6 Staples of a Vegetarian Diet

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6 Staples of a Vegetarian Diet
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6 Staples of a Vegetarian Diet

1. Healthy Oils

Oils, especially canola and extra-virgin olive oil, offer heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Some, such as canola oil and flaxseed oil, provide omega-3 fats.

2. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds provide protein and healthy unsaturated fats; walnuts and flaxseed provide omega-3 fats. Nuts and seeds also offer fiber and important nutrients, such as vitamin E, iron and zinc.

3. Eggs and Dairy

Eggs and dairy are good sources of high-quality protein for lacto-ovo-vegetarians. Dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, provide calcium and vitamin D.

4. Legumes

Legumes—beans (including soybeans/edamame), lentils and dried peas—are the best sources of plant-based protein. Foods made from them (tofu, tempeh, falafel, hummus) are good sources too. Legumes also provide fiber, vitamins and minerals, including iron and zinc (nutrients abundant in meat).

5. Whole Grains

Whole grains should have a starring role in any vegetarian diet, as they are excellent sources of carbohydrates (the "good" kind) and other essential nutrients: B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, copper, magnesium and iron, just to name a few. To try: oats, whole-wheat pastas and breads, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur.

6. Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables, with their abundance of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals (e.g., lycopene in red foods, beta carotene in orange foods, anthocyanins in blue/purple ones), should form the base of any vegetarian diet.

Now take those six staples and incorporate them into a number of different delicious meals!

Colorful Vegetable Tian

Squash, zucchini, potatoes, peppers and more create this dish, which is just as pretty as it is delicious.

Click here for the recipe: Colorful Vegetable Tian

Roasted, Marinated Eggplant Antipasto

Make sure you plan ahead for this dish, because it takes five hours to complete. But it's worth every minutes.

Click here for the recipe: Roasted, Marinated Eggplant Antipasto

Fresh Tomato Basil Bisque

Tomato soup is always a classic option for vegetarians, and this twist on the recipe is sure to please your tastebuds.

Click here for the recipe: Fresh Tomato Basil Bisque

Grilled Artichokes

Preparing fresh artichokes shouldn't be intimidating; Our step-by-step guide will have boiled or grilled chokes on your table in less than an hour.

Click here for the recipe: Grilled Artichokes

Eggplant Tomato Gratin

Combine eggplant, cream of celery soup and parmesan cheese for a tasty vegetarian meal option.

Click here for the recipe: Eggplant Tomato Gratin

Hot Chile Grilled Cheese

This deconstructed version of a chile relleno turned sandwich packs some heat and an ooey-gooey filling. We like the flavor of sourdough, but any kind of bread will work well.

Click here for the recipe: Hot Chile Grilled Cheese


Spread leftover refried beans on whole-wheat toast and top with salsa and cheese for an easy breakfast that has plenty of staying power.

Click here for the recipe: Mexi-Melt

Middle Eastern Chickpea & Rice Stew

The nutty goodness of slowly browned onions, spices and sweet potato are offset by a burst of fresh cilantro. Serve with whole-wheat pita and a salad of sliced cucumbers tossed with yogurt and a pinch of salt.

Click here for the recipe: Middle Eastern Chickpea & Rice Stew

Minted Tomato, Onion & Glazed Tofu Kebabs

Tofu kebabs with fresh mint, ripe tomato and onion make a delightful vegetarian supper from the grill. Pressing the tofu before marinating allows it to really absorb the flavors.

Click here for the recipe: Minted Tomato, Onion & Glazed Tofu Kebabs

Bruschetta Salad

Now you can enjoy the wonderful flavors of bruschetta in a salad. Using store-bought croutons in place of the baguette slices, gives you all the taste in just one bowl.

Click here for the recipe: Bruschetta Salad

Miso-Garlic-Roasted Tofu Caesar Salad

In this version of the classic salad, miso serves as a marinade and a rich, savory layer in the dressing. There are several varieties of miso, but the mellow, subtle sweetness of brown rice miso is just rich enough.

Click here for the recipe: Miso-Garlic-Roasted Tofu Caesar Salad

Broccoli Quiche Bites

After the pastry thaws, it takes just 10 minutes to put together these easy-to-make appetizers that get lots of flavor from a surprising ingredient - vegetable soup mix.

Read more: Broccoli Quiche Bites

Mixed Lettuce Salad With Cucumber Herb Vinaigrette

Oak leaf and baby romaine lettuces are so tender they’re best eaten straight from the garden or within a day or two of picking. They pair wonderfully with peppery radishes and chopped hard-boiled eggs in this salad.

Click here for the recipe: Mixed Lettuce Salad With Cucumber Herb Vinaigrette

Broccoli & Cheese Stuffed Shells

Large pasta shells stuffed with creamy cheese and chopped broccoli are laced with seasoned tomato sauce and baked until piping hot.

Click here for the recipe: Broccoli & Cheese Stuffed Shells

Moo Shu Vegetables

This vegetarian version of the classic Chinese stir-fry, Moo Shu, uses already-shredded vegetables to cut down on the prep time. Serve with warm whole-wheat tortillas, Asian hot sauce and extra hoisin if desired.

Click here for the recipe: Moo Shu Vegetables

Mushroom & Spinach Crepes

Try these crepes, filled with spinach and meaty mushrooms and topped with crumbled goat cheese, for a light supper with a salad on the side.

Click here for the recipe: Mushroom & Spinach Crepes

Blue Cheese Potato Soup With Olive Tapenade

Potato soups can sometimes be a bit bland, but not this one. This soup flavors the potatoes with blue cheese and balsamic vinegar, and a dollop of olive tapenade. Plus, it's ready to serve in just an hour.

Click here for the recipe: Blue Cheese Potato Soup With Olive Tapenade


By: Nicci Micco, M.S.

The building blocks of a meatless diet are wholesome, nourishing foods that should form the backbone of any diet—meatless or not. With these items in your pantry, a healthy, meatless meal is easy to pull together. Find out what these meatless staples are and why you should embrace them.

Check out the slideshow above for the staples of a vegetarian diet and additional recipes for you to try!

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