Life moves fast, which is why fast food is so popular. The last thing people want to do after a hectic whirlwind of a day is to spend another hour in the kitchen. Unfortunately, most fast food from the drive through window is an unhealthy option. But, fast food doesn’t need to equate to junk food. Here are 33 fast (and fatigued-cook friendly) healthy vegetarian meals that will tickle your taste buds.
Note: Most of these options can be made completely vegan. Simply sub out the milk for Almond or Soy milk, the cheese for vegan cheese or cashew cheese substitutes, or the sour cream or cream cheese for Toffuti.
1. Raw Avocado Chocolate Pudding
A great healthy dessert! And you won’t even taste the avocado! Blend together meat from 4 ripe Hass avocados, 1/2 cup raw cocoa powder, 1/3 cup raw honey or agave nectar (to taste), 1/4 tsp vanilla, and one pinch of salt until smooth. Let it set in the fridge and enjoy!
2. Fruit Smoothies
This is an amazing way to get living fresh foods in your diet during the day. I have one of these for breakfast just about every day. I’m partial to blending strawberry, banana, papaya, pineapple, mango, and berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries). I then add some spinach or kale, along with ground flax seeds, chia seeds, a splash of honey, almond milk, and ice. It’s a sweet way to wake up!
3. Oatmeal Peanut Butter Smoothie
For another great breakfast smoothie idea that could also pass for a desert, blend together 1 cup oatmeal, 2 cups almond milk, 3-4 Tbsp peanut butter, 3 bananas, 1 cup strawberries (optional), and ice.
4. Open-Faced Egg Sandwich
For those vegetarians that do eggs, this is a very easy, healthy meal. Take a slice of bread (I prefer Ezekiel Sprouted-Grain Breads) and toast it. Fry an egg sunny side up. Take the toasted bread and spread either pesto sauce or mayo on one side. Then, add a few slices of tomato and a sprinkle of chopped onion. Place the egg on top, careful not to break the yoke. Finish off with cheese sprinkles (cheddar, feta, or Parmesan work well) and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Stir-Fry Veggies
Just about any veggie combo will work for this easy dinner idea. Drizzle hot pan with olive oil. Add fresh-cut or frozen broccoli florets, chopped onion and celery, one clove minced garlic, torn kale leaves, mushrooms, and other frozen veggies (I like the corn, peas, squash, and carrot blend). In separate pan, boil water and add instant brown rice per package directions. Add 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce or soy sauce to veggie mix. Sauté veggie blend until tender. Drain rice, plate it, and put veggie mixture on top. Drizzle with sesame oil or soy sauce and serve.
6. Avocado Sandwich
The humble avocado is an amazing super food, containing healthy fats and age-fighting compounds. Toast two pieces of bread, cover one side with pesto and the other with spicy mustard. Fill with avocado slices, thinly-sliced onions and tomato, and salt and pepper.
7. Loaded Sweet Potato
The sweet potato contains so many more benefits than a regular potato. Why not switch it out? In a microwave-safe bowl, place a sweet potato that you have washed and punched holes in with a fork. Microwave on high for 3 min on one side, then flip the potato and microwave for 3 to 4 minutes on the other side. Depending on the potato size and your microwave strength, it may take a few more or less minutes to cook through. Slice the potato in half and throw on canned black beans, salsa, cheddar cheese, and sour cream for a tasty treat.
8. Bean Burrito
In pan, combine one can black beans, one can refried beans, one can enchilada sauce, diced green chilies, chopped black olives, and grated cheddar cheese. Stir over heat until the cheese melts. Spread mixture over tortilla wrap and fold top ends down over mixture, then roll sides around the rest of the bean mixture to form a burrito. Top with more cheddar cheese and drizzle with enchilada sauce and microwave for 1 min. Add sour cream, salsa, and guacamole to top it off.
9. Veggie Chilli
Perfect for rainy cold days! Combine 2 cups of diced tomatoes, 3 cups salsa (I prefer the chunky style), 2 cups of kidney beans, 2 cups of black beans, one 10-ounce package of frozen corn, 1 cup diced green zucchini, 1 tbsp ground cumin, and 1 tbsp chili powder. Bring chili to simmer on medium, then cover and take heat down to low for a few minutes. Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and fresh cilantro.
10. Taco Salad
While the health of some chips may be questionable, I love using healthy organic tortilla corn chips in the recipe. When you top it with healthy veggies, the chips become a crunchy side to the main veggie and bean event. To make this tasty treat, heat up 4 cups of chili beans. Then layer corn chips, chili beans, torn lettuce, kale, or spinach, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, black olives, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.
