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Making Vegetarian Meals Fun

(post, Laurie Neumann)

Vegetarian meals can be delicious and fun!  I hope that got your attention because it's true.  You don't need meat to have a great tasting meal.  In fact, since we have gone vegetarian, I think I have enjoyed our meals even more.

Vegetarian meals can include lots of things, but some of the more common are:

•	Vegetables
•	Fruits
•	Beans and legumes
•	Grains
•	Nuts and seeds

There are lots of different foods in each of the above categories to keep your meals interesting.  For example, you may think that eating a salad every day can become hum drum.   But by adding some nuts.  seeds or raisins to it, you can spice it up.  Or adding hummus to a sandwich or wrap can give it a nice flavor and some added protein.

Meals should include a variety of nutrients, tastes and colors.  Consider having a veggie wrap, topped with guacamole  with a piece of corn on the cob.  It's so pretty and colorful!  And it tastes good.

One of our staple foods is lentils.  We make a lentil loaf (which makes you not even miss the meat,) lentil tacos, lentil soup and a form of goulash, using lentils and elbow macaroni.  

I have heard it said that it's much easier to eat vegetarian style in the warm weather, but you can continue it in the colder months too by adding in some hearty soups.  Vegetable and minestrone soup are both delicious and can be made quite filling by adding in some pasta or rice.  Chili made with different kinds of beans is also delicious and satisfying. When cooking something a little "messier," it's always fun (and wise!)to wear one of our aprons for women to keep your clothes fresh and clean.  You can be right in style in your own kitchen!

The one thing that I find different about vegetarian meals is that you cannot easily make them ahead.  When you are using fresh fruits and vegetables, you want to make the meal right before eating it.  But the time required to prepare is sometimes less than if you were cooking meat, so it's very doable. 
We make some kind of salad with our dinners which we make right before.  However, you could simplify the process by keeping  washed lettuce and vegetables on hand and then just put them together at the last minute. 

Today, most restaurants are offering at least one or two vegetarian selections.  I think that is almost a necessity now with more and more people choosing to cut down on their meat intake.  Even if a vegetarian option is not offered, you can always request one be made up for you.  

With a little creativity, you can make vegetarian meals that are great tasting.  When you feel you need something new, get one of the many cookbooks there are on the market today, or just do a search for "vegetarian meals or recipes."