Photo courtesy of www.thegreenmomreview.com. Thanks, Green Mom!

Photo courtesy of www.thegreenmomreview.com. Thanks, Green Mom!

Less chance of obesity and disease, less chance of painful menopause and energy loss, less chance of dying (young) and less chance of destroying the planet and having to move to the moon? Dang, that sounds good. According to the Vegetarian Times, those are only a few of the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Well, super for them, you’re thinking, there’s no way I can throw out another “food group” with gluten already having gone the way of the last unicorn. Gluten-free vegetarian – or scarier yet, a gluten-free vegan – just sounds impossible.

I’m right there with you – I’m not a vegetarian. I do like the idea of cutting down on meat, though, even if just to eliminate it one or two days a week. (Any Catholics out there? Give yourself a pat on the back; you already do the gluten-free vegetarian thing on Fridays during Lent!) The way I read it, the facts state loud and clear that being vegetarian is better for your health and better for the environment. Of course, it’s ok to disagree with this, but even if you’re just a little bit curious, or want to try out a vegetarian meal or two, read on!

As many of you know, when you’re already missing nutrients because of your gluten-free diet, it’s hard to go meatless as well. If you’re going to try, you might want to consider using gluten-free vegetarian recipes just once in a while at first, gradually adding ones you like to your recipe box.

Trying out naturally gluten-free vegetarian foods is the easiest place to start. Here are three gluten-free foods vegetarians love:

Tempeh (check the Grocery Guide to find out which brands are gluten-free) – It’s a fermented soybean cake somewhat like tofu. You can find Five Ways to Prepare Tempeh at “The Kitchn.”

Sunflower Seeds – The Garden Guide shows you how to cook sunflower seeds for a tasty anytime snack.

Avocados – You may be missing healthy fats by avoiding meat, so try this vegetable to complete your meal. Try it in salads or mashed up with salt and pepper on gluten-free bread.

Any gluten-free vegetarians out there? What advice can you offer? (Seriously, help me out here. Where do you get your nutrients?)

As for the rest of you – ready to get experimenting? Here’s a recipe to get you started:

Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Rice with a Zesty Dijon Cheddar Sauce from Ginny Callan’s vegetarian Horn of the Moon Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups uncooked brown rice

3 cups water

1 lb fresh asparagus

2 tbsp butter

½ cup chopped onion (1 onion)

3 large cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp dried dill weed

1 tsp leaf thyme

4 cups sliced mushrooms

2 tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp tamari (optional, according to the Grocery Guide, San-J sells wheat free tamari sauces)

Sauce:

1 cup milk

2 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 tsp Dijon-style mustard

1/8 tsp dried dill weed

Bring the rice and water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Lower heat to simmer. Cover and cook until rice is tender and water has been absorbed (approximately 40 minutes).

Cut the last inch off the bottom of asparagus stalks. Then lightly peel off the outermost skin of the next 2 inches of stalk and cut the asparagus at an angle into ½-inch pieces. Steam asparagus until just tender.

Preheat oven to 375º. In a 10-inch skillet, put 1 tbsp butter and melt. Saute over medium heat onions, garlic, dill weed, and thyme. When onions just begin to brown, add mushrooms. When mushrooms are barely tender, remove form heat. Add this mixture to cooked rice in medium-sized bowl. Add remaining tbsp butter, steamed asparagus, lemon juice, salt, and tamari, Stir well. Place into 4 individual baking dishes and bake 15 minutes.

Pour milk into double boiler. When it begins to get hot, add the cheese, stir until melted, then add mustard and dill weed. Keep hot in double boiler.

Top each dish with the mustard-cheese sauce and serve. 4 servings.