I always try to eat healthy. Do mind, the emphasis is on try. But it’s not that easy! So, if you’re like me and looking for inspiration while trying to give your body some healthy nourishment, here are a few ideas for an easy and healthy vegetarian dinner.
I’ve tried almost every diet out there (except for Paleo and Keto, those are just weird) and the one thing that I’ve noticed is that, even if you have the best intentions when starting a particular diet, it’s not always easy to stick to them. Let’s take the vegetarian diet for example. I’ve switched to the vegetarian diet after a week spent back home, eating meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner (any fellow Romanian can relate to that) because my body kindly informed me that it had reached its limit.
Since I had already tried the vegan diet and it hadn’t really worked out for me, I decided to go vegetarian for a bit; or, to be more precise, pescetarian. For those of you reading who don’t know what that means: it’s a vegetarian person who also eats fish. It seemed like a good compromise: I give up meat, I start eating healthy again and I get my omega-3 in.
Now here’s the issue I encountered with my idea: most of the vegetarian alternatives I would find around would include some form of lactose – milk, cheese, yogurt etc. For a person who is lactose-intolerant, that’s not ideal!
That’s when I decided that going back to cooking my own meals was the best solution. I could choose all the ingredients I liked, I knew exactly what went onto my plate and I could easily stay away from dairy products.
So here are a couple of easy and healthy vegetarian recipes:
Recipe 1: Couscous with Veggies
I just cooked this tonight. It’s my favourite vegetarian dish, especially when I run out of new ideas. 😛 You can add any vegetables you like and cook them as you please (just don’t fry them!). Make it to your taste and feel free to mix it up.
Here’s my version of it:
- I chop up the following veggies: aubergines, courgettes, carrots, cherry tomatoes, onions, kale and peppers. I put them in a baking tray, add some garlic cloves that I crush with a knife, some olive oil, salt, pepper and some Herbes de Provence. I mixed it all together and put it in the oven for about 40-45 minutes at 180 Celsius.
- In the meantime, I prepare the couscous: I boil some water or vegetable stock, I put the uncooked couscous in a large bowl, add the water or stock and leave it covered for a few minutes (or as instructed on the package).
- When they’re both ready, I mixed them together et voila: the couscous with veggies is ready to be enjoyed! Side note: I sometimes add some soy sauce or some cooked prawns, for that extra bit of flavour. Bon appettite!
Recipe 2: Pasta Bake
Another house favourite is the pasta bake. It’s easy to make and it’s always delicious. Just like with the couscous, you can add any veggie you like. I always try to mix it up, so it doesn’t get boring.
This is my version of it:
- Start up but chopping up an onion and a carrot. Heat up your pan, add some olive oil and the chopped up veggies. While those cook, start chopping the rest of the vegetable – I usually go for courgettes, aubergines and cherry tomatoes but you can use anything you want.
- Add the rest of the veggies to the pan, some salt and pepper, cover the pan and let them cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, cook the pasta by following the instructions on the package
- When the veggies are done, add the tomato sauce – I usually add about 2 bottles of passata (so about 1l in total). Let it cook for another 10 minutes, taste it to see if it needs more salt or pepper and then mixed it with the pasta that you will have drained once done.
- I sometimes add some olives cut in half, just because they go so well in a pasta bake but you don’t have to, if you don’t like them.
- Pour the pasta with the sauce in a deep baking tray, add some grated cheese on top (I usually go for the vegan one) and put it in a preheated oven at 180 Celsius for about 20 to 30 minutes (depending on how you like your cheese).
- Once done, take out and enjoy! 😉
Here are a few tips:
- Don’t overcook the pasta! Cook the pasta for 1-2 minutes less than indicated on the package, as it will further cook in the oven, if you don’t want it to be too mushy.
- Better too much tomato sauce (passata) than not enough. When in doubt, add another bottle of passata to your sauce: dry pasta, especially when oven-baked, is never nice.
- You can never go wrong with a bit of tuna. If you’re doing the pescetarian diet, not the vegetarian one, don’t be afraid to add some canned tuna to your sauce. It will add some extra flavour and give you some omega-3, which is always good. It’s also best to add while frying the onion and the carrot, just to make it more flavourful!
- If you want, you can grate some cheese and mixed it in the pasta, which always makes it nice and stringy.
The bottom line is: no matter what you invent or what type of recipe you look up online, if you like it, you will enjoy it. Don’t be afraid to be creative and to try new things. That’s how you discover a new favourite! If you want to include more vegetables to your diet, try out a few recipes and try to stear clear of meat and animal derivatives – you will love it!
I hope you enjoyed reading my post and if you have any questions or want to leave your own personal opinion on vegetarian meals, leave a comment below.