Last week I showed you some easy and creative ways to include more vegetables into your morning meal. Today we’re looking at lunch and dinner.
Gone are the days where a main course is the traditional meat, starch and a few small vegetables on the side. International cuisine is continually influencing the modern Western diet, and with this comes a range of new ways to prepare and enjoy food. I’ve compiled here some great ways to include more vegetables into both more traditional meals, as well as some of your favorite cuisines. As always, feel free to add any of your own tips into the comment section below.
Meat and 3 veg
Like to eat your meat and three veg? Try to cut back the serving size on the meat and starchy vegetables (potato, pumpkin) and add a fourth veggie in. Or, instead of serving with mashed potato, serve with pureed cauliflower instead. Even better, try using vegetable steaks, such as cauliflower or broccoli, and get a little adventurous with how they are prepared – use them in place of meat in casseroles and bakes.
Cauliflower steaks with charred red pepper and lentils (pictured) (vg, gf, df) – Coffee & Quinoa
Grilled ginger-soy broccoli steaks (vg, p, gf, df)- Rachel Ray
Savoury mushroom and herb gravy with cauliflower potato mash (pictured) (vg, p, gf, df) – Nutrition Stripped
Smothered cauliflower with eggs (df) – Heidi Swanson
Who doesn’t love Mexican!? Traditionally, Westernised Mexican food can be quite heavy and often unhealthy with lots of cheese, processed wheat and corn flour and little fresh veggies. Try to incorporate some of these suggestions next time you crave some nachos
- Shred some vegetables such as squash or zucchini to make a vegetarian “pulled” taco
- Use sliced and roastsed vegetables such as beets instead of processed corn chips
- Blend roasted or steamed cauliflower, zucchini or eggplant to make a vegan creamy, cheesey sauce or dip
- Add vegetables either in leui of wheat/corn, or alongside, to create your own DIY wraps for tacos and burritos (see further inspiration for this in the “wraps” section below)
Pulled butternut squash tacos (pictured) (vg, df) – Vegan Richa
Beet nachos (vg, gf, df) – Whole Nourishment
1 pan vegan enchilda bake with cauliflower nacho sauce (vg, gf, df) – Edible Perspective
Cashew-less vegan queso (pictured) (vg, p, gf, df) – The Minimalist Baker
Spring vegetable tacos with cauliflower tortillas (gf, df)- Roost
Pizza and Pasta
Whilst a traditional cheesy pizza on a fluffy wheat dough is a great treat once in a while, if you’re eating pizza more regularly, try to incorporate more vegetables not only into the toppings, but also into the crust.
Green and Groovy Pizza with a Dairy-free Broccoli Crust (pictured) (gf) – A Tasty Love Story
Green Pizza with a Cauliflower Base (p, gf) – Green Kitchen Stories
Zucchini crust vegetarian pizza (p, gf) – Kayln’s Kitchen
Cauliflower + brussels sprout crust pizza (pictured) (vg, gf, df)- Whats Cooking Good Looking
As with pizza bases, pasta can also be reworked using vegetables instead. Spiralised vegetables make a great, lighter variation on traditional wheat pasta. Thinly sliced vegetables can also be used instead of pasta sheets in lasagna, or puree vegetables – particularly cauliflower or roast eggplant – to use in a cheesy bechamel sauce (use nutritional yeast for a vegan version)
Grain-free lasagna (vg, p, gf, df) – Against All Grain
Zucchini pasta with avocado pesto (vg, p, gf, df) – My Wholefood Life
Raw cashew & avo zuchetti (vg, p, gf, df) – Natural Nutritionist
Lentil marinara sauce with spaghetti squash (pictured) (vg, gf, df) – The Honour System
Zucchini pasta with two tomato sauce (vg, p, gf, df) – to her core
Mushroom canelloni with cauliflower bechamel sauce (pictured) (vg, df) – Veggie Num Num
Asian cuisine often includes a lot of fresh vegetables – think stir-fries and vegetable curries. Its easy to be creative to include even more vegetables in your Asian dishes – vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli can be used to make “rice”, or spiralise vegetables to use in noodle dishes. Sushi can be made using vegetable rice – or omit completely and use a vegetable dip instead.
