Meatless Mondays, dairy-free milk alternatives and plant-based proteins are all the rage right now. It’s the new lifestyle craze and it happens to be delicious too! You may think that plant-based dinners mean just salad and beans but that is incorrect. Plant-based diets do include lots of vegetables and beans, but also nuts and seasonings that are creative, flavorful and super filling. I’m featuring some hearty meatless, plant-based recipe ideas, no salads or sides this time, but filling, main-dish worthy recipes that are new, on-trend and part of my weekday repertoire.

Warm Curried Lentil Bowl

Photo by Minimalistbaker.com

Serves 4

Warm lentils on a cold winter night are the perfect comfort protein packed dinner. These can be served over almost anything and are super simple to make. A colorful dinner bowl brightens a cold winter night.

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups golden (yellow or red) lentils
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 3 cups fresh kale or greens

Optional additions for serving:

  • Thinly sliced red cabbage
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa

Bring water to a boil in a large pot or saucepan. Add lentils and return to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook lentils uncovered for 4-5 minutes or until just tender. Drain excess water and set aside. Be careful not to overcook or they can become mushy (cooking time will vary by variety of lentil - check package for instructions).

In the meantime, heat a large rimmed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil. When hot add shallots, garlic, and ginger and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add salt, curry powder, turmeric, and crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minute more. Reduce heat to a simmer, and add coconut milk and maple syrup and stir to combine. Cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes to combine the flavors.

Add the drained, cooked lentils to the coconut sauce and stir. Turn off heat, add lemon juice, and stir. Then serve and enjoy! These are delicious on their own, but they would also be tasty with rice, cauliflower rice, steamed or roasted vegetables, and more.

Next, prepare kale by heating a rimmed skillet over high heat and add coconut oil. When oil is melted, add kale and cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble bowl: Place roasted sweet potatoes, brown rice or whatever heartier ingredient on the bottom. Spoon lentils and other assorted toppings on top. Serve immediately.

Indian Peanut Soba Noodles

Photo by Food52.com

Serves 4 - 5

Everyone loves peanut butter and I love Indian food! This delicious dinner idea is peanut flavored with a nice punch. It rewarms well and the spice ratios can be changed to your desire. It is the perfect combination of tangy, warm, creamy and sweet.

  • 1 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (omit if peanuts are salted)
  • I package udon or soba noodles
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped into 1-inch pieces (frozen is okay or other vegetable of your choice)
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, divided
  • 2 tablespoons peanut puree (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce, to taste

For the peanut puree:
In a food processor or blender, puree peanuts, cumin, chili powder, and salt into a coarse powder. Keep in a zip-top bag or tightly sealed container.

For the noodles:
Cook the noodles according to the instructions on their packet and set aside. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water in which you boiled the noodles.

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet. Add broccoli and saute for 5 minutes. Add red bell pepper for 3-4 minutes. Add half of the scallions and let cook for a minute. Add peanut puree and soy sauce and sauté till the sauce coats all of the vegetables.

Add boiled noodles and mix until the noodles are coated evenly with the sauce and add the pasta water if sauce is too thick. Garnish with rest of the scallions.

Easy Peasy Homemade Veggie Burgers

Photo by Nutritionrefined.com

Veggie burgers are a freezer staple in my house. My kids love them, they make the best on the go lunches and are the perfect salad topper. My son likes to eat these in a bun with all the goods on top! Aioli, spicy mayo, ketchup and bbq sauce are his top picks. My daughter crumbles them in wraps, salads and add them to stuffed peppers. Let me know your ideas too!

3/4 cup dried black beans, soaked (or use 1 ½ cups canned, rinsed black beans)

1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup

Put the beans in fresh clean water and cover them with at least 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and remove any foam that forms. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender. The time will vary depending on your own beans, but approximately 45 minutes. Once cooked, drain excess water. Cool and measure 1 1/2 cups.

Prepare the brown rice. Using a large pot, cover the brown rice with 1 1/4 cups of water and a sprinkle of salt. Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender, about 20 - 25 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and garlic, and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Then add mushrooms and salt. When the mushrooms start releasing water, add cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, thyme, and black pepper. Keep sautéing until all the liquid evaporates.

In a large bowl, add cooked black beans, cooked brown rice, sautéed mushrooms with all the spices, breadcrumbs, and ketchup. Mix until everything is well incorporated. Divide the burger mixture into 6 patties. Shape into burgers.

To grill the burgers, preheat your grill over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, then flip gently. Cook for 4-5 minutes on the other side. To bake the burgers, arrange the burgers on a baking sheet coated with olive oil. Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Serve on a bun with toppings of your choice.

Golden Lentil Turmeric Soup with Kale

Photo by Nourishedbynutrition.com

Serves 5

Any soup that can be made into a meal is a double win for me. This soup is so flavorful and freezes well. It’s hearty, wholesome yet fresh and the color is so appealing.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 4 large cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cup loosely packed chopped kale
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • squeeze of fresh lemon
  • Cilantro

Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Warm the olive oil and add the onions, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the lentils, turmeric, cumin, ginger, coriander, and sumac, stirring for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 30 minutes, until lentils are soft. With an immersion blender or blender, puree ½ the soup, leaving the rest chunky.

Add kale and lemon juice and let simmer until kale has softened, about 5-10 min. Taste to season with additional salt and pepper. Serve with an extra squeeze of lemon and fresh cilantro.

Creamy Pumpkin Risotto

Photo by Createnourishlove.com

Serves 5

One of my favorite restaurant treats is risotto at a restaurant but rarely do I to give it a try in my home kitchen, it's often time consuming, and attention needy, plus a bit fattening. Something about the perfect flavorful combination and soft texture while not being too mushy feels restaurant worthy and a bit intimidating. This one is a bit different, it’s easier to prepare and non-dairy yet creamy and lush.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (that’s pure pumpkin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or a pinch of dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or cheddar cheese for a dairy version)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and sauté shallots until fragrant. Add in the rice and sauté about 5 Minutes, until translucent. Add in the wine and stir until absorbed. Add the broth, one cup at a time, stirring occasionally until all the liquid is absorbed, this takes about 5 minutes each addition. Stir in the pumpkin and seasonings with the last cup of broth, and cook until creamy and all liquid is absorbed.

Stir in nutritional yeast or cheddar cheese, garnish with fresh rosemary, and serve.