least in your home, but getting kids to eat healthy vegetarian food can be a challenge. Getting your kids to get excited about eating vegetarian may seem like a hassle, but with these ideas for vegetarian recipes for kids, they’ll be clamoring for you to make these dishes again and again.

Most kids love pizza, and the best thing about it is that if you make it yourself, you can keep it nutritious and vegetarian, and even better, it will taste great. First, if you want to attempt it and have a lot of time, you can make your own pizza dough. However, most of us don’t have that kind of time, so luckily you can buy either a pre-made pizza crust, or even better, pre-made pizza dough. With the pre-made pizza dough, you can engage your kids in making their own pizza. With pre-made pizza dough, you can even divide it to make smaller, personal pizzas, and have each kid put his or her own toppings on it.

The base of any good pizza, after the crust, is the sauce. You can either buy a canned tomato sauce and add to it, or you can make your own with fresh tomatoes and spices—salt, pepper, oregano, and basil are the most traditional ones to use in a pizza sauce. When you make your own, though, make sure to add a spoonful of sugar to cut the bitterness of the fresh tomatoes. Even better, dice some squash, sweet potatoes, or carrots, and include them in your final pizza sauce, for the same great flavor and added nutrition. On top of that, add a variety of low-fat shredded cheese. In terms of toppings, put out a variety of choices and let your kids choose their own. Put out sliced mushrooms, green peppers, onions, pineapple, extra tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, and any other vegetables you and your children enjoy at home.

If you’re looking for fast, last-minute vegetarian recipes for kids, though, try spicing up old favorites. Prepare grilled cheese sandwiches with whole bread and stuff them with pieces of sliced tomato and serve vegetable soup on the side. Make regular macaroni and cheese, and add fresh peas to the pot to make it healthier and to encourage your kids to eat vegetables. You can also easily make your kids a quick pita. Toast the pita and fill it with some hummus, diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, and fresh baby spinach. This is especially a great meal for warmer weather when your kids might not want something warm and heavy. If you want something more substantial, serve them basic spaghetti or enhanced whole-grain spaghetti and spice up your tomato sauce with some chopped up vegetables—like carrots, zucchini, or squash—which will make it more nutritious for your kids.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

What you need to know when looking for Vegetarian Cooking Recipes

Before you can start making delicious vegetarian dishes, you need to know what to look for when you’re trying to find vegetarian cooking recipes. While you can survive by just removing the meat from any recipe you find that has meat in it, you’re usually left with something that lacks protein, doesn’t have enough vegetables, has an excess of carbohydrates, and won’t fill you up in the end, leading you to eat more unhealthy food.

When looking for healthy vegetarian cooking recipes, you need to understand that a well-balanced vegetarian diet consists of a large amount of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. It does not consist of potato chips, cheese pizza, and vegetarian fried rice from your local takeout restaurant. Again, while you can survive, you won’t be healthy, and you might even find that you start to gain weight if you use the wrong kind of vegetarian cooking recipes.

When looking for vegetarian cooking recipes, find some that substitute other protein-rich foods for meat. Look for recipes that are heavy in beans instead of beef and use tofu instead of poultry. A lot of times, you might even find meat recipes that look delicious, and you can make an easy protein-heavy, meatless substitution for whatever meat that the recipe calls for. For example, you can make tacos with pieces of marinated tofu instead of turkey, and you can just up the beans quotient in your favorite chili dish instead of using ground beef or pork.

Also, when looking for vegetarian cooking recipes, you might have to move outside of your comfort zone a bit and try some new foods. A lot of ethnic recipes, especially Thai and Indian recipes, are high on tofu and beans and light on meat. The only thing to be careful of is that a lot of Thai recipes call for fish sauce or oyster sauce, which are not vegetarian, so you’ll have to make a substitution to accomplish a comparable flavor in your final dish. Because so many ethnic dishes utilize so many wonderful spices, you might find that some of your favorite vegetarian cooking recipes end up being ethnic recipes because they are so much more flavorful than a lot of vegetarian American recipes.

Besides making sure you receive enough protein in your diet, you should supplement your diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables every day. Trying different fruits and vegetables and expanding your pallet will allow you to enjoy vegetarian cooking recipes a lot more than if you are afraid to try new things. The best fruits and vegetables are those that are in season and local, since as soon as it’s picked, fruit and vegetables not only start to lose their nutritional value, but their taste starts to disappear, as well. So, in the fall, keep your house stocked with squash, leeks, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and apples, and in the spring and early summer, keep your house stocked with peaches, arugula, melon, and baby carrots. Also, if you are afraid of trying new vegetables or you dislike a large number of kinds of vegetables, try making stir-fries with different flavorful sauces that will mask some of the vegetables in there that you don’t like and get you the vitamins you need.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Easy low-fat vegetarian recipes for people trying to lose weight

While people who eat a vegetarian diet typically eat better than meat eaters, if they eat too many carbohydrates or dairy products that are high in fat, even vegetarians might find themselves in the situation where they want to loose weight. Luckily, there are several easy, low-fat vegetarian recipes out there for people who are trying to lose weight.

One easy fix if you are a vegetarian trying to cut back on calories is to switch from frying a lot of your foods to grilling or roasting your meals. Even using recipes that call for stir-fry instead of deep frying can make a big difference in the number of calories and the amount of fat you get in your diet. Also, instead of using recipes that call for cream, half-and-half, or full-fat cheese, you can often substitute skim or low-fat milk, evaporated or soy milk, and low-fat cheese in your favorite recipes. You won’t notice a difference in the flavor, and you’ll be cutting your fat intake significantly. However, make sure not to cut fat completely from your diet since there are “good” fats out there that are good for your heart and helps you have enough energy to get through your day. In small amounts, olive oil is a great choice to use instead of butter in many recipes, including things like pasta, salad dressings, and even stir-fries. Also, use some almonds, walnuts, or other nuts in your meals for the same reason. Try mixing some walnuts into a light pasta sauce, chop a few cashews to sprinkle over your vegetable stir-fry, or add some almond slivers to your dinner salad.

One great example of easy low-fat vegetarian recipes that you might enjoy if you’re trying to lose some weight is a healthy vegetable stir-fry. Heat a very small amount of olive oil in a wok or skillet. Add some washed green vegetables to the wok. Some great options include baby spinach, bok choy, green onions, broccoli, and cabbage. Then, add some salt, a little bit of water, a crumble of cashews, and stir fry until the vegetables are cooked. Serve over some brown rice, and sprinkle some soy sauce or chili paste over it if you want a little more flavor. This particular stir-fry is high in iron, which is essential to keep your energy up throughout the day. Of course, if you want a little more variety, add some baby corn, carrots, water chestnuts, pea pods, bamboo shoots, and any other type of bite-size vegetable that you can think of.

Another option for easy, low-fat vegetarian recipes is garlic mushrooms and rice. Briefly sauté sliced button mushrooms, shallots, minced garlic cloves, and some rosemary in a very small amount of olive oil. Add a little bit of white wine, a bay leaf, and a little bit of tomato puree to the pan, and stir well. Stir in some brown rice and thyme. Add a little bit of water to this dish and bring to a boil. Then, cover and simmer until the rice is cooked. Before serving, make sure you remove the bay leaf as it is a choking hazard. Serve this dish sprinkled with some almond slivers. This recipe can also be seasoned with a little bit of soy sauce or chili paste if you need a little bit more flavor, but the garlic should give it a nice taste on its own.

Of course, no matter what changes you make to your diet, if you’re serious about losing weight, make sure to add exercise to your routine. Cutting calories and fat alone isn’t enough to lose weight in a healthy manner.

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