So you follow a vegan diet and are looking for healthy cooking options in the kitchen? We’ve got you covered. Whether you need some savoury inspiration – we’re talking lunch, dinner, and snacks, or you’ve got a really sweet tooth and can’t seem to give up the desserts, there’s a low-calorie recipe for everyone.
And it doesn’t matter if the reason for the diet switch up is for weight loss or just to up the amount of good stuff you put in your body, it never hurts to follow a healthy food regime. So, let’s get started and talk a bit about the vegan diet and a little about MACROS and nutritional data so you can get to the good bit and try out some of these delicious dishes.
What is the vegan diet?
Put plainly, veganism is a plant-based diet, typically consisting of veggies, grains, nuts, fruits, foods made from plants, etc. Vegans don’t eat food that has come from animals, and that doesn’t just include meats, it’s also eggs and dairy products, too.
Eating healthily as a vegan
Following a vegan diet doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a varied and balanced diet, though. While a typical meat one (in moderation) provides you with a good source of protein, as well as iron and healthy fats, you don’t have to consume animal products to get the same amount of these nutrients. They can be found in supplements and fortified foods, as well as following a varied and balanced vegan diet.
You can start by:
- Eating at least 5 portions of different fruit and veg every day.
- Basing your meals on bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, or other starchy carbs – wholegrain is best.
- Opting for fortified dairy alternatives like yoghurts and soya drinks – low-fat and low-sugar options are best.
- Eating other proteins like pulses and beans.
- Eating seeds and nuts that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids every day. Walnuts are a good one.
- Opting for unsaturated spreads and oils and eating in small amounts.
- Adding fortified foods or supplements to your diet that contain the nutrients that are more difficult to find in vegan diets. This includes vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, iodine, and selenium.
- Drinking lots of fluids – 6 to 8 glasses of water a day is recommended.
MACROs for vegan diets
OK, so a healthy vegan diet would look like this in terms of MACROS:
- 25% protein
- 30% fat
- 45% carbohydrates
But let’s go into it in a bit more detail…
One of the most challenging parts of following a vegan diet is hitting the recommended protein target, especially if you’re doing strength or weight training. We all know that consuming more protein helps to increase the rate muscle mass can be added, however, the human body can still build muscle with less dietary protein. While the process will take longer, it means that you don’t necessarily need meat to meet your protein requirement.
For veggies and vegans, a MACROS ratio that would be more realistic would be 25-30% protein, 30-35% fat, and 40-45% carbs. This will make achieving your MACROS targets much more feasible when meal-planning, plus, most plant-based foods rich in protein also have their fair share of fat and carbs.
Now for the recipes!
Feeling hungry? Here are some of our favourite low-calorie vegan recipes for weight loss and general healthy eating. We’ve got something for every meal, from breakfast through to lunch, dinner, and dessert!
Thai Vegetable Stir Fry
20 minutes, that’s all it takes!
- Pumpkin/butternut squash – whichever you prefer.
- Veggies – mushrooms, baby corn, sugar snap peas, broccoli, aubergine.
- Tofu – marinated in stir-fry sauce – this is your main bit of protein for the meal so don’t skip it!
- Soy sauce
- To make the stir-fry sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a container and close with a lid. Shake well until everything is mixed well together and pour over your cubed or pressed tofu.
- For 10 minutes, marinate the tofu in the bowl with the sauce. You can prepare your veggies (wash and chop them) while you wait.
- Sauté the squash or pumpkin in some water or oil over a medium heat.
- Around 5 mins later when the squash/pumpkin has softened, add the rest of the veggies and sauté everything else for a further 10 minutes. Make sure everything is tender yet slightly crisp.
- Pour the marinated tofu into the pan with the vegetables in and stir so everything combines. Cook for another 4-5 minutes while still stirring frequently.
- Cook some rice (follow the instructions on the packet) to go with the stir-fry, and voila – you have a really easy vegan recipe! (PS, you can also use noodles – whatever you prefer!)
- If you want, you can add some extra toppings to add more flavour, too. Some good extra nutrients are sesame seeds, cashews, peanuts, coriander or basil. Enjoy!
Vegan Banana Pancakes
Sweet and healthy! The perfect low calorie breakfast to start your day!
- 1 cup of rolled oats
- 1 cup of your favourite non-dairy milk – we like soy!
- 1/3 cup of wholemeal flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tsp of baking powder
- 1 medium-sized banana – make sure it’s ripe!
- 2 tbsp of olive oil – coconut oil also works really well!
- 2 tbsp of chia seeds
- Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl and use a hand blender to, well, blend them into a batter.
- Spray some oil into a non-stick pan and spread it around with some parchment paper.
- Heat the pan on a low to medium heat.
- Pour a small blob of batter into the pan – they should be small and thick for best results.
- Put the lid on the pan and allow the pancake to cook gently. When the top side begins to bubble, flip with a spatula. Once the new top side does the same, this is your cue that the pancake is cooked. Before you take off the pan, make sure you have a little peep to just double-check that it’s nice and golden brown.
- Repeat for the remaining batter.
- Now you’ve got some tasty pancakes ready to dish out, you can go the extra mile and add some more fruit to the top. Or, if you’re after something a little sweeter, pour some honey over. (You can also eat them plain, btw, it’s just a suggestion!)
Vegan Mexican Tacos
Whether it’s a lunchtime snack or you make a big batch for a tasty dinner, these vegan tacos are next level.