11. Veggie Burger
Veggie burgers have come a long way in taste and selection. You can now find many different frozen veggie burgers in your grocery aisle. I also make my own and freeze them. But, since this is a fast recipe list, we will stick with the pre-made veggie burgers. Simply grill or pan fry the veggie burger until heated through. Toast a whole-wheat hamburger bun and pile on your favorite toppings. I personally love avocado, sautéed mushrooms and onions, spicy mustard, and spinach leaves.
12. Veggie Frittata
This is for those egg lovers out there! Melt one tbsp of butter in frying pan. Add whatever veggies you want. I love mushrooms, bell peppers (red or green), chopped spinach, 2 minced garlic cloves, and onion. Sauté veggies until tender. While they are cooking, whisk 12 eggs and 1/4 cup water together. Pour eggs over the veggie mixture. Cook until the bottom is set, and lift the bottom of the frittata from the pan to allow egg mixture to run under and further cook. When the edges are set, either broil an additional two minutes to set the top, or flip the frittata and cook the top in the pan. Throw on cheese and chopped green onions and dig in.
13. Breakfast Burrito
These tasty burritos are an easy and fun-to-assemble treat for the entire family. Mix 1 cup cooked black beans with the juice from 1/2 a lime, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp paprika. Then, whisk 4 eggs together with 2 tbsp of milk and a dash of salt and pepper, and scramble on an oiled skillet. When eggs are cooked, heat up the bean mixture and flour tortillas in the microwave. Layer the bean and egg mixture together on the warm tortilla, then add avocado slices, feta cheese, salsa, and arugula, wrap up and enjoy!
14. Veggie Kabobs
Veggie kabobs are one of my favorite meals when grilling out with the family. There are many ways to grill veggies. Most recipes call for an overnight marinade, which greatly adds to the flavor of this dish, but also to the time involved to make it. So, for the purpose of efficiently, we will stick with a simpler, yet still delicious approach. You can create a quick marinade with 1 minced garlic clove, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, a dash of salt, 1 tsp of honey, and 1 tbsp on olive oil. Mix your marinade up and then toss your veggies in to coat them. My favorite veggies to make into kabobs include baby bella mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, grape tomatoes, tofu, and pineapple. Thread veggies onto metal skewers or pre-soaked wooden skewers and grill for 6 to 10 minutes – depending on your desired degree of doneness. When finished, you can drizzle any remaining marinade on the kabobs.
Though many people don’t think of salads as a main dish, I have often made them my complete meal. Most people consider salads as a few iceberg lettuce pieces and two grape tomatoes. Not the salads that I make! My main greens consist of a combination of spinach, kale, and arugula. I then throw in tomatoes, avocado, olives, diced onion, bell pepper, cucumbers, sprouts, broccoli, dried fruit (cranberry is very good), and some type of nut (usually almonds or walnuts). You can also throw on chick peas, boiled egg, or black beans for added protein. I even make my own dressing by blending up 1/2 a cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1 tbsp salt, and honey to taste (I usually do about 1/4 cup honey).
16. Fancy Grilled Cheese Fig Sandwich
Everyone knows grilled cheese is a favorite fast kid snack. But, adults can enjoy a more fancy version of an old favorite with a few healthy additives. Take two slices of your favorite bread, add about 3 dried figs thinly sliced, a spoonful of chopped walnuts, two spoonfuls of ricotta cheese, two slices of brie, and two slices of mozzarella. Add a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of truffle salt. Top with the other slice of bread and press in a panini press or grill on a skillet until the bread is browned on both sides and the cheese has turned into a gooey mess of goodness.
17. Fruit Parfait
Easy and healthy. What’s not to love? Take 3 cups vanilla yogurt (I always use yogurt with probiotics included to help with digestive health), one cup fresh or defrosted strawberries in juice, and 1 pint of fresh blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries, and granola, and alternate layers in your parfait cup. You assemble the cups by starting with yogurt at the base, the fruit next, and the granola last. Then begin the layering again until the parfait cup is full. Enjoy immediately to keep the granola crunchy. You can even treat yourself to some whip cream on top – if you dare!
18. Toast Pizza
If you love pizza but don’t have the time to create a large Italian masterpiece, you can do a faster version by using toasts in just mere minutes. Just cut your bread diagonally and brown one side. Then, spread the non-toasted side with tomato puree, a dash of minced garlic, and mozzarella and feta cheese. You can also add veggie toppings like mushroom, onion, bell pepper, basil, spinach and pineapple. Stick the toast back in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly and enjoy.
