21 healthy low calorie vegetarian meals and dinners
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Our low calorie vegetarian meals are packed full of fresh veg, plenty of protein and are perfect for those on a diet or looking to reduce their meat intake.
Choosing a vegetarian option when it comes to selecting low calorie meals (opens in new tab) is a great way to ensure that you get at least one of your five-a-day count. Most vegetarian recipes (opens in new tab) are predominantly made with vegetables and lean protein. Lentils, beans, and tofu are just a handful of protein-based foods that make much healthier meat substitutes and are perfect low calorie filling foods (opens in new tab) too, keeping you fuller for longer.
Nutritionist Kim Plaza explains: "We often consume the same weight of food during mealtimes (whether vegetarian or not) However having meals which are lower in calories and higher in fibre will contribute to the same stomach volume and feelings of fullness, with fewer calories."
In other words, you don't necessarily need to consume a high number of calories to feel full after a meal. Kim says; "Gut health can contribute towards feelings of fullness as our microbiome can be stimulated by different nutrients like fibre to release hormones, such as leptin, which regulate our appetite."
Low calorie vegetarian meals
1. Wild mushroom risotto
Calories: 340 | Fat: 19.1g per portion
This rich, indulgent wild mushroom risotto is just 340 calories per portion. Swapping cream and cheese for almond milk instead is a great way to reduce both the calories and fat content. Paired with earthy mushrooms, this dish is packed full of nutrients; fibre, protein, and antioxidants from the mushrooms and vitamin D, E and calcium from the almond milk.
Get the recipe: Wild mushroom risotto (opens in new tab)
2. Slow roast tomatoes with beans and pasta
Calories: 421 | Fat: 13g per portion
This meal has very little fat included and therefore is low in calories explains Kim, a nutritional advisor at Bio-Kult (opens in new tab). She adds: "The addition of broad beans will increase the amount of protein consumed and if you are using wholemeal spaghetti, this will increase the fibre content. Tomatoes are also a good source of vitamins and antioxidants, such as carotenoids and lycopene, these compounds may help to reduce inflammation."
Get the recipe: Slow roast tomatoes with beans and pasta (opens in new tab)
3. Quorn lasagne
Calories: 323 | Fat: 5.4g per portion
Choosing to make the lasagne sauces from scratch is a great way to cut calories and to avoid any added salt or sugar. In this recipe, Rosemary Conley makes a rich tomato-based sauce as well as a homemade cheese sauce too. The Quorn mince is an excellent source of vegetarian-friendly protein. Cut the calories further by using skimmed milk to make the cheese sauce.
Get the recipe: Quorn lasagne (opens in new tab)
4. Homemade falafel
Calories: 370 | Fat: 10g per portion
Falafel is not just ideal for low calorie lunches (opens in new tab), it’s also a great option for dinner too. Serve with fresh salad and wholemeal pitta for a quick low calorie meal. Falafel is predominately made with chickpeas, and chickpeas are packed full of health benefiting nutrients including those that help improve digestion and aid weight management.
Get the recipe: Falafel (opens in new tab)
5. Garlic mushroom pasta bake
Calories: 466 | Fat: 22.7g per portion
Mushrooms are one of our favourite ingredients because they are meaty and filling but also low in calories. They make the perfect swap for chicken, pork, or beef as they're packed full of protein but are much less fatty and calorific than some cuts of meat. With plenty of vitamin C from the spinach and antioxidants from the garlic, this dish has a variety of health benefits as well as being one of our top low calorie vegetarian meals.
Get the recipe: Garlic mushroom pasta bake (opens in new tab)
6. Miso aubergine
Calories: 457 | Fat: 18g per portion
By using minimal oil in this recipe the fat value is reduced as is the calorie count. Kim adds: "The use of ancient grains is also a good source of fibre and protein, so may keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Aubergine is packed full of phytochemicals such as vitamins and antioxidants, as well as anthocyanins, thanks to its blue-purple pigment. Anthocyanins are suggested to help with blood vessel health. Miso may also provide a tasty, but healthy addition to this meal, as it is a fermented food and therefore may influence the health of the microbiome."
Get the recipe: Miso aubergine (opens in new tab)
7. Pesto, asparagus and potato salad
Calories: 311 | Fat: 18g per portion
The perfect choice for the summer months, this dish brings healthy asparagus and potatoes together to make another one of our delicious low calorie vegetarian meals. This recipe includes a homemade pesto sauce, made with just a handful of fresh ingredients. Opting for a homemade pesto is a great way to keep the calorie count low as some readymade pestos may contain added salt.
Get the recipe: Pesto, asparagus and potato salad (opens in new tab)
8. Lentil and spinach balti
Calories: 313 | Fat: 7.7g per portion
This hearty curry is infused with garlic, red onion, balti curry paste, and fresh coriander. The lentils in this recipe are what make it so low in calories. There are just 92 calories and 0.7g of fat in 100g of cooked green lentils. Other than being low calorie, lentils are an excellent source of fibre and potassium, which is good for reducing blood pressure.
Get the recipe: Lentil and spinach balti (opens in new tab)
9. Homemade beans on toast
Calories: 360 | Fat: 13.1g per portion
This popular low calorie breakfast (opens in new tab) is just 360 calories per serving. The beans in this dish are full of protein suitable for vegetarians. They're also super low in calories and fat too. Ready in just 20 minutes, this dish is one of our quickest low calorie vegetarian meals. If you like spice, add a pinch of paprika and a few dashes of Tabasco hot sauce - a whole bottle of Tabasco sauce is just nine calories, so a splash or two won't impact the calorie count much.