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of quinoa
- 1 1/2 tbsps of taco seasoning
- Olive oil spray
- 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans
- 1 bunch of asparagus bottoms (thinned, trimmed, and halved)
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1/2 cup of guacamole
- 1/2 cup of halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup of chopped cucumber
- 1/4 cup of unsalted pepitas
- Optional toppings:
- Salsa Verde
- Pico de Gallo
- Vegan grated cheese
- Add the quinoa, water and 1/2 a tbsp of the taco seasoning to a small pan. Cover and cook on a low heat until all of the water has been absorbed.
- Whilst this is cooking, spray a large pan with oil and heat on a medium to low heat.
- Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for around 10 minutes until it’s slightly soft.
- Lower the heat and add the cooked quinoa, beans, and the rest of the taco seasoning to the pan.
- Add another 2 tbsp of water and toss everything together, cooking for about 2 to 5 minutes until the beans become warm and the liquid has absorbed.
- Whilst this is now cooking, you can steam the tortillas following the instructions on the packet.
- Now comes the assembly time! This is obviously completely up to personal preference, but we like to add a layer of gauc over each tortilla, then add the asparagus and bean mixture, and then add the cucumber, tomatoes, pepitas and any other toppings you fancy!
Vegan Chickpea Curry
The chickpea is the holy grail of protein (or one of them) when it comes to the vegan diet. In 100 grams, there are 19 grams of protein, so this dish is definitely one for people who are looking for low calorie meals with plenty of the special nutrient.
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 1/2 chopped red onion
- 1 tbsp of curry powder
- 1 tsp of cumin powder
- 1 tsp of ground coriander
- 1 tsp of ground paprika
- 1 tsp of dried ginger
- 1 tsp of ground turmeric
- 14oz of diced canned tomatoes
- 14oz of low sodium/zero added salt rinsed and drained canned chickepeas
- 2 tbsp od maple syrup
- 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened almond milk
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat a large non-stick pan on a medium heat. Whilst it’s heating up, put the curry powder, coriander, cumin, paprika, and ginger into a bowl and whisk.
- When the pan is hot enough, add the onions, garlic and a couple of tbsps of water. Cook for a couple of minutes until the onions become soft.
- Sprinkle the spice mixture you whisked up earlier over the onions and garlic. Mix until the spice covers everything and cook for a further minute. To prevent sticking, add a little bit of water to the pan.
- Next, add the chickpeas, tomatoes, and milk to the pan and stir until everything is thoroughly combined. Let everything simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Reduce the heat and add the maple syrup, and then season with salt and pepper to taste before simmering for 2 to 3 extra minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and serve the curry over brown rice. Yum!
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
After something wholesome and hearty ready for the autumn and winter seasons? This low-calorie, high protein dinner is super healthy and incredibly tasty.
- 1 tbsp & 2 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium to large peeled and diced sweet potato
- 1 large diced onion
- 2 tbsp of chili powder
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- 4 tsp of ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp of ground chipotle chile
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 2 1/2 cups of water
- 14oz of canned diced tomatoes
- 15oz of canned rinsed black beans
- 4 tsp of lime juice
- 1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro
- Heat the oil in a casserole pot over a medium to high heat. Add the onion and sweet potato and cook for about 4 minutes. Make sure you stir regularly.
- Add the chili powder, garlic, chipotle, cumin, and salt and cook for another 30 seconds. Make sure you stir constantly!
- Add the water and bring everything to a simmer. Next, cover the pot and lower the heat so that everything gently simmers. Do this for 10 to 12 minutes until the sweet potato is tender.
- Add the tomatoes, beans and lime juice to the pot and turn the heat back up to high. Let everything simmer again and remember to stir regularly. Then, lower the heat and simmer for a further 5 minutes until everything is slightly reduced.
- Remove the casserole pot from the heat and stir in the cilantro. That’s it! Now you can serve to you and your hungry guests!
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
And now for another sweet treat, but this time a dessert one! You can’t go wrong with chocolate chip cookies, and this recipe is not only vegan but it’s also super low calorie. Just 25 calories per serving, and gluten-free too!
(To make 8 cookies)
- 1/4 cup of peanut flour
- 2 tbsp of coconut flour
- 3 tbsp of oat fibre
- 3 dashes of cinnamon
- 1 dash of salt
- 6-7 tbsp of water
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp of sugar-free choc chips
- Preheat your oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the peanut flour, coconut flour, oat fibre, sweetener, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk with a fork.
- Add 6 tbsp of water and the vanilla extract and stir together. If the dough isn’t moist enough, add more water one tbsp at a time.
- Next, stir in the choccy chips.
- Mould the dough into 8 balls, all equal in size and place on a baking sheet. Flatten them slightly on the palm of your hand and bake them for 12 minutes.
- Let them all cool before you eat.
Red Velvet Brownies
OK, let’s have one last dessert, because why not? If they’re a healthy vegan option and low calories per serving, we deffo want to know how to make them… Oh, and they’re gluten-free as well.
(To make 9 brownies)
- 1 cup of gluten-free oats
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 medium beet
- 1 yellow squash
- 1/4 cup of cocoa
- 1/2 cup of canned or cooked black beans
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum
- 1.5 tsp of baking powder
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp of natural peanut butter flavour
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend. Then, pour them into a mixing bowl and place them in the fridge to let the batter rest for around 10 minutes.
- Pour the batter into a non-stick baking dish and bake for 35 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and let the brownies cool. They will become firmer the cooler they get.
Enjoy your healthy vegan recipes
Whether you’re looking for new recipes because you want to lose weight, you’ve just converted to veganism and are looking for inspiration, or you just want to live as a healthy vegan, these 7 recipes are great starting points.
From tasty stir-frys to delicious sweet treats, each dish is plant-based, low in calories, and easy to make. So, what are you waiting for? Get your apron on and get cooking. Healthy low calorie vegan recipes never tasted so good!