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Need help making tasty (semi) vegetarian meals!

My DH has decided hes going on a diet and doesn't want to eat much red meat or fatty stuff, and wants lots and lots of veggies. Problem: he doesn't really like plain veggies, (which is how i love them so i usually don't cook any other way)
and he hates stir fry (which is the only other way i ever cook them)
Can someone give me some good simple recipes that are low in fat and healthy?

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  1. roast anything -- cauliflower, brussel sprouts, radishes, beets, fennel, cabbage, tomatoes, red peppers.

    1 Reply
    1. re: orangewasabi

      I second this. I'm always amazed at how good vegetables taste when you roast them.

    2. My SO often goes on a similar diet, and his favorite way to eat vegetables is in a soup. I cook up some pork or beef bones, skim off the fat with a very fine strainer, then add a ton of vegetables. Even if he eats half a gallon of the stuff, it has fewer calories than a slab of meat, and almost no fat. And we both love soup, so it's tasty and easy to change up throughout the week.

      Some homemade bread made with whole wheat flour and no butter or oil added, or beans in the soup, gives the meal enough bulk to keep us full for the evening.

      I've also struggled to find easy ways to make vegetables taste good, but I like them stir fried with garlic, steamed, or roasted. SO doesn't really care for those methods at all unless it's a vegetable he really likes, so soup works. Otherwise I'd have to make something more complicated like a galette stuffed with different vegetables, a casserole, lasagne, or pasta type dish.

      Pureeing vegetables is also a good way to make it seem like you're serving a cream-based soup when it's actually very healthy. I like pureed steamed cauliflower with a few cloves of roasted garlic, thinned out with skim milk or chicken stock. Leave out the thinner and you have a nice thick substitute for mashed potatoes.

      Boiled white beans or steamed/roasted squash also make a nice creamy soup.

      1. If he likes fish, you can try topping it with your favorite sauce or herbs (dill is my favorite), wrap in foil and bake it. You can do a side dish of roasted veggies (in the same oven as the fish). Also, serve some rice with some toasted sesame or almonds in it.

        If you take tofu, coat lightly in rice flour or AP flour, and fry it. You can stir fry it with any veggie you like. I've also steamed tofu with sauce on it.

        1. A nice filling side salad is cucumber diced, plum roma tomatoes diced, cubed mozzarella (a little cheese is good in a diet!) and splashes of Balsamic Vinegar, EVOO, salt, pepper and Oregano. This is a favorite in my house and is much more filling and tasty than a regular house salad.

          1. Well we're doing the same thing starting, tomorrow. But earlier
            this year I had to lower my cholestrol and I did by 15 points.
            I pretty much avoided red meat:( I would have red meat maybe once every couple of weeks and no alchohol at all. Well we love our wine... I've gotten so I that I'm pretty good at making tasty dinners with ground turkey.

            We usually have the Thai lettuce wraps cilantro, ginger root, green onion, serranos, and cilantro using light ground turkey. Salads that are made with fresh green beans, and good tuna and egg sort of a salad nicoise.
            Cauliflower stir fried with oyster sauce, or steamed with dill.
            Last night we had cabbage just stewed - was very goood!
            Salad made with orzo, dried cherries, basil, cherry tomatoes, green onion,broccoli or zuchinni, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar
            And foodiegirl hit on one of my lighter dishes, wrap fish or a chicen breast in foil but top it with fresh tomatoes, onions garlic and basil. Throw in a few small red potatoes-good stuff!
            Taco salads with lots of fresh pico de gallo. A good low far snack, flour tortilla with a little monterey and fresh pico de gallo

            Broccoli or cauliflower red peppers, onion and garlic, in baked egg white custard
            And one of my all time favorites is to make egg foo young with egg whites with all kinds of fresh veggies with a light soy gravy made with cornstarch
            Baked potatoes stuffed with salsa, and cheeses

            make stuffed cabbage, using ground turkey or stuffed peppers just use alot of chicken and tomatoes for the juice factor.

            Buy big portabellos and stuff them like a reg stuffed mushroom. I take the gills out to clean and hollow them, make a mix of chopped stems, sauteed with garlic, procuitto or lean ham, spinach, or asparagas, add some unseasoned bread crumbs, monterey cheese and low fat mozzerella. Then saute them stuffed, then top with more mozzerealla and bread crumbs and run under the broiler- Very tasty and very filling.
            You can also make them with a low fat turkey saugsage and make the sauce as a fresh marinara sauce with fresh basil and oregano, then top with mozzerella and bread crumbs.

            We first got used to 1 percent milk, then the other day I had nonfat, I slightly noticed the difference where before I would not of touched it.
            The only thing that I will not go fat free with is, cheeses and sour cream, we just are careful not to over do it.

            And for a sweet treat I am totally hooked on sugar free popsicles!

