7 Vegetarian Recipes for $7 or Less!

Guest blogger and chef Charles Mattocks shares seven healthy and delicious vegetarian recipes -- all for $7 or less! When is the last time you made a vegetarian meal?

1. Fall's Best Honey and Cinnamon-Roasted Figs Serves 5

11 figs
3 tablespoons clear honey
2-4 teaspoons cinnamon
Greek-style yogurt, to serve

Preheat oven to 400f (200c) or heat broiler

Cut a cross in the top of each fig, pierce through the stem but not right through the base, so that the pieces remain intact. Place into a shallow ovenproof dish, pulling them open gently as you do, drizzle the honey over the insides of the figs and sprinkle cinnamon.

Bake or broil for about 15 min or until the figs are tender but not collapsed. Serve with Greek style yogurt.

Chefs Charles thoughts: Too often the flavor and nutritional value of the fig is underestimated. The succulent sweetness of fig combined with its high fiber content, potassium and iron levels make this powerhouse a must have in a healthy diet.

2. Buckwheat with Lemon and Herbs

Serves 5

1-cup organic untoasted buckwheat
1 tablespoons olive oil
Long strands of rind from 1 lemon
Juice from one lemon
5 heaping tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
4 heaping tablespoons minced chives
5 green onions cut into shreds
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Rinse the buckwheat in a sieve under cold running water, put into a dry sauce pan, and cook over a moderate heat for about 5 min, stirring from time to time, until it smells fragrantly toasted, and looks a bit golden.

Pour 2 cups boiling water into a saucepan, standing back to avoid being scalded from the steam that may rise. Cover the pan and leave for 15 min, off the heat, or over gentle heat if you want it softer.

Using a fork, stir the olive oil, lemon rind and juice, parsley, chives, and green onions into the buckwheat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Chef Charles Thoughts: Here is a trivia question you can use to stump your friends - What flour is made from a fruit and not a grain? The answer is buckwheat. Related to rhubarb, buckwheat is a powerhouse of nutrition with a bold flavor. The toasty taste of the buckwheat is given tang and zing by the addition of lemon, chives, and parsley.

3. Middle Eastern Lentils and Spinach

Serves 5

1-tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1-teaspoon ground coriander
1-teaspoon ground cumin
5 cups of spinach
2, 15-ounce cans green lentils drained
Juice of half lemon
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and cook gently for around 6 to 8 min, or until tender.

Add the coriander and cumin and stir for a few seconds over the heat as the aroma is released, then add the spinach, continue to cook for around 10 min, as the spinach shrinks and becomes tender.

When the spinach is done, add the lentils and cook for a few min until they are hot. Then stir in the garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Chef Charles Thoughts: The mouth-watering aroma of the spices will have you glad that this recipe comes together in very little time. Full of vitamin K, low in calories and high in fiber, the ingredients in this recipe are known to be cholesterol reducers. To save a little more money buy dried lentils and follow directions for soaking them. If your calorie budget allows, try eating this with warm triangles of whole-wheat pita bread.

4. Chickpea, Tomato and Cilantro Salad with Peanuts

Serves 3

3 cups canned chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup of peanuts
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 green onion chopped
1 small garlic clove crushed
Squeeze of lemon juice
Few springs of fresh cilantro chopped
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Mix together and drizzle with olive oil

Chef Charles Thoughts: Now it doesn't get much easier to prepare than this salad. A good main dish meal to make in a hurry after a afternoon of enjoying the fall weather. Peanuts are related to chickpeas and they are both legumes. Peanuts offer more protein to your diet than actual nuts do. This salad gives you sweetness, crunch and energy at a low price.

5. Like Home Spinach Curry

Serves 2-5

1 onion
1-tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1-teaspoon turmeric
1-teaspoon ground coriander
5 cups of spinach leaves
Salt and pepper

Sauté the onion in the oil in a large pan for 10 minutes, covered, until onion is tender.

Add garlic, ginger, turmeric and coriander. Stir for a few seconds over the heat, until you can smell the fragrance, then add the spinach and stir it around to coat it with the spices.

Cover then cook over a moderate heat for about 10 min, until spinach is soft and reduced in volume, stir from time to time. Season with salt and pepper.

Chef Charles Thoughts: Take a quick trip to the islands when you savor this vitamin rich curried spinach. Ginger provides a wide variety of nutrients including protein, selenium, vitamins B6, C, and E. It may be fall but the spinach will have you feeling like it is the first day of spring.

6. Tasty Oven-Baked Ratatouille

Serves 5

1 large onion, cut into chunks
1 large zucchini, cut into chunks
1 large eggplant, cut into chunks
2 red and 2 yellow bell peppers seeded and cut into chunks
1-pound small tomatoes
5 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Several springs' fresh basil

Preheat oven to 475f

Put all the vegetables and garlic in a roasting pan or large shallow ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the oil and some salt and pepper, then mix with your hands so that all are coated evenly. Put the dish into the oven and cook. Uncovered for 35-45 min, until the vegetables are browned at the edges, tender and smelling fragrant. Tear the basil leaves over the top and serve.

Chef Charles Thoughts: This is the best of a farmer's market in one fragrant, delicious dish. Use the last of the summer's harvest to take a healthier you into autumn.

7. Green Pea Soup with Mint

Serves 4

2 pounds frozen peas or fresh peas in the pod if available
1 large onion, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper

To finish
3-4 tablespoons thick plain yogurt
Fresh mint leaves to garnish

Put the peas into the saucepan with 5 cups water, the onion and garlic. Cover and simmer for 10-15 min, or until the onion and garlic are tender.

Blend in a food processor until puréed, then return to the saucepan/ Thin if necessary with a little more water and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Reheat then ladle into bowls, top with a swirl of yogurt, a grinding of black pepper and mint leave and serve.

Chef Charles Thoughts: Do not confuse this with the thick, ham-laden green pea soup of your childhood. That soup, while good, is often full of sodium and fat. This pea soup is light and fresh tasting and satisfying. If you are unable to find fresh peas the frozen ones are an excellent substitute.

For more cost-efficient recipes from Charles Mattocks, his book "Eat Cheap But Eat Well" is available at Amazon.com. To learn more about "The Poor Chef," go to DestinationDiabetes.com.

Did you try one of the recipes listed above? Let the "Anderson Live" team know! Tweet us @Anderson, #AndersonLive.

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