There’s nothing I enjoy more than a food challenge. Someone not a big fan of vegetables? Big meat eater with a small serving of vegetables? Think healthy food tastes bad? I want to change their minds. Let me make a meal for them and I’ll convert them. I revel in that moment when a skeptical person tries healthy food and ends up finishing their plate or reaching for seconds.
A friend of mine told me she was having a hard time making recipes for her husband who loves meat. She had made some more vegetarian-focused meals, but it wasn’t as filling and she would find him a few hours later chowing down on a bowl of cereal.
That’s something I hear a lot. How can vegetarian meals be filling? How can fullness come without meat? It’s completely possible, it just takes a little more creativity. Adding meat to a meal seems easy. It’s usually a large component of most meals and is high in protein, making it filling. You don’t have to do much to it besides season it and cook it.
Most people that get tripped up and hungry faster after a vegetarian meal have missed adding enough fiber or protein to their meal. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense and for the most part calorie-light, especially when compared to any meat. You need to eat more produce to feel fuller in comparison to just eating meat. Adding fiber, protein, or both to your plant-based meal will bring the lasting fullness you’re looking for.
High fiber foods include any bean or legume, sweet potatoes, broccoli, artichokes, peas, Brussels sprouts, nuts, and whole grains like brown rice and barley. Meatless foods that are high in protein include beans, nuts, quinoa, soy (which I recommend in moderation), yogurt (go for the full-fat and organic version if you can afford it), winter squashes, and darker, leafy greens.
When you’re putting together your next vegetarian meal, try adding one or two high fiber or high protein foods into the meal and see how full you feel afterwards. Play around with combinations and see which ones make you feel more full than others.
Indian food is a great cuisine to learn from when it comes to filling, vegetarian meals. Most of their dishes highlight either a legume or filling vegetable cooked with amazing flavors. The fun thing about Indian cuisine is also the amount of variety you can enjoy in one meal. You can easily make two dishes and enjoy smaller portions with some brown rice and feel satisfied.
This Spicy Curried Eggplant dish combines several high protein and high fiber foods like peas and eggplant (one cup has 10% of your daily value of fiber). Combined with brown jasmine rice and, if you’d like, a cooling raita (which has yogurt in it, another high protein food), it will leave you feeling full and not reaching for a bowl of cereal a few hours later.
The eggplant is roasted and best soft in this dish, so if you haven’t quite mastered how to cook eggplant, this dish is very forgiving. I left the skins on for added nutrients, but if you feel inclined to remove the skins before roasting, that’s fine too.
If you’re making this for a less heat-tolerant crowd, you can lower or eliminate the chili powder in the recipe and still get a great dish. The other curry spices still shine without the heat.
Enjoy this eggplant dish and enjoy the challenge of making more filling vegetarian food. Experimenting with and making food can be half the fun of food itself. If you have any questions or want some more ideas about filling vegetarian meals, let me know in the comments section of this post!