Living a meat-free lifestyle is a lot easier if you stick to the essentials. Have a few items in your grocery basket that are versatile, nourishing and plant-based. Mix and match to create simple, filling and healthy dishes without the meat.
Tomatoes. Heirloom or beeksteak, roma or cherry, tomatoes can do almost anything. Chop them up in salad, slice them in sandwiches, or fry them in oil for a quick pasta topping.
Avocados. Avocados are not just for guacamole anymore. Although the fiber- and vitamin-rich fruit is an excellent dip when mashed to a pulp, it is also an inviting snack eaten whole. Sliced avocadoes make a cool treat alongside other summer foods like chopped cucumbers, olives, grated carrots and radishes.
Tofu. Tofu has come a long way in the past couple of decades. The protein-rich soybean product now is sold in flavor-packed options for dinner, dessert or snacking. Use plain extra firm tofu as a meal centerpiece. Serve it in slabs cooked with teriyaki sauce or as cubes stir-fried with vegetables.
Spinach. Baby spinach can form the basis of a simple salad, tossed with olive oil and vegetables. Steamed, it's the perfect side dish for dinner. For hunger-satiating bagel sandwiches, include a layer of spinach for those B-vitamins and fiber.
Beans. There are so many varieties of beans, they almost deserve an article of their own. Cans of chick peas are easily drained and blended with olive oil to make an easy hummus dip. Canned vegetarian chili provides the spicy flavor without the meat. Dried beans are perfect for soup recipes. And don't forget the green bean, the old stand-by that goes down just right with a touch of salt.
Pasta. Dried pasta is cheap, versatile and keeps well in a cupboard. Think of pasta as a complement to your vegetable sauce instead of the other way around. Heap the cooked veggies on to your plate with some spaghetti strands to hold it together.
Rice. Sticky rice is good warm or cold. Wrap in dried seaweed with some chopped cucumber, and you've got vegetarian sushi. Cooked rice with vegetables makes an excellent dinner that is both satisfying and meat-free.
Don't stop there. When you're putting together your vegetarian grocery basket, choose ingredients you can use in many dishes instead of just one. With the basics covered, you can be creative at mealtime.
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