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Vegetarian Food Tips

Read these 23 Vegetarian Food Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Vegetarian tips and hundreds of other topics.

Vegetarian Food Tips has been rated 3.4 out of 5 based on 1076 ratings and 16 user reviews.

Staying Healthy Dairy-Free

A big misconception about vegetarianism is that a vegetarian doesn't get enough calcium. This myth is readily applied to vegetarians but is a fallacy. It is probable that this thought is directed more towards vegans than vegetarians (vegans do not eat dairy products while some types of vegetarians do). The truth is, however, that while milk and other dairy products may be high in calcium, they are not the only food substances that contain it. Some of the best sources of protein are dark green, leafy vegetables.

In addition, vegetarians are at an advantage because their bodies assimilate the calcium ingested a lot more easily during digestion. In fact, vegetarians are less prone to osteoporosis than meat-eaters. If the lack of calcium is the only thing stopping you from becoming a vegetarian, then move on over to greener pastures! There are many vegetarian entrees and snacks that contain calcium, here are a few calcium-rich, meat-free possibilities:


  • White/Wholemeal bread, Taco Shells, Oats

  • Soyabeans, Tofu, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Pistachios, Sunflower Seeds

  • Sesame Seeds, Flax Seed, Carob

  • Turnip Greens, Watercress, Broccoli, Carrots, Cabbage, Garlic, Parsley

  • Spirulina, Chives, Seaweed, Cauliflower, Okra, Cassava

  • Figs, Papaya, Rhubarb, Molasses

   

Digesting Beans

To make beans easier to digest and cut down on gassiness, you can add three large stalks of cut up celery added to about 2 cups of beans (navy, brown, pinto, etc.). Also, eating pineapple along side bean dishes, will help control the gas build up.

   

Apples

One of the original health foods is an apple. Due to their versatility, they can easily be incorporated into your diet.The preferred way of eating apples is out of hand, biting into their crisp, juicy flesh. Yet, they're surprisingly versatile in the kitchen. Some simple ways to enjoy them: diced and tossed into salads, sliced and dipped into peanut butter, and baked whole. Lightly cooked apples, diced, are delicious in grain pilafs and add a delightful nuance to savory soups and stews. Sliced, sautéed, and sprinkled with cinnamon, apples make a for an uncommon side dish with dinner. And of course, apples are always welcome in baked goods, lending their wholesome goodness to muffins, pies, cakes, crisps, crumbles, and more.

   

Tofurkey Italian Sausage

If you've read my Lifetips book, you know I love anything by Tofurkey! These are the only tofu-based meat substitutes on the market (most are based on unhealthy, processed soy mutations like "soy protein isolate," "soy protein concentrate," "texturized vegetable protein," or "hydrolyzed vegetable protein.")

When most people think of Tofurkey, they think of fake turkey. But this Italian sausage by Tofurkey is a total home run. It contains 50% less fat than typical pork Italisn sausage. Also, the Tofurkey sausage has NO cholesterol, while pork sausage usually has about 65 mg. One serving (which is one link) contains 29 grams of protein...and is delicious!

Tofurkey uses non-genetically modified soy beans and other non-gmo ingredients. The sausages contain sun-dried tomato, basil, garlic, and other spices! The flavor is unbeatable and very fresh. Plus, they make great hot dog substitutes. Learn more at www.Tofurkey.com.

You can't lose when you cook these Tofurkey Italian sausages. Cook them cut up in bite-size pieces (my preference) or as they are (in links the size of hotdogs). You can grill them on a low temp in the skillet (they brown quickly). Cut them up into a veggie egg scramble. Unlike a lot of other fake meats, these sausages do not need to be over-cooked to avoid being mooshy. Like animal meat, once they're golden brown, they're done.

Enjoy!

   

Dried Fruits

Try dried fruits and vegetables for a change of taste. Great in cereals, baked goods, chutneys, grain dishes and salads, or all by themselves. Stock up on raisins, currants, dried apricots, dates, figs, prunes, dried corn, dried cranberries, sundried tomatoes, and dried mushrooms. They can be eaten as is or re-hydrated in water or broth.

   
How can I cut down on dairy?

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

You can make your own nondairy substitute for ricotta cheese or cottage cheese. Mash a block of tofu with a fork and mix in a few teaspoons of lemon juice. You can use this "tofu cheese" to replace ricotta cheese or cottage cheese in lasagne, stuffed shells, manicotti, Danish pastries, cheese blintzes, and many other recipes.

   

Frozen Vegetables are Better than Canned, but Not as Great as Fresh

If that fabulous vegetarian recipe calls for lots