Do you find yourself getting home and routinely cooking the same old chicken dishes from the first cookbook you ever purchased?
The same meals week after week can get boring, and, in addition, it can have a negative impact on your health as you might not be getting the full range of nutrients you need.
Let us think out of the box and replace the boring chicken with a vegetarian meal instead. Wait, no meat? Don't despair.
Not only are vegetarian dishes loaded with essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre, but they can also be super tasty too! Research has now firmly confirmed that a plant-based diet is good for your health and can protect you against chronic lifestyle diseases.
To get the family on board, start with a Meatless Monday and slowly expand your vegetarian diet. If you are wondering how you can make sure your meals taste good, here are five delicious dishes to kick-start your journey.
MEAL 1: A simple, easy and delicious one-pot meal with a mixture of soft and hard textures that will satisfy your taste buds.
Chickpeas and baby spinach (serves 4)
2 tsp canola oil
½ medium chopped onion
1 tsp ginger and garlic paste
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp nutmeg
? cup grated tomatoes
1–2 green or red chillies, finely chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1 can (410g) chickpeas, drained
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1. Heat oil in a medium-size pot. Add the onion and allow to brown slightly before adding the ginger/garlic paste and mustard seeds, stir and reduce heat
2. While stirring, add the powder spices and about 200ml grated tomatoes and allow to simmer for about five minutes
3. Add the chopped chilli, chopped spinach, and chickpeas. Cover the pot and allow it to simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes
4. Remove from heat garnish with the chopped coriander and serve with brown basmati or wild/brown rice, baked butternut, and steamed broccoli.
MEAL 2: A perfect light meal for the weekend. These moreish fritters can also be packed for your lunchbox during the week.
Courgette and cottage cheese fritters (serves 2)
½ tub low-fat chunky cottage cheese
3 medium courgettes
1 handful chopped fresh herb of choice (coriander, dill, parsley, or chives)
½ small onion, chopped finely
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 large egg, beaten
2 tsp olive oil
1. Coarsely grate the courgettes into a bowl, sprinkle with salt and mix.
2. Add together your chosen herbs, onion, garlic clove, baking powder and egg into a bowl, mix and add the cottage cheese.
3. Squeeze the grated courgettes to rid them of extra liquid and add them to the cottage cheese mixture.
4. Place a non-stick pan on medium heat and add the oil.
5. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the mixture into the heated pan and cook until the underside has darkened. Flip over and cook until the other side is done.
6. Serve with a crunchy carrot-and-pineapple salad.
MEAL 3: This simple salad is full of mouthwatering flavours. The tangy Asian dressing cuts through the fresh ingredients, providing a satisfying multi-sensory experience.
Asian edamame bean coleslaw served with a lemongrass and ginger dressing (serves 6)
1 cup green cabbage, shredded
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1 cup grated carrots
½ cup cucumber
¼ cup chopped coriander
1 cup edamame beans (shelled)
2 tbsp walnuts
Lemon and ginger dressing:
¼ cup brown sugar
? cup of water
2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped
1 tbsp crushed ginger
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (can use white wine vinegar)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
Method for dressing:
1. Dissolve sugar in water.
2. Simmer lemongrass and ginger for 10 minutes to infuse.
3. Strain and allow to cool.
4. Add vinegar, olive and sesame oil and soy sauce.
Method for coleslaw:
1. Mix cabbage, carrots, cucumber, edamame beans and coriander.
2. Top with walnuts to add crunch, texture and healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Drizzle dressing over just before serving.
MEAL 4: Warm up on a cool day with your new family favourite. This is easy and quick as you use canned lentils.
Lentil cottage pie (serves 4)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, chopped
1 cup butternut, chopped
1 medium leek, sliced
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1 small onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tin lentils (410g), drained
½ cup vegetable stock
½ cup frozen peas
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
1. Preheat the oven to 180º C.
2. Boil sweet potato and butternut for 10 minutes till soft and mash.
3. Heat olive oil in a pan and stir-fry the leek, carrot, onion, and celery for five minutes.
4. Add the lentils, stock, and peas and boil for five minutes.
5. Season to taste with black pepper and add the tomato purée.
6. Add the lentil mix into a casserole dish and top with the sweet potato and butternut.
7. Beat the egg with a small dash of milk and paint onto the butternut sweet potato.
8. Bake for 15 minutes until brown.
9. Serve with a fresh mixed beetroot salad. (Toss baby beetroot with balsamic glaze, mixed with rocket leaves and sprinkle crumbled feta cheese over the salad.)
MEAL 5: An easy-to-eat salad packed with delicious Mexican flavours. The perfect light meal to pack for work or to serve for lunch.
Mexican Salad (serves 4)
1 x 200g punnet cherry or rosa tomatoes, halved
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and cubed
1 can (410g) black beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup diced red onion
1 can (410g) of corn kernels
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
2 ripe avocados, peeled and cut into medium cubes
1 fresh chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
¼ cup fresh coriander
1. Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl.
2. Add the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, corn, and red onion to the dressing and mix.
3. Just before serving, mix the avocados, chilli, and coriander together.
4. Check the seasoning and serve.
Image credit: iStock