Eating a plant-based diet doesn't just sound healthy — it is. People who eat a plant-based diet tend to weigh less, have a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes and better blood pressure and cholesterol compared to their omnivorous counterparts, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
But, wait, what does "plant-based" mean? This buzzword doesn't actually have real definition beyond simply eating plants. The upshot is that you can determine how strict you want to be: Do you plan to eat all plants or will you eat more plants than animal products?
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One thing is certain: Choosing to up your plant intake is healthy — and most of us fall short on eating our fruits and vegetables, per the USDA. Fruits and vegetables are important because they're how we get key vitamins (think: vitamins A, C, etc.), minerals (such as potassium) and fiber that aren't always as abundant in other foods.
So, with that said, here are 13 healthy, plant-based recipes to add to your weekly rotation. Plus, all of them clock in at under 400 calories to help you further your weight-loss goals.
1. Buffalo Chickpea Salad With Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- Calories: 290
This 30-minute, gluten-free dish combines spicy, creamy and crunchy. It serves as a great make-ahead lunch or easy weeknight dinner. Plus, it delivers a healthy dose of protein and fiber — that's a good thing, since foods that are high in protein and fiber are quite satiating, per February 2015 research published in Trends in Food Science & Technology.
Get the Buffalo Chickpea Salad With Yogurt Ranch Dressing recipe and nutrition info from Dishing Out Health.
2. Vegan Lasagna
- Calories: 384
Yes — meatless and dairy-free lasagna! Thanks to a hummus and tofu "ricotta," even die-hard meat and dairy eaters have been known to love this lasagna. Zucchini, spinach and peas bump up the veggie count in this lasagna, plus add good-for-you phytochemical lutein and zeaxanthin, per the USDA.
Get Vegan Lasagna recipe and nutrition info from Hummusapien.
3. Vegan Mexican Tortilla Soup
- Calories: 365
There are definitely good pre-made soups on the market, but they'll never be as good as something that's homemade — in our opinion. But don't worry, this one doesn't require hours on end or masterful skills. In fact, all you'll do is dump everything into a pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for just 10 minutes.
The soup includes edamame, which have 8 grams of fiber per cup, according to the USDA. Each bowl is flavorful and filling and the finale of tortilla chips, avocado and lime zest takes it over the top!
Get Vegan Mexican Tortilla Soup recipe and nutrition info here.
4. One-Pot Spanish Rice and Beans
- Calories: 350
This recipe draws mostly on pantry staples to deliver a nutritious, flavor-packed meal. The combination of rice and beans means you get a complete source of plant protein.
Better yet, it comes together in one pot and is gluten-free. Another pro to this recipe: It's written as a blueprint versus a very specific recipe and comes with ample ingredient substitutes.
Get the One-Pot Spanish Rice and Beans recipe and nutrition info from Dishing Out Health.
5. 30-Minute Pesto Tortellini Salad
- Calories: 350
This crowd-pleasing salad is an excellent choice for entertaining, and also so dead-simple that it makes for an ideal weekday meal. Mediterranean-inspired, you can enjoy it warm or chilled. And, it delivers almost one-third of your daily fiber target — that's 28 grams each day, per the FDA — in a single serving.
Get the 30-Minute Pesto Tortellini Salad recipe and nutrition info from Dishing Out Health.
6. Vegan Chickpea Walnut Tacos
- Calories: 312
Mushrooms, chickpeas and walnuts give these tacos that hearty and meaty filling we all crave. Then add some cool freshness — plus some added vitamins, minerals and fiber — with a dollop of guacamole and a sprinkling of shredded cabbage.
Get Vegan Chickpea Walnut Tacos recipe and nutrition info from Hummusapien.
7. Savory Zucchini Vegan Oatmeal
- Calories: 399
Oatmeal is no longer just for breakfast. This recipe is a perfect example. Simmer oats in water, lemon juice and sea salt, along with sliced fresh zucchini, scallion and olive oil — it's a delicious way to get soluble fiber, which helps to keep blood sugar and cholesterol in check, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Get Savory Zucchini Vegan Oatmeal recipe and nutrition info here.
8. 30-Minute Lentil and Mushroom Tacos
- Calories: 350
If you think a veggie taco cannot possibly be as satisfying as a meaty one, this recipe is for you. It has meaty texture thanks to toothsome mushrooms and the lentils deliver heartiness.
Lentils also deliver some health perks: The fiber in these legumes can help quell inflammation and also lower cancer risk, according to the American Institute of Cancer Research. The adobo sauce and a few spices add bold flavor.
Get the 30-Minute Lentil and Mushroom Tacos recipe and nutrition info from Dishing Out Health.
9. Creamy Vegetable Soup
- Calories: 354
This vegan (read: cream-less) soup gets its creaminess from raw cashews.
Yet it's still incredibly filling — the soup's combination of good-for-you fat and protein will help you stay full. Not only does this soup come together in one pot, but it also calls for some convenient, frozen vegetables. And, reminder, frozen veggies are just as healthy as fresh varieties, per Produce for Better Health, a non-profit aimed at upping produce intake.
Get the Creamy Vegetable Soup recipe and nutrition info from Dishing Out Health.
10. Easy Vegan Meatballs
- Calories: 246
The base of these meatballs calls for protein- and fiber-filled pinto beans. Toasted walnuts and mushrooms add much-needed umami "meatiness." Round out the meal and serve these with your favorite jarred marinara sauce — either on top of your preferred pasta or sandwiched inside a roll.
Get Easy Vegan Meatballs recipe and nutrition info from Hummusapien.
11. Sticky Chia Fried Rice
- Calories: 357
Chinese fried rice is often a greasy side dish. But here it's transformed into a flavorful main dish, hold the greasiness. It's full of good carbs for energy. But there's also significant protein here via the tofu, brown rice and chia seeds. What's more, the chia seeds provide a burst of fiber and omega-3s, according to USDA. The seeds are used in this fried rice entree instead of eggs to keep it vegan.
Get Sticky Chia Fried Rice recipe and nutrition info here.
12. Vegan Enchiladas With Cashew Sour Cream
- Calorie: 315
This fiber-packed main delivers half of your daily fiber goal (14 grams per serving). Plus, learn how to make "sour cream" with cashews and a couple other common ingredients. If black beans aren't your go-to, substitute with equally as good-for-you kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils.
Get Vegan Enchiladas With Cashew Sour Cream recipe and nutrition info from Hummusapien.
13. Instant Pot Vegan Cream of Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
- Calories: 273
Be sure to dig this recipe out during soup season. Creamy without the cream (thanks to soaked and blended cashews, which are also a decent source of potassium and other important minerals, per the USDA), and brimming with veggies and hearty wild rice, this is a quick, easy, and healthy soup you won't want to pass up. Don't have an Instant Pot? Don't worry — there are stovetop instructions, too.
Get Instant Pot Vegan Cream of Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup recipe and nutrition info from Hummusapien.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Vegetarian Diets"
- USDA: "Americans Still Can Meet Fruit and Vegetable Dietary Guidelines for $2.10-$2.60 per Day"
- Trends in Food Science & Technology: "Optimizing Foods for Satiety"
- FDA: "Daily Value on the New Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels"
- Produce for Better Health: "About The Buzz: Frozen And Canned Fruits And Vegetables VS Fresh"
- AICR Food Facts: "Pulses: Dry Beans, Peas, and Lentils (Legumes)"
- USDA: "Top 10 Foods Highest in Lutein and Zeaxanthin"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet"
- USDA: "Edamame, cooked"
- USDA: "Chia Seeds"
- USDA: "Cashews, NFS"