If you eat plant-based and need to keep your calorie count low, you don’t have to starve. This post focuses on low-calorie vegan recipes and store-bought options for your brown-bag lunch (or for staying home).
A soup or light entrée as the center of your brown-bag lunch
I find that a warm soup or entrée is perfect for my packed lunch at work. When I’m being a stickler about calories—like after the holidays—I take a low-calorie vegan soup along with a big salad and some fruit and vegetables for snacks. They keep me full all day. In this post I’ll focus on the soup or light entrée ideas.
Low-calorie, but filling and nutritious
My definition of low-calorie for a soup or entrée is about 150 calories per serving. Broth-based soups are the lowest in calories, but often they’re not filling enough. I’ve only included recipes for soups that I consider filling, and all of them have some protein. I especially love low-calorie vegan soups that get their creaminess from blending the vegetables or from lentils being cooked until they’re creamy.
Homemade low-calorie soups and entrées with protein
These are excellent recipes for low-calorie vegan homemade soups and entrées, and all of them include a protein (beans, lentils, nuts, tempeh, or soymilk).
- Food.com’s Uncle Bill’s Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
- Food Network’s Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup
- The Oregonian’s Tempeh and Wild Mushroom Stew
- Cookie+Kate’s Spiced Vegan Lentil Soup
- Allison Rivers Samson’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
- Gracious Vegan’s Candle Café-inspired Stir-fry (no rice)
- Roasted vegetables (guide assembled by the Gracious Vegan) – on a bed of quinoa (for protein)
Buy-and-pack recommendations for the non-cook (or when you don’t have time to cook)
Here are some recommendations for low-calorie nutritious vegan options that you can buy. Again, I’ve included only those with some protein, so there’s a better chance they’ll stick to your ribs.
- Boca Burger (only 70 calories) or other vegan patty. Take a lot of toppings with you: salsa, ketchup, mustard, dill pickles, lettuce, onion, etc. Maybe a small piece of bread (or two patties).
- Progresso vegetable soups – they have a lot of vegetable soups. They range from 80 to 160 per cup (there are 2 cups per can). One idea is to take 1 cup of, say, their lentil soup, and take 2-3 cups of baby spinach with you. Combine them in a bowl and put it in the microwave when you’re ready to eat. You’ll have a delicious soup that’s very high in nutrients.
- Miso soup, individual packets – these are tasty but not filling enough by themselves. You could take 1-2 cups of broccoli slaw mix (pre-cut from the produce aisle) and microwave that, and add the soup.
- Fresh store-made soups, but avoid high-calorie soups like African Peanut Soup
- Fresh store-made side dishes, but avoid any that are swimming in oil or have major calorie add-ins
Photo by Maria on flickr