Keep your team’s cylinders fired all day long with these healthy vegetarian lunch ideas. Fueling up with fruits and vegetables is the best way to stay energized at work, so consider ordering vegetarian meals for the office, reports Forbes. Fiber intake always goes up when you emphasize staples like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, and lentils in your diet, while the presence of fatty animal products goes down. These ingredients maintain blood sugar at steady levels all afternoon while also increasing consumption of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Keeping that in mind, here are 15 healthy vegetarian lunch ideas to add to your catering rotation.
Biryani: This aromatic, one-pot rice dish hails from South Asia by way of Persian cuisine and has all the aromatic properties you’d expect thanks to a complex mix of spices like garam masala. Although more traditional versions contain chicken or lamb, some Indian restaurants are now making biryani vegetarian. But you won’t miss the meat thanks to a complex mix of ingredients like spices, roasted nuts, dried fruit, fresh herbs, and caramelized onions.
Buddha’s Delight: Also called Buddha’s Feast, fresh vegetables like mushrooms and thinly sliced bamboo shoots come together in this delicate stir-fry perfumed with ginger. They sizzle in the wok over high heat, retaining their bite, and taste subtly of a savory mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and rice wine. Traditionally eaten by Buddhist monks who happen to be vegetarians, it’s now a favorite option at Chinese restaurants across the country.
Cauliflower Steaks: Even steakhouses are now serving meatless options like the cauliflower steak, a meat substitute that feels both meaty and healthy. This trendy dish is a whole cauliflower sliced through the head into four large pieces and then roasted until the natural sugars become caramelized and sweet. Try it bathed in an unexpected sauce like brown butter, chimichurri, or even Thai peanut.
Chana Masala: Once again, look no further than Indian cuisine for healthy vegetarian lunch ideas that are guaranteed to satisfy. These creamy chickpeas simmered in a tangy tomato sauce redolent of ginger, turmeric, and garlic are always best served over a bed of fluffy white rice. Because each chef relies on his or her own signature spice mix, every restaurant serves a distinct take on this unique dish.
Eggplant Parmesan: There’s practically nothing better than this Italian favorite that packs a surprising amount of flavor, especially for being made almost entirely of vegetables. The textural contrast is also impressive, with crispy slices of fried eggplant swathed in a bright tomato sauce scented with basil and garlic, all topped with melty mozzarella cheese and the salty kiss of Parmesan. Enjoy it with a side of perfectly al dente spaghetti or linguine.
Paella: Lately it’s getting easier to find a meatless paella on menus. The vegetarian twist on the classic Spanish dish retains all the flavorful and healthful ingredients like toothsome bites of bell pepper, tomatoes, and sweet green peas while removing some of the heavier components like shellfish and sausage. The top layer of rice, suffused with saffron and paprika, remain perfectly plump while the bottom becomes caramelized and crisp against the heat of the pan. That’s why this healthy vegetarian lunch idea is one of our favorites.
Falafel Sandwiches: These crave-worthy balls of chickpea goodness are at their best when served crispy brown on the outside and dotted on the inside with green specks of freshly chopped parsley. Find them at you local Middle Eastern restaurant smothered in tahini sauce, garnished with vegetables like lettuce, tomato, fresh cucumber, crunchy pickled turnips, and tucked into warm pita bread. It just might be the king of vegetarian sandwiches.
Grain Bowls: Bowls based on rice, quinoa, barley, or other grains are everywhere right now. They’re quick to assemble, simple to customize, and easy to eat at meetings. While kale, beets, and goat cheese are all the rage as toppings, these bowls were practically meant to go global with toppings like tofu and peanut sauce or black beans and avocado.
Meze Platter: A feast for both the eyes and mouth, meze comprises a selection of appetizers from Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon that arrives at the beginning of a meal. While hummus, tabbouleh (stuffed grape leaves), and olives are always a favorite at parties and events, don’t forget to add some labneh, dolmas, baba ganoush, red pepper dip, fattoush salad, or cubes of salty cheese.
Mujaddara: It’s said this savory combination of lentils and caramelized onions cooked with cumin, coriander, and mint has magical powers. Although this can’t be verified for sure, this staple Middle Eastern dish is apparently full of healthful properties. The contrasting textures of soft onions mixed with fat grains of rice and earthy lentils make for especially enjoyable eating.
Portobello Mushroom Burgers: These meaty mushroom caps soak up all the flavors from any marinade like garlic or balsamic vinegar, as well as the smokiness of the grill. Placed on a toasted bun, they pair beautifully with roasted peppers and melted cheese. So quell those cravings for a mouthwatering burger, but do it without all the heaviness.
Pasta Primavera: It’s no wonder the name of this classic Italian dish translates to “spring pasta” in English. Bright green seasonal vegetables like asparagus, peas, and fresh basil come tossed with spaghetti or linguine. A silky sauce of salty Parmesan cheese mixed with fruity olive oil completes the dish.
Spring Rolls: A lighter and healthier cousin to egg rolls, this appetizer from Vietnam comes wrapped in delicate rice paper that readily yields with barely a bite. It conceals fillings like crunchy spears of carrot, daikon radish, and cucumber, fresh herbs like cilantro or mint, and sometimes even chewy fried tofu. A spicy-sweet peanut sauce spiked with chiles makes for an ideal accompaniment.
Veggie Sushi Rolls: Japanese food doesn’t always equal raw fish. The key to this dish lies in the cool, contrasting textures—think smooth avocado, thin pieces of salty seaweed, chewy rice, and crunchy asparagus. This healthy vegetarian lunch idea makes for a nutritious lunch that still somehow feels like an indulgence instead of a sacrifice.
Vegetable Tacos: These days, you can wrap a warm corn tortilla around almost any filling and produce a delicious lunch. That includes a host of fresh vegetables like sweet potato, cauliflower, carrots, eggplant, summer squash, or mushrooms. Pair them with a smoky cheese, sour cream, or even just a fiery salsa.
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