Quite a number of my friends and family aren’t vegetarian. They often ask me things like, “So, what do you eat for protein then?”
I remember my mom getting so frustrated with me when I went through a short vegetarian phase in my early teens. She still asks me today if I’m getting enough vitamins, iron, protein, etc.
I’ll admit, up until about two years ago, I thought tofu was all there was to vegetarian eating…
I guess that’s the beauty about writing health articles though. I get to find out all these interesting tips and ideas for cooking online whenever I write about weight loss, fitness, or healthy eating.
Geoff was sick last week so I’ve been cooking for 3 weeks in a row (we usually alternate every week). And weirdly enough, I’m not complaining! I decided to try and change my mindset a little – haul out some cookbooks and go browsing online and try and find low-budget, quick, and interesting vegetarian meal ideas. Planning ahead of time was key, and it made a HUGE difference.
Last night was pea soup night, without the ham – obviously. I browsed a few recipes over lunch, which were anything but exciting. I was feeling creative so I added in some fresh mint (generally works well with peas, so why not?). I also grated in some lemon zest and squeezed in some juice, and you know – it was pretty darn good!
For me, cooking and eating vegetarian food HAS to be fun and exciting.
If it looks or sounds bland or boring, I’m not going to want to eat it.
If you’d like to try cooking vegetarian a few nights a week but need a bit of inspiration, here are a few of our favourite (or newly favourite) go-to supper ideas….
Vegetarian Meal Ideas
- Roast butternut and beetroot, served with feta. (This is filling enough, but you can always add pasta).
- Soups: Pea and mint, beetroot and apple, butternut cream, minestrone, spicy lentil, Caribbean (sweet potato with pineapple and coconut milk).
- Stuffed peppers with “dirty” rice and cheese.
- Portobello mushrooms baked with chutney and cheese.
- Thai veggie stir-fry with coconut milk and poppadoms and/or rice.
- Potato bake
- Homemade nachos
- Macaroni cheese with chillies
- Baked potatoes piled with cottage cheese and veggies.
- Homemade pizza (my favourite is with goat’s cheese, rocket and fresh figs – but that’s only once in a while, not exactly low-budget, but SO good!)
In our kitchen, we always have these handy. It’s amazing what a difference a few key ingredients and flavourings make to dishes.
- Garlic and ginger
- Coconut milk
- Olive oil
- Lemons and/or oranges
- Herbs like parsley, thyme, and sweet basil
- Peppadew spice (gives it a great zing)
- A bottle of jalapeno chillies and/or peppadews
- Cinnamon and nutmeg
Protein for Vegetarians
As far as protein goes, there are SO many options. I think as more people decide to be healthier and try vegetarian meals, there’s been an increase in what’s available out there today – than compared to say 20 years ago.
Lentils, chickpeas, beans (kidney, black, cannellini, etc.), dark leafy green veggies like kale and spinach, tofu, soy. There really is so much.
I stopped eating meat a year and a half ago, and cut out fish and chicken in February this year. I have to be honest, I don’t miss any of it – most of the time. Sometimes I’ll miss having bacon with eggs, or or a piece of biltong (who doesn’t?), but it doesn’t last long. I have so much more energy and feel better with what I’m eating today.
And it’s not expensive either. If I think of all the processed and pre-packaged food we no longer buy, it really makes a world of difference.
Tell me about some of your favourite vegetarian meals that you’ve recently tried and loved!