Get the recipe: Homemade beans on toast (opens in new tab)
10. Spinach and sweetcorn lasagne
Calories: 431 | Fat: 17g per portion
"There is a whole range of nutrients in this recipe", exclaims Kim. She continues: "Garlic is an excellent natural source of beneficial compounds, which have been suggested to have antioxidant, cardiovascular protective, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antibacterial properties and many more."
Get the recipe: Spinach and sweetcorn lasagne (opens in new tab)
11. Quick four cheese pizza
Calories: 200 | Fat: 6.5 per portion
Cheese is a fantastic source of vegetarian protein but it's important to have other sources too as it has a high saturated fat content. This recipe is perfect if you're looking for a treat meal and it's easy to make as it uses a shop-bought pizza base and has just three steps in the method. To reduce the calories further try making your own cauliflower pizza (opens in new tab) base.
Get the recipe: Quick four cheese pizza (opens in new tab)
12. Quick Quorn lunch bowl
Calories: 161 | Fat: 2g per portion
This is one of our lowest calorie, meat-free meals with only 161 per portion. It is very easy to customise depending on your preference or what greens you have at home but we've chosen green beans and spinach as our main nutrient providers. If you prefer, try swapping the Quorn for more vegetables like mushrooms or try tofu.
Get the recipe: Quick Quorn lunch bowl (opens in new tab)
13. Low-calorie Thai green vegetable curry
Calories: 197 | Fat: 13.1 per portion
Simply opting for reduced-fat coconut milk and bulking the recipe with lots of fibre-rich vegetables keeps the calorie count low without impacting the comfort factor. Interestingly, Kim explains: "Cauliflower is a vegetable known as a phytoestrogen, this means that they are structurally and functionally similar to oestrogen hormones and therefore may be helpful in tackling some menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes."
Get the recipe: Low-calorie Thai green vegetable curry (opens in new tab)
14. Soya bean and pea soup
Calories: 129 | Fat: 5.5g per portion
This delicious twist on the classic pea soup is on the table in 30 minutes. It has seven ingredients and happens to be vegan too. Soya beans, also known as edamame, are an excellent source of protein, fibre and antioxidants. They are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which makes them an important staple of plant-based diets.
Get the recipe: Soya bean and pea soup (opens in new tab)
15. Vegetarian pie
Calories: 303 | Fat: 9g per portion
This recipe is considered low in saturated fat with just 1.4g per portion. Using filo pastry instead of puff pastry keeps the calorie and fat count lower. The filling uses lentils which are an excellent source of vegetarian protein and they are a cheap storecupboard ingredient too. This recipe is a great option if you're entertaining as it can be prepared ahead and is delicious with a side of fresh salad.
Get the recipe: Vegetarian pie (opens in new tab)
16. Wholewheat spaghetti with roasted vegetables
Calories: 379 | Fat: 11.7g per portion
Wholewheat pasta is an easy healthy swap from regular pasta and it boosts your fibre intake too. This recipe includes two of you five a day and has only 1.5g of saturated fat per portion. Leftovers can be eaten cold and you can use a variety of different vegetables depending on your preferences.
Get the recipe: Wholewheat spaghetti with roasted vegetables (opens in new tab)
17. Stuffed peppers with couscous, courgette, and mozzarella cheese
Calories: 243 | Fat: 13.2g per portion
Kim explains: "Bell peppers are exceptionally high in vitamin C and they are available in a variety of colours, ripening from green to red, or purple when they are completely ripe. Although peppers are available throughout the year, one study found that they actually have the highest concentrations of bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity in September, so another reason to eat seasonally."
Get the recipe: Stuffed peppers with couscous, courgette, and mozzarella cheese (opens in new tab)
18. Gnudi with tomato sauce
Calories: 280| Fat: 20g per portion
These hearty dumplings are filled with a creamy ricotta and Parmesan mixture so while they are under 300 calories they are higher in fat than other dishes in our round-up. Our simple tomato pasta sauce is quick and easy to make and healthier than jars which often have added sugar and salt.
Get the recipe: Gnudi with tomato sauce (opens in new tab)
19. Italian red pepper soup with cheesy flatbread
Calories: 311 | Fat: 16g per portion
The base of this soup is tomatoes and red peppers which are both full of vital vitamins and nutrients including vitamins A and C. Tomatoes have greater nutritional value when cooked as it's easier for your body to digest, so this soup is not only delicious but it's good for you too. One of our favourite things about this soup is that you can make it ahead and freeze.
Get the recipe: Italian red pepper soup with cheesy flatbread (opens in new tab)
21. Sweet potato pasta
Calories: 198 | Fat: 5g per portion
The use of reduced-fat cheese and yoghurt bring down the calorie content of this recipe according to Kim. She adds: "Sweet potato has been suggested to carry many health-promoting properties, such as antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial anti-ageing and liver supporting effects."
Get the recipe: Sweet potato pasta (opens in new tab)
22. BBQ vegetables with red pesto dressing and couscous
Calories: 284 | Fat: 7g per portion
The final of our low calorie vegetarian meals are these mouthwatering BBQ kebabs. Make this hearty vegetarian option any time of year using your grill. This recipe uses filling low calorie vegetables such as mushrooms and peppers to ensure it's satisfying, flavoursome and keeps the calories under 300. There is only 1.5g of saturated fat per portion which is considered to be low.
Get the recipe: BBQ vegetables with red pesto dressing and couscous (opens in new tab)
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Jessica currently works as a Senior Food Writer at Future. She writes food and drink-related news stories and features, curates product pages, tests, and reviews equipment, and also develops recipes that she styles on food shoots. An enthusiastic, self-taught cook Jess adores eating out and sharing great food and drink with friends and family. She has completed the Level 1 Associate course at the Academy of Cheese and is continually building on her knowledge of beers, wines, and spirits.
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