Great Vegetarian Meal Ideas by guest expert Gloria Cabrera APD

My darling readers! 

Gloria has been kind enough to share some great meal ideas in this 3rd segment of our “Vegetarian” series. So do be warned that some extremely delicious recipes are heading your way! 

Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan or just someone who likes to include meat-free meals, it’s important to make meals healthyTofu and nutritious so that you don’t miss out on essential nutrients you’d normally get from animal based ingredients. Some of these nutrients include protein, iron, zinc, calcium, omega 3 healthy fats etc as discussed in my previous article.

Ingredients such as tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds and legumes e.g. chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, are a great sources of vegan protein but also contain other important nutrients. Try including these ingredients as the base for main meals. Remember variety is key and it’s worth experimenting using different plant-based ingredients and recipes to find ones to suit your taste.

 Vegan Menu Suggestion

 If you aren’t sure how to eat nutritiously on a vegetarian or vegan diet, here’s a guide: 

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 11.12.50 AM
If you’ve never cooked with tofu, tempeh or legumes before, it can be a bit daunting the first time. It’s important to prepare these ingredients well and add flavour especially to ingredients like tofu. When cooked well, plant-based meals can taste just as good as animal-based ones. Try these great recipes.    

4 Great Vegetarian Meal Ideals

Scrambled Tofu & Vegetables (Serves 2)

Eating tofu doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your breakfast scramble! This is a great vegan alternative, which will provide protein, iron and calcium.


  • 300-400g soft firm tofu (choose calcium fortified ones)vegan8
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup mushrooms, finely sliced
  • ½ cup steamed peas
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano or basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon rice bran oil


  1. Heat oil in pan on medium heat then add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and zucchini, and cook until slightly golden. Add the spinach, peas, tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, combine well and cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the tofu.
  2. Gently stir the tofu with the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes then remove from heat and serve.

Chickpea & Pumpkin Salad (Serves 2)

This salad won’t feel like a ‘salad’ with so many yummy ingredients! It’s also a source of vegan protein, iron and zinc, and perfect for lunch.


  • 3 cups mixed salad leaves
  • 1 cup small pumpkin pieces, steamed or grilled until tendersalad7
  • 1 ½ cups chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 4 mushrooms, finely sliced
  • ½ small Spanish onion, finely sliced
  • ¼ red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced into semi-circles
  • ¼ cup basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 3-4 dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt & cracked pepper to taste

Method: Add all ingredients into a bowl and toss. Enjoy as a healthy vegan lunch.    

Lentil & Pea Patties (Makes about 8-10 patties)

Who doesn’t like patties? These patties provide a source of vegan protein, iron, zinc and omega 3 healthy fats. Lentil and Pea Patties


  • ¾ cup cooked lentils + 3/4 cup cooked peas
  • ¼ cup seeds e.g. chia, sesame, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup grilled or steamed sweet potato
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ small carrot, grated
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander or basil leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ small chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped (optional) or cracked pepper
  • 1 egg (vegans can use an egg alternative, click here for more info
  • Salt to taste (1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon)
  • ½ teaspoon oil
  • *can add freshly grated or ground ginger for extra flavour


  1. In a food processor put ½ cup each of the lentils and the peas, seeds, sweet potato, egg, garlic, cumin, turmeric, chilli/pepper, salt and process until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl and add all remaining ingredients except the oil and then combine well.
  3. Heat a non-stick large fry pan on low medium heat and add oil. Meanwhile form the lentil mix into 8cm diameter and 1cm thick round patties.
  4. Add the patties to the pan and cook on each side until golden and cooked through.
  5. Enjoy with a salad or on a wholegrain roll/wrap with salad.

Tempeh & Vegetable Curry with Quinoa (Serves 4-5)

We all love curry especially in winter. Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and can have a strong flavour. Adding it to a curry dish helps tone down the flavour intensity but if you’re not feeling too brave, use tofu or chickpeas instead!


  • 2 cups water
  • ¾ cup quinoa, rinsedphoto-4-300x223
  • 1 tablespoon rice bran oil
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into thin circles
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ medium eggplant, chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped into 2cm pieces
  • ½ – 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 400g tempeh
  • 8 mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup salt reduced vegetable stock
  • ½ cup low fat coconut milk (or low fat evaporated milk with a few drops of coconut essence)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¼ cup fresh coriander leaves + additional for garnishing (optional)
  • Salt to season


  1. To prepare quinoa: Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes). Uncover and let stand.
  2. Heat oil on medium heat in a large non-stick fry pan, add the onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, green beans, broccoli and eggplant then cook stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes. Add the tempeh, mushrooms, curry powder, and cumin and combine well, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste, stock, coconut milk, ½ cup water and seasoning, combine well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low medium, add coriander and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender (add more water if required).

Serve on a bed of quinoa, garnish with additional coriander.    

Profile picAbout the Author: Gloria Cabrera is an Accredited Practising Dietitian & Nutritionist (APD, AN). Her passion is food, nutrition, cooking, fitness. She is currently studying personal training and plant-based cooking. She has worked in the weight loss industry for over 9 years developing programs, products & recipes. She consults privately seeing clients for weight loss, pre & post bariatric surgery nutrition, and a number of health conditions e.g. diabetes, heart disease and food intolerances. Follow Gloria on Facebook: Gloria at Nutrition SavvyTwitter  or Instagram 


  1. Great recipes! The chickpea & pumpkin salad looks absolutely amazing for a healthy make-ahead lunch!

Leave a Reply