It's mid-January, so by this time, we've burned ourselves out on all the cleanses and detoxes and vows to never even look at a carb ever again. Those aren't real resolutions! Now it's time to get to the nitty-gritty and make some lifestyle changes that will stick. These four resolutions, from eating more veggies to cooking at home more often, are completely achievable in the long-term, especially with resources and recipe ideas from Oh My Veggies to get you started.
Eat More Vegetables
Is this ever not a good idea? Most of us can stand to do a little bit better in the veggie eating department — it was one of the 5 simple ways to be healthier in the New Year that Katie wrote about last week. Here are some ideas to get you started on this goal:
- Make vegetables the "meat" of your meal — you should have a larger serving of vegetables than anything else on your plate. Our Sweet and Spicy Mango Fajitas, Veggie Banh Mi Sandwiches and Veggie Gyros with Creamy Cucumber Dill Sauce all feature fresh vegetables as the star of the dish.
- Instead of serving potato chips or fries with your burgers and sandwiches, try veggie fries, like butternut squash or eggplant, or chips, like carrot, zucchini or root vegetables.
- Sneak extra vegetables into dishes you already love — our Kale and Sweet Potato Quesadillas, Veggie-Loaded Nachos, Veggie Enchilada Stacks and Freezer-Friendly Veggie-Loaded Chili all have the added bonus of veggies.
- Or get really sneaky and add vegetables in ways where you won't even taste them. These secret ingredient cauliflower recipes are a perfect example! Greens can be added to a variety of recipes too, like our Green Orange Dreamsicle Smoothie, Green Apple Fruit Leather and Blueberry Kale Pops.
- If you're not crazy about raw vegetables, try grilling or roasting them for salads — this grilled veggie salad can be made with any veggies you like.
- Have a few easy go-to veggie sides in your rotation. These roasted Chili Garlic Green Beans are a favorite.
- Try something new! Make some root vegetables that you've never had before or experiment with different kinds of winter squash or salad greens.
- Prepare big batches of pureed vegetable soups, like this Curried Asparagus Soup, and freeze them — they're perfect for tiding you over between meals.
- One of my favorite ways to work extra vegetables into my diet is to incorporate them into pasta recipes. Whenever I make pasta, I make sure that there are more vegetables in my bowl than noodles. This Vegetable Baked Ziti is a reader favorite and this Whole Wheat Rotini with Broccolini and Sun-Dried Tomatoes recipe can be customized with any vegetables you have on hand.
Transition Into Vegetarianism
Judging by your comments and by a reader survey we did a while back, most of you aren't strict vegetarians, but you're looking to cut back on the amount of meat you eat. Maybe this year, you're looking to take the plunge into cutting meat out of your diet entirely. We can help!
- Learn to create some of your favorite restaurant dishes at home, minus the meat. Like Indian food? Try our Tofu Vindaloo. Missing Thai food now that you don't eat fish sauce? We've got a Veggie Pad Thai recipe that's fish sauce-free. And Chinese takeout is no match for our meatless General Tso's Veggie Bowl.
- Don't rely too much on convenience foods, but don't rule them out entirely either — they can be a great time saver when you need them and there are some healthier, less-processed options out there. Here are my favorite frozen veggie burgers.
- "I would go vegetarian, but: bacon." Sound familiar? While there are bacon substitutes on the market (we love bacon tempeh and seitan), you can make your own with coconut flakes! Use it in this Strawberry Salad or on our Chocolate Coconut Bacon Doughnuts.
- Meatless cooking doesn't have to be fussy or involved. This list of 15 basic recipes every vegetarian should master is a good starting point.
- Just because you're giving up meat doesn't mean you have to give up all of your favorite meals. Here's how to make almost any recipe meatless and if that's not enough to convince you, check out these recipes: Lentil Mushroom Meatballs, Tempeh Tacos, Vegetable Tetrazzini, Vegetarian Salisbury Steak, Meatless Monte Cristo, Portabella Mushroom Cheesesteaks, Buffalo Tofu Wings with Creamy Ranch Dip, Biscuits and Veggie Gravy, Chickpeas and Dumplings, Vegetarian Chicken Noodle Soup.
Eat More Protein
Why more protein? And how much should you eat? We've got a whole post with questions and answers about protein and vegetarian diets. A lot of people wonder about how vegetarians get enough protein, but the good news is, there are lots of meatless sources of protein out there — but you do have to be mindful that you're eating at least some of them daily! Here's how:
- Learn to love tofu! If you think you don't like it, it might just be how you've prepared it. Our guide to tofu explains the different types of tofu and how to use it. Baked tofu might just make a fan out of the most ardent tofu hater — try our original, Asian-inspired recipe, barbecue or Italian herb.
