Vegetarian meals: combining satisfying flavors with a heart healthy diet

By American Heart Association

The key to a satisfying meal does not have to depend on meat. No longer are the days of the meat and potato diet. Instead, let’s lean in with protein and fiber-packed vegetables.Vegetarian diets are often lower in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, according the American Heart Association. One of the key protein replacements in a vegetarian diet would be beans, which are both affordable and nutritious.

“Beans and lentils are rich in dietary folate, fiber, magnesium and other phytochemicals that can boost overall diet quality,” said Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., a registered dietitian and chief of nutrition in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University.

Spices and low-sodium seasonings help make vegetarian meals richly flavored and satisfying.

The basics that play a big role in improving flavors include: garlic, ground pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, ginger, cumin, lemon or lime juice.

Add hot sauce, poblano peppers or chili powder to add an extra kick, Van Horn said.

Moroccan Lentil Stew with Butternut Squash

Lentils are an easy legume dish to get to the dinner table, with a quicker cooking time than homemade beans, which usually need an overnight soak. Adding cumin, coriander and cinnamon also adds Moroccan flavoring and a touch of earthiness.

Know that acorn squash or sweet potatoes can sub for the butternut squash. Just aim for 8 cups of either.

 

Yield: 8 servings (1.5 cups each)

1 (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and diced (about 4 cups diced)

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water

1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1 (16-ounce) package dry lentils, rinsed

¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

Prepare the butternut squash: cut the butternut squash in half vertically. Use a vegetable peeler or a knife to remove the peel. Remove the seeds with a spoon and discard. Cut squash into a 1-inch dice and reserve.

In a heavy-duty large pot or Dutch oven, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Stir in the spices: cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Let cook until fragrant—about 1 minute—before adding in reserved butternut squash, vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, and lentils.

Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low or medium-low so stew is at a simmer. Cover with lid and cook until lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

 

Nutrients

Calories

270.0

kcal

Fat

0.8

g

Saturated Fat

0.1

g

Trans Fatty Acid

0.0

g

Poly Fat

0.2

g

Mono Fat

0.4

g

Cholesterol

0.0

mg

Sodium

165.4

mg

Carbohydrates

52.6

g

Dietary Fiber

9.6

g

Total Sugars

12.0

g

Protein

16.8

g

Dietary Exchanges: 3 starch, 2 vegetable, 1 lean meat