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Spring diet: Take the meatless challenge

Kendra Y. Mims is a full-time writer in the Chicagoland area. When she is not writing articles on health, home, living, travel and fitness for online and print publications, she can be found writing fiction or with her head in a good boo...

Vegetarian recipes for spring fitness

When the weather starts to heat up, you naturally want to eat lighter foods so you don't feel sluggish or weighed-down, especially when you are outdoors enjoying the sun. The change in season is a perfect opportunity to evaluate your diet to make sure that you not only look great but feel your best as well. Here’s how you can take the meatless challenge to boost your spring health and fitness!

Strawberry and spinach salad

Benefits of going meat-free

Decreasing your meat intake can help promote weight loss, and studies show that diets with less meat can help prevent diseases such as cancer and diabetes, lower cholesterol and reduce high blood pressure. Replacing meat with nutritious alternatives will leave you feeling satisfied without feeling overstuffed.

Eat less red meat, live longer >>

Take the meatless challenge

Whether you opt for meatless meals once a week, for a full week or for 21 days, challenge yourself to eat meatless meals by creating the simple, tasty vegetarian/vegan recipes below. (And don't worry, meat lovers — they really are tasty). The change could be as simple as replacing chicken in your salad with beans, adding mushrooms to your dish for a meaty texture or trading in your steak for a veggie burrito.

Meatless meals: Vegan and vegetarian recipes

Ready to eat healthy for spring? Stock up on your fruits, beans and veggies, and get ready to be challenged! By participating in a diet challenge that can help your body ward off disease as well as shed a few pounds in the process, you have nothing to lose (except those few pounds)!

Fruit Salad with Spinach

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 orange, peeled, segmented
  • 2 kiwis, peeled, diced
  • 1 banana, peeled, sliced
  • 1 bag pre-washed fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

Directions

  1. Place fruit on top of spinach leaves. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Supreme Dairy-Free Veggie Pizza

This non-traditional vegan pizza may be loaded with veggies and missing cheese, but your kids will still enjoy this flavorful treat.

Ingredients

  • Ready-to-bake whole wheat pizza crust
  • 1 box of Pomi tomato sauce (or another low-sodium tomato sauce)
  • Green leafy vegetables (fresh spinach recommended)
  • Sliced or chopped veggies of your choice (mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, olives, zucchini recommended)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Place pizza crust on baking sheet and spread a thick layer of tomato sauce, leaving a border around the edges.
  3. Top with a generous amount of green leafies and vegetables.
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast as desired.

Vegetable Burrito

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded, chopped
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, sliced
  • 4 whole-grain tortilla wraps

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Sauté onions, peppers and garlic for 5 minutes or until tender.
  3. Add black beans and corn. Stir in ground cumin. Cook until black beans and corn are heated through.
  4. Place tortillas in a hot skillet (with no oil) and flip frequently until wraps are heated through.
  5. Top each tortilla with vegetables and beans mixture, chopped tomatoes and avocado slices. Wrap burrito-style and serve.

Up next: More vegan and vegetarian recipes>>

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