- Hemp seeds pack a lot of protein in a small package. Add them to oatmeal, smoothies, salads or even use them to make a creamy hemp seed pesto for your pasta.
- After you've learned to love tofu, graduate to tempeh! It's even higher in protein and when you crumble it up, it's a perfect substitute for ground beef. Try it in our Sweet and Sour Tempeh Meatballs and BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches.
- Incorporate a few different sources of protein in the same dish. These Peanutty Quinoa Bowls have peanut butter, quinoa and tofu in them; this Cuban Fried Quinoa includes quinoa, smoky tempeh and black beans.
- Smoothies are an awesome way to incorporate some extra protein into your diet — protein powder makes it easy, like in this Banana Caramel Smoothie, or give your smoothies a protein boost without protein powder, like in this Green Apple Pie Smoothie.
- One word: lentils. They're cheap, they're quicker to prepare than other beans and legumes, and they're delicious. Red lentils are creamy and soft after cooking — try them in this Curried Red Lentil Quinoa Bowl recipe or our Red Lentil Cashew Soup. Brown or green lentils hold their shape after cooking — this recipe for Sloppy Lentils is a reader favorite and these Lentil and Walnut Tacos prove just how great lentils are as a meat substitute.
- Incorporate some protein into your snacks too. Fresh veggies with Basil White Bean Dip or Edamame Hummus, a handful of nuts or an apple with a few slices of cheddar are all satisfying snacks with a healthy amount of protein.
- If you need more ideas, we've got round-ups of 20 protein-packed meatless dinners and 20 protein-packed breakfasts too!
Eat at Home More Often
When you cook your own meals, you know what's in your food and you have the added bonus of saving money. So why wouldn't you cook at home? Well, there's the time factor — no one wants to spend hours cooking after work! And maybe you're not the most confident cook yet and you want to find recipes that are easy to make, without a lot of steps or ingredients. Here are some ideas:
- Meal planning is probably the best way to keep yourself in check when it comes to cooking at home — if you have all the ingredients for a recipe sitting in the fridge, you can't let them go to waste! If you don't want to commit to a paid meal planning service, we post free vegetarian meal plans every Friday.
- If you have a slow cooker, take it out and use it! And if you don't have one, you might want to invest in one. A slow cooker will let you throw in all the ingredients for dinner in the morning and come home to a warm meal. We have round-ups of vegetarian slow cooker recipes and slow cooker soups, stews and chills.
- One of our favorite kitchen time-savers is freezer cooking. We've got a whole ebook of vegetarian freezer cooking recipes! This Roasted Vegetable Baked Manicotti freezes beautifully too — in fact, almost any casserole or soup will do well in the freezer.
- If you don't want to dedicate time to freezer cooking, think about freezing your leftovers or doubling recipes and freezing half for later. You're already cooking anyway, right? Double up on these Broccoli Parmesan Meatballs and have them on hand for your next Spaghetti Night, or freeze the leftovers of these Veggie & Tempeh Sloppy Joes for when you're too tired to cook.
- If you don't have room in the freezer, try some make-ahead meals — you'll assemble them in advance, pop them in the fridge and cook them later. Here are 20 make-ahead meatless dinners.
- Have components of meals on hand to make dinnertime easier. Homemade tomato sauce, vegetable broth, cooked beans and caramelized onions can all be stored in the freezer for when you need them. We also have lists of pantry items and kitchen staples that make vegetarian cooking easier.
- One-pot recipes are a big time-saver when it comes to clean-up. Try one of these 20 one-skillet and one-pot vegetarian dinners or make one of our reader favorites, One-Pot Pasta Primavera.
- Go through your favorite magazines and blogs and save recipes that take less than 30 minutes. Here are 50 quick and easy meatless dinners to get you started. Recipes like these Black Bean & Veggie Baked Tostadas and Peanut Udon Noodles are quick to make and can be easily customized with any veggies you have on hand.
- Related to that last point — look for recipes with 5 ingredients or less! Yes, they do exist and fewer ingredients means shorter prep time and less time spent in the grocery store. Last year we posted a month-long list of 5-ingredient vegetarian dinners.
- Or hey, don't cook at all! That's an option too. We also have a list of 20 no-cook vegetarian meals for those times when you just don't want to turn on the oven. It's okay, we've all been there.