Aug 28, 2006

Tips for would-be veggies

This is a list of tips for those of you who would like to be more vegetarian, if you could think of what to cook. Also for those of you who have hungry, possibly picky-eaters to feed and would like to take meat off of the dinner plate and try to limit the amount of dairy you eat.

1) Vanilla soy milk is the closest to real milk, IMO. (But then, some like rice, and some love Almond. But soy is actually becoming economical to buy, whearas Almond is extremely pricey.)

2) When putting cheese on something (casserole, pizza, etc), halve the amount of cheese you would normally put (and gradually decrease it to 1/4, etc) and put some parmesan in there-- parmesan has a distinct flavor and makes it taste like there's more cheese on it. Also, I use only mozzarella cheese in my recipes-- I think it tastes just as good as cheddar, and it has less of the milk solids if you buy the kind that's 99% skim, etc.

3) If you are trying a veggie diet and find that you're craving meat and can't find anythign to fill the void, here are some suggestions:

*Nuts. They are high in protien, calcium, etc. Especially macadamia, but peanuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc do the trick. Be careful to check how much sodium is in a serving-- you can have them salted, but some brands also include MSG (planters, for instance). Peanut butter is also nice-- if you're worried about sugar and hydrogenated oils, buy Adams natural peanut butter.

*Seeds. Also high in some important nutrients that meats provide!! Especially sesame seeds, sunflower seeds. Sesame tahini is nice to spread on breads and crackers, and to make hummus with, and sesame seeds are one of the most calcium-rich foods on the planet.

*Avacadoes-- very nice, round flavor-- I add lemon juice, onion powder and paprika when putting them on a sandwich. They have lots of fat in them, which is sometimes why we crave the meats and dairy-- our bodies need fat. Ditto to olives, although remember that they are pickled, so they have lots of sodium.

*Up your green salad intake. Greens like Kale and Spinach provide some Iron, and they also provide calcium. You have to eat lots of greens to equal the amount of iron and calcium that a meat serving would provide, but think of the comparative vitamin content!

*Make sure you're getting enough to eat. Sometimes our bodies crave those foods that they can convert quickly into what we need when we go too long without food. An average day ought to include 3 meals and 3 snacks. Don't go for much more than 3 hours without something (except when you're sleeping, of course).

*Green drinks!! If I start my day with a green drink, I find that my appetite is more balanced throughout the day. A typical green drink will include about 3 or more cups of dark greens like spinach or kale (no lettuce, especially not iceberg), half of a piece of soft fruit (I prefer mangoes or peaches, but some like bananas), about 1/2 cup of fruit juice(grapfruit sets off the flavor of the greens nicely, but apple will make it sweeter if that's what you want) and a few frozen berries. I like to add the frozen berries because the green drinks taste much better when they're slushy.

* Make sure your carbs are complex! No white bread-- that's a wonderful way to make sure you crave the things your body is used to using to have a quick nutrient/calorie fix. Whole grains have protein and iron in them, and so you're less likely to crave meat that way, as well. Look on the packages of bread in the store and make sure they say either 100% whole wheat flour or stone ground wheat (or oat, rye, whatever). The 'enriched' flour doesn't have the same effect. So just because the bread is brown doesn't mean it will help you, protien-wise.

* Meat substitutes are nice for a special occasion, but don't go crazy (unless it's the only way you can find to get off of meat for a while. But the goal ought to be moderation with these).

* Cheese, ditto to the above, but I have my cheese weeks, so I understand. :)

* Vegetable bullion makes an admirable substitute for meat broths. It also lends a fuller flavor to tofu and other meat substitutes.

*TVP flakes in stews or chilis lends a meat-like texture to a meal-- but again, moderation.

I have some cool recipes that I'll post now and then, as well. In the meantime, here is my current favorite veggie recipe... my family likes this one a lot-- it does have some sodium, so this is a special-occasions recipe.

Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

Tofu (1 whole container, make sure it's extra firm, not silken or any other kind) crumbled, stir-fried in 2 tb of olive oil

1 leek, diced

1 can water chestnuts, diced

1 1/2 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

3 tb hoison sauce (it's usually vegetarian anyway, but check)

2 tb soy sauce

1 full head of romaine lettuce

stir fry all ingredients except the lettuce. Serve hot, wrapped in individual lettuce leaves.

can use these sauces for topping:

spicy Mustard


lettuce-wrap sauce:

1/2 tb hoison, 1/2 tb soy sauce, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp vinegar, teeny bit of cayenne, some pizza peppers for decoration.


Fred said...

I'll stick to meat and potatoes. As long as I visit the doctor each year, they can clean me out. :)

NoSurfGirl said...

Just make sure you eat an apple a day ;)

just teasing.

I know lots of people who are very healthy who eat a lot of meat and potatoes.

Lucy Stern said...

An apple a day is good advice. Thanks for all the tips on good eating. I do very good when I can stay away from the simple carbs.

Maren said...

Every time I've cut out wheat and sugar, I have lost a lot of weight. It falls off. Hmmm....That tells me something.

Having a child with severe food allergies we have learned to try many alternative choices for the SAD (Standard American Diet). Try a diet these days devoid of wheat, dairy, soy, corn, rice (he EVEN tests allergic to Rice!????), the list goes on. We're blessed though with how well he IS doing right now and that his symptoms have mostly disappeared.

I am currently doing a no-dairy thing myself, which is hard because I LOVE cheese. I like almond milk personally, but have been doing rice milk mostly, this go round. Soy is not always the best thing for my health, so I limit myself on that.

NoSurfGirl said...

thanks for your comments, guys.

I think it is so funny that people say that a certain way of eating is best... when every body is different. For instance, my freind just found out her year-old son has celiac disease... so some of the things I wrote in this post would not help him/them with their issues.

and I'm such an infant in the continuum of learning to eat healthily... I appreciate others' input, too.

Texasblu said...

Share some of your favorite green drink mixtures please... I'm just starting to get familar with those, and it's scary to try new things - esp. on a budget.

Thanks! :) Orion's Mom aka Texasblu

NoSurfGirl said...

here are a couple of green drinks:

3 large kale leaves (I usually cut out the stems because I'm a wuss)

1/2 of a peach or mango

1/4 cup of grapefruit juice concentrate

1 1/2- 2 cups of water

blend 'em up in an industrial blender, or blend them for a LONG TIME in a normal blender. :)


4 cups of spinach (same with stems... also, spinach has to be picked over carefully because sometimes there's mud in there)

1 kiwi

a handful of raspberries

1/4 cup of apple juice concentrate

1- 1 1/2 cups water.

Some like bananas instead of the tangier fruits, but I like mine to be tangy. I think it offsets the spinach/kale more nicely.