We all know the feeling. The work day is over, your tummy starts to rumble and suddenly all you can think about is dinner! If you’re struggling with which dish to choose this evening, allow us to parachute in with eight healthy vegan dinners. Not only are they packed full of healthy nutrients, they come together in a flash.April 19, 2021 12:03 pm April 20, 2021 11:56 am
Tips for putting together a healthy and quick vegan dinner
If you’re following a plant-based diet, you’re already ahead of the game when it comes to food prep. This is because typically, vegetable-based mains are quicker to cook than those involving meat. Think how fast it is to stir fry shredded vegetables; with some dishes, you can have a healthy vegan dinner on the table in under ten minutes!
However, if you don’t want to eat a stir-fry every night (although that doesn’t seem like a bad idea, now you mention it…) there are plenty of little hacks you can use to save time when it rolls around to dinner.
Here are just a few of our favourites.
Batch cook your grains and beans
We adore whole grains: millet, quinoa, buckwheat, pearl barley, you name it. All of these are super nutritious and full of fibre to help keep you feeling satisfied from your meals.
The downside? They can take ages to cook.
Often, when we’re short on time, the temptation to swap them for a faster-cooking processed variety becomes too great. (We’re looking at you, white rice!)
But processed starchy foods like white rice and pasta are missing lots of the nutrients whole grains can offer, particularly when it comes to essential minerals.
If you’re at home on a Sunday afternoon catching up on your latest reads and TV series, pop a couple of pans on the hob and cook up a large batch of grains. Make sure to cover them in plenty of water, pop a lid on the pan, and just check on them every so often to make sure they haven’t boiled dry.
Voilà, by the end of the episode you have yourself a batch of cooked grains which will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days!
Similarly, if you find yourself cooking grains for another meal, make double and save the rest for another time.
You can also store grains and beans in the freezer and simply defrost them when you’re ready to use.
Slice and dice in the mornings
If you’re one of those incredibly lucky people who are predisposed to getting up early in the morning, put that time to good use.
Having pre-prepared vegetables ready to go as soon as you get back from work will be an incredible morale-booster when you’re feeling too tired to cook.
Some vegetables are more content to be prepared in advance than others. However carrots, potatoes, peppers and broccoli are all fine examples of veggies you can wash and chop in the morning. By the evening, they’ll still be absolutely fine to use in your recipes.
Simply keep them in a covered bowl or tub in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.
For potatoes and sweet potatoes, you may find that keeping the chopped veg in a bowl of cold water in the fridge stops them from drying out or discolouring while you’re out.
Some vegetables, such as aubergines, can discolour very quickly when chopped, so best to leave those ones for when you get home.
You can also go one step further than simply prepping your veg ahead of time. Why not prep a full healthy vegan dinner in advance?
An easy way to do this is to simply make double the quantity of your ordinary recipes and put the leftovers in a container to enjoy tomorrow.
Or, depending on how much you like to plan ahead, you could even set yourself up several days in advance.
For example, spending an afternoon roasting a few different types of root vegetables, cooking a couple of pans of grains, and chopping a few bunches of herbs could provide you with dinners for days!
Then, all you have to do is reheat your homemade ready meal in the microwave or oven when you need it.
This is vastly healthier than buying a supermarket ready meal, as you have total control over the ingredients. This includes some of the less desirable ones you often find in ready meals, such as excess salt, fat or sugar.
Make the freezer your friend
Made more than you need right now? Pop it in the freezer; your future self will thank you.
This goes for meal components (such as cooked grains and beans) as well as whole meals.
Just transfer your homemade freezer meal from the freezer to the fridge the night before you need it. When you get home, your dinner will be thawed and ready for you to reheat.
Some foods, such as certain herbs, cucumber and celery, don’t do so well in the freezer thanks to their high water content. If they are an element of your meal, either store them separately in the fridge to add after cooking or remember to pick some up on the day you plan to eat the meal.
Plan your meals
In life, there are two kinds of people: the planners and the spontaneous sorts.
While we may be less likely to go bungee jumping or skinny dipping, planners really come into their own when it comes to meal prep. (Spontaneous sorts, take a break from the bungee and join us over here!)
Just a little bit of forward thinking can save you a lot of time during the week and will make weeknight dinners a breeze. Thinking of what to have for dinner every night, shopping for the ingredients, then coming home and prepping them all is quite a mental burden to deal with every day.
So, spend an hour planning and shopping for the week ahead of time. That way, you have a list of healthy vegan dinners set out for each day, and you don’t have to waste time at the supermarket.
It’ll also likely save you money, as we tend to waste less when we plan ahead.
"Just a little bit of forward thinking can save you a lot of time during the week and will make weeknight dinners a breeze."
On to the healthy vegan dinners!
Without further ado, our favourite easy and healthy vegan dinners to look forward to after a hard day’s work.
Mushroom burger with tahini mayo
We make our version of the classic with a satisfying mushroom patty, which combines chopped and sautéd mushrooms with peppers, red rice and lentils. Its toothsome texture holds up brilliantly in a burger, as it has plenty of bite.
