Following a vegetarian eating pattern includes more than just salads. A healthy vegetarian diet includes a wide variety of foods from all the food groups. Be creative in planning menus, including foods you love as well as new foods. Similar ingredients can be combined with different herbs, spices, sauces and cooking techniques to create a variety of flavors and dishes to give your menu a quick refresh.
Here are some healthful, vegetarian meal ideas to get you started.
- Instant oatmeal made with low-fat or fat-free milk or soymilk, with nuts and chopped banana
- Beans and brown rice, tomato, cooked plantain and an egg cooked your way
- Low-fat yogurt or soy yogurt layered with crunchy cereal and berries for a breakfast parfait
- Vegetable upma, a hot breakfast made from a creamy porridge and vegetables including onions, carrots and green beans and spiced with ginger, curry leaves, mustard seeds and cumin
- Grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, herbs and diced tomato
- Vegetable sandwich: Sliced tomato, pepper, onion, avocado and hummus stuffed between slices of whole-grain bread or on a wrap
- Chili made with beans and textured vegetable protein, served with cornbread
- Vegetable burger with sauteed mushrooms and tomato on a whole-grain bun
- Chana masala, a chickpea curry in tomato gravy, with naan bread and vegetable raita
- Vermicelli noodles with tofu, stir fried bean sprouts, napa cabbage and carrot and side of fresh fruit
- Whole-grain pasta with tomato sauce and sauteed or roasted vegetables such as mushrooms, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and onions
- Tacos or burritos filled with your favorite combination of beans or lentils, cheese and vegetables
- Tabbouleh and lentil soup, with pomegranate and low-fat yogurt
- Nuts and dried fruit
- Dates and tahini
- Fresh fruit with cheese, yogurt or nut butter
- Hummus and pita wedges
- Cucumber slices with chile powder and lime
- Dried seaweed
- Cheese and whole-grain crackers
- Wasabi peas
- Plantain or banana chips
- Fruit smoothie
- Spring rolls filled with fresh vegetables
Many recipes that are written to include animal-based ingredients can be made vegetarian-friendly with a few easy swaps. For example, using vegetable broth in place of chicken broth, and leaving out the meat when it acts as a garnish or topping, and replacing it with beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh or textured protein in a variety of other recipes.
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