What’s For Dinner (Vegetarian-style)?

Recent columns in Common Ground have explored the effects of our food choices on global warming and on other crucial environmental issues. It’s clear that including more plant-based meals and going organic is a gift to planet earth and to future generations. Here we help you add some healthful, delicious, and simple meals to your menu plan.

Does making vegetarian dinners seem a challenge that is too daunting to take on?  In fact, revolutionizing our diet can be easy. Most of us rely on 8 or 9 favorite recipes that we return to again and again. Think of your favourites: it likely comes down to a short list. Here is a 3-step plan that can help you include veggie favourites in your list, or make a simple transition to being vegetarian.

First, think of three meals you like already that happen to be vegetarian. For example, how about:

* Spaghetti with tomato mushroom sauce, tomato basil sauce, or marinara sauce;

* Vegetarian chili;

* Bean burritos (corn or wheat tortilla, mashed pinto beans, salsa, lettuce, chopped tomato, chopped olives or grated carrot)

Second, choose three recipes that you can modify to become vegetarian.

*Split pea soup is equally delicious when it’s entirely vegetarian. Use vegetarian soup stock powder or cubes for added depth of flavour.

*A great taco combination is refried beans, sprouts, chopped avocado and tomato.

*A scrumptious version of Shepherd’s Pie (see recipe below).

*With meat substitutes like vegetarian bacon slices, it’s simple to make a BLT (Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato sandwich).

Third, try out three new recipes from “Becoming Vegetarian”, “Raising Vegetarian Children” or some other cookbook. Check out vegetarian cookbooks in the library system and at bookstores. Have fun as you experiment with delightful new tastes and healthful ingredients.

When you\’ve found your three new meals, you\’ve done it! You\’ve now got nine delicious, tasty choices. The Earth will thank you, the animals will thank you, and your body will thank you too. When you go out for dinner, check out the restaurants on www.vegdining.com

Shepherd’s Pie

This classic comfort food, (recipe from “The New Becoming Vegetarian” (US title), “Becoming Vegetarian” (Canadian title), Melina and Davis,  may stir fond memories from childhood, with the dark, rich, meaty-flavored bottom layer, then a layer of bright yellow corn (use a combination of creamed and niblet corn or just one or the other) and smooth topping of mashed potato. It’s low in fat yet rich in protein and minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc)

Potato Topping

8                          large russet potatoes, peeled (4 lbs/1.8 kg purchased)

3-4 tbsp           olive oil

1/2 cup            fortified soymilk or rice milk

1/2 tsp             salt

1/4 tsp             white or black pepper


Pie Mixture

12 oz               Yves Veggie Ground Round (2 packages)

2-2/3 c            diced onion

6                       cloves  garlic, minced

1-1/2 c            chopped celery

1 tbsp              olive oil

2 tbsp + 2 tsp  Vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (such as Wizard Brand, without anchovies)

2 tbsp              tamari, Bragg Liquid Soy or soy sauce

1 tsp                salt (optional)

1/2 tbsp           tarragon

1 tsp                thyme

1/2 tsp             black pepper

14 oz can         creamed corn

14 oz               niblets corn (canned and drained, or frozen)

1/4 tsp             paprika


Preheat oven to 350 ° F. Cut each potato into thirds and cook in boiling water until tender. Meanwhile, in a skillet, sauté onion, garlic and celery in oil over medium-high heat until soft. Turn off heat, add crumbled Yves Veggie Ground Round, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, salt (if using), tarragon, thyme, pepper and mix thoroughly. Transfer Veggie Ground Round mixture to sprayed or lightly oiled 9 by 13-inch (23 by 33 cm) casserole dish. Spread mixture and pack evenly. Mix creamed corn and corn kernels. Spread corn mixture over Veggie Ground Round mixture. Drain potatoes, add oil, soymilk, salt, and pepper and mash until fluffy. Evenly spread potato topping over corn. Sprinkle top with paprika and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Makes 8 servings of 1-1/4 cups.

Vesanto Melina, is a Registered Dietitian who lives in Langley BC. She is co-author of seven food and nutrition classics and regularly consults for people who wish to improve their health or are in dietary transition. Web: www.camd58.sg-host.com Email: vesanto@camd58.sg-host.com ; Phone: 604-882-6782. 

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2 thoughts on “What’s For Dinner (Vegetarian-style)?”

  1. Pingback: Shepherd’s Pie (Pie Mixture) | Vesanto Melina's Blog

  2. Pingback: (Optional) Potato Topping on Shepherd’s Pie | Vesanto Melina's Blog

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