Statistics Brain reports that 38% of Americans make weight-related resolutions for New Year’s. If you count yourself among these physique-focused resolvers, then try kicking off 2015 with a delicious and nutritious dietary makeover. Say farewell to the chocolate truffles, creamy sauces, and cheese-laden dishes of last year, and make room in your kitchen for healthier ingredients — vegetables, legumes, nuts, and more — offering equal potential for greatness.
Keep your New Year’s resolution on track with these 7 healthy must-try vegetarian recipes.
1. Vegetable Stir Fry
Craving a Chinese-style vegetable stir fry without all that fat and MSG? Try Eye Candy Popper’s clean-eating recipe for a flavor-loaded Veggie Stir Fry that will make you forget all about takeout. Broccoli, peppers, onions, carrots, celery, cabbage, and mushrooms make this dish a low-calorie and nutrient-packed option, while a bold and tangy soy-based sauce will wow you with every bite. The recipe takes 25 minutes and yields 4 servings.
- 1 head organic broccoli, washed
- 1 organic sweet red pepper, washed
- 1 large organic onion, peeled
- 2 medium-size organic carrots, washed, ends trimmed
- 2 organic celery stalks, washed, ends trimmed
- ½ large organic green cabbage, outer leaves discarded
- 8 medium-size organic cremini mushrooms, washed, dried
- 3 cups organic brown basmati rice
- Organic sesame oil for cooking
- 2 teaspoons organic Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup organic white wine
- ⅓ cup organic coconut amino
- 2 teaspoons organic sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon organic cornstarch
- Pinch of organic black pepper
Directions: Put a medium-size pot over high heat with the rice and 3 times as much water. Bring to a boil, and then keep cooking, boiling, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked. Drain and put aside in a warm area.
While the rice cooks, put a large pan over medium heat with 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame oil. While it’s warming up, mince the onion. Put in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often.
Slice the carrots and the celery, and add to the pan with the onion. Continue cooking and stirring often.
While this cooks, cut cabbage into very thin slices and add to the pan. Then slice the mushrooms and add to the pan, stirring often. Finally, cut the sweet pepper into thin slices and the broccoli into bite-size florets, as well as cutting the peeled broccoli “trunk” into thin slices. Add all this to the pan and cover with a lid for 4 to 5 minutes.
Prepare the sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. Pour over the veggies, mix, and cook 2 to 3 more minutes. Serve over rice, and enjoy!
2. Spicy Roasted Ratatouille With Spaghetti
Cookie and Kate’s spicy pasta and vegetable dish, inspired by the classically piquant flavors of French ratatouille, comes together seamlessly in just 45 minutes. Roasted cherry tomatoes burst in the pan to form a light tomato sauce coating for your noodles. If you’re not in a pasta mood, try substituting in cooked farro or other whole grains for an equally satisfying meal. You might also wish to enjoy the Spicy Roasted Ratatouille alongside a simple arugula salad. The recipe yields 6 servings.
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 medium yellow squash, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper (or orange or yellow), diced
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- ½ pound whole-grain spaghetti
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (optional)
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit with two racks in the middle positions. On a quarter pan or small baking dish, toss the whole baby tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, and onion. Whisk together ¼ cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, a few generous twists black of pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Drizzle it over the vegetables and toss with your hands or a large spoon until the vegetables are evenly coated.
On a half-sheet pan or other large, rimmed baking sheet, arrange the vegetables in a single layer. Place the tomatoes on the lower oven rack and the vegetables on the upper rack. Set the timer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large post of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup pasta cooking water. Transfer the cooked pasta to a large serving bowl.
After 20 minutes, remove both pans from the oven. The tomatoes should be bursting and juicy by now, in which case, they’re done cooking. Use a spatula to toss the vegetables, then arrange them in a single layer again and put them back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes or so, until they are cooked through and golden.
Pour the cherry tomatoes and their juices over the spaghetti into the serving bowl. Sprinkle a handful of shredded Parmesan over the dish. Add a baby splash of pasta cooking water and toss until the pasta is coated with a light tomato sauce. Add the cooked vegetables to the bowl and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the chopped fresh herbs and season with additional salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Serve with Parmesan on the side.
3. Ginger Peanut Lentil Burgers
For a lighter, leaner alternative to beef burgers, try these tasty and nutritious Ginger, Peanut, and Lentil Burgers from Hummusapien. The patties draw from Asian influences, offering the lilting flavors of cilantro, ginger, soy sauce, and peanut for a healthy dish that even meat eaters will adore. You can save prep time on these patties by opting for pre-cooked lentils, available at most supermarkets. The recipe takes about 22 minutes to complete and yields 5 servings.
- 1 large carrot, grated
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, de-seeded and chopped
- 2½ cups cooked lentils
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoons peanut butter
- ⅓ cup whole-grain breadcrumbs
Directions: Heat a large skillet over medium heat and spray liberally with olive oil spray.
Place grated carrot, cilantro, ginger, garlic, and jalapeño in a large food processor. Pulse a few times until combined.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Process until all of the ingredients are well-combined, but not to the point where the mixture is a paste. There should still be some texture. Form mixture into 5 burgers. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until golden.
