Good, easy whole food plant-based recipes for beginners can be hard to find, and often difficult to make! I’m taking the guesswork out of meal planning and prepping by sharing my family’s favorite plant-based recipes.
These are easy, simple recipes loaded with flavor and health benefits. They are perfect for the beginner cook, or beginner to the plant-based lifestyle. I’ve got soup recipes loaded with plant-based protein, main courses exploding with flavor and playing on some easy American favorites like tacos, pizza and more.
Prep easy whole-food plant-based side dishes that pair well with any meal, plant-based or not, as well as snacks that can be made once and enjoyed all week long! Let’s dive in.
If you stumbled upon this post while looking to make some changes to your diet then you’ve come to the right place. My goal with Simple Green Smoothies is to help as many people as I can eat more plants every day. You don’t have to eat all the plants, just more!
A plant-based diet is all about fueling our bodies with foods that are naturally occurring and minimally processed. Many people believe that in order to eat a protein-dense meal you must include meat from animals. I’m here to tell you that’s not true! You can have a protein-powered, plant-forward meal without meat.
There are a wide variety of plant-based protein options and I’m not just talking about legumes! I can start my day with a banana smoothie, boasting 18 grams of protein. Then around mid-morning, I’ll grab some baked chickpeas with 13 grams of protein. For lunch, I’m going to enjoy some Thai lettuce wraps with 16 grams of protein, then finish off my day with red lentil soup coming in at 22 grams of protein per serving.
That means I’ve consumed 69 grams of protein, completely from plants! While protein needs vary from person to person, this is 16 grams more than I need in a day according to this article by Harvard.
Intrigued? Let’s start planning some meals for you!
Quick Main Dishes
My family likes hearty meals to fuel our very active lifestyles. Here are the recipes that frequent our table and we actually like to eat! They are full of flavor, color and a variety of vegetables yet do not compromise on taste.
A whole food plant-based diet (sometimes seen as WFPB diet) is all about variety; trying to eat as many colors each day as you can. So grab that purple cauliflower, white carrot, or tri-colored peppers to brighten up your next meal.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
5 from 2 votes
This vegetarian Shepherd's pie has all the flavor and comfort of traditional shepherd's pie yet without the meat. My version uses savory, filling lentils, mushrooms and a wide variety of vegetables and spices for the perfect cold weather meal.
A simple quinoa batter makes for a crispy-edged, tender, gluten-free pizza crust that takes almost no effort to make. These toppings are some of my favorites—especially the pesto— but feel free to top with whatever your heart (or tummy) desires.
These plant-based tofu nuggets are packed with protein and amazing crunch. The secret sauce is tearing pressed tofu to get craggily edges that help to make the crispiest nooks and crannies for your favorite dipping sauce to cling to. Try using your air fryer for an equally delicious nugget!
When I became a vegetarian at 16 years old, one of the meals I missed the most was the chicken lettuce wraps from my fav Chinese restaurant. This thai lettuce wrap recipe is inspired by those, yet this dish adds a lot more nourishment and flavors to make me one happy vegetarian.
Pulled BBQ jackfruit is a meatless wonder to make all of your Taco Tuesday dreams come true. Jackfruit Tacos only take about a half hour to prepare – perfect for getting dinner on the table in a hurry.
Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest foods you can add to your diet. We’re always looking for ways to serve them in an exciting way and this vegan taco salad is perfection. Each healthy bite is full of mouthwatering flavor. It definitely hits the spot when you’re craving Mexican flavors.
I’m a huge fan of swapping traditional pasta for veggie noodles in this Mediterranean-inspired recipe. Spaghetti squash is very mild and has a great texture that can hold up to sauces and toppings like a champ. Enjoy it to the fullest wrapped in olive oil, artichoke hearts, olives and sun-dried tomatoes topped with crunchy walnuts and perfectly seasoned.
I’ve learned how easy soup can be. Most of mine start with sautéing garlic and onions, then adding in some homemade vegetable stock along with whatever else I want and simmering to perfection.
If I need my meal to-go then I choose a blended soup I can toss into a thermos. If I get to enjoy a meal with my family then I choose one like my Vegetarian Split Pea Soup which pairs fabulously with some crusty bread.
Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
4.8 from 51 votes
While this vegetarian split pea soup is delicious straight from the stovetop, it's even better as leftovers. Make a batch and freeze, or enjoy as a cozy family dinner.
You'll never guess there's no dairy in this amazingly comforting vegan potato soup. It's exactly what your next cool evening calls for and can be paired with a simple kale crouton recipe that takes the flavor to the next level.
This tomato soup recipe is dairy-free yet super creamy. Perfect for those cool Autumn nights, and a great way to get in veggies! That's right, I loaded this soup up with a variety of veggies, yet it still tastes like my momma's tomato soup from my childhood.
