Go vegetable heavy. Reverse the psychology of your plate by making meat the side dish and vegetables the main course.Bobby Flay
Today is World Vegetarian Day. That’s right! It’s the day that plant-based foods finally get to shine.
Turkey gets the spotlight at Thanksgiving. Ice cream steals the show all summer. And now, for your viewing pleasure, cauliflower and corn take center stage. It’s time to explore plant-based eating.
A vegetarian diet avoids meat, poultry and fish products. Does that intimidate you or turn you off? If so, you are not alone. I thought the same thing at first. In fact, I was actually dreaming of a juicy medium-rare cheeseburger while writing that last paragraph!
Vegetarian diets are still full of delicious foods like whole fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, and whole grains. I can think of at least a handful of those foods I enjoy!
World Vegetarian Day started in 1974. It was a day for the vegetarian community to celebrate and an opportunity for non-vegetarians to learn more. I was recently catching up with Eat. Drink. Work. Play. dietician, Alli Gregg (#alligregg) to learn about the simple ways to adopt more plant-based eating practices. She shares some of her favorite tips below about how you can experiment with a vegetarian diet. Then keep reading! After you digest some of her best veggie advice, you must try one of my favorite vegetarian soup recipes, Roasted Cauliflower & Corn Soup. These aren’t your momma’s veggies you used to pass under the table to Fido.
Helpful Hints to Incorporating More Vegetables Into your Diet
- Focus on vegetarian foods you already enjoy. Chances are you like at least one fruit and one vegetable. Well, congratulations! Those are vegetarian options. Build your snacks and meals around vegetarian foods that appeal to you. For example, if you enjoy a variety of vegetables, try making more salads, a veggie stir-fry, pasta dish or a quick tortilla wrap. I like throwing my favorite veggies in a tortilla spread with hummus. Yummy!
- Learn the game of substitution. The great news about vegetarian substitutions is that they they have been around for years. Companies have had time to truly perfect the taste and texture. Next time you are at the grocery store, scan the shelves and aisles for vegetarian alternative options. These options are likely close to the traditional options you have already been choosing; you just may not have noticed them if you weren’t looking for them. Ever heard the saying, “it was right under your nose?” Bingo!
- Incorporate vegetarian food gradually. It is never a great idea to make a dramatic diet change cold turkey. Try one vegetarian snack, then one vegetarian meal, then one full vegetarian day. Slow integration leads to much more sustainable change. No one likes to feel like a failure straight out of the gate.
- Don’t be afraid to try meat alternatives. I know they can seem strange and scary, however, you will be surprised how many people enjoy them. In fact, I was skeptical myself at first taste. I purchased this yummy looking chicken salad from the deli section at Whole Foods. I love it so much I went back for more the following week. This time, the deli associate mentioned it was vegan and I almost fell into my grocery cart from shock! There are meat alternatives for almost anything: burgers, meatballs, chicken nuggets, etc. Experiment with different brands until you find some you really enjoy.
- Do not recreate the wheel. Many people are curious about vegetarian diets and there are a pioneers who have already done the leg work for us. There are many amazing recipes, menu hacks and grocery lists online. Searching for different resources online before trying to figure it all out for yourself.
Fall Vegetables & Soups
Until last year, I always thought the best time of the year for vegetables was the summertime. And while that is true for many of us, I found I actually enjoy the fall vegetables more than the summer varieties. Autumn squashes warm you from within and provide a lot of energy for those cold weather months. And when roasted—YUM—their flavors are amplified and become hearty meals of their own.
I recently started experimenting with a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Corn soup. It has taken a couple of attempts but I have found the perfect combination of creamy, flavorful and filling together in soup form. It’s a perfect meal for lunchtime or as a first course to your dinner.
Roasted Cauliflower & Corn Soup
Start by cutting some corn off the cob. Do it over a large bowl so the kernels don’t go flying everywhere. Cut the cauliflower into small florets (or take it easy and grab pre-cut packages in the grocery store). Put both on a baking sheet.
Toss the veggies with some good EVOO and balsamic vinegar, some basic seasonings from your pantry plus salt and pepper for added flavor. The balsamic will mellow out as the veggies roast yet still impart a really reach flavor.
After roasting the veggies, throw them into a blender with some veggie broth and half-n-half. If you’re trying to keep to a stricter vegan version, substitute the half-n-half with coconut milk. The blending will bring you to silky soup perfection in no time.
Once you have blended the soup, add to a small pan or soup pot to warm it—adjusting the seasoning to your taste. Save a couple of tablespoons of the roasted vegetables as a garnish for the top of the soup. Voila! Dinner is served.
Please try it and let me know how you like it. And as Bobby Flay says, go heavy on your vegetables—as often as you can! It’s finally time to let the veggies shine!
Roasted Cauliflower & Corn Soup
- Soup pot
- Baking Sheet
- 4-5 corn on the cob, husked, kernels removed from cob
- 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tspn Italian seasoning
- 1 tspn garlic powder
- 1 tspn onion powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups vegetable both
- 1.5 cups half-n-half (or coconut milk)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the cauliflower and corn on a large baking sheet. Toss with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, seasonings and salt and pepper.
- Roast veggies for approximately 30 minutes, until charred in places (but not burnt).
- Remove veggies from oven, let cool and add to the blender along with small amounts of veggie broth and half-n-half to desired thickness and taste. You may have to do this in a couple of stages depending upon your blender size. (NOTE: Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the veggies for garnish on top of soup.)
- Blend until smooth, then transfer to a pot. Heat soup thoroughly and add more broth or half-n-half as needed. Add more seasonings, to reach your desired taste.