A family meal doesn't have to be made with meat to be hearty. Vegetarian dishes are just as nutritious and healthy as meat-based meals. Focus on a few meat-free protein options to turn your family's usual meaty meals into filling vegetarian dishes. With careful execution, these economical dishes may become family favorites.
Beans are packed with fiber and protein. Use rinsed, canned beans in a variety of meals to create a hearty, filling vegetarian supper with minimal cooking. Make a satisfying vegetarian Mexican meal by serving your family warmed black or refried beans. Let your family members make their own tacos with the beans. Set out bowls of creamy dressing, avocado slices and cheese for taco toppings. Chilled bean salads are a hearty option for a hot night. On a cold evening, make a vegetarian stew loaded with vegetables and canned beans for a meal that will leave your family feeling full and warm.
Hearty vegetarian pasta meals make for filling family dinners. Make a hot and delicious lasagna and substitute eggplant slices for the meat. Use whole wheat pasta to give your family an extra boost of filling fiber. Use low-fat mozzarella cheese, which is high in protein and calcium and can help your family feel fuller after eating. Plain macaroni and cheese is a simple and filling pasta dish that is classically vegetarian. Add a new flavor to your mac and cheese by stirring in four or five tablespoons of creamy ranch dressing and adding quartered tomatoes.
Replacing meat in a meal with tofu, a soy product that soaks up the flavors of the foods it's combined with is, a simple and healthy way to increase your family's protein intake. Your kids may enjoy eating tofu that has been cut into strips and grilled or panfried until crispy. Cubed firm tofu often looks and tastes a lot like a mild cheese. Stir some fresh tofu into a pasta dish or stew to increase the heartiness of the meal -- your kids may be none the wiser. Or make a filling, hearty pureed soup by steaming a vegetable, such as cubed sweet potato, in broth, then pureeing the mixture and incorporating a brick of soft tofu. Boost the flavor with a package of dried buttermilk salad dressing mix.
Focus on filling vegetables to prepare a hearty family dinner without meat. Choose vegetables that are high in fiber, such as sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts to keep your family properly nourished. A baked sweet potato served with butter, creamy dressing and cheese makes a filling vegetarian entree. Or prepare a roasted vegetable feast by spreading your family's favorite vegetables, such as cauliflower and green beans, in a large pan and roasting the veggies all at once in the oven until soft and browned. Serve the roasted vegetables over a plate of hot pasta, rice or polenta for a satisfying vegetable-based supper.
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- "Better Homes and Gardens": Vegetarian Meal Ideas
- CBS News; Sub Veggies for Meat in Hearty, Delicious Dishes; March 2011
- Eating Well: Healthy Tofu Recipes and Cooking Tips
- "Vegetarian Suppers"; Deborah Madison; 2005
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