All you need for the vegetarian Summer 2021 Healthy Diet Plan

Everything you need to follow the vegetarian Summer 2021 Healthy Diet Plan. Find the menu chart, all the recipes for the week, handy shopping lists and more.

Welcome to BBC Good Food’s Healthy Diet Plan for summer 2021! This page contains everything you need for the whole week. Scroll down or click the links below to get started. Looking for a different plan? Discover our meat eater’s menu or try our vegan plan.

Our new Healthy Diet Plan has been exclusively developed by food writer Sara Buenfeld, with analysis and expert advice from registered nutritionist Kerry Torrens. With colourful fruit and vegetables, minimally processed foods and recipes loaded with healthy fats, fibre, lean protein and slow-release carbs you can start this summer looking and feeling your best.

The food we eat not only affects how we look, but also how we feel. Providing your body with the right nutrition through a healthy, balanced diet can help to improve mood, support energy levels and help you think more clearly. Our plan focuses on vibrant plants, fermented foods and wholegrains. Fermented foods, like kefir and live yogurt, as well as wholegrains, fruits and vegetables supply lots of fibre, and have been associated with several positive health effects including better digestion, stronger immunity and improved mood. As a result, by following our plan, you can expect to feel more energised, improve your digestion and feel brighter and sharper.

For this plan, we’ve highlighted recipes that are especially good to enjoy post-exercise. For resistance training, protein is key for muscle repair, and for cardio and endurance training, you’ll need some energising carbs to replenish glycogen stores, as well as protein. Muscles are most receptive in the 30-minute window following exercise, so eat in this timeframe if you can. Remember to drink plenty of hydrating fluids and, if necessary, include a small amount of sodium to replace any lost through perspiration.

How to use the plan

Use the chart below to see your weekly menu at a glance. Eaten in this order, each day will deliver a balance of protein, fat and carbs, helping you to manage hormonal and blood sugar levels, as well as optimal nutrient levels each day. You’ll also achieve all five of your five-a-day (or more) and keep within the recommended Reference Intakes (RI) for fats, protein, sugar, salt and calories, while following the latest guidance on your intake of ‘free’ sugars. As with any lifestyle or diet change, if you have any concerns or health issues, we would encourage you to check with your GP before embarking on our plans.

If this is a new way of eating for you, we suggest that you begin by introducing some of the recipes a day or two before starting the full seven days. This will allow your digestive system time to adapt to the more fibre-rich foods we’ve included. To help you supercharge your results, read our six tips to make the most of the plan.

Your shopping list for the week

To help you get organised, we’ve designed a handy shopping list so you can buy everything you need in one shop – just remember to check the packets for sell-by dates to make sure they’ll last until the end of the week.

Download the printable shopping list.

Your menu chart for the week

The recipes

Our plan covers breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves two people for seven days (often using leftovers for another day), although the recipes can be easily scaled up or down.

Get the meat eaters’ Healthy Diet Plan recipes.

Get the vegan Healthy Diet Plan recipes.

Breakfasts

Breakfast egg wraps

vegetarian, healthy, folate, fibre, iron, 2 of 5-a-day

Quick to make and filling too, these wraps are perfect little packages of protein. Eggs contain carotenoids and selenium which are beneficial for skin health, while their choline content supports your memory!

Healthy porridge bowl

vegetarian, healthy, calcium, folate, fibre, vit c, iron, 2 of 5-a-day

Start the day with this filling bowl of cholesterol-lowering oats. Chia seeds are one of the richest plant sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats you can get! It’s so speedy to prepare, you can make it fresh each morning. This recipe also offers a good source of carbs which is great to replenish glycogen stores after exercise.

Orange & blueberry bircher

vegetarian, low fat, calcium, folate, fibre, vit c, 2 of 5-a-day

Citrus fruits like oranges are rich in collagen-supportive vitamin C, and are great for promoting skin health and elasticity. Oats are a good source of silica for strong, lustrous hair. Soaking oats and seeds overnight makes them easier to digest, too. This, combined with fruit, adds up to a nutritious start to the day with all the right kinds of fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Our recipe makes enough for four, so if two of you are following the plan, chill half for another day.

Lunches

Feta and kale loaded sweet potato

Feta & kale loaded sweet potato

vegetarian, healthy, low fat, low cal, vit c, fibre, 2 of 5-a-day

Don’t just dismiss kale as a winter vegetable as it provides powerful antioxidants like vitamin C and damage-reducing sulforaphane – a plant chemical found mostly in cruciferous vegetables which are from the cabbage family. Makes 1 lunch.

Apple slaw with pasta on a green plate

Apple & penne slaw with walnuts

vegetarian, healthy, low fat, low cal, calcium, fibre, 3 of 5-a-day

Crunchy, creamy and refreshing, this pasta salad makes a great work or picnic lunch. The high carbs will help perk you up after exercise, while the walnuts contain generous amounts of polyunsaturated fat and good levels of selenium which support brain health. Makes 2 lunches.

