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Delicious, Healthy Vegetarian Recipes for Weight Loss

Healthy Vegetarian Recipes for Weight Loss

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Looking to stay fit? What you put into your body is equally as important as how you take care of your body on the physical level. The good news: Tons of ingredients and food options can help you lose weight, increase metabolism, and stay satisfied throughout the day. And all of them can be meat-free. Curious about where to start? We'd suggest trying these healthy vegetarian recipes for weight loss—they're packed with some of the most beneficial ingredients out, and they're delicious. Just remember that portion control is key, because too much of a good thing is still too much! (Related: 50 Easy Mediterranean Diet Recipes and Meal Ideas)

Photo: Irina Meliukh / Shutterstock

Peanut Butter Noodles

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Peanut butter is high in healthy monounsaturated fats, making it a solid part of any weight-loss recipe. Ginger may be able to reduce feelings of hunger and rev up metabolism, too.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon agave or sweetener of choice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha (or other red chili sauce)
  • 4 oz soba noodles
  • 3/4 cup julienned cucumber
  • 1 scallion, diced
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, for garnish (optional)
  • 1/2 scallion, diced, for garnish (optional)

Directions
Combine first nine ingredients (peanut butter through sriracha) to form a sauce, mixing well until thoroughly blended and smooth. Cook soba noodles according to package directions and cover in cold water as soon as removed from heat. Once cool (about 20 to 30 seconds), drain noodles, and toss with sauce, scallions, and cucumber. Top with peanuts and additional scallions, if desired.

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Apple-Cinnamon Oats

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Research finds that cinnamon can keep blood sugar steady—something that's key for healthy weight loss. It may prevent that typical post-meal sugar spike and subsequent crash that can lead to cravings. As for almonds? They have healthy, filling, good-for-you fat that, in moderation, helps keep any of your health goals on track.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 apple, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for baking apples
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 dash salt (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place apple on a baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon as desired. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes until soft. Meanwhile, in a small pot, bring almond milk to a boil. Stir in oats, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt, lowering heat to medium-low. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cut apple into bite-size pieces. Once oats have reached desired consistency, stir in baked apples, almonds, and maple syrup.

Photo: Julia Ardaran / Shutterstock

Moroccan Quinoa

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High-protein quinoa (the 1/4 cup in a serving of this dinner packs 6 grams) keeps you satisfied for hours. Chickpeas work to keep you full, too. Some research finds that plant-based protein sources (like beans and peas) are more filling than their meaty counterparts.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Directions
Pour about 1/2 inch vegetable broth into a pot and continue adding broth as needed while cooking vegetables. Add onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and sweet potato and sauté for another 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in quinoa and stir to lightly toast. Add remaining vegetable broth, dried cranberries, and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes until potatoes are tender and all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in almonds, salt, pepper, and parsley.

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Garlic Asparagus and Pasta with Lemon Cream

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On top of being part of a healthy vegetarian recipe for weight loss, squash in this dish has anti-cancer effects. That's a good reason to enjoy it any day.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz dried mafalda or rotini pasta
  • 2 cups asparagus spears cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 8 baby sunburst squash and/or pattypan squash, halved (4 oz)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel

Directions
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Return pasta to saucepan. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook asparagus, squash, and garlic in hot margarine for 2 to 3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to pasta. Combine whipping cream and lemon peel in skillet. Bring to boiling. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup. To serve, pour cream mixture over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat.

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Soufflé Omelet with Zucchini, Artichoke, and Cheddar

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Eggs, vegetables, and cheese all contain filling protein to keep energy levels high and cravings at bay. This healthy vegetarian recipe for weight loss clocks in with 30 grams of protein, too. (More: 10 High-Protein Breakfast Ideas That Aren't Eggs)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 12 large egg whites
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

Directions
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, artichoke, and tomato. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Set aside. Beat egg whites with a hand mixer until they form soft peaks. Add whole eggs, salt, and pepper; stir. Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add the egg mixture. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom. Using a spatula, slide omelet onto a plate. Return to pan with cooked side facing up; cook 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Place vegetable mixture and cheese on half the egg and fold it over to enclose the filling. Press down lightly with spatula until it holds the shape and the cheese melts.

Photo: Elena Shashkina / Shutterstock

Farfalle with Watercress, Cherry Tomatoes, and Feta

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Watercress doesn't get enough credit considering its many health benefits (plus, did you know you can grill it?). This green vegetable is rich in phytochemicals that can fight cancer and heart disease.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz farfalle pasta
  • 1 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cups watercress leaves (from 2 small bunches)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions
Cook pasta according to package directions. Place cheese in a large bowl; top with watercress. Before draining pasta, take 1/4 cup cooking water from pot and pour over watercress. (Watercress will wilt slightly and cheese will get soft.) Place tomatoes in a colander. Drain pasta over tomatoes for a super-quick blanch. Toss with watercress and cheese; sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Photo: VeronikaSmirnaya / Shutterstock

Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion, and Spinach Quesadilla

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This healthy vegetarian recipe has spinach, which is rich in energy-boosting iron, and tomatoes, with the antioxidant lycopene to help ward off cancer and heart disease. (P.S. What Are These Phytonutrients Everyone Keeps Talking About?)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 oz baby spinach
  • 4 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortillas
  • 4 ounces semisoft goat cheese
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

Directions

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, sugar, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally until onion is dark golden brown. Remove from pan. Add spinach and 1 tablespoon water to the skillet; cook 2 minutes, or until spinach is just wilted. Remove from skillet and turn off heat. Spread a quarter of the goat cheese on each tortilla and top with spinach, tomato, and onion; fold closed and press lightly. Heat skillet and place two folded quesadillas in it; cook two minutes per side, or until golden brown and lightly crisp. Repeat.

