Eat your veggies: 5 tasty meatless meals

Make vegetables the highlight of your meals with these tasty recipe ideas.

  • Meatless meals can help you lose weight, improve health conditions and save money. What's not to love? Take a creative cue from these recipes and turn veggie side dishes into the main event. You might be surprised how much they fill you up and excite your taste buds!

  • Grilled vegetable kebabs

    For grilled vegetable kebabs, use as many vegetables as you'd like — about 1.5 cups of veggies are shown here, which is about 1.5 servings in the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid. Before using the wood skewers, soak them in water for at least 10 minutes. Brush Italian dressing on whole cherry tomatoes and button mushrooms, as well as slices of zucchini, red onions and bell peppers. Thread vegetables on skewers and grill over medium heat, turning often, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

  • Portobello mushroom burgers

    Instead of meat for a main dish, try a hearty portobello-mushroom burger. Marinate a large portobello mushroom (or several if you're sharing this dish) in French or Italian dressing. If you prefer, make your own marinade by mixing together 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 clove of minced garlic, and pepper or other herbs, such as rosemary, to taste. Marinate the portobello mushrooms for 15 to 30 minutes. Grill the mushrooms over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes on each side. Serve alone or on a whole-grain bun with healthy condiments and enjoy. Instead of grilling, you can also broil these mushrooms using the medium setting.

  • Spring greens with butternut squash

    For this vegetable recipe, start with a winter squash of your choice — butternut (as shown here), acorn, Hubbard, autumn cup or another favorite. Remove the rind from the squash. Cube the squash and brush lightly with olive oil. Roast squash in preheated oven at 350° F for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on edges. Place 1 cup of spring greens or leaf lettuce on a plate. In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup roasted butternut-squash cubes, 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Top the spring greens with the squash mixture and 1/2 tablespoon sunflower seeds, and then drizzle with 1 teaspoon honey. Serve and enjoy.

  • Corn-and-barley salad

    This corn-and-barley salad is perfect for two to share. In a bowl, add 1 sliced cucumber, 2/3 cup cooked barley, 1 cup cooked corn and 3/4 cup chopped red or orange bell peppers. For the dressing, get a small bowl or cup and combine 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. In place of white-wine vinegar, you can use apple-cider vinegar or rice-wine vinegar, but be cautious about using balsamic or malt vinegar because of the strong flavor. Stir the dressing into the barley mixture. Marinate the salad for at least 2 hours, then dish up and enjoy.

  • Vegetable pita pockets

    In a small bowl, combine chopped cauliflower and broccoli florets, sliced green onions, and diced tomatoes and cucumbers — about 1 cup total. Cut 1 whole-wheat pita bread in half, and fill each half with the vegetable mixture and 1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese. Warm the pita in the microwave for about 40 seconds. Top with 1 1/2 teaspoons low-fat buttermilk salad dressing or cucumber-ranch salad dressing and enjoy — there may be enough to share a pita half.

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