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Go green!

When you hear the word “vegetarian,” do you picture a bland diet of vegetables, fruit, tofu and more vegetables? Think again. These can all be delicious when they’re properly prepared. And vegetarian diets tend to be more heart healthy than nonvegetarian diets. As a result, vegetarians tend to have lower risks for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Whether you’re considering going meatless or just want to eat more good-for-you veggies, whip up these anything-but-boring recipes:

Chickpeas with sundried tomatoes
  1 tablespoon olive oil
  1 small red onion, sliced crosswise and separated into rings
  ½ teaspoon rosemary, dried, crumbled
  ½ cup low-sodium vegetable stock
  1 medium tomato, chopped
  2½ cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  2 tablespoons sundried tomato bits
  1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Warm the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and rosemary; cook, stirring frequently, for two to three minutes, or until tender. Stir in the vegetable stock and chopped tomato. Cook for three to four minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the chickpeas, sundried tomato and vinegar; cook for one to two minutes or until heated through. Serves four.

Per ¾-cup serving: 200 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 490 mg sodium, 7 g fiber, 9 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates

Vegetarian paella

  1½ tablespoons olive oil
  1 large onion, chopped
  ½ teaspoon paprika
  1½ cups long-grain brown rice
  3¾ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  ¾ cup dry white wine
  14-ounce can tomatoes, chopped, with juice
  1 tablespoon tomato paste
  ½ teaspoon tarragon
  1 teaspoon dried basil
  1 teaspoon oregano
  1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
  1 green pepper, coarsely chopped
  3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  3 cups mushrooms, washed and sliced
  ½ cup snow pea pods
  ⅔ cup frozen peas
  ⅓ cup cashew nut pieces
  salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet and sauté onion until soft. Add paprika and rice and continue to cook for four to five minutes or until rice is transparent. Stir occasionally. Add broth, wine, tomatoes, tomato paste and herbs and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add peppers, celery, mushrooms and snow peas and continue to cook for another 30 minutes or until rice is cooked. Add peas, cashews, salt and pepper. Heat through and place on a large heated serving dish. Serves six.

Per one-cup serving: 340 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 290 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 9 g protein, 54 g carbohydrates