            1. One of my favorite meat-free meals is Vegetarian Fajitas. Cut up bell peppers, onions, zucchini and whatever else you have around. Saute with a little olive oil and some Fajita Seasoning (available at most grocery stores). Serve with Trader Joe's handmade whole wheat tortillas, sliced avocado and TJ's mild fresh salsa. YUMMY!! Even more delish with shrimp thrown in to the pan. You could also add Tofu too.

              1. I'm veg, and on and off weight watchers, and my fiance is a meat eater. I make tons of dinners from "1001 low fat vegetarian recipes" by sue spitler.

                They're not super gourmet, but great variety for weeknight dinners. For most recipes we just need 3-4 fresh ingredients, and uses lots of spices and things that we have on hand as staples. We like it because we substitute a lot of veggies for ones that we like better or are more in season, and because he can cook some chicken on the side to add to the ones he thinks are lacking.

                1. Grilled veggies sprinkled heavily with garlic salt... one of my favorites, then served with balsamic vinegar or vinegarette.

                  My mom makes Meatballs and Cabbage using turkey breast for the meatballs, then cabbage, shredded onions, ketchup, splenda, vinegar and a few other ingredients (I could find out if you're interested)... low cal and filling.

                  You could do a crockpot stew, slow roasting chicken with veggies.


                  I do a broccoli or spinach souffle... in a blender, puree cooked veggies, some Lipton's Onion soup mix, fat free sour cream, fat free ricotta cheese and bake in a Pam-sprayed casserole dish.

                  Make a pate/terrine out of broccoli, cauliflower and carrot layers. You can either use eggs or tofu along with whatever other seasonings mix-ins you want for each layer, but I generally do a carrot layer on the bottom pureeing carrots with a little milk, garlic, fat free cream cheese, egg white, and seasonings, then doing the same with a cauliflower layer, then topped with a broccoli layer, then baked. I have heard of others using unflavored gelatin to set rather than baking, but I've never gone that route.

                  Also what about spinach dip with veggies--cooked spinach along with lipton's soup mix, water chestnuts, and red bell pepper dices mixed into fat free sour cream, along with other veggies, cooked or raw.

                  1. omg these sound really really good, i'm going to have to try some.

                    1. No one in my house is a vegetarian, but we LOVE Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook. It's huge and has a recipe for almost any veggie, fruit, grain, or non-meat protein source you can imagine, organized by main ingredient and excellently cross-referenced in the index. Most of the dishes are pretty easy to make, and we've never made something that has turned out to be icky. I highly recommend it.

                      1. Here's my absolute favorite vegetarian meal. It's great with a hearty bread and spinach salad. Ham or sausage is good on the side for meat-eaters. It's adapted from _The Basque Kitchen_ by Hirigoyen.

                        Baked Garbanzo Beans

                        1/2 cup olive oil
                        2 med onions, thinly sliced
                        6 garlic cloves, finely sliced
                        1 dried chili, mild or spicy (I use 1 1/2 t Chimayo red)
                        1 T coriander seeds, crushed
                        2 bay leaves
                        3 cups garbanzo beans, soaked 24 hours at room temp. (I use 2 cans garbanzos, drained - works just fine)
                        5-6 cups vegetable broth (I use 2 14.5 oz. cans. I reduce the liquid because I use cooked beans.)
                        10 saffron threads, soaked in a little warm water
                        1 t kosher salt or more to taste (careful here!)
                        1/4 t freshly ground white pepper or more to taste (black’s okay)

                        Preheat oven to 450 deg. In a large casserole, warm the olive oil over med-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, chili, coriander and bay leaves; saute for about 5 min.

                        Drain the garbanzos, and add them , along with the broth, saffron, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Transfer to the oven. (It doesn’t say to, but I find that the dish works better if you uncover it when you put it in the oven.)

                        Bake until the beans are soft and cooked through, 45 to 50 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve. (I cook until I figure they’re done with just a little liquid left, since I use canned beans.)

                        1. We are doing the same diet thing...;tis the season I guess!

                          We love Thai red or green curries made with low-fat coconut milk and tons of veg: eggplant, peppers, shitake and oyster mushrooms, bamboo shoots, baby corn, peas - a great way to get the daily quotient! With brown rice when we're feeling particularly virtuous.

                          Chicken enchiladas - the Canyon Ranch recipe with Emeril's enchilada sauce. So low-fat with low-fat sour cream and reduced fat cheese and incredibly tasty!

                          Recipe Links: http://www.self.com/health/recipes/20...

                          Last night we had baked chicken breasts rubbed in harissa and served with chick pea salad and Turlu Turlu (roasted turnip, potato, carrots, onions, peppers, eggplant, etc. with chickpeas, passata, allspice, garlic and coriander seeds) from the Moro cookbook. Delicious spa food!

