Monday, August 13, 2012

Tips for Eating a Healthy Vegetarian Diet!

              Hi all, hope you enjoyed your weekend. Did any of you visit any special vegetarian restaurants or cook any new vegetarian recipes? Has anyone decided to make the switch to vegetarianism? Have you entertained the thought at all? If not, that’s fine, I totally understand that making a vast lifestyle change can be scary and overwhelming. I can promise though, if you educate yourself enough, the switch becomes a lot easier and less intimidating.  It even becomes quite exciting. Once you start feeling healthier, cleaner, lighter, and less fatigued, you will be looking forward to all the healthy ways you can cook, eat, and continue to feel. Your skin will become clearer, your energy levels will increase, and your mood will be more stable. I’m not here to force you to do anything or make you feel bad if you aren’t interested. I’m just here to help educate you if you have questions!

             I know a lot of people think that if they stop eating meat/poultry/fish, they will be constantly hungry and will have a big void in their bodies that needs to be filled. This is true to an extent if you don’t do it right! Today I have decided to gather some extremely helpful tips for anyone who is interested in learning how to eat vegetarian while feeling completely satisfied at the end of each meal! Remember, the most important thing I tell everyone about becoming a vegetarian is that whatever necessary nutritious items you remove from your diet (such as protein, iron, calcium, etc.), you need to put back in somehow! You will figure it all out. I promise you that very soon, you will be able to answer all those questions you had in the beginning.  You might even start educating other people as well!
            I hope my advice helps. Please let me know any further questions or ideas you may have!
  • Build meals around protein sources that are naturally low in fat, such as beans, lentils, and rice. Don't overload meals with high-fat cheeses and tons of carbohydrates to replace the meat.
  • Please remember, many foods that typically contain meat or poultry can be made vegetarian. This can increase vegetable intake and cut saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Consider:
    • pasta primavera or pasta with marinara or pesto sauce
    • veggie pizza
    • vegetable lasagna
    • tofu-vegetable stir fry
    • vegetable lo mein
    • vegetable kabobs
    • bean burritos or tacos

  • A variety of vegetarian products look (and may taste) like their non-vegetarian counterparts, but are usually lower in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol.
    • For breakfast, try soy-based sausage patties or links. (I recommend Boca and Morning Star products). Also, try oatmeal, whole wheat or multi-grain english muffins with peanut butter, fruit, jam, etc. (Remember, jelly is not vegetarian. Jam and preserves with pectin are fine)
    • Rather than hamburgers, try veggie burgers. A variety of kinds are available, made with soy beans, vegetables, and/or rice. (Again, Boca and Morning Star make wonderful veggie/vegan, meatless chicken patties, etc. These are a great and affordable option to bring to a cook out!) Visit these sites to learn more!, and   Add vegetarian meat substitutes to soups and stews to boost protein without adding saturated fat or cholesterol. These include tempeh (cultured soybeans with a chewy texture), tofu, or wheat gluten.

    • As mentioned above, for barbecues, try veggie burgers, soy hot dogs, marinated tofu or tempeh, and veggie kabobs.
    • Make bean burgers, lentil burgers, or pita halves with falafel (spicy ground chick pea patties).
    • Some restaurants offer soy options (texturized vegetable protein) as a substitute for meat, and soy cheese as a substitute for regular cheese.
    • Hummus is a wonderful option for dipping purposes. It is very healthy too!
  • Don’t worry about what’s going to happen when you go out to eat. Most restaurants can accommodate vegetarian modifications to menu items by substituting meatless sauces, omitting meat from stir-fries, and adding vegetables or pasta in place of meat. These substitutions are more likely to be available at restaurants that make food to order. Also, remember to make sure they are not cooking in beef or chicken stock and that they are not frying anything in animal fat! It never hurts to ask!
  • Many Asian and Indian restaurants offer a varied selection of vegetarian dishes. A lot of them use eggs though, so if you are going egg-free, remind them to please keep the eggs out.
  • Eat a dark green vegetable (broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens) at least three times a week. Also, try drinking your greens. You might enjoy Naked Juice’s Green Machine—it’s made with fruit juice as well as greens.
  • Take a vitamin supplement that contains B12!
  • Water water water! It’s been said over and over again for a reason—because its true! Most people don’t drink nearly enough. Keep a water bottle at your desk, in the car with you, etc. Water is especially crucial when adjusting to a new way of eating, as it will help curb any cravings you may experience.
  • Make it a goal to eat at least one piece of raw fruit or a handful of raw vegetables every day.
  • Reduce your refined sugar intake. If you have a big sweet tooth (like many people), you can try to keep it under control by using such sugar replacers as maple syrup, stevia and agave nectar whenever possible (such as in coffee and tea) and indulging in the refined stuff only occasionally.
  • Keep your favorite salad dressings on hand. Many people are much more likely to eat their veggies when their favorite salad dressings are in the fridge. A little variety is great too.
  •  Eat the rainbow! Fruits and vegetables all contain different nutrients. A simple way to remember to eat a range of vitamins and minerals is to vary the colors of the vegetables and fruits you eat.

      I hope this helped a bit!! Please let me know if this answered some of your questions and what else you'd like to know! I will do my best to help!

      Xo, Holly