Make a delicious vegan tahini mayo to go with your burger by combining dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar and honey with the addictive sesame seed paste.
Serve with baked sweet potato fries for a healthy take on a classic take-out. You can bake both the patties and the fries in the oven in 25 minutes, while you prep the toppings.
Spaghetti bolognese burst onto the culinary scene in Britain in the 1970s and, as a nation, we have never looked back.
However, thankfully, our tastes have somewhat changed. (Some of the original recipes were made with a base of tomato ketchup!)
A little flexibility with the original recipe allows us to create this delicious take on bolognese sauce which is suitable for vegans.
Crumbled tempeh takes the place of ground meat, and is simmered in a thick and rich tomato sauce with garlic, bay and thyme. Tempeh is fermented, so it’s very good for your gut microbiome.
If you’re hungry, serve our ragù on top of a rest of wholewheat spaghetti. Or, for a lighter option, we rather like it with courgetti. You can have the whole thing done in half an hour.
Red lentil dal
Creamy, warming and utterly delicious, dal is our ultimate comfort food. And while we can only add our version to the enormous canon of dal recipes, it’s done just the way we like it!
Simmer red lentils with tomato, garlic and green chilli. Cumin, coriander, ginger and turmeric provide a warming base of aromatic flavours.
Adherents of Ayurveda consider dal to be ‘tridoshic’, which means that it supports each of the three essential life forces (doshas).
In more modern terms, it’s a fantastically nourishing meal; lentils provide fibre and protein and also act as one of your five-a-day.
If your tummy has been rumbling since five o’clock, serve with wholegrain rice. Pop your rice on the hob at the same time you add the lentils to your dal, and both will be ready after half an hour.
Or, for something lighter (or an excellent ‘leftovers’ lunch the next day) serve with Erbology Indian Spiced Crackers.
Sweet potato gnocchi
Before our chef extraordinaire, Ana, created this elegant gnocchi recipe, we were under the impression that homemade gnocchi would take hours to prepare.
Not so! Ana’s sweet potato variety manages to cut down the prep time by cooking the sweet potato whole in the microwave, and using a delicious walnut sauce which comes together in the blender.
What’s more, your fresh gnocchi will only take a minute or so to cook in boiling water. Once ready, they’ll bob to the surface of the pan, ready to be scooped out with a slotted spoon.
Pour over our delicious walnut gremolata sauce and you’ll have a healthy vegan dinner which is elegant enough to serve to friends, or quick and easy enough for a weeknight main.
Vegan poke bowl
Perhaps the ultimate example of a recipe where you can really get a head start by prepping early, our vegan poke bowl is light, refreshing and delicious.
Prep your veg and sauces in the morning, and all you’ll have to do when you get home is throw everything together.
For a more substantial meal, you could also add a scoop of cooked rice on the side. However, we like our poke bowl best accompanied by our Japanese Wasabi crackers.
Vegan bean chilli
Here’s great example of a healthy vegan dinner which you can batch cook and use for several meals over the week. You can also freeze it if you want to get ahead on next week’s cooking.
We’ve taken the liberty of adding extra veg such as sweetcorn and leeks into our chilli to help us reach those daily targets.
It’s a filling and nutritious meal which is ideal for cold days when you need something that’ll warm you from the inside out.
Serve with rice, wholegrain tortillas, or our Sweet Potato and Rosemary Crackers.
Spring greens risotto
On the other end of the spectrum, a dish which celebrates everything light and airy about the spring season!
Our spring greens risotto makes use of creamy arborio rice cooked with asparagus and spinach. Parsley and spring onion prevent the dish from becoming heavy, while a sprinkling of Raw Italian Almonds provides protein, fibre and vitamin E.
With this one, you will need to remain faithfully by the rice’s side as it cooks. As all chefs know, risotto is quite the attention seeker! You have to watch it carefully so that you can add just enough stock at the right time to get that perfect creamy consistency.
That said, our risotto can be on the table in thirty minutes, including a bit of stirring time.
Wild garlic and broccoli pasta
A great way to use up steamed broccoli, this is perhaps our speediest recipe of all! It comes together in the ten minutes required to cook the pasta.
If you don’t have any cooked broccoli on hand, fear not. Just break up a fresh head of broccoli into small florets and steam while you’re cooking the pasta.
Meanwhile, make the vegan nut parmesan. The secret weapon in this dish is our Organic Milk Thistle Powder, which makes a great addition alongside raw cashews and nutritional yeast.
Milk thistle is traditionally associated with gently cleansing the body. It is also high in silymarin, which fights the damage caused by free radicals in the body.
Incredibly speedy, healthy and delicious, our wild garlic and broccoli recipe is fantastic when you’re in a hurry!
Healthy vegan dinners
A little prep, a little batch cooking, and a few easy hacks will mean you can eat a delicious and healthy vegan dinner every night of the week.
Got dinner covered? Head over to Erbology Editorial for lots more healthy recipes for desserts, snacks, breakfasts and more.
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