Dive into a nourishing and fulfilling soup recipe loaded with vegetables, hearty lentils and natural spices. This red lentil soup is the perfect cool weather delight and can be made once and frozen to serve again and again this season.
This nourishing, simple carrot ginger soup is full of love for the tummy. The ginger and cumin bring warmth to the digestive system, while the garlic and onion gently assist liver detoxification. The carrots bring nutrient-dense deliciousness! Feel free to add extra broth or coconut milk to reach your desired consistency.
Plant-powered. Autumn Flavored. Try this amazing vegan roasted red pepper soup that's both comforting and tasty. Dairy-free yet super creamy using sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, onions, garlic and spices.
A soothing soup can help your body heal in a variety of ways. This vegetable noodle soup recipe is great to make the moment you feel under the weather, or make at the beginning of cold and flu season, then freeze to have on hand when you need it.
This vegan pumpkin soup is healthy, filling, comforting and warms you up when the weather is chilly. It uses pie pumpkins, onion, garlic and spices along with dairy-free coconut milk. Double the recipe to save some to enjoy all season long.
If you’re looking for whole food plant-based recipes for beginners then start with these veggie side dishes. They are all simple to make and easy to enjoy. Dress them up for a fancy occasion or enjoy them as-is for a weeknight meal.
Not ready to be completely dairy-free? No worries! You can easily cook many of these recipes in some grass-fed butter or top with cheese for a comforting finish.
Skillet Green Beans
5 from 6 votes
Whip up an elevated version of a classic side in no time with these beautifully blackened skillet green beans. They are topped with fresh sautéed garlic and capers to bring a salty, warm flavor to a vibrantly green vegetable. Easy to prepare and a joy to eat.
Enjoy this gorgeously simple, side dish by cubing and roasting butternut squash in a few easy steps. You can use this recipe to enjoy softened or crispy squash, your choice! This is a great side dish for the cooler months and works well for the holidays, too.
My family devours bowls of boiled edamame anytime we are at a restaurant or at home. It's super easy to make and oh-so-delicious to enjoy. This can be enjoyed all by itself as a filling snack or popped out of the pods as a protein-dense salad topping.
Brussels sprouts are my favorite vegetable of all time. It started as a kid when I would pretend they were Barbie doll sized cabbages and play with them. Over the years, I learned to love Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts paired with Maple Walnuts and caramelized to perfection. It's like eating candy! I serve them for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year, and never have leftovers.
I’ve always been a coleslaw lover, but struggled these last few years as I’ve been moving away from mayonnaise and most processed foods. This vegan coleslaw has an amazing crunch and a sweet and creamy bite that tastes even better than traditional coleslaw to me, and it’s perfect for topping any taco.
Now this is where this list gets fun. Desserts are meant to be enjoyed with abandon, easily indulged with friends or curled up with a good book.
I love a treat just as much as the next person, yet my stomach doesn’t love the bloat from dairy-based concoctions so I created my own whole food plant-based recipes out of my favorite desserts and now I can eat them freely.
If chocolate is your flavor of choice, then check out my post dedicated to chocolate desserts.
Simple Mango Sorbet
5 from 3 votes
Live it up this season with my Mango Sorbet recipe. It is dairy-free, frosty and vibrantly orange. Ready for dessert seekers young and old and easy to make!
Thick, fudgy brownies that also happen to be vegan and gluten-free. (No one will be able to tell!) Loaded with delicious chocolate flavor and a great texture, this Fudgy Gluten-Free Brownie Recipe really hit the spot.
Take summer by creamy storm with this decadent vegan ice cream recipe. I use just six ingredients to create a chilled dessert that scoops like the real thing. And because I love ice cream so much, I've also included two bonus recipes for the perfect toppings!
These are simply THE BEST vegan chocolate chip cookies around! We’ve given them another upgrade by adding in toasted coconut (you can buy it or make it) and toasted almonds for extra flavor and crunch. Use your favorite dark chocolate chips and bake up a batch or two. They make great gifts and store well in the freezer for when a craving hits.
This simple strawberry vegan milkshake has passed the taste test with my kids and their friends—so trust me, it’s a winner! Plus you won’t suffer the bloating or breakouts that traditional strawberry milkshakes can cause thanks to me using coconut milk. Feel free to swap out the coconut milk for another nut milk you prefer, such as almond milk or cashew milk.
You'll definitely wanna include this vegan peanut butter fudge into your holiday menu this year. This decadent recipe is easy to make and provides a beautifully rich treat. Plus, it's only 4 ingredients!
