Most vegetarian ingredients remain low in fat and high in fiber, but most ingredients are deficient in some nutrients such as calcium, protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12.
Key ingredients for quick easy hearty vegetarian meals are fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, legumes such as lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, garbanzo and diary products. A common factor underlying these key ingredients are that they are low in fat and high in fiber and most of the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Another excellent ingredient is soy products. Soy is rich in protein and fiber, low in fat and free of cholesterol. Most soy products also come fortified with calcium, iron and vitamin B12. Soy products also add texture and variety to foods. Adding pre-packed soy extenders to basic foods such as pasta or rice is a very quick way of making a nutritious vegan meal.
Another tasty ingredient to make easy vegan meals is beans, especially dried beans, which provide good sources of iron and calcium.
Whole grains such as rye, whole wheat bread, cereals, brown rice and pasta constitute the core base of easy to prepare vegan meals.
Adding beans, legumes, lentils and seeds to soups, rice dishes, pasta sauce and dips, or using these ingredients as sandwich fillers make simple albeit healthy vegan meal.
Low-fat or non-fat versions of diary products are good add-ons. A cup of plain skim milk yogurt for instance, provides 137 calories, 18.8 grams of carbs and 14 grams of protein.
Some Meal Options
The options for quick easy hearty vegetarian meals are many.
One easy vegan meal is spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts and fat free vinaigrette. A cup of spinach salad provides 107 calories, 4.81 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbs including 1.57 grams of dietary fiber and about 5 grams of protein. Make sure that the sodium levels remain within manageable limits.
A quick vegan breakfast or mini meal option is peanut butter or jelly sandwich, with whole-wheat toast, a small banana and a cup of skim milk or soymilk. The sandwich provides 343 calories, 46.4 grams of carbs and 9.8 grams of protein. The small banana provides about 90 calories, 2.6 grams of dietary fiber and 1.1 grams of protein. The cup of soymilk provides 132 calories, 15.4 grams of carbs including 1.5 grams of dietary fiber and 8 grams of protein.
Ready-to-eat whole grain breakfast cereal such as oatmeal is another quick vegan meal option. A serving of oatmeal provides 112 calories, about 20 grams of carbs including 1.7 grams of dietary fiber, and 3.4 grams of protein.
A soy burger with tomato and lettuce provides about 110 calories, 12 grams of carbs including 5 grams of dietary fiber and 15 grams of protein.
A good lunch option is a combination of a 3x3 piece of vegetable lasagna, half-cup of marinated bean salad with kidney beans, chickpeas, garbanzo and green beans with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper as ingredients, half-cup of stewed tomatoes and okra. A typical serving of vegetable lasagna provides 309 calories, 13 grams of fat, 32 grams of carbs and 16 grams of protein. Marinated mixed bean salad provides about 90 calories, 19 grams of carbs including 6 grams of dietary fiber and 4 grams of protein.
Another good vegan meal option is a slice of bread with half-cup of steamed broccoli or carrots and half-cup of fresh fruit salad. The serving of steamed broccoli and carrots provides 79 calories, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of carbs. The half cup of fresh fruit salad provides 70 calories and 5 grams of protein. A slice of commercially prepared whole wheat bread provides 69 calories, 11.6 grams of carbs including 1.9 grams of dietary fiber and 3.6 grams of protein.
Fries also make a quick easy hearty vegetarian meal option, but remain unhealthy owing to high calories and fat.
Good vegetarian meals provide the best of both worlds: ease of preparation and multifold health benefits including weight loss.
- “The Vegetarian Diet.” Retrieved from https://medicalcenter.osu.edu/PatientEd/Materials/PDFDocs/nut-diet/nut-other/vegetar.pdf on April 17, 2011.
- Brown University Health Education. “Being a Vegetarian.” Retrieved from https://brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/nutrition_&_eating_concerns/being_a_vegetarian.php on April 17, 2011.
Image Credit: geograph.org.uk/Pam Brophy