The word vegetarian might conjure images of limp lettuce and bland Buddha bowls that leave you wanting more, but we've got news for you: Ditching fish and meat doesn't mean you have to subsist on salads.
It's not about what you can't eat. Quite the opposite—adopting a vegetarian diet encourages you to explore flavor-rich vegetables, legumes, and grains you might have previously looked past on a menu. Bonus: Studies suggest it's associated with a ton of health benefits, from having a lower body weight and better cholesterol levels to even living longer.
To get started, we've drafted a vegetarian meal planner with seven simple, hearty recipes to try each night this week. Ranging from portobello mushroom tacos on Monday to spaghetti squash with rainbow chard on Saturday, it's proof that your favorite winter comfort food can be healthy, too.
The Recipe: Monday night dinner should always be quick and easy, and this vegetarian taco recipe fits the bill. Preparation takes 15 minutes and involves mixing kale with pineapple, jalapeños, and cilantro before combining with sautéed mushrooms in a warm tortilla.
The Hero Ingredient: Mushrooms prove to be the perfect meat substitute in this flavor-packed dish.
The Meal: Bloody Mary veggie burgers
The Recipe: It might look naughty, but this veggie burger is packed full of nutrients. Quinoa, chickpeas, beets, and sunflower seeds create a convincing burger patty.
The Hero Ingredient: Sun-dried tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce give the burger an extra flavor kick.
DINNER IS SERVED:
The Meal: Chopped Mexican kale salad
The Recipe: Before you roll your eyes, this salad is different. Cranberries, cotija cheese, and butternut squash make this healthy and hearty dish anything but boring. Simply roast the squash and toss it in a bowl with the other ingredients. Easy.
The Hero Ingredient: Soft roasted butternut squash makes this the ideal midweek winter salad.
The Meal: Potato, leek, and broccoli soup
The Recipe: Now for something a little heartier. This easy soup involves cooking leeks and garlic until tender, and then adding broth (substitute the chicken broth for vegetable), potatoes, and broccoli before puréeing the lot. Make extra to keep in the freezer for next week.
The Hero Ingredient: Leeks give this rich, warm soup a creamy consistency. It's the perfect dish to come home to after a long day at work.
The Recipe: You've made it through the week and want to come home to an easy, filling, and slightly naughty dish. This pizza is the answer. Fresh herbs, zucchini, corn, burrata, and provolone cheese will make you forget it's meat-free.
The Hero Ingredient: Two words: truffle oil. Drizzle the decadent ingredient over each slice for pizza nirvana.
The Recipe: Tieghan Gerard, the foodie behind Half Baked Harvest, declares "hands down, this is the best spaghetti squash dish." The pasta-like meal is bursting with flavor thanks to garlic, rainbow chard, parsley, and Parmesan.
The Hero Ingredient: Rainbow chard. The purple leafy vegetable makes this dish picture-perfect.
The Meal: Roasted tomato Paleo vegan lasagna
The Recipe: Sunday calls for a warm and hearty baked dish like this surprisingly healthy vegan lasagna. Simply soften onions, garlic, zucchini, bell peppers, and spinach in a cast-iron pot; then ladle the sauce over lasagna noodles to create layers of goodness. Top it off with sliced tomatoes and dried herbs.
The Hero Ingredient: One cup of fresh basil perfectly balances the flavor of ricotta and tomato.
Looking to cut your kitchen time? Try these easy no-cook recipes.