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Spring diet: Take the meatless challenge

Kendra Y. Mims is a freelance writer and online content editor in the Chicagoland area. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in journalism. Her passions include writing, reading, and traveling.

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!

Sweet potato soup

Vegetable Brown Rice with Feta Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 (20-ounce) package of frozen whole grain brown rice, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 (16-ounce) package of frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 6 cups chopped leafy greens
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

  1. Prepare the rice according to package directions.
  2. Heat 1/2 cup of water in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in peas and carrots and leafy greens. Reduce heat to medium, cover skillet and cook until heated through, stirring occasionally.
  4. Transfer brown rice to a serving platter. Spoon vegetables over brown rice and sprinkle with feta cheese.

Sweet Potato Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced or stewed tomatoes (low or no salt)
  • 2 large peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until tender. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans and rosemary.
  4. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, lowering heat if necessary. Add vegetable broth or water if mixture seems too thick.
  5. Cover pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

While you're on your challenge, you can reward yourself with a treat that doesn't feel like a cheat. This delicious vegan dessert is adapted from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet, a vegan dessert that you can enjoy without feeling guilty.

Ingredients

  • 1⁄2 cup Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 3⁄4 cup crunchy peanut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted)
  • 3⁄4 cup graham cracker crumbs or 10 graham cracker squares
  • 1⁄4 cup maple sugar or other granulated sweetener
  • 1 cup grain-sweetened nondairy chocolate or carob chips
  • 1⁄4 cup soy, rice or nut milk
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped pecans, almonds or peanuts

Directions

  1. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and maple sugar and mix well. Remove the mixture from heat.
  4. Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.
  5. Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan. Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.
  6. Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture. Top with chopped nuts.
  7. Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving.

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