Cauliflower rice sushi (vg, p, gf, df) – The Foodie Teen
Raw pad thai (vg, p, gf, df) – My New Roots
Thai peanut spaghetti squash (pictured) (vg, gf, df) – The Naked Fig
Raw carrot pasta with ginger-lime peanut sauce (pictured) (vg, gf, df) – The Roasted Root
Grain free sushi bowl (pictured) (vg, gf, df) – to her core
Cauliflower fried rice (p, gf) – Not Quite Nigella
Broccoli fried rice (vg, p, gf, df) – The Holistic Ingredient
Burgers and fries
Burgers are often served in white bread rolls alongside one of my biggest weaknesses – crunchy potato fries. Traditionally, a burger and fries isn’t the healthiest of meal choices, however there are a lot of things that you can do to make this dish a little lighter, and a lot of options for increasing your vegetable intake here.
- Add vegetables to your homemade burger mix – grated, shredded, finely chopped or pureed vegetables make great additions, or mix through leftover steamed/roasted veggies
- Omit the bread bun for a veggie one instead – use mushrooms, tomatoes, or a collard or romaine lettuce leaf
- Use leftover vegetable juice pulp as the base for your burger mix
- Or use the burger itself as the bun, by cutting it in half and adding the salad ingredients to the middle, a la 101 cookbooks
The ultimate veggie burger (df) – 101 Cookbooks
Portabella and halloumi “burgers” (pictured) (gf) – Food For My Family
Chickpea veggie burger – Honey and Figs
Beet this burger (p, gf, df) – The Detoxinista
Tomato avocado burgers (pictured) (gf) – The Iron You
And to serve along side the burger, why not branch out with your fries and use something other than potato for a change? These recipes all use herbs and spices which is a great healthy way to add extra flavour to the fries.
Celeriac Fries (vg, p, gf, df) – Deliciously Ella
Sweet potato fries (p, gf, df) – Naturally Ella
Green bean fries (pictured) (gf) – Dashing Dish
Paprika Parsnip Fries (vg, p, gf, df) – A House in the Hills
Broccoli stem fries (pictured) (vg, df) – Whats Cooking Good Looking
Sandwiches and wraps
Sandwiches and wraps are perhaps an obvious way to get a few veggies in, as you can pile high the veggie fillings until your heart’s content. But think beyond this too using these handy tips –
- Use lettuce, collards or other leafy greens in lieu of bread
- Try nori wraps – similar to sushi but with a veggie dip instead of the rice
- Try making your own wrap or bread using vegetables as the star ingredients
Raw pumpkin onion wraps (pictured) (vg, p, gf, df) – Ascension Kitchen
Collard wraps with carrot hummus (vg, df) – Love & Lemons
Grain-free nori rolls (pictured) (vg, gf, df) – to her core
Peanut sauce tempeh lettuce wraps (vg, gf, df) – Making Thyme for Health
Green and grain free vegetable flatbreads (pictured) (gf) – A Tasty Love Story
Paleo savoury bread loaf (p, gf, df) – Merry Maker Sisters
One-bowl veggie meals
This may not technically be a “type” of meal, or a cuisine, but one of the easiest and quickest way to include a lot of veggies it to pile whatever you have on hand into a bowl and top with delicious toppings
The base can consist of salad greens, leftover cooked grains, leftover roasted or steamed vegetables, marinated vegetables, hardboiled eggs, fresh vegetables, meats, beans, and tofu/tempeh.
Then top with seeds, nuts, crumbled feta, sundried tomatoes or olives, fermented vegetables such as kimchi or sauerkraut, and a tasty dressing.
For specific ideas, check out some of these delicious combinations –
Hippie bowls with secret sauce (pictured) (vg, df) – Dishing Up the Dirt
The big vegan bowl (vg, df) – Oh She Glows
Salad with broccoli, feta, sundried tomatoes and roasted sunflower seeds (pictured) (gf) – Smoothie Lover
One bowl skillet meal (vg, p, gf, df) – Stripped Nutrition
For further ideas on how to easily include more vegetables in your diet, be sure to check out my previous post of breakfast ideas, and stay tuned for the final installment showcasing great ideas to include more veggies in your snacks and sweet dishes. To ensure you don’t miss out, feel free to sign up for the to her core newsletter using the link in the menu on the left, or follow me on Instagram or Facebook.
Got any other great tips on great ways to get more veggies into your daily diet? I’d love you to share them in the comments below :)
All recipes are vegetarian. Additional dietary requirements outlined in brackets above are –
Vegan (vg); Paleo (p); Gluten Free (gf); Dairy Free (df)
Note that some recipes may not strictly adhere to these requirements, but will list alternatives to substitute/omit within the recipe.