Photo: Artit Wongpradu / Shutterstock

Tofu with Black Beans and Garlic

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Black beans and tofu make a great lean protein source for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. (Related: 10 Creative and Delicious Tofu Dessert Recipes)

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 14-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/3 cup sliced extra-firm tofu
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • Cooked brown rice

Directions
Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add beans and garlic; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add tofu and ginger; cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Stir in hoisin sauce. Serve over cooked brown rice.

Photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock

Indian-Spiced Squash

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Craving curry? This flavorful dish is rich in vitamins A and C. Season it with a variety of deep-flavored spices so no two bites are the same. (Related: Surprisingly Easy Vegan Curry Recipes That Anyone Can Master)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup shelled raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 14.5-oz can vegetable broth
  • 4 cups hot cooked brown rice
  • Toppings such as sliced bananas, pineapple chunks, sliced green onions, and/or chutney (optional)

Directions
In a large skillet toast pumpkin seeds over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet; set aside. In same skillet, cook and stir ginger in hot oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high; add squash and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until squash starts to brown. Add cranberries, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and curry powder; cook for 1 minute more. Carefully, add broth to squash mixture. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and cook, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until squash is tender, but not mushy. To serve, spoon over rice and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. If desired, pass condiments.

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Lentil Bolognese

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The lentils alone provide about 11 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber per serving of this healthy vegetarian recipe for weight loss, meaning you *might* be too full to even think about dessert. (Related: Healthy, High-Fiber Lentil Recipes That Won't Weigh You Down)

Ingredients

  • 7 oz pasta
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cups chopped carrot
  • 12-oz can no-salt-added crushed organic tomatoes
  • 14-oz can organic lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 8 basil leaves, torn
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, place 1/4 cup vegetable broth in a pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and carrot and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly and adding vegetable broth as needed so that nothing sticks or burns. Add tomatoes and mix well. Place mixture in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Place lentils in the pot used for veggies, add remaining vegetable broth, and stir. Add blended sauce and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Add basil and nutritional yeast, mix, and add to pasta. Mix and season with salt and pepper.

Photo: William Berry / Shutterstock

Spaghetti Squash with Balsamic Beans

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When cooked, the flesh of the spaghetti squash separates to look just like the popular pasta, and it's much healthier. Squash is rich in carotenes which act as antioxidants. The beans provide a good source of protein and fiber, making this dish a complete weight-loss meal. (Related: Are Those Bean and Vegetable Pastas Actually Better for You?)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (2-1/2 to 3 pounds), halved and seeded
  • 10-oz package frozen baby lima beans
  • 15-oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup (1/2 7-oz jar) roasted red sweet peppers, rinsed, drained, and cut into short strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions
Place squash halves in a large Dutch oven with about 1 inch of water. Bring to boiling. Cook, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, in a saucepan cook lima beans according to package directions, adding kidney beans during the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain and return to pan. Stir in roasted red peppers and salt; heat through. Meanwhile, for vinaigrette, in a screw-top jar combine vinegar, oil, honey mustard, and garlic. Cover and shake well. Pour over warm bean mixture; toss to coat. Use a fork to scrape the squash pulp from the shells in strands; return strands to each shell. Spoon warm bean mixture atop squash strands in shells, drizzling any excess vinaigrette on top. If desired, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. 

Photo: AnastasiaKopa / Shutterstock

Slow Cooker Hearty Vegetable Chili

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Healthy vegetarian recipes for weight loss aren't always easy to come by. But this one fits the bill. Jalapeños contain capsaicin, which may boost metabolism and decrease appetite, while beans provide resistant starch, a type of fiber that appears to increase short-term satiety. (Related: These Benefits of Fiber Make It the Most Important Nutrient In Your Diet)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups zucchini (green and golden)
  • 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14-oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Photo: Ildi Papp / Shutterstock

Marinated Lentil Garden Salad Pita

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This pita is packed with protein, folic acid, and fiber. All you need to do is rinse and drain the lentils from a can.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup canned lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons light Italian salad dressing
  • 1 whole-wheat pita pocket (6 1/2 inch), cut in half  

Directions
Combine lentils, carrots, celery, and pepper with salad dressing. Fill pita with mixture.

Photo: Anna_Pustynnikova / Shutterstock

Mushroom and Asparagus Fettuccine

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As far as healthy vegetarian recipes for weight loss go, the ingredients in this pasta dish stand out big time: Shiitake mushrooms have antiviral effects and the folate in asparagus fights heart disease.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz dried fettuccine or linguine
  • 8 oz asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups sliced fresh shiitake or crimini mushrooms
  • 1 medium leek, thinly sliced, or 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup mushroom broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half or light cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Finely shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions
Cook pasta according to package directions, adding asparagus the last 1 to 2 minutes of cooking; drain. Return pasta mixture to saucepan; cover and keep warm. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook mushrooms, leek, and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until most liquid is evaporated. Stir in broth, half-and-half, salt, and black pepper. Bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened. Stir in tomatoes, basil, and oregano; heat through. Spoon the mushroom mixture over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat. Divide among 4 bowls or dinner plates. Sprinkle with pine nuts and, if desired, Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Photo: DarZel / Shutterstock

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