                          4-bean chili is a no-brainer and makes huge yields.

                          Eggplant vindaloo is a nice curry too!

                          Can you tell we like spice?! :)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: AmandaEd

                            Eggplant Vindaloo sounds terrific -- any particular recipe that works best for you?

                            1. re: orangewasabi

                              No - a friend gives us vindaloo spice mixes that her father's restaurant prepares for us every year, so we use that. The healthy step I always do is to roast the eggplant in the oven (just sprayed with evoo) and then cube it for the curry. It really helps cut down on the fat and doesn't impact the taste at all!

                          2. A really yummy meal are fish tacos- Our fave is Mahi-Mahi but any firm white fish will do (halibut)- Season it with salt and pepper (or seafodd mix) and grill on grill pan (drizzle with little extra virgin olive oil- squeeze some lime on the fish just before you take it of the grill pan. Make the fish chunky with a fork- Make a really great sauce by blending Avacado, Yogurt or sour cream, lime/lemon, cyanne and salt in a food processor. Stir in chopped tomatos and scallions- yummm!!! Blister some soft tacos- top with chuncked fish, slather with sauce and top with shredded lettuce!!!

                            1. I always like to serve a lot of lentil/chickpea based curries. Stuffed peppers are great too (you can use veggie ground round or lentils as a protein source).

                              A great blog is www.fatfreevegan.com and www.vegweb.com is also fabulous for finding vegetarian/vegan recipes. I find though that vegweb has recipes that are extremely....amateur....for lack of a better word, but there are some gems.

                              Vegetarian chili with lots of beans is fabulous, as are burritos with more innovative fillings - mashed sweet potatoes, kidney beans, black beans, etc. :


                              Definitely try out some of the vegetarian alternatives out there - even if you're not into tofu, you'd be surprised at how amazing veggie ground round tastes when you mix it into something.

                              I'm actually going to be doing an online vegan blog event starting January 14th at my blog http://definitelynotmartha.blogspot.com, and I'll be posting many vegan recipes there (I'm not a vegan).

                              It's sometimes hard to switch out of the meat/potato/vegetable mentality so pervasive in North America, but if you start looking into other cuisines and cultures, you'll find there is an absolute wealth of food that is not at all based on animal protein. :)

                              1. yay! i have some for you. but i need to look them up at home...stay tuned!

                                1. We do a lot of hearty salads in our house (salads with lots of veggies, seeds, beans tossed in a light dressing of olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper). Roasted vegetables is a great suggestion (the day after, you can puree them with a bit of stock for a roasted vegetable soup). We'll make vegetable dips (think skordalia or baba ganoush) to eat with baked pita wedges. Lots of casseroles (including lasagna). Phyllo packages (tuck herbed vegetables into phyllo pastry, brush with olive oil). Soups are good too.

                                  1. Pasta with rapini!

                                    This also works with broccoli, cauliflower, fiddleheads, dandelion greens, kale, etc. Prep time is no more than 10 minutes, cooking time is under 15 minutes. Works best with penne or fusilli. The following recipe, which IIRC is based on one from Alice Waters, is for 2 average servings.

                                    Cook 8 oz (250 g) pasta. Meanwhile, sauté 1 small onion, thinly sliced, and some red pepper flakes in olive oil until the onion begins to colour. Add 3 to 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, and sauté for 1 minute more. Add 1/2 bunch rapini, trimmed, cleaned and coarsely chopped, and stir to coat with the oil. Salt lightly and pour in 1/4 to 1/3 cup water. Simmer, stirring from time to time, until the rapini is tender and the water nearly evaporated (if necessary, add more water during cooking). Add a splash of red wine vinegar. Drain the pasta and transfer to a bowl. Drizzle the rapini with extra virign olive oil, season with pepper and dump the contents of the skillet over the pasta. Toss. Sprinkle with a generous amount of freshly grated pecorino (parmesan in a pinch). Toss again and serve.

                                    Another dish, somewhat more involved to make but as virtuous as it is delicious, is parboiled rapini sautéed in olive oil and garlic and served on a bed of puréed reconstituted dried fava beans. Peasant food of the highest order. The recipe is in one of Hazan's books; can summarize if you're interested.

                                    1. I have a book that might interest you, called _The Gradual Vegetarian_ by Lisa Tracy. It is actually three steps from meat-eater to serious macrobiotic vegan. YOu don't have to go all the way there, as I never have done, but she has lots of recipes that help someone who's so inclined step away from the slab-of-flesh-accompanied-by-starch-and-a-veggie meal choices a lot of folks make.

                                      1. You could do a vegetarian shepherd's pie with a veggie stew bottom and a sweet potato top. And it is nice to get out of the tomato rut for vegetable based pasta sauces, as carswell suggested. I have a recipe for pasta in cauliflower sauce on my blog that has been pretty popular. Most vegetarian chilis are too beany for me, but I love it made with bulgur - vegetables and whole grains in one shot.


