Ideas for Plant Based Meals

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One of the best things you can do to lower cholesterol is to eat less (red) meat AND more greens…but for many of us a vegetarian or vegan diet is too large a shift. One small step that can pay big dividends is to incorporate more ‘plant-based’ (aka vegetarian or vegan) meals into your meal planning.

But I’m often at a loss for vegetarian meal ideas—it just feels so much easier to throw chicken on the grill. So when the New York Times recently launched a newsletter called THE VEGGIE I decided to give it a try.

The newsletter is written by Tejal Rao,

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Heart-Healthy(ish) Gnocchi

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While searching for an easy dinner to make while on vacation (why I’m cooking on vacation is another story), I found an article in the New York Times by Ali Slagle, with a recipe for Crisp Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts and Brown Butter. I tried it because the opening line said:

“For a fantastic meal that can be ready in 20 minutes…”

That was all I needed to hear.

That said, I almost didn’t try this recipe as it calls for 6 tablespoons of butter (and, um, has ‘butter’ in the title). But when I scanned the recipe comments,

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Risi e Bisi

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I adore risotto but it’s made with a lot of butter so I rarely order it in a restaurant (remember dining inside a restaurant? Sigh.) And I’ve always been too intimidated to try it at home; what if it was a fail after all that stirring?

Chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s recipe for a risotto-like dish made with zucchini and fresh peas inspired me to give a recipe requiring 20 minutes of stirring a try. It looked pretty easy (other than the stirring) and had not one but two vegetables—and they’re easy: fresh peas require zero prep, and baby zucchini is easy to slice.

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Thai Curry Sweet Potato Soup

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Like everyone, I am weary of all the meal planning and home cooking that is now our norm.

So when my sister told me about a healthy soup that’s easy to make and has a really nice kick, I had to try it. Even though I do not—usually—find soup satisfying enough for a meal.

This soup, though, is different. This recipe for Thai Curry Sweet Potato Soup is from the interesting website Healthy Meal Plans. They offer free “Dietician-Prepared Meal Plans” and interesting recipes. In fact, I found this heart-healthy soup so good and so satisfying (and so easy to make) that I’ve whipped up a potful three times this fall.

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Heart-Healthy Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

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I’m always on the lookout for heart-healthy recipes that are easy to make and yield leftovers…and nutritionist Dana White’s Sweet and Spicy Pork Carnitas recipe, from her Healthy Instant Pot cookbook, really delivers.

It may not be the most appealing photo (because of course I forgot to take a shot of the finished meal) but here’s an off-center pic I took in the early stages of cooking, showing 1 tenderloin cut into 3 pieces, topped with sliced red onion.

This recipe produces a full flavor, meaty, satisfying dinner with only 1 gram of saturated fat per serving. 

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