Feta cakes with Greek salad

vegetarian, healthy, low fat, low cal, vit c, fibre, 2 of 5-a-day

Bring a little summer sunshine to your kitchen with these potato-based feta cakes served with a Greek salad. We’ve used herbs in this recipe, which not only add plenty of flavour, but contribute valuable nutrients, like vitamin C and iron, too.

An egg and asparagus salad with quinoa

Quinoa salad with eggs & dill

vegetarian, healthy, folate, vitamin c, iron, 2 of 5-a-day, gluten-free

Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa is a complete protein, containing all eight of the essential amino acids and has been recognised by the United Nations as a ‘super crop’. It’s packed with dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. This recipe will feed two people for dinner, plus lunch the next day.

Summer bean and bulgur soup in a bowl

Summer bean & bulgur soup 

vegetarian, healthy, low fat, low cal, folate, fibre, vit c, 5 of 5-a-day

Get all five of your five-a-day in one delicious and quick-to-make soup. If you make this ahead the bulgur soaks up quite a lot of the liquid, so add a drop of water to loosen a little just before serving, or simply enjoy as a summer stew.

A rice and vegetable burrito cut in half

Spicy rice burritos

vegetarian, healthy, fibre, vit c, 5 of 5-a-day

Homemade wholemeal wraps make the perfect finger food stuffed with spicy tomato rice and avocado. Raw tomatoes are rich in vitamin C. While this decreases when heated, cooked tomatoes release Lycopene -an antioxidant that safeguards our cells from environmental damage. Offers a good source of carbs which is great after exercise.

Dinners

A vegetable curry in a blue bowl

Cauliflower & green bean curry

vegetarian, vegan, healthy, low fat, low cal, folate, fibre, bit c, iron, 4 of 5-a-day, gluten-free

A full flavoured, Sri Lankan-inspired curry like this requires a variety of different spices, like cardamon, fennel, cinnamon and star anise, but you can create a similar-tasting spice powder by combining two ready-made spice blends –  garam masala and Chinese five-spice. We’ve also used coconut yogurt rather than coconut milk in order to achieve a creamy consistency without too many added calories. Offers a good source of carbs which is great after exercise. Makes 2 suppers.

A plate of pasta with ricotta sauce and fresh herbs

Ratatouille & ricotta macaroni

vegetarian, healthy, low fat, low cal, calcium, vit c, fibre, 3 of 5-a-day

This is a de-constructed twist on macaroni cheese with a layer of Mediterranean veg using Italian ricotta, so you don’t have to make a traditional sauce. Aubergine skin is rich in protective anthocyanins – the same beneficial compounds found in blueberries – while the skins of courgettes are a useful source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health. Offers a good source of carbs which is great after exercise. Makes one dinner and one lunch.

How to customise the plan

Everyone has different needs and lifestyle requirements, which is why our plans are easy to adapt. If you find you’re hungry or would like to increase the daily calories, try adding our healthier snacks and sweet treat suggestions. These recipes are all based around whole foods and keep the processed ingredients to a minimum.

If you want to mix up the menu so you can follow the plan in the longer term, or you don’t like a particular dish on the menu, you can swap it for one of our extra Healthy Diet Plan dishes that all follow the same nutritional guidelines as the recipes in this plan. Please bear in mind that adding snacks or swapping recipes will alter the overall calories and recommended daily intakes for the day.

About the Healthy Diet Plan

Still hungry?

The calories you need on a daily basis vary depending on your age, height, weight, sex and activity levels. There are numerous calculators you can use online to determine your optimum calorie intake. Our plan aims to provide between 1200 and 1500 kcals per day. For the average female who is moderately active, this should generate a shortfall, allowing for steady and controlled weight loss. For those who are hungry on the plan, require a higher calorie intake or are happy with their weight, take a look at our healthier snacks and sweet treat ideas. As with any lifestyle or diet change, if you have any concerns or health issues we would encourage you to check with your GP before embarking on our plans.

A note on fat

Fat is in most of the foods we eat – nuts, seeds and grains as well as dairy and eggs. Obtaining fat from these whole foods is a healthier way of getting this essential macronutrient. We need fat for healthy skin, to boost our mood and improve concentration, as well as for a well-functioning immune system. Our recipes include healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, yogurt, olive and rapeseed oil rather than refined ones. That’s because all fats are not equal – we should avoid processed, refined fats and oils and limit (but not exclude) our intake of the saturated variety.

A note on dairy

Whole milk and yogurt are great sources of essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. With that said, if you prefer the taste of semi-skimmed milk and reduced-fat yogurt or you’ve been advised to reduce your sat fat intake, you can swap for these. You’ll still reap the benefits from the calcium and protein that dairy contains. If you would rather go dairy-free, we recommend choosing fortified versions of your favourite dairy-free milk and yogurt.

A note on sugar

We’ve used naturally sweet ingredients where possible like fruit, dried fruit and certain vegetables to slash the amount of added ‘free’ sugars in our recipes.

Please email any questions about the recipes to goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. Any healthy diet plan featured by BBC Good Food is provided as a suggestion of a general balanced diet and should not be relied upon to meet specific dietary requirements. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our terms and conditions for more information.