Q: Hubby is dieting by eating vegetarian as often as possible. It's been a week, and he is getting bored quickly. Do you have any recommendations for some vegetarian dinner meals that are nutritionally complete, and are not simply variations of chili?
—Judy Greene, Huntington, N.Y.
A: Your husband's timing is impeccable, Judy, because there seem to be more and more cookbooks and magazine articles and newspaper stories these days about eating vegetarian, whether all the time or just once in a while. It's easier to go vegetarian now than ever before.
I just did a story about how a vegetable-centric diet continues to evolve called "Flex Time" that featured a Moroccan stuffed squash from Sara Forte's new book, "The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods" (Ten Speed, $25). Read the story here.
Forte, based in Dana Point, Calif., offers lots of good recipes and menu ideas. Take a look. Besides "The Sprouted Kitchen," other recently published cookbooks with plenty of dishes you can use include: "Grain Mains: 101 Surprising and Satisfying Whole Grain Recipes for Every Meal of the Day" (Rodale, $24.95) by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, both of Colebrook, Conn.; Seattle-based Michael Natkin's "Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution, With 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes" (Harvard Common Press, $24.95); and "Vegan Indian Cooking" (Agate Surrey, $19.95) by Chicago's own Anupy Singla.
Don't think everything vegetarian in your house must be something new — although there's a certain spark of excitement in the discover, I think. You can make some simple switch-outs in what you are cooking now. Replace the chicken in a stir-fry with pieces of extra-firm tofu (brush the tofu with some dark soy sauce or barbecue sauce for more oomph). Make your own pizza, replacing the sausage or pepperoni with assertive Greek black olives, sprigs of fresh thyme and caramelized onions. Swap out a hamburger for grilled whole artichokes with a chipotle aioli or jarred salsa on the side for dipping. Serve up bowls of tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches — just because.
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