Quick vegetarian meals for every occasion
Many of the recipe ideas and much of the culinary inspiration for these quick vegetarian meals were taken from the brilliant cookbook Forks Over Knives.
This article offers a taste of the sumptuous banquet that is served by Del Sroufe and his team of expert chefs. Forks Over Knives contains over 300 recipes, many of which are quick and easy to prepare.
The quick vegetarian meals selected for our menu will provide you with healthy, nutritious, and affordable recipes for every mealtime.
And because many of the recipes are plant-based, they are suitable for vegans as well.
Vegetarian diet health benefits
The health benefits of both a vegetarian and plant-based diet are well understood. Dr Greger, author of the hugely successful book How Not To Die, draws off contemporary research to show that a diet rich in plants and whole foods significantly reduces disease risk.
In the introduction of Folks Over Knives, Sroufe says that ‘Any number of diseases – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and more – can be not only prevented but in many cases reversed with the right diet: a whole-foods, plant-based diet.’
Quick vegetarian meals
The quick vegetarian meals below are made from only natural, whole-food ingredients. All the meals are prepared from fresh and take less than 30-minutes to cook.
For the time they take to make, the quick vegetarian meals pack a serious nutritional punch. Thus, they will help you cultivate a diet that supports and sustains health.
Healthy breakfast recipes
Quick vegetarian meals #1: 50/50 Healthy Breakfast Smoothie
Smoothies make for a super-healthy breakfast. They’re quick and easy to prepare and they deliver a shot of nutrients. However, fruit-only smoothies can contain a lot of sugar. And too much sugar, even if it is derived from fruit, is determinantal to health.
One simple way to balance your smoothies is to make them with 50% fruit and 50% vegetables. Also, to increase the nutritional and fibre content of your smoothies, throw some seeds and porridge oats into the mix.
1 cup of mixed berries, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry
½ cup of rolled oats
2 teaspoons of mixed seeds: flax and hemp
1 to 2 cups of coconut water (or coconut/oat/almond milk)
A generous handful of washed spinach
Add the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth and creamy. You may need to add more coconut water to achieve the desired consistency.
Quick vegetarian meals #2: Basic Oatmeal (aka Porridge)
Porridge is one of the healthiest breakfast foods you can have. But that does, of course, depend on how you make your porridge. Using milk, topped with sugar or syrup (or salt – yuk!), and microwaving porridge are all forms of adulteration which deteriorate the health benefits derived from this powerhouse breakfast food.
Granted, porridge made with water is a bit bland. However, there are now plenty of healthy, plant-based milk alternatives. Mixing half water with half plant-based milk makes for a creamy, tasty bowl without sacrificing health. It’s kind of like having your cake and eating it.
1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of water
1 cup of plant-based milk
Slender drizzle of natural honey
Introduce the oats, water, and milk into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Ensure to sir throughout. Reduce to low heat for 2-minutes. Remove from the hob and leave for a further 5-minutes. Continue to stir occasionally.
Quick vegetarian meals #3: Red Lentil Dal
Legumes – lentils, beans, and pulses – are high in fibre and protein. So healthy are they that legumes feature on Dr Gregor’s ‘Daily Dozen’ list – a checklist of the healthiest foods that should form part of our daily diet.
Legumes are a perfect meat alternative because they are a rich source of protein, and they add substance to light vegetarian meals. Also, ‘they have plenty of flavour without needing much added to them, and they cook in less than 30 minutes,’ (Forks Over Knives).
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 large tomato
4 cherry tomatoes
1 numb of ginger
½ red chilli (optional)
1 tablespoon of turmeric, cumin, and curry powder
2 cups of red lentils (rinse first)
3 cups of water
1 cup of coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Zest and a good squeeze of 1 lemon
Sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat until soft. Add the spices including the ginger and chilli. At this stage introduce half a cup of water. Cook for 5-minutes before adding all the remaining ingredients. Mix together well. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and leave to simmer for 30-minutes – or until the lentils have softened.
For the perfect accompaniment with your dal, you’ll need a side order of soft, fluffy brown basmati rice. Simple. Add to a pan one cup of brown basmati rice, two cups of water, two cardamon pods (cracked), and one star anise. Cover then bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15- to 20-minutes. Check that the rice is soft before draining and serving.
Quick vegetarian meals #4: Veggie Fajitas
Who doesn’t love Fajitas? Not only are they tasty and healthy, but they also provide a source of entertainment during mealtimes; especially when dining with friends – there’s always someone who is incapable of assembling their fajitas.
12 corn tortillas
1 medium red onion thinly sliced
1 medium red pepper seeded and sliced
1 large tomato
4 to 6 cherry tomatoes
4 chestnut mushrooms cut into strips (grilled – optional)
2 garlic cloves finely sliced
½ red chilli (optional)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Zest and a good squeeze of lime
1 cup of red kidney beans
Season to taste
Before preparing the fajitas filling, wrap your tortillas in aluminium foil and place them in the oven on medium heat.
Sauté the onion, garlic, courgette and red pepper in a large frying pan for 5-minutes. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pan.
Now add the rest of the ingredients, ensuring to fold gently. Cook for a further 10-minutes. Remember, for fajitas filling we’re only par-cooking the veg – firm vegetables are more compliant when assembling. Remove from the heat while preparing the tortillas.
Serve the fajitas mix with homemade guacamole ('smashed' avocado, finely sliced red onion, cherry tomatoes, and seasoning), and salsa.
Quick vegetarian meals #5: Thai Vegetable Noodle Soup
Cooking a healthy meal couldn’t be easier. ‘Once the ingredients are prepared for this soup,’ Sroufe reminds us, ‘this dish comes together quickly.’
1 medium yellow onion, finely sliced
1 medium carrot, unpeeled and cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper sliced
6 green beans sliced in half
6 shiitake mushrooms (chestnut mushrooms are a fine alternative)
1 generous nub of ginger
2 bok choy sliced
Zest and a good squeeze of lime
8 brown noodle nests (2 per person)
1 litre of vegetable stock
Heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a pan and add two-thirds of the sliced onions and garlic.
Do the same in a separate saucepan for the stock: add oil, bring to temperature, and then soften the remaining onions and garlic. Also, season the mix before adding the water. Cover and simmer. Voila! Homemade veg stock without using those nasty cubes.
Add the carrot to the main pan and cook for 5-minutes. In stages add the rest of the vegetables every couple of minutes. As you do, spoon in some of your simmering stock.
Once all the vegetables have been added, pour in the remaining stock. Simmer the dish while preparing the noodles.
To prepare the noodles, bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add your noodle nests. Keep them moving so that they do not clump together. Boil for 5-minutes. When cooked remove from heat and drain.
To serve, divide the noodles among four bowls. Using a slotted spoon, ladle the vegetable mix over the noodles followed by the broth. Garnish with toasted almond shards and, if you happen to have any, bean sprouts.
Quick vegetarian meals #6: Brown Rice Pudding
Suitable as a pudding and a breakfast meal, brown rice pudding is both healthy and nutritious. The recipe and method of preparation differ from traditional rice pudding dishes – typically cooked with milk and sugar.
This wholesome version is made from either almond or coconut milk, and dates and raisins are used in place of sugar. Also, to hurry the dish along, so that it meets our ‘pan-to-plate-in-under-30-minutes’ pledge, we’re using pre-cooked brown rice.
3 cups of cooked brown rice
2 cups of almond or coconut milk
4 pitted dates diced
½ cup of raisins
½ cup of toasted almond shard
Cinnamon to taste
Add the rice, coconut milk, dates, and raisins to a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 12-minutes. Set to the side for 5-minutes before serving. To serve, spoon equal portions into six bowls. Top with the toasted almonds and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Vegetarian dishes quick FAQ
List of healthy foods
What’s a balanced diet?
The answer to that question is yet to be settled. According to the NHS eating a balanced diet ‘means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.’
But that is quite ambiguous. After all, there are plenty of people who consume an unhealthy diet yet are at a ‘healthy body weight’.
In his book How Not To Die, Dr Greger provides a much more specific outline of what constitutes a balanced diet. His ‘Daily Dozen’ list is the distillation of years of research into the impacts of food on health.
According to Dr Greger, to cultivate a truly balanced diet we should aim to include a serving of the following twelve foods in our daily diet:
Clean liquids (water, herbal teas, etc.)
Exercise (granted, exercise is not a food, but still a very important lifestyle habit. For more on exercise see our article: Exercise | Everything Your Need to Know)
You’ll notice that the quick vegetarian meals above contain nearly all of these foods. For more healthy meal ideas, and article on how to improve health, see our Hungry4Health Page.