19. Vegan Crepes
I love berry crepes, and these are so easy to make! To make the crepes, simply combine 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp brown sugar and wisk together in a bowl. Then, add 1 cup almond or soy milk and whisk together until smooth. Heat up a pan and spray with cooking spray. When it’s hot, pour in about 1/4 of the mixture into the center. Make sure to rotate and angle the pan so you cover the entire area to make the crepes thin. You can tell when the crepe is done when you can easily move it around the pan. At this point, you can flip it to cook the other side. You want both sides lightly browned. While the crepes are cooking, combine fresh berries (I love blueberries, strawberries, and black berries) in a bowl and crush with a masher. Add 1 tbsp of maple syrup to the mixture and continue to crush until they are mashed together well. When the crepes are done, simply add the berry filling and roll the crepes together. You should be able to make four with this recipe. Take any left over berry mixture, drizzle over the top of the crepes, and serve.
20. Tahini With Veggies
You can find tahini in most grocery stores. It consists of ground up sesame seeds and olive oil. I often add honey to tahini and use it as a nutritious veggie dip. You can dip carrots, bell pepper slices or okra for a very nutritious snack or side. It’s a fun way to give raw veggies a kick.
21. Guacamole Salad
You can never go wrong with guacamole. However, here’s a twist on turning the traditional dip into a more hearty salad. Mix up 1 pint of halved grape tomatoes, 1 15-oz can of black beans, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 minced jalapeño pepper (seeds removed), 1/2 tsp freshly grated lime zest, one tsp salt, fresh ground black pepper, 1 diced yellow bell pepper (seeds removed), 1/2 cup diced red onion, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp minced garlic, and 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper. When you are ready to serve, peel and remove the seeds 2 two ripe Hass avocados, dice them up, and fold them into your salad.
22. Pita Sandwich
If you use whole wheat pita bread, this is a very nutritious meal. Hummus, made from chick peas, is very healthy. You can buy both easily from most grocery chains and eat them together in a more simple version, or make pita sandwiches. I spread hummus generously inside the pita pocket, then throw in spinach greens, olives, onions, tomato slices, salt and pepper, avocado slices, and alfalfa sprouts. It’s an easy way to eat your veggies in a tasty package.
23. White Bean Sandwich
I like to heat up 1 cup of cannelloni beans with 1 red bell pepper (seeded and cut into strips), 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil in a pan for about 8 minutes. Then, take a ciabatta loaf, cut into fourths, and make a small divot in the bottom half of the loaf and put 1/4 cup of the bean and pepper mixture in the divot. Then, add some sliced mozzarella, arugula and basil leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Easy to make and so filling!
24. Portobello Burger
Mushroom burgers are some of my favorite veggie variations on the classic hamburger. Simply take a greased cookie sheet and place a large portobello mushroom cap rubbed in olive oil on the oiled surface. Cut the stem off, and add garlic salt and pepper to both sides to taste. Bake eight minutes. Then, remove from the oven, add shredded cheese of your choice, and pop it back in for a few more minutes until the cheese melts. Throw it on a hamburger bun with all your favorite hamburger toppings (I like Ranch dressing on mine), and dig in!
25. Kale and Cauliflower Pasta
Kale is the king of greens! I always try to find ways to work it into recipes, as it is a powerhouse of nutrition. For this easy meal, cook any penne pasta according to package directions. Chop up 3 or 4 pieces of kale and slice up 3/4 of a cup of cauliflower. Sauté the cauliflower for 5 minutes with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter. Then, add the kale with an extra tbsp of oil, and cook for a few minutes until it’s slightly wilted. Then, add pasta and 1/4 cups of grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
26. Avocado Pasta
This recipe is very healthy as the sauce doesn’t need to be cooked, and you get all the fresh micronutrients from your food. Simply cook 6 oz of your choice of spaghetti or angel hair pasta according to the package directions. Then, make the sauce in a food processor. Remove the skin and throw in the meat from one pitted Avocado, juice from half a lemon, 1 to 3 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves. Process until your sauce is creamy, then toss in the al dente pasta and serve immediately.
27. Veggie Fried Rice
This is a staple in our home. Cook brown rice according to the package directions. Then, stir fry your favorite veggies in olive oil. I often use broccoli, squash, carrots, peas, corn, onion, mushroom, and kale (put kale at last after everything is cooked). Season with garlic salt, wasabi powder, and soy sauce to taste. While cooking, I move my veggies to the outside of my pan and scramble an egg in the center for added protein. Finally, pour your cooked brown rice in with your veggies and fry together a bit longer, stirring frequently. Add soy sauce, and enjoy.
