Vegetarian Diets

Vegetarian Diet Meal
Vegetarian Diet Meal

Vegetarian diets are not just for health nuts anymore.  Research has shown improvement in the health of people eating vegetarian diets. Not only does it make them healthier but it gives them more energy. This helps people with weight loss as well as weight maintanence.

Vegetarian diets aren’t boring either!  In the past years farming has advanced in the quality and variety of foods.  Some of these weren’t available 50 years ago or heard of.

Although we are creatures of habit the next time you go to the grocery store take a look around. Lots of times we eat the same thing over and over.

Instead of:

  • Apples – Look for Star Fruit
  • Bananas – Look for Mangos
  • Oranges – Take a bite out of Kiwi’s

Although green peppers are a staple they also come in three other colors!

  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Orange

All with their own distinctive sweet flavor.

Our sense of taste usually dictates what we will or won’t eat but our bodies require a variety of foods to stay healthy.  We have become slaves to our palates without remembering that we eat so that we can live.  Not the other way around.  We do not live so that we can eat.

Unfortunately many people fall victim to advertising and the fast food gimmick that is part of today’s culture.  Some fast food restaurants are actually beginning to offer vegetarian diet options – although the quality and nutritional benefits are questionable.

We actually have the ability to cultivate our tastes. In other words, keep trying vegetables, nuts and seeds in your diet. It won’t be long before something that once tasted ‘bad’ to you will be a vegetable or fruit you enjoy.  A vegetarian diet can include a variety of greens, root vegetables, juices, nuts and seeds to ensure that our most important life insurance policy is paid up in full; that we are providing our bodies the health and nutrition that we need.  We are, after all, exactly what we eat.

Some people take the position that ‘something’ will kill you at one point or another, so why not enjoy all the things that life has to offer.  Unfortunately it may not be the length of life that is affected but the quality.  Vegetarian diets decrease your risk of living life with pain, medications, need for oxygen delivery systems or faced with a life in a wheelchair, which is the outcome and not certain death.

For instance, dietary habits in Norway were studied and found that women who ate a significant amount of fat from meat based diets had 2.5 times the risk for developing breast cancer than those who didn’t eat meat.

Another argument against a vegetarian diet is that they require more work since you must be sure to get the correct amount of protein and essential amino acids.  But, there are no perfect foods and even people who routinely include meat in their diets can be malnourished for exactly the same reasons.

Vegetarian diets are a choice.  But what is interesting is that because you eat a vegetarian diet doesn’t mean it has to be a total vegetarian diet to get the heath benefits from eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  Integrating vegetarian cooking and meals into your daily habits will only help to improve your health and increase your energy.

 

Vegetarian MealsRadish Salad

Cooking vegetarian diet meals is a lot like following a good road map or guideline.  Most cooking instructions or recipes are just that – a good road map.  Cooking is chemistry; you add the ingredients, heat or cold at the correct time and out pops a delicious meal.

There are four or five different categories of vegetarians but only three main categories; and all are vegetarian to one degree or another.  Preparing vegetarian meals will not require that you shop in specialty stores.  Most groceries now carry organic fruits and vegetables and some organic dried staples.

Vegetarian meals are at their best when you use the best ingredients. The best ingredients are free of herbicides and pesticides and are organically grown.   When you are preparing meals you should know and apply good food combination principles, not only for taste and appearance but also to so you receive all the important nutrients throughout the day.

Shopping for organic and vegetarian ingredients should not be difficult.  Most groceries now carry organic produce and organically prepared prepackaged foods.  Organically prepared foods are marked “organically grown”.

You have to read the labels on processed and pre-packaged foods to figure out if they really are vegetarian.  Some foods that you would think are vegetarian also include animal by-products or gelatin in the preparation.

Another tip to good vegetarian meals and lifestyle is to include a fast every week or two.  The fast is 24 hours in length.  People can chose to drink juices during the fast or not.  If you do chose juice try to use freshly juiced fruits and vegetables to receive the most from the fresh enzymes and nutrients.

Fasting will help to clear your digestive system and help your body to work more efficiently.  Only in today’s society have we learned to eat three meals a day each and every day.  Our hunting and gathering ancestors often went a day or two without food, if food wasn’t available.

If you are cooking vegetarian meals for children you must take care to meet their special nutritional needs.  Because most vegetarian foods are low in fat you have to include fat in their diets, especially if they are less than 2 years.  Fat is vital to the brain growth of children less than 2.

Another advantage to eating vegetarian meals is that the need to count calories is almost nil.  Most of the foods you are eating are low in calories and high in fiber and nutrients.  Even the foods that are high in fat like nuts, seeds and avocados do not cause cholesterol issues since they are plant source of fat and not animal source.

As a vegetarian lifestyle becomes more popular restaurants are including vegetarian meals on their menu.  Restaurants are also likely to make some accommodations to their current foods to make a meal that you can eat.

Eating and cooking vegetarian meals doesn’t have to be boring.  Include foods you don’t normally eat, taste a variety of fruits and vegetables.  You’ll be surprised at how the variety makes your meals more pleasurable.

Vegetarian soups

Scientific research shows that a vegetarian lifestyle improves your health and increases your life.  Vegetarian soups and meals are becoming more popular in both the home and restaurant settings.  Restaurant owners and franchises are responding to the increased demand by their customers for a healthier alternative.

Becoming a vegetarian decreases your risk for heart disease, stroke and cancers.  And preparing soups and meals are not difficult.  Incorporating vegetarian soups and meals into your lifestyle not only improves your health but also doesn’t require a long-term adjustment.

Vegetarian soups are a great option when you are entertaining or when you are preparing a meal for your family.  Warm soups are great for appetizers and sophisticated chilled vegetarian soups are a wonderful addition in the summer months.  Soups can be a great one-bowl meal with plenty of crusty bread.  You can even use a dense crusty bread as the bowl itself.

Traditional soups and meals often include meats and animal by-products such as sour cream, gelatins or cheeses.  But vegetarian soups can be hearty and delicious without the addition of meat and animal by-products.

Soups can also be inexpensive, high in protein, high in fiber and very nutritious.  Because of the food combinations you can often have a soup that is filling, mouth-watering and is full of the nutrients you need.  Vegetarian soups can be served as an appetizer, snack, side dish, main course or over rice as a large meal.  Try using these principles when you prepare a soup such as Lentil soup.

Lentils are inexpensive and a great protein.  They are are versatile enough to be turned into a vegetable stew.  You can use vegetable stock instead of water to add a rich taste without overpowering the flavor.  Vegetable stock can be made when you are soaking and boiling beans or vegetables and then saved for use later when you are making vegetable soups.

Just remember that the stock is the base for the soup and the richer and more flavorful the stock the better the soup will taste.

Next come the vegetables.  Green beans are an addition that should be snapped and not cut.  Also, do not use frozen or previously cooked beans because they will become mush.  Potatoes should be diced into large pieces so they don’t cook too quickly.  Although potatoes do add texture to vegetarian soups on two levels; they thicken the broth and add some contrasting firmness.

Other vegetables you can add to vegetarian soups are:

  • diced eggplant
  • diced onions
  • medium cauliflower florets
  • medium broccoli florets.

Don’t grind broccoli into the soup and don’t add until the last 15 minutes of cooking.  Cauliflower florets hold up better in soups than does the broccoli.

When you consider the vegetables for your soup don’t add delicate things like peas, celery or lettuce.  The goal is to add texture to the soup and contrasting firmness.

Vegetarian soups are robust and full of flavor.  They are an addition to your meal or the meal itself.  Either way soup adds nutrients to your diet and you don’t even know you’re eating healthy!