Whether you’re a vegetarian or just looking to eat less meat, eating meat-free meals can help to boost your weight loss.
That’s because plant-based foods, such as vegetables, beans, and whole grains, are full of fiber, meaning you’re satisfied with fewer calories.
1. Stir-Fry Vegetables
An easy recipe to get you started, this stir-fry is actually completely dairy-free and vegan, so it’s perfect for everyone!
And, since each serving only contains just over 100 calories, it’s also ideal for a light dinner while you’re starting to lose weight.
The secret to good stir-frying is to not put too much in the work, so if you’re cooking for four then don’t throw twice as much in the wok; cook it in two batches.
Here’s how to make this super easy vegetarian stir-fry:
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 red chili, thinly sliced
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup mangetout, shredded
½ cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
½ cup green cabbage, finely sliced
¼ cup water chestnuts, sliced
Splash of olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Mix the garlic, chili, spring, and red onions together. Then, separately mix all the other vegetables and water chestnuts together. Keep the two mixes apart.
- Heat your wok until it’s really hot. Add a splash of oil – it should start to smoke – then the chili and onion mix. Stir for two seconds, then add the other mix. Flip and toss the vegetables in the wok if you can; if you can’t, don’t worry; just keep the vegetables moving with a wooden spoon, turning them over every few seconds, so they all keep feeling the heat of the bottom of the wok. Season with salt and pepper.
- After a minute or two, the vegetables should have begun to soften. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil and stir for about 30 seconds, then it’s ready to serve. Sprinkle over some sesame seeds, and enjoy!
2. Bean Bolognese
Fiber-packed beans replace beef in this rich-tasting vegetarian take on the classic spaghetti Bolognese for the ideal winter warmer with a lot fewer calories and fat.
In fact, the dish has just a third of the fat of traditional Bolognese and 80% less saturated fat.
And, since it can be hard to get your protein quota on a vegetarian diet, you’ll be pleased to hear that each portion has a whopping 19g of protein!
Here’s how to make it:
Ingredients (serves 4)
14oz of mixed beans
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ cup chopped carrot
¼ cup chopped celery
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup white wine
14oz can of diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
8oz whole grain fettuccine/spaghetti
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Boil water for the pasta and mash half a cup of beans in a small bowl with a fork
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add the onion, carrot, celery, salt, and pepper, cover, and cook until softened (10 minutes), being sure to stir occasionally. Add the garlic and bay leaf, stir and cook until fragrant (15 seconds); add the wine and increase the heat to high to allow most of the liquid to evaporate (3-4 minutes). Add the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of parsley, and the mashed beans, simmer and cook, occasionally stirring until thickened (6 minutes). Add the remaining whole beans, occasionally stir until heated through (1-2 minutes)
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender and drain
- Divide the pasta between four bowls, discard the bay leaf and top the pasta with the sauce, then sprinkle the Parmesan and remaining parsley
3. Roasted Vegetables
This side dish is a perfect winter warmer and can easily be changed to use up whatever vegetables you have hanging around the kitchen to accompany whole grain pasta, couscous, or brown rice for a simple vegetarian meal.
Just be sure that the vegetables are all cut to around the same size for the best results.
With just 1g of saturated fat per serving, it’s a lot healthier than your usual meat and potato-loaded roast and still with 7g of protein per serving! Here’s how to make it:
Ingredients (Serves 8)
2 red peppers
1 red onion
1 butternut squash
6 baby leeks
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
Salt and pepper
1 small bunch of fresh rosemary
1 small bunch of fresh thyme
- Preheat the oven to the gas mark 6/400°F. Halve and de-seed the pepper, then cut each half into 4 pieces. Peel the red onion and cut it into 8 wedges. Carefully cut the squash in half, then scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut each half into 1” chunks. Wash and trim the baby leeks. Halve the zucchinis lengthways, then slice into 1” chunks. Top and tail the eggplant, cut it into quarters, then into 1” chunks. Quarter the tomatoes. Leave the garlic cloves in their skins but squash them with your hand.
- Put all the veg in an extra-large roasting tray or two smaller ones. Crush the coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar, then scatter over the veg with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pick and roughly chop the rosemary leaves, pick the thyme leaves and then scatter all of the herbs over the vegetables. Drizzle it all well with olive oil, then toss to coat with oil.
- Roast your veg in the hot oven for around 40-50 minutes, or until soft, golden, and cooked through.
4. Smoky Vegetarian Feijoda
In this version of the classic Brazilian dish, protein-packed black beans combine with veggies to give us a whopping 20g of fiber per serving, not to mention 20g of protein too, so even without meat, this should keep you full for hours afterward!
This recipe serves six, so freeze whatever leftovers you have for another night when there’s no time to cook. Here’s how to make it:
Ingredients (Serves 6)
½ butternut squash
1 heaped teaspoon of ground coriander
1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika
3 mixed-color peppers
2 red onions
4 cloves of garlic
4 fresh bay leaves
2 x 14oz tins of black beans
5oz brown rice
2 ripe tomatoes
½ fresh red chili
1 bunch of fresh cilantro (1oz)
2 tablespoons natural yogurt
- Preheat the oven to the gas mark 6/400°F. Halve and deseed the squash, then carefully chop into 1.5” chunks. In a large roasting tray, cover it with 1 teaspoon of oil, and rub in the ground coriander and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. De-seed the peppers and cut into 1.5” chunks, then, in a separate tray, toss and massage them with 1 teaspoon of oil and the smoked paprika. Place both trays in the oven for 35 minutes or until softened.
- Meanwhile, peel and finely chop ¼ of an onion and put it aside, then roughly chop the rest and place in a large casserole pan on low heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Crush in the garlic, add the bay leaves and a splash of tap water, and cook for 20 minutes, or until soft, stirring regularly. Rinse and drain the beans, then add them along with some more water. Simmer until the time is up on the squash and peppers, then stir both into the pan. Trim, finely slice, and add the okra, and simmer for a further 20 minutes, or until the feijoda is dark and delicious. If it starts to look too thick, add a little more water to the mix. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the packet instructions and drain.
3. For the accompanying salsa, de-seed and finely chop the tomatoes, then add as much chili as you like and most of the cilantro leaves. Scrape into a bowl with the finely chopped onion set aside from before and toss with the lime juice, then season. Serve the feijoda with rice and salsa, a spoonful of yogurt, and a sprinkling of the remaining cilantro leaves.
Who said you need meat to make a healthy, filling meal?
These winter warmers are perfect vegetarian recipes to try as the nights draw in, and they’ll help to boost your weight loss too!
Let us know your feedback on these recipes by commenting below!