This vibrant banana nice cream recipe nourishes and satisfies. The gorgeous color comes from the superfood spirulina, which provides vital cell support. Perfect for breakfast or as a midday pick me up, banana nice cream is a delicious treat (while still getting in healthy nutrients).
While you don’t have to eat vegan recipes to be completely plant-based, there are a lot of kitchen staples that are highly processed with or without dairy. I opt to make my own and like them even better than store-bought versions!
The cashew cream is probably my most used staple! I can add spices to make it sweet or savory, thin it out to a dressing or thicken it up for a dip. I never make vegan tacos without it.
Coconut Whipped Cream
5 from 2 votes
Finally, the dairy-free whipped topping we've all been waiting for! I use coconut whipped cream on all manner of breakfast foods, desserts and even as a fruit dip. It's fluffy, creamy and oh-so-delicious.
I love creating dips and dressings that are quick and can be used on a variety of dishes. This vegan chipotle ranch dressing is exactly that recipe! Originally created as the dipping sauce in my avocado fries, this condiment is fast becoming a staple in my fridge.
Your favorite cheese sprinkle without the dairy! This delicious mix works great on pizza, pasta, veggies and more. I seriously love it. Easy to whip up and store, vegan parmesan cheese will become your go-to meal topper in no time.
Cashew cream is a deliciously creamy way to take your meals to a new level! This recipe highlights how easy it is to make cashew cream multiple ways. Each variation uses 1/2 cup cashews, but depending on your blender or food processor, it may be easier to make one large batch then flavor individually!
This simple dressing is bursting with bright citrus flavor paired with a nutty tahini cream. It is both oh so good and oh so good for you. Use it as a gorgeous charcuterie dipping sauce or salad dressing. I originally created it to top my Crunchy Chickpea Salad from my Autumn Cleanse.
What is an example of a whole food plant-based diet?
A WFPB diet is based on a variety of plants. Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, legumes and more. It’s not a vegan diet but focuses instead on minimally processed foods that are naturally derived. You can start your day with a green smoothie made with spinach, mango, pineapple, water and chia seeds. Then mid-morning, snack on some lemon chia pudding made with coconut milk, lemon juice and chia seeds. For lunch eat a quinoa bowl with edamame, kale, broccoli, bell pepper, cauliflower and carrots topped with garlic cashew aioli. For dinner, whip up some chickpea tacos with fresh cilantro and avocado crema.
Can I eat rice on a whole food plant-based diet?
Rice is a great plant-based grain. Note that rice may be enriched using animal products, so look for the certified vegan symbol on the packaging if that is important to you. Variety is key, so if rice is the grain you often reach for, then challenge yourself to swap it out for other whole grains like quinoa to try something new.
Can you have eggs on a plant-based diet?
Eggs come from chickens, therefore they are not “plant-based.” If I am baking, I typically swap out regular eggs for flaxseed eggs in most baking recipes and opt for other proteins in savory recipes.
Are Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet Recipes Worth the Hype?
While I’ve called myself a vegetarian for years, my diet consisted of bean burritos from Taco Bell and Lucky Charms. Sure, I wasn’t eating meat, but I was fueling my body with junk. And boy did I feel it! I slept a lot. I was always hungry. I craved candy.
Processed foods contain ingredients mostly found in industrial food manufacturing (aka, not nature). This includes hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, food dyes, flavoring and emulsifiers.
A diet of predominately processed food can lead to:
Heart disease: A leading cause of death worldwide. A result of continual eating of processed food according to a recent study by the British Medical Journal.
Unhealthy weight gain: The National Institute of Health conducted a study showing a correlation between a processed food diet and weight gain.
Increased risk of cancer: The correlation between cancer patients and increasingly processed food diets goes up 12% for every 10% of the diet that contains processed food.
Malnutrition: Processing actually strips food of its nutritional value! This creates empty calorie consumption and minimal nutritional value, even if one feels ‘full.’
Addictive eating habits: Processed foods can actually make people addicted to food.
A diet consisting of minimally processed, whole foods can lead to:
Healthy weight loss and gut health: A whole food plant-based diet is high in fiber, which helps the body with excess weight and better digestion.
Lower risk of Type II Diabetes: Vegetarians are at an almost 50% decreased risk of diabetes over those on a non-vegetarian diet.
A lower risk of heart disease: A balanced whole food plant-based diet significantly lowers the risk for heart disease.
And you don’t have to figure this out on your own! I have a free seven-day plant-based meal plan that will make your weekly meal planning a breeze. If you’re ready to jump into the plant-based lifestyle full on, then try out my Rawk the Year Meal Planner to get weekly meal plans complete with a shopping list, recipes and calendar sent to your inbox every week.
Which one of these epic recipes will you try first? Drop a comment and let me know!