28. Southwestern Veggie Pizza
Mexican and Italian meld together in this little gem. Preheat the oven to 450F. Take a pre-baked Italian bread shell (Boboli has a nice version) or use pita bread, spread 1/2 cup sour cream over the shell, then top with 3/4 cup chunky salsa, 1/2 cups black beans rinsed and drained, 1/4 cup green onions, and 4 oz of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses mixed together. Place pizza in oven until the cheese is melted, and serve with additional salsa or sour cream if desired.
29. Veggie Curry
Who doesn’t love a good curry? This veggie version is fast with many spices to tempt the taste buds. First, take 20 fennel seeds, 1/2 stick of cinnamon, and a few cardamon seeds and place them in 1/2 cup boiling water to soak and get flavor into the water. Then, set aside. In a large pot boil about 4 cups water, throw in 1 peeled and cubed medium-sized turnip and boil for 5 minutes covered. Throw in 1/2 large cauliflower chopped into florets for 3 minutes more. Then, add chopped up green pepper (seeds removed) and cook for 1 minute. Next, put in 1 cup of frozen peas for an additional minute. Drain away the boiling water until you have about 1 cup of water left in the mixture. Move the vegetables to one side of the pot and add all the spices into the water (1 tbsp each of garam masala, ginger powder, and cumin powder; 1 tsp of paprika, 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, and 1/2 tsp chili powder). Then, put in 1 small tub or 1/2 large tub of hummus (about 1 cup), add 1/2 cup tomato puree, and 1/4 cup of garlic puree. Finally, take 1/2 cup of the soaked 20 fennel seeds, 1/2 stick of cinnamon, and a few cardamon seeds that you set aside at the beginning and pour into the mix. You can take out the cinnamon stick if you wish. Put mixture on low heat for 2 minutes and mix together. Finally, add 1/4 cup fresh-chopped coriander stems and a few pieces of stem ginger for garnish. It’s an amazingly flavorful way to end your day!
30. Avocado Variations
There are few things as simple and fulfilling as an avocado. It’s packed with great heart-healthy fats and nutrients. You can slice this fruit in half, pop out the seed, and fill it with several variations. I sometimes drizzle either soy sauce or sunflower seeds on top of the fruit. You can also put an egg inside the hole the pit left (you may need to scoop out a bit more avocado flesh to widen the hole) and bake the avocado and egg at 425F for 12 to 15 minutes (depending on egg size). Then, take it out from the oven and season with pepper, chives, and salt.
31. Broccoli and Parmesan Soup
Broccoli has so many benefits, from cancer fighting antioxidants to high calcium content. It’s easy to see why researchers call this vegetable a super food. Here’s an easy recipe to make sure you get more broccoli in your diet. Bring two cups of water to a boil, and add two heads of broccoli (chopped up), a small piece of Parmesan rind, one tbsp of soy sauce, and one tbsp of lemon juice. Cover and simmer for eight minutes until the broccoli is tender. Puree in blender until smooth. Garnish with extra Parmesan savings, salt and pepper.
32. Spinach and Strawberry Salad
This is a sweet summer salad loaded with iron from the spinach and phytonutrients from the strawberries. Simply wash a bag of spinach and hull and quarter a pint of washed strawberries. Toss in 1/3 cup sliced almonds, sliced cucumber, and avocado. Make the dressing in a bowl or blender by combining 1/2 lemon (juiced), two tbsp white wine vinegar, one tbsp olive oil, one tsp poppy seeds, and 1/3 cup sugar. Blend or whisk together and drizzle over your salad. Toss to coat and serve.
33. Veggie and Goat Cheese Roti
Roti is one of my favorite Indian foods, and this version is fast to prepare and enjoy. Mist and heat whole wheat roti per package directions. Spread goat cheese over the bottom of each roti. In a separate pan, stir fry red peppers, canned chick peas (about half a cup), red onion, zucchini, mushrooms, and eggplant (cut into bite-size pieces) until tender. Spread veggie mixture on roti, keeping the sides clear for easy roll up. Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste. Roll up the roti and secure with toothpicks. Cut each roll in half along the diagonal line and serve.
As you can see, fast food can also be fit, healthy food. Give these quick meals a try to create the highly nutritious and succulent meals your family will love!
If you hate to cook, you’re not alone: in 2012, over 700,000 tweets involved the terms love to eat and/or hate to cook: Love to Eat, Hate to Cook? Spice Things Up In 9 Easy StepsFeatured photo credit: D.A.K.Photography via Flickr