4. Chopped Thai Salad With Sesame Garlic Dressing
This Chopped Thai Salad With Sesame Garlic Dressing from Pinch of Yum is as vibrant in color as it is in taste. Each bite of the dish bursts with the fresh, cool crunch of edamame, carrot, kale, onion, and bell peppers. The sesame-garlic dressing lends the dish a tangy-sweet taste, while cashews provide a final satisfying crunch (Pinch of Yum recommends Trader Joe’s Chili-Lime Cashews, in particular). For maximum freshness, store the salad and dressing separately, then toss together right before serving. The recipe serves 6 people.
For the dressing
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste (ginger would also work)
For the salad
- 16 ounces frozen shelled edamame
- 5 to 6 cups baby kale
- 3 large carrots
- 2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow)
- 1 cup cilantro leaves
- 3 green onions
- ¾ cup cashews
Directions: Puree all the dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust to fit your preferences. Transfer to a dressing jar and rinse the food processor out for use later.
Cook the edamame by boiling for 3 to 5 minutes in a pot of boiling water. Drain and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, slice the kale, carrots, peppers, cilantro leaves, and green onions into thin strips or shreds.
Place the cooked edamame in the food processor and pulse 5 times to get a minced texture. Transfer to a bowl and repeat the same process for the cashews. Toss the kale, carrots, peppers, cilantro, green onions, edamame, and cashews together until well combined. Drizzle with the dressing, toss gently a few times, and serve immediately.
5. Chickpea Cauliflower Chili
Bakeaholic Mama’s soothing, savory Chickpea Cauliflower Chili makes for an ideal weeknight dinner, coming together beautifully in just 30 minutes. Chickpeas and cauliflower lend the dish a hearty texture, while tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and spices lend it a zesty, aromatic quality. Serve this chili with your favorite toppings; green onions, sour cream or yogurt, cheddar cheese, and chips all work well.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 (16-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 jalapeño peppers, diced
- 1 (16-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup of your favorite beer
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven; add in chickpeas, cauliflower, and onions. Sauté until the onions are starting to caramelize and the cauliflower starts to become golden on some sides.
Mix in garlic, jalapeños, tomatoes, vinegar, beer, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and sugar. Stir and bring to a low boil. Allow chili to simmer until everything has heated through. The longer it cooks, the thicker it becomes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Stuffed Acorn Squash With Quinoa and Aged Cheddar
Lemons and Basil’s Stuffed Acorn Squash With Quinoa and Aged Cheddar brings quinoa and chickpeas together to develop a marvelously textured filling. The cozy dish is packed with nutritional value, with each generous serving containing 385 calories, 9.4 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of protein. Savory aged cheddar and veggies are pleasantly offset by a hint of coconut sugar. The recipe takes 50 minutes to make and yields 2 servings.
- 1 acorn squash
- ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package directions
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- ½ cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 2 ounces aged cheddar, shredded or chopped
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While oven heats, cut acorn squash in half, remove seeds, then cut criss-cross patterns over each squash half, careful not to cut the skin. Bake squash on baking sheet for 25 to 30 minutes, or until flesh is cooked through.
Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions. Once quinoa is nearly cooked, add chopped spinach and balsamic vinegar to medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Turn burner to low, then add garbanzo beans, cooked quinoa, and coconut sugar to wilted spinach; stir to combine.
Once the squash has cooked, allow to cool, then scrape the flesh out of each half, leaving a thin layer in skin for stability. Add the cooked acorn squash pieces to the spinach mixture on the stove, stir and cook for another minute, then spoon the mixture evenly into each half.
Top with the aged cheddar cheese, sprinkle a little extra coconut sugar on top, then bake another 5 to 7 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or until cheese is melted. Serve and eat!
7. Kale and Sweet Potato Quesadillas
Sweet potatoes and kale are both rich in fiber, protein, and antioxidants — not to mention packed with vitamins — making them ideal additions to a healthful lunchtime (or dinnertime) meal. Yummy Addiction’s Kale and Sweet Potato Quesadillas incorporates red onions, garlic, olives, and balsamic vinegar to culminate in a distinctive and dazzling taste, exceptionally complemented by a subtle dash of honey. The recipe takes 55 minutes to make and yields 4 servings.
- 4 large flour tortillas
- 2 cups kale, stems removed and cut into thin strips
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and large-diced
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup black olives, sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ tablespoon honey
- 2 (medium) red onions, thinly sliced into semi-circles
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Directions: Place diced sweet potatoes in a pot with salted water, bring to boil, and cook on low for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. When cooked, drain well. Using a potato masher or the back of a large fork, mash them. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, honey, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until tender and slightly translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the balsamic sauce to the onions, mix well, and cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and kale, and continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the kale has wilted. Remove from heat.
Place the tortillas on a work surface. Spread about ⅓ cup of the potato mixture on half of the tortilla. Then layer with ¼ cup of kale/onion mixture and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sliced olives. Top with about ¼ cup of the cheese (or to taste). Fold the empty half of the tortilla on top of the filled side and press down gently. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Wipe out the pan, reheat over medium-high heat and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Cook the quesadillas for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and the cheese is melted. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Cut quesadillas into wedges. Serve with sour cream, hot sauce, or any dipping sauce you like. Enjoy!