Looking to cut down on your meat consumption as a family? Getting sick of the same old meat and three veg scenario or perhaps you are concerned about the environmental impacts of meat overconsumption? Whatever your reasons, implementing a Meat Free Dinner once a week is a great choice for your health, our animal friends and the planet overall. Not sure where to start? Keep reading as I share five healthy vegetarian meals below.

Green Goodness Soup
Serves 4

This soup is high on rotation for my family as it is quick, easy, healthy and you can throw in so many of the leftover veggies from your fridge and it will still taste delicious. If you don’t have all of the ingredients on hand you can make it without potatoes and fennel and it will still have a lovely flavour but will be a bit thinner. I like to serve this soup with a good quality sourdough bread toasted with smashed avocado and sprinkled with sesame seeds, hemp seeds and drizzled with olive oil. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 Leeks sliced
  • 3 Zucchini, diced
  • 1/4 of a bulb of Fennel, diced (optional)
  • 2-3 potatoes peeled and diced
  • 1/2 a cup of frozen peas
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced or finely sliced
  • 1.3 litres of vegetable stock or enough to sufficiently cover veggies
  • Fresh herbs to garnish optional
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • salt & pepper 
  • 1 bay leaf

Method:

  1. Warm olive oil in a medium saucepan & saute the leek and garlic for a couple of minutes. 
  2. Add the zucchini and fennel and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Add the peas, potatoes, stock and bay leaf & bring to the boil
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and season with salt and pepper, nutmeg and thyme.
  5. Let it simmer for around 30 minutes or until it is fragrant and vegetables are soft
  6. Remove bay leaf and blend until smooth and serve with fresh herbs of your choice.

Veggie loaded Napoletana Pasta 

Pasta is an easy meal choice when you are feeding a crowd and or you have fussy kids to feed. Opt for organic wholegrain pasta or even give some pulse pasta a try (San Remo have a great range!) for increased fibre to feed your gut bugs! This veggie loaded napoletana sauce tastes so much better than store bought and also packs a punch nutritionally with its high veggie content. Serve it with pasta, rice or even grains such as millet, quinoa buckwheat, amaranth or polenta. 

Ingredients:

  • 800 grams- 1kg sauce tomatoes, core removed and roughly chopped
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1 zucchini roughly chopped
  • 1 large capsicum deseeded and chopped in squares 
  • 400-500 grams of button mushrooms
  • 1 onion roughly diced
  • ½ to ¾ of a cup of torn fresh basil
  • 2 sprigs of fresh oregano 
  • salt & pepper to taste 
  • ½ a cup of an alcoholic or non alcoholic dry red wine 
  • 400 grams of tomato passata (I use an organic one)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius 
2. Roughly chop up all vegetables
3. Line a few baking trays with baking paper and place vegetables on them, drizzling them with olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper then use your hands to make sure everything is coated then add some sprigs of oregano to the tray
4. Roast in the oven until vegetables are soft and starting to char (I leave them in for around 1 hour, checking them every so often and rotating when needed)
5. Remove the vegetables from the oven and place in a big saucepan & blitz with a stick blender (or alternatively put them in a blender and pour into a saucepan after blitzed). Add in red wine, passata and fresh basil
6. Heat on a low heat over the stove & mix it together with a wooden spoon
7. Taste & season to your liking 

Note: This recipe is enough to feed my family with 3 adults and a hungry toddler for 2 nights and with leftovers after that. Either serve warm and use straight away or cool it, place in an airtight container & refrigerate for up to 4 days. 

Spinach & Ricotta Spanakopita 

This spinach & ricotta spanakopita is one I find myself turning to a lot during the warmer weather as it pairs nicely with a fresh garden salad. I have a toddler who is not into eating salad at the moment as she doesn’t like the texture of lettuce or herbs so whilst I am chopping up the veggies for the salad I cut her up some bigger chunks of cucumber, tomato, capsicum and fennel and serve them platter style next to her spanakopita. If your kids aren’t big on the fresh veggies try giving them a little dip bowl to accompany them with hummus, tzaziki or tahini yoghurt.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of fresh English spinach, washed and diced 
  • 2 leeks washed and diced (use white part only)
  • 150g ricotta
  • 100g fetta 
  • 1 large bunch of herbs of your choice (I like parsley but you could also include dill too)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • filo pastry packet (you will find these in the refrigerator section)
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • sesame seeds for dusting on top (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Add a dash of olive oil to a large pan and saute the leek until it softens then throw in the spinach and cook for another 3-5 minutes
  3. Drain any excess liquid from the green mixture. I press the mixture into a clean tea towel and ring out the excess water so it doesn’t make the pie soggy. Once drained add fresh herbs, ricotta, spinach, egg, nutmeg, lemon juice and salt and pepper to green mixture and mix well until all even. 
  4. Get your baking dish ready, I use a square tin or a big ceramic dish. Put a little bit of olive oil in a small bowl nearby and oil the bottom of the dish (I use a pastry brush for ease but you can use your fingers). Then layer 2 sheets of filo vertically letting it hang over the edge by around 5 cm. Then spread some olive oil & place another 2 sheets of filo horizontally leaving a 5 cm edge. Repeat another 3 times each way, lightly spreading some olive oil every second filo sheet. Once done place your green mixture into the middle, fold over the sides which have been overhanging and brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds
  5. Baker for around 40 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Vegetarian Fried Rice

This vegetarian fried rice is a quick and easy mid week meal option or even a good healthy substitute for your Friday night take away. It is also a low mess meal as it only uses one pan so you wont be stuck doing the dishes for hours after. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 brown onion diced 
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed 
  • 1 diced zucchini
  • 2 diced peeled carrots 
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 cup of broccoli florets
  • 1 red capsicum deseeded and diced
  • 1 cup of brown basmati rice (or rice of your choice)
  • 1/2 a cup of frozen corn kernels 
  • ½ a cup of frozen peas
  • 2.5 tbsp coconut amino seasoning or tamari or soy sauce 
  • 1.5-2.5 tbsp kecap manis depending on taste as it is quite sweet
  • sesame seeds to serve 
  • ½ a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil 
  • 1 small can of edamame beans (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter 

Method:

  1. Cook rice according to the packet instructions and set aside (it tastes nicer using cold rice)
  2. Heat a wok or large skillet pan to a medium to high heat and add ½ a tablespoon of butter until melted. Then add egg and cook until scrambled, stirring occasionally then transfer to a separate plate on the side 
  3. Add in the remainder of butter and once melted add onion, garlic, capsicum, carrots and saute until the onions and carrot are soft. Add in the remainder of the vegetables (except the edamame beans) and cook for 5-6 minutes until cooked to your liking. (If the veggies start to stick add a little more butter or use olive oil)
  4. Add in the cooled rice, edamame beans and eggs and mix them through the vegetables. Once mixed add the coconut aminos and kecap manis and stir in well (adding more if you need based on your taste preferences)
  5. Remove from the heat and mix through the sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds 
  6. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. 

Note: If you want to add a bit of spice, drizzle sriracha sauce over your rice. 

Nacho Beans
Serves 4

This is a quick, delicious and healthy version of your classic heavy style nachos. This recipe is packed with vegetables and is really adaptable to your individual taste preferences. The sauce is also great to make in larger quantities if you are wanting to cook in bulk and serve over a couple of days with alternative grain options.

Ingredients:

1 zucchini grated
1 carrot grated 
250g of diced mushrooms
1 small onion diced
½ a capsicum diced small
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 cans of diced tomatoes or 800 grams of fresh tomatoes diced
1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste 
2 cobs of corn with corn kernels removed or 1 can of corn
1 can of black beans or equivalent dried and cooked
Grated cheddar cheese
Half an iceberg lettuce chopped into thin strips 
Greek yoghurt
2 avocados diced (we aim for ¼ per person)
Macro organic corn chips plain
Extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle of cumin 
Sprinkle of paprika 
Coriander, chilli sauce, fresh lime & jalapenos optional

Method:

  1. Chop up vegetables accordingly
  2. In a medium sized pan heat up a teaspoon of oil & add onion and garlic to the pan (cook until transparent) then and add cumin and paprika and cook until aromatic 
  3. Add in capsicum and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes
  4. Add in diced tomatoes and tomato paste along with zucchini, carrot, corn and beans then season with salt and pepper
  5. Reduce heat to low and cook for around 10 minutes 
  6. Whilst the beans cook, turn on the grill, dice the avocado, chop the lettuce and arrange a handful of corn chips on a ceramic plate
  7. Sprinkle some grated cheese onto the corn chips and place the plate under the grill for a couple of minutes
  8. Remove the plate from the grill once the cheese has melted and top with bean mixture
  9. Top the beans with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, diced avocado, lettuce and some extra cheese.
  10. For adults that like a bit more kick add a handful of jalapenos, freshly chopped coriander, a squeeze of lime and a dash of chilli sauce 

Note: For an alternative meal serve the beans with rice, quinoa or pasta.

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