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Vegetable Magic: Plant-Based Recipes

By Catherine Newman

These quick, low-carb plant-based recipes are delicious and nutritious ways to bring more vegetables into your life

Full disclosure: I love vegetables. Love, love, love them. Would I rather eat melted cheese with a spoon than a giant bowl of kale? Sure. But vegetables have so much to offer, with all their colors and flavors and textures: bright or soft; loud or quiet; tender or creamy or crunchy, depending on how, or whether, you cook them. And maybe it’s the power of suggestion or the real power of vegetables, but I feel great after I eat a big plateful of something plant-based. It’s like a kind of vegetal high. Which I want to share with you here.

Are these your typical plain, boring vegetable recipes? They’re not. They’ve got cheese, butter, sour cream, more cheese. So they’re delicious enough that you can get more of those veggies into yourself and your loved ones – which is so important! In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) just released their Consensus Report on what to eat with diabetes and prediabetes, which emphasized the benefits of eating more non-starchy vegetables – e.g., zucchini, cauliflower, kale, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, tomatoes, celery, zucchini, and more listed here. This is also very much in line with diaTribe’s nutrition guidelines, because vegetables are really kind of the best, nutritionwise.

Besides making sure to add plenty of yum, ingredients-wise, there are other important principles to keep in mind, like starting with vegetables that are as fresh and enticing as possible. (Save whatever’s aging in the crisper drawer for compost bins or goats.)  And make sure to season them well. Taste the vegetables before you serve them, especially if a dish has been sitting at room temperature for a while. Sometimes the flavor kind of evaporates, and you may need to amp it up a little. If it’s not absolutely cravably delicious, then figure out what else it might need. Salt? A little more butter or cheese? A squeeze of lemon? A grinding of black pepper? Add it!

And then let the magic begin.

1. Parmesan-Crusted Zucchini Wheels

I want to call them “chips,” but they’re not really chips; they’re tender squash slices topped with a crackly, cheesy crust. You can make them as a nutrient-packed finger food, or you can serve them on people’s plates, as a dinner side, to be eaten with knife and fork. Either way, just don’t skimp on the cheese.

View the recipe.

2. Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Densely creamy, rich, and smooth. As comforting as comfort food gets, and just as happy under a ladleful of gravy as their carbier cousins.

View the recipe.

3. Double-Crunch Kale Slaw

Toasted almonds and crisp apples bring their best, crunchy selves to a giant bowlful of lemony, garlicky, toothsome kale. Just try it, even if the individual ingredients don’t sing to you.

View the recipe.

4. Lemony One-Pan Green 

Beans

This recipe turns out the most perfectly tender, perfectly buttery beans you can imagine. Plus, the method is kind of brilliant: basically, by the time the water has evaporated, the beans cooked through – which means they’re pan-to-table.

View the recipe.

Other plant-based recipes:

5. Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese”

6. Basic Edamame

7. Tex-Mex Kale Bowl with Creamy Lime Dressing

8. Everyone’s Favorite Salad

9. Basic Cauliflower Rice

10. Zucchini Spaghetti

11. The Best Roasted Vegetables

About Catherine

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. She also helped develop Sprout, a WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as Seasoned, their senior version. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health, happiness, and real food at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]

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