                                        1. HERBED BEAN RAGOUT

                                          This is delicious as a side dish or on its own for lunch. Its hearty and satisfying in the winter but still healthy. It freezes well so I usually make a bunch because it is a bit time consuming. I like to cook the white beans until they are slightly mushy and bind everything together.

                                          1. I love Vegetarian Planet by Didi Eammons. She has lots of fun approaches and it always sounds so good. I'm not a full-time vegetarian; I just like good food.

                                            1. A great idea for semi/all vegetarian meals, is to put a bunch of them in a curry. My favourites in curry are potatoes,broccoli,carrots,and of course, the all-important onions and green beans.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: canuck_kid

                                                i have a soup/stew "basic recipe", then i add spices accordingly depending upon what i'm looking for in the end result.

                                                it's usually: onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, zucchini and mushroooms. occasionally: cauliflower, sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, kabocha squash.

                                                sautee up the usual ingredients in some olive oil or butter, and boil or steam the occasional ingredients on the side until just tender.

                                                now this base can become several different delicious dishes:

                                                miso soup. add a few cups of filtered water, some fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms, cubed fresh daikon radish, cubed firm tofu or tempeh and some dried wakame seaweed.bring to a light boil then turn off the heat. add miso paste to taste. i call this my 'kitchen sink' miso soup, it's very hearty and freezes well.

                                                curries are great, especially this time of year because they're filling and warming. you can do a more indian style curry, i cheat by using one package of the maya kaimal sauces that i get at wf (it's in the refrig section by the ethnic foods), and i'll add 1/2 can of coconut milk to expand it because th sauce is a little pricey. we're partial to the tamarind and vindaloo varieties. or you can do a japanese style thick curry by adding the blocks of curry seasoning that you can get at the japanese grocery. some of them have meat base and some don't so read the labels carefully. we like the java brand, but i'm vegetarian. others like the house 'vermont' curry but i think it's got some beef base in it. that spooned over some hot short grain rice...mmmmm. to both of these i add either cubed firm tofu, cubed baked tofu, cubed panfried tempeh, or sometimes shrimp.

                                                chili: add some cooked pinto or black beans, a can of tomato paste, a can of crushed tomatoes (the fire roasted ones by muir glen are excellent), a spoonful of chipotle adobo, and spice it with cumin, salt, pepper. i like to make it extra garlicky, too. i use one package of 'the good ground' by yves as a meat substitute. i just made some last night and even my omnivore husband raved over it. make sure you have some chopped green onion, fresh cilantro, cheese and sour cream for a garnish. actually, i sub fage greek yogurt for the sour cream and it's awesome.

                                                kudos to you and your husband for making healthy food choices, it really is amazing how wonderful, hearty, filling and satisfying a meat free diet can be.

                                              2. First I'd say let him be in charge of his own cooking, it will help him learn what are good choices, to take responsibility for his choices and to not just be a complainer.

                                                Next try lots of soups. Soups can be satisfying and even meaty seeming without having a whole lot of nono's in them. Last night I made split pea (with carrots and onion--all pureed) and added a bit of chopped lean ham and a couple homemade garlic croutons for crunch). Still low cal. Tonight I'm doing a curried lentil with tomato and spinach. Tons of nutrition and veg in these and filling.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: coconutz

                                                  first, i would like to point out that he never complains and even when i cook something he hates, he still eats it. But I don't want to make him eat stuff he doesn't like. Second, if you saw his attempts in the kitchen, you'd eat out forevermore....seriously, its awful, and i love cooking and he hates it, so i do all the cooking

                                                2. Does he like indian food? There are a ton of veggie choices there!!!

                                                  1. Neither my husband or myself are vegetarians but we have taken to eating meat only a couple times per week. I have even talked my husband into tofu! There is a great brand of ready made refrigerated indian sauce, the name is escaping me at the moment, but it is sold at WF near the cheese counter). We love the vindaloo with sliced baby bella mushrooms and tofu. It's great over whole wheat basmati rice. It's a weekly dinner for us. Very tasty and so quick to make.

                                                    Some of our other favorites are shish-ke-bobs with veggies (in the summer, that's all I want to eat), stuffed tomatoes with cous cous, and mushroom/spinach/cheese enchilladas. I also love an Italian favorite I grew up with, greens and beans. Saute escarole with olive oil and garlic, then add chicken broth. Add a can of cannellini (great northern beans). Add as much broth as you like. Some like it more like a soup than others.

                                                    The Moosewood cookbook series is excellent and so is the New Vegetarian Epicure which I consult regularly for lots of tasty dishes for both vegetarians and non alike.