Happy Heart's Vegetarian Dinner Delights
By Liz Moore, RD, LDN
Spring is here, and the bounty of delicious, fresh veggies and fruits is on the horizon. With all that glorious produce to choose from, it’s a perfect time to consider vegetarian cuisine, even if you’re a carnivore.
There are many health benefits to exploring a vegetarian diet (see Going 'Green' for Heart Health), but if it pains you to cut out meat entirely, don’t despair. Choose lean cuts for beef and breast meat for poultry, and make an effort to cut down on your consumption. Use meat sparingly as an addition to vegetable, fruit or grain-heavy meals (as a garnish for a salad, for instance). By making meat the side attraction instead of the main star, you’ll already be well on your way to making healthier eating choices.
Another way to limit consumption is to introduce several meatless meals to your table each week. Many people are wary of this option, thinking a recipe without meat is one without flavor, but we can attest to the falsity of that belief!
So how do you ensure adequate protein? If the idea of tofu is a turn-off, try introducing beans to classic casserole recipes — combined with whole grains, they create a complete protein source. Quinoa is another candidate for meat replacement; it’s a grain rich in protein, and it also contains all of the essential amino acids, another heart-healthy benefit.
For this issue, Heartmail staff members have contributed their tried and true vegetarian recipes, family favorites that have met the test of husbands, kids and gourmand cooks. Enjoy!
Donna's Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
4 large Portobello mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 cup of chopped spinach, fresh or frozen
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup mixed Italian cheeses (mozzarella, parmesan, etc.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wipe mushrooms and remove stems. Place them top side down on a baking sheet or pan that is lightly greased or lined with parchment paper. Use a basting brush to lightly coat the insides with the balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing.
Place the olive oil and chopped onion into a skillet, and cook at medium heat until onions are tender. Add eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes, and cook until eggplant is soft. Let the mixture cool a bit and mix in half of the cheese.
Spoon the vegetable mixture into the mushrooms — be generous! Sprinkle them with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
Margaret's Moroccan Stew
(Adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook)
Serves 4 to 6
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large coarsely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp paprika
1 cup sliced carrots
4 cups cubed sweet potatoes or butternut squash
1 cup chopped celery
1 large eggplant, cubed
1 green pepper, sliced in strips
4 cups sliced zucchini
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, liquid reserved
Pinch of saffron
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
In a stew pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the garlic and spices, stirring continuously.
Add the vegetables in the order given above, so that the starchier vegetables will cook the longest. Sauté after the addition of each vegetable until its color deepens.
Stir in the garbanzo beans and the saffron. There should be some liquid at the bottom of the pot from the cooking vegetables. However, if the stew is dry, add 1/2 cup of tomato juice, liquid from the garbanzo beans, or water.
Cover the stew and simmer on low heat until all the vegetables are tender. Add the chopped parsley just before serving.
Liz's Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
6 red bell peppers
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 cups canned, diced tomatoes
1/2 cup black beans (rinsed)
1/2 cup corn (frozen)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray large dish or cookie sheet with cooking spray. Cut peppers in half, remove seeds and lay open side up on dish. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a strainer. Boil water in a medium pot and add quinoa. Turn heat to low and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Mix together all remaining ingredients. Use mixture to stuff peppers evenly. Cook for about 30 minutes.
Nutrition Facts: Total calories per serving: 175; Total fat: 2g; Saturated fat: 0.5g; Total Cholesterol: 20mg; Sodium: 200mg; Total Carbohydrate: 30g; Total fiber: 5g; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 11g
Elisabeth (Liz) Moore, RD, LDN, is our resident guru in heart-healthy nutrition. She is a registered dietitian for BIDMC's CardioVascular Institute (CVI) and sees patients in BIDMC's outpatient nutrition clinic and the CVI's Cardiovascular Health and Lipid Center. Moore received her BS degree in human nutrition at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Above content provided by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
Posted April 2013