Keeping Veganuary going: three tasty recipes

Health Adviser at Bupa
04 February 2020

Are you one of the many people who went vegan in January? With around 600,000 vegans living in the UK, the popularity of plant-based diets has grown massively in the last ten years. And if you want to keep Veganuary going, take a moment to consider the likely benefits it brings to your long-term health.

Studies have shown that switching to a more plant-based diet, with a wide range of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, is linked to a lower risk of disease including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. And cutting down on the amount of meat you eat can also help to reduce your carbon footprint, as animal-based foods are more harmful for the environment than plant-based foods.

So, whether you’re looking to make a few small swaps to a more plant-based diet or just want some recipe inspiration, these three recipes will provide plenty of health benefits without compromising on flavour! They can be easily prepared in under an hour and are a great breakfast or lunch-time option for taking with you into work.

vegetables and bowls of coconut milk, lentils, spinach, chopped tomatoes

Veggie pasta

This vegan pasta is one of my favourite weeknight meals. It’s very easy to make and is packed with colour and nutrients. It’s also a great low-calorie recipe option.

vegetables and bowls of tomato sauce, mushrooms, chickpeas and pasta

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 aubergine
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 courgette
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • Wholegrain pasta

Method

  1. Heat a medium saucepan to medium heat and fry the diced onion and garlic with some olive oil until soft.
  2. Roughly chop the aubergine, mushrooms, courgette and carrots, and add to the saucepan, heating for around five minutes, until they become soft.
  3. Add in the chopped tomatoes and chickpeas, then leave to simmer for twenty minutes until the sauce starts to thicken and come together.
  4. Cook pasta according to cooking instructions, then serve with sauce. Add vegan cheese as an optional extra if desired.

vegetable pasta in a bowl

What are the recipe’s health benefits?

Using a tomato-based sauce, with no added dairy such as cheese, butter or cream, means this recipe has less calories and can help you to maintain a healthy weight.

It’s also a good option for cutting down on the amount of saturated fats you eat, which tend to be found in more animal-based foods such as fatty red meat, high fat dairy and processed foods. Saturated fats can also increase the amount of bad cholesterol (also known as ‘LDL’ cholesterol) in the blood, which increases the risk of heart disease.

The chickpeas are a healthy source of plant-based protein, which helps to both maintain and build your body cells, and to keep your muscles healthy.

Coconut vegan curry

As this recipe has plenty of vegetables it’s a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, which can help you to maintain a healthy digestive system.

 

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 butternut squash
  • Handful of spinach
  • 200g mushrooms
  • 100g lentils
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • Rice of your choice

chopped vegetables on a board and a bowl of spinach leaves

Method

  1. Heat pan over a medium heat with olive oil. Add diced onions, garlic and chilli and fry until soft. Then add in curry powder and fry for a further two minutes.
  2. Add chopped vegetables to the pan and fry them until they start to soften.
  3. Add in the coconut milk, chopped tomatoes and dry lentils with a dash of hot water. Allow to simmer for 45 minutes, adding more water if necessary, until the sauce becomes thick or as desired. Add spinach as you’re cooking the rice (according to pack instructions).
  4. Serve alongside rice of your choice.

two bowls of vegan coconut curry and a bowl of rice with cutlery

What are the recipe’s health benefits?

In this recipe, fibre is a key player which is very important for our digestive health and can help to prevent constipation. It may also help to reduce your risk of bowel cancer, which research has linked to diets rich in red or processed meats.

The lentils in this recipe are a cheap and low-fat source of fibre and protein, which count towards your recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. They’re also a great alternative source of protein for people who don’t get protein by eating meat, fish or dairy products.

It’s important to vary the sources of protein you’re getting to ensure you get a range of different amino acids (the building blocks for protein) in your diet.

Chia pudding

This recipe can be used as a breakfast or dessert. Despite their small size, chia seeds are a rich and excellent source of important nutrients in your diet.

 

Ingredients (serves 1 or 2)

  • 50g chia seeds
  • 200ml coconut milk (or alternative milk of choice)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Mixed berries and nuts to serve on top

individual bowls of coconut milk, berries, mixed nuts, chocolate, chia seeds and a spoon of honey

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients, except the berries and nuts, in a large bowl. Then cover the bowl with cling film and leave it in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight.
  2. Serve the pudding in smaller bowls, sprinkling mixed berries and nuts on top.

Two bowls of chia chocolate chia pudding with berries and nuts

What are the recipe’s health benefits?

Nuts and seeds are high in unsaturated fats and good for maintaining a healthy level of good cholesterol (known as ‘HDL’ cholesterol), which is beneficial for maintaining a healthy heart. As well has having other health benefits, chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help to lower our risk of heart disease. They’re also rich in antioxidants, which can help to keep our body cells healthy.

The berries also taste great in this recipe and contain a range of important nutrients including potassium, magnesium and calcium, as well as vitamins A, C, E and most of our B vitamins. As well as being a great diary-free alternative for the curry recipe, coconut milk works really well in this type of recipe. Plant-based milks like this can often have as much calcium and vitamin D as cow’s milk if they’re fortified, so checking food labels is important to help make sure you’re getting enough to keep your bones and teeth healthy.


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Laura Davies
Health Adviser at Bupa

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