Rose Elliot,  How to plan great vegetarian meals

How to Plan Great Vegetarian / Vegan Meals

It’s easy to plan healthy and balanced vegetarian or vegan meals. If you combine the three essential food groups: protein, carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables, you will automatically create balanced and healthy meals.

Here’s how it works:

First choose your protein: beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, fake meat, soya or plant based milk products, cheese (vegetarian or vegan) (or eggs and cow’s milk if vegetarian).

Next, add some carbohydrate: grains (e.g. rice) bread, pasta or potatoes.

Then add some vegetables or fruit to make an appetising meal.

At its simplest, this could be baked beans (protein), toast (carb) and an apple or salad on the side (fruit and veg). As beans and lentils are half protein, half carb, and whole grains also contain useful amounts of protein, they can be counted in both categories, particularly if you boost the protein by adding a few nuts or seeds or a little milk, cheese or yogurt (dairy or soya) to the meal. For example you could choose a bowl of pasta and tomato sauce with a green salad on the side, followed by a yogurt, dairy or soya)  for a really healthy meal.

Of course some dishes, such as a good homemade pizza, contain all the food groups: cheese for protein, the base of the pizza for carbs and, for vegetables, the tomato and onion in the sauce, and vegetables in the topping. There are now wonderful vegan pizzas  -- try them or order them when eating out. By ticking each food group you know that you’re getting a balanced meal. Planning meals is fun when you build them up in this way.

Breakfasts

ProteinCarbohydrateFruit & Vegetables
Soya or dairy yogurtMuesli or cereal or wholewheat toastDried or fresh fruit or juice
Veggie cooked breakfast: meatless sausages, fried egg or tofu
Toast, fried bread or French toast; fried potatoes

Grilled tomatoes and mushrooms; fried onions
Soya or dairy milkMuesli or cerealFresh fruit or juice
Peanut or almond butterWholewheat toastBanana or fruit juice
Scrambled egg or scrambled tofuWholewheat or rye toast
Grilled tomatoes or fresh orange juice


Light Meals

ProteinCarbohydrateFruit & Vegetables
Hummus
Pitta bread
 Tomato, lettuce, grated carrot, olives 
Lentil soup
Garlic bread

Fresh fruit
Felafels and tahini dressing            Pitta or other Middle Eastern bread         Tomatoes, cucumber and onion
   Mushroom and almond pate      Crisp fingers of toast
Watercress
Veggie burgerBurger bunLettuce, tomato and onion


Main Meals

ProteinCarbohydrateFruit & Vegetables
Ginger- marinated tofu
Cooked noodles
Stir fried vegetables
Spicy lentil dahl
Brown basmati rice
Spiced spinach, fresh tomato, onion and coriander chutney
Red bean chilliBaked potato or couscousGreen salad or fruit salad for dessert
Lentil bolognaise sauce including tomato and onionSpaghetti
Vegetables included in sauce and maybe fruit fro dessert
Cheese or cooked Puy lentilsCouscous, or potatoes added to vegetablesRoasted vegetables (add the Puy lentils or cheese just before cooking the vegetables have finished cooking)

Homemade pizza topped with vegetarian or vegan cheeseThe pizza baseTomato sauce and vegetable topping pizza and perhaps a salad too
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Rose Elliot,  How to plan great vegetarian meals pomegranate salad
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