Taste the World with Meatless Mains from The First Mess

You do not have to be vegetarian to benefit from eating an occasional meatless main meal. Not only is #meatlessmonday (or any other non-carnivorous meal) healthy for your family, but it can also reduce your footprint on the environment and lower your grocery bill. Win-win-win, right?

Meatless main dishes can be a wonderful way to expose your kiddos to foods and flavors from around the world as well. Whether you want to introduce an occasional vegetarian dish to your dinner rotation or you maintain a vegan lifestyle, you can create a weekly dining adventure with exotic meals that your family will enjoy.

Laura Wright is a vegan cook who creates delectable plant-based recipes using fresh, seasonal, local foods and shares them with the world on her blog, The First Mess. Along with many hearty and comforting traditional dishes, she also rustles up main courses inspired by meals enjoyed by families around the globe, such as these:

Cozy Vegan Enchiladas With Lime Cream

If your family is anything like ours, Mexican food is high on your collective list of faves. Whether it is a sit down restaurant meal on the weekend or taco Tuesdays in your own kitchen, south of the border flavors are usually quite popular with the entire bunch.

Enchiladas are a popular choice. Tasty tortillas swaddle a flavorful filling (usually a combination of creamy and chunky textures) and bathe in a rich, robust sauce. Whether they are simple or extravagant, adults and kiddos alike generally enjoy them.

Laura’s meatless take on this well-liked main combines diced and roasted sweet and white potatoes (spiced up with cumin and other zesty ingredients) along with soft black beans. A spicy tomato-based sauce comes next (no canned stuff here, folks), followed by citrusy, velvety lime cashew cream. The cheesy pumpkin seed crumble that you sprinkle over the top adds a nice crunch and another pleasing flavor combination.

Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl + Lime Peanut Sauce

Spaghetti squash is one of those foods that blows me away. Kids who have never experienced this unique and delicious gourd will be amazed when they watch you scoop the pasta-like strands out of the shell. Too bad it doesn’t taste so great…  JUST KIDDING!  This stuff is super yummy to boot. And there are so many simple ways to make it. You can roast it in the oven, zap it in the microwave or pierce it, set it in the slow cooker and leave it on low all day for an easy peasy weeknight meal.

This dish starts with threads of spaghetti squash that take on a decidedly Thai flair. The “noodles” are mixed with a plethora of appetizing elements, such as kale, broccoli, toasted nuts and sesame seeds. All of this deliciousness is coated with a spicy, aromatic lime peanut sauce that will have your brood feeling like world travelers after the first bite.

Moroccan-Style Vegetable + Chickpea Stew

Moroccan food is vibrantly colored, richly seasoned and completely mouthwatering, and this dish is definitely all of the above. This substantial stew is so thick, warm and bolstering that it might be the perfect meal for a cold day spent at home.

A big pot of vegetable stock is loaded up with chopped carrots, dates, peppers and sweet potatoes, crushed tomatoes and protein-, fiber- and iron-packed chickpeas. The veggies receive a palate-pleasing seasoning treatment, with sautéed onion, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and chili. Fresh greens added near the end augment the full-bodied, savory flavor profile.

To serve this meatless main, Laura recommends topping it with a heaping helping of cooked grains, such as brown rice, couscous, millet or quinoa along with a drizzle of olive oil, some lemon zest and chopped fresh parsley or cilantro. 

Warm Veggie Rice Bowl with Ginger Miso Gravy

Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning, which has multiple health benefits including “friendly” bacteria and isoflavones. Salty, nutty light miso flavors this dish, which Laura also refers to as the Busy Lady Bowl because it can be so quick and simple to whip up.

The gravy may be the most laborious part of this main course, but even it is not strenuous to create. You just simmer the ingredients, such as vegetable stock, coconut oil and various spices, and then add a slurry of miso, water and spelt flour to thicken it up.

The bowl itself is completely flexible and open to what you have on hand. In fact, this meatless meal would be a wonderful way to clean out the refrigerator before going shopping. For each bowl, you need a cup of warm rice (or sub another leftover cooked grain, if you have something on hand). She suggests topping the rice with string beans, chard, bell pepper, carrot, onion, avocado, almonds and hemp seeds, but she also states that using whatever you have on hand is perfectly fine. The savory sauce ties it all together deliciously.

Ask your kids where they would love to go if they could travel the globe, and then find a way to give them a taste of an exotic locale while staying vegan. Taste the world without leaving your dining table. 

Which of these tasty meatless mains from The First Mess will you be serving the kids first? Share your own scrumptious vegan recipes with us!

All photos were taken by Laura Wright for her blog The First Mess

Tags : recipes   vegan   vegetarian   world cuisine   

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