Try these five easy vegetarian recipes for Meatless Monday. These vegetarian and vegan recipes are dietitian-approved and don’t take a lot of time or prep. Incorporating more vegetarian meals into your week can lower your risk for dangerous health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.
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Kicked off in 2003, the concept of Meatless Mondays is simple: By going meatless for one day or even just one meal a week, you’ll eat more nutrient-dense foods and less saturated fats. You’ll also lower your risk for dangerous health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and diabetes.
“And it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming,” says dietitian Anna Taylor, RD. “It can be an easy, tasty and fun way to try new foods.” Here are her top five picks for easy Meatless Monday vegetarian recipes.
(Chef’s choice: The amounts of vegetables and spices are flexible; feel free to add more or less as you wish!)
Quinoa, Lentils and Vegetables
Ingredients: ¾ cup dry brown or green lentils ¾ cup dry quinoa 1 teaspoon olive oil 2 teaspoon minced garlic 1 onion, sliced 1 red bell pepper, sliced or cubed 3 stalks celery, chopped 2 carrots, chopped 12 ounces mushrooms, sliced ¼ avocado per portion
Directions: Cook quinoa and lentils according the package directions. Heat oil in frying pan and sauté garlic, onions, pepper, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Mix vegetables with quinoa and lentils. Top with jarred marinara sauce and avocado slices.
Why you should try it: “Quinoa is a fantastic whole-grain that’s high in protein and fiber. It cooks like rice so it’s easy to make,” says Taylor. “This recipe is also versatile. Try swapping the quinoa for whole-grain pasta or the vegetables for the ones you like best. One serving of this dish has as much protein as nearly 3 ounces of meat! Just more proof you don’t need animal products to reach your protein needs.”
Time-saving tip: Buy pre-sliced vegetables to cut down on chopping time.
Nutritional information (per serving): Makes 4 servings. 420 calories, 13 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 340 mg socium, 62 g total carbohydrate, 13 g dietary fiber, 11 g total sugars (0 g added sugars), 19 g protein, 78 mg calcium, 5 mg iron, 1410 mg potassium)
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tostadas With Roasted Cauliflower
Ingredients: Olive oil cooking spray 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets 2 teaspoon olive oil ½ teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded 1 sweet potato, cubed and roasted until soft Whole-grain tortillas, one per person 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained ½ teaspoon cumin ½ teaspoon chili powder ½ teaspoon onion powder Cilantro to taste ½ cup low-fat cheese, shredded Handful of black olives Salsa, to taste
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with aluminum foil and evenly spraying it with olive oil cooking spray.
Place cauliflower florets on a baking sheet. Spray the cauliflower with cooking spray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle black pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder and Parmesan cheese on the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower in the oven.
While the cauliflower is cooking, smash cooked sweet potatoes and spread them on top of whole-grain tortillas. Top with black beans, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, the remaining garlic powder and cilantro. Add shredded cheese, olives (for a salty kick) and salsa. Bake the tostadas for 8 minutes (with the cauliflower), and serve with plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and sliced avocado.
Why you should try it: “Beans are a good complex carbohydrate and a fantastic source of protein and fiber. They are one of the healthiest foods we can eat, and yet Americans aren’t getting enough of them,” explains Taylor. “These flavors also feel like you are indulging. Hello, tacos!”
Time-saving tip: “Use canned beans. Drain and rinse them twice to remove around 40% of the salt,” says Taylor. “You can also sometimes find reduced-sodium or no salt added beans.”
Nutritional information (per serving): Makes 4 servings. One tostada per serving. 350 calories, 7 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 10 mg cholesterol, 720 mg sodium, 58 g total carbohydrate, 5 g dietary fiber, 11 g total sugars (0 g added sugars), 17 g protein, 278 mg calcium, 4 mg iron, 1141 mg potassium.
Vegetarian Frittatas With Baby Red Potatoes
Ingredients: (For the frittata) 12 ounces mushrooms, sliced 1 bell pepper, cubed 1 head broccoli, broken into florets 4 to 5 eggs 1 cup skim milk 1/3 cup low-fat shredded cheese Olives for garnish
(For the potatoes) 6 red potatoes, sliced Olive oil cooking spray 2 teaspoon olive oil ½ teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon black pepper
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sauté mushrooms in a skillet with a little water. Add pepper and broccoli to the same pan and steam until tender by covering the pan, then let cool. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and cheese. Pour the egg mixture, cooled vegetables and some olives in a round, glass cooking dish and stir to combine.
Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Place sliced red potatoes on the pan in one layer. Spray with cooking spray. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder and black pepper.
Bake both in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping the potatoes once about halfway through. Serve with fresh fruit.
Why you should try it: “Who doesn’t have eggs in their refrigerator? It’s a great source of protein and cooks up fast. Plus, hiding vegetables in cheesy eggs is an easy way to incorporate them,” Taylor says.
Time-saving tip: Cook both dishes in the oven at the same time to ensure your meal comes out on-time and in tandem.
Nutritional information (per serving): Makes 4 servings. 400 calories, 10 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 235 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, 60 g total carbohydrate, 7 g dietary fiber, 11 g total sugars (0 g added sugars), 22g protein, 2 mcg vitamin D, 196 mg calcium, 4 mg iron, 2047 mg potassium
Quinoa Orange Salad
Ingredients: 1 cup quinoa 2 15-ounce cans mandarin oranges, drained but reserving ¼ cup juice ¼ cup fresh mint, loosely chopped 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained thoroughly 1/3 cup chopped almonds or pistachios ¼ cup dried cranberries 4 cups kale or greens, chopped 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 clove) ¼ teaspoon black pepper 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Directions: Cook quinoa according to the package directions. Let it cool. Toss together the quinoa, oranges, mint, chickpeas, almonds or pistachios, dried cranberries and kale.
In a separate dish, combine the apple cider vinegar, minced garlic, black pepper, olive oil and the reserved orange juice. Pour dressing over the quinoa mixture. Toss lightly. Serve chilled.
Why you should try it: “It’s a vegan recipe that’s a nice way to go outside your comfort zone and experience some new grains (quinoa’s gluten-free, BTW). It provides 100% of your daily vitamin A and 100 percent of your daily vitamin C,” notes Taylor. “Since you serve it cold, it’s also great for a hot day. It’s fresh, savory and a little sweet. And it’s got eye appeal in case you’ve been tasked with bringing something to a BBQ or bridal shower.”
Time-saving tip: Don’t feel like chopping garlic? Pop open a jar of minced garlic instead.
Nutritional information (per serving): Makes 6 servings. Each serving = about 1.5 cups. 310 calories, 11 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 46 g total carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 11 g protein
Ingredients: 1 cup brown rice 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes 2 large carrots, sliced 1 teaspoon olive oil 1 onion, sliced 1 bell pepper, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes ½ can of light coconut milk (about 7 ounces) 1 cup unsalted vegetable broth 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice 1 teaspoon cumin ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper ½ teaspoon turmeric 2 teaspoon freshly minced ginger root 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed ½ cup unsalted peanuts
Directions: Cook brown rice according to the package’s directions. Steam sweet potatoes and carrots until fork tender. Set them aside. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add pepper and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add coconut milk, broth, salt and all the spices.
Add chickpeas, sweet potatoes and carrots to the onion mixture. Stir gently to combine. Reduce the heat to low-medium. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Once the sauce thickens (about 5 minutes), add peanuts. Serve over rice.
Why you should try it: “Full of vitamin K, vitamin C and flavor, this savory vegetarian recipe helps provide some variety to the ‘same-old, same-old’ dinner routine. Skipping the meat and switching to a low-fat coconut milk helps keep saturated fat low without sacrificing satiety,” notes Taylor. “These spices are a great way to play with food and avoid flavor fatigue.”
Time-saving tip: While the recipe calls for freshly minced ginger root, minced ginger in a tube can be just as flavorful and faster to prepare.
Nutritional information (per serving): Makes 6 servings. 360 calories, 11 g total fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 280 mg sodium, 57 g total carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 8 g sugars, 11 g protein
If I eat vegetarian meals, will I get enough protein?
“As long as you eat a variety of food groups, it won’t be a problem,” explains Taylor. “The vast majority of Americans get plenty of protein, even people who are vegetarians. There are so many great sources of plant-based proteins.”
Vegetarian sources of protein include:
Dairy products, such as cottage cheese and yogurt.