23 Flexitarian Recipes to Help You Lose Weight
If you’re looking to eat more plant-based, you’ll love these flexitarian recipes that are mostly vegetarian with a little bit of meat here and there. These lunch and dinner recipes are packed with vegetables to help you get plenty of healthy nutrients. Plus, recipes like Tofu & Watercress Salad with Mango & Avocado and Chickpea & Beef Burgers with Whipped Feta are low in calories and high in fiber, which is a key nutrient that can help you feel full for longer and meet your weight-loss goals.
Cheesy Chipotle-Cauliflower Mac
You'll barely notice the cauliflower in this comforting skillet pasta--it's pureed and mixed into the creamy cheese sauce.
Veggie & Hummus Sandwich
This mile-high vegetable and hummus sandwich makes the perfect heart-healthy vegetarian lunch to go. Mix it up with different flavors of hummus and different types of vegetables depending on your mood.
Roasted Root Vegetables with Goat Cheese Polenta
This is true healthy comfort food--a bowl of soft, creamy polenta topped with warm roasted vegetables infused with garlic and sage.
Hearty Chickpea & Spinach Stew
This satisfying stew comes together in a snap. Mashed chickpeas add body to the broth, and tomato paste adds a savory note without piling on the sodium. To simplify the prep, look for chopped fresh onion and shredded carrot or a soup starter mix in the produce section.
Tofu & Watercress Salad with Mango & Avocado
This tofu-topped watercress salad is a fresh, plant-based meal perfect for when you want something hearty but are looking to cut down on the meat. The mango and avocado add tangy flavor and creamy texture to bring the salad together.
Yellow Split Pea Sambar with Turnip, Eggplant & Okra
In Kerala in southern India, this classic stew is eaten at just about every meal. It’s typically enjoyed for breakfast with idli (steamed rice cakes) or dosa (rice crêpes). For lunch and dinner, it’s eaten with steamed rice and fish curry or braised beef dishes. Sambar powder is a mixture that includes coriander, fenugreek, cumin, black peppercorns, red chiles and asafetida. Find it at Indian markets or online.
Mediterranean Lettuce Wraps
A tangy, nutty tahini dressing brings together no-cook ingredients like canned chickpeas and roasted red peppers for these easy meal-prep lettuce wraps. Make these wraps ahead of time for a grab-and-go lunch or dinner. A few wedges of warm pita finish off the meal perfectly.
Chickpea & Beef Burgers with Whipped Feta
Chickpeas add fiber to this blended burger, but the real joy here is the light and fluffy feta sauce that tops the whole shebang.
Clean-Out-the-Fridge Vegetable Soup
This recipe is purposefully flexible so you can incorporate just about any veggie into it. Top with a dollop of pesto and/or a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Vegetarian Taco Salad
Nobody will miss the meat in this colorful, zesty vegetarian taco salad. The rice and bean mixture can be made ahead and the salad quickly assembled at mealtime. Recipe by Nancy Baggett for EatingWell.
Lemony Lentil Soup with Collards
You don't need broth for this lentil soup recipe--it's rich thanks to the browned bits in the bottom of the pan that meld into the soup, packing it with flavor. Ground coriander, from the seed of the cilantro plant, has a floral, citrusy flavor that dovetails nicely with the lemon.
Squash & Red Lentil Curry
This healthy red lentil curry recipe has a rich flavor and complexity that tastes like it takes hours to prepare. Butternut squash and coconut milk combine with the lentils to make a hearty vegetarian dish. Serve with brown rice or naan bread.
Green Goddess Salad with Chickpeas
In this cucumber, tomato, Swiss cheese and chickpea salad recipe, a healthy green goddess dressing is made from avocado, buttermilk and herbs. The extra dressing is delicious served with grilled vegetables.
Creamy Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms
Sliced Brussels sprouts and mushrooms cook quickly and cling to the pasta in our fall version of pasta primavera. Look for presliced mushrooms to cut prep time. Serve with a tossed salad.
Vegetarian Shepherd's Pies
These mini vegetarian shepherd's pies feature lentils, carrot and corn, crowned with a velvety mashed potato topping. The recipe can also be made in a broiler-safe casserole dish. Serve with a spinach salad with oranges, walnuts and red-wine vinaigrette.
Black Bean & Chipotle Tostadas with Creme Fraiche
If you love breakfast burritos or huevos rancheros, you'll love this tostada with seasoned black beans on crispy tortillas with scrambled eggs on top. Pass salsa or hot sauce to go with it.
Mason Jar Power Salad with Chickpeas & Tuna
This power salad will keep you fueled for hours, thanks to 26 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. Tossing the dressing and kale, and then letting it stand in the jar, softens it enough so you don't need to massage or cook it to make it tender.
Celery & Parmesan Minestrone
This simple healthy minestrone soup recipe cooks in less than 30 minutes and uses celery stalks, leaves and dried celery seed to flavor the delicious Parmesan-laced tomato broth.
Loaded Garden Pizz'alad
Here a garden salad packed with lettuce, bell pepper and avocado rests atop a provolone cheese pizza. And it's all drizzled with tangy homemade ranch dressing. We recommend a knife, fork and plenty of napkins to dig into this pizz'alad! Using bread flour gives the pizza crust a crisp and sturdy structure, but all-purpose flour works well in its place. For a gluten-free pizza crust variation, see Tips.
Root Vegetable Stew with Herbed Dumplings
This root vegetable stew is flecked with sausage and topped with whole-wheat herbed dumplings. Turn up the heat by using hot Italian sausage or make it crowd-pleasing with sweet sausage. If you find beets or turnips with their greens still attached, the greens of one bunch should yield just enough for this dish. Otherwise use whatever dark leafy greens look fresh at the market.
Stuffed Eggplant with Couscous & Almonds
Smoky almonds, meaty eggplant and whole-grain couscous with herbs make this meal plenty satisfying. Harissa gives the creamy sauce a little kick.
Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
Make a double batch of this quick vegetarian chili, full of black beans and sweet potatoes, and eat it for lunch the next day or freeze the extras for another night. We love the smoky heat from the ground chipotle, but omit it if you prefer a mild chili. Serve with tortilla chips or cornbread and coleslaw.
Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans
In this one-skillet supper, we toss dark leafy greens, diced tomatoes and white beans with gnocchi and top it all with gooey mozzarella. Serve with a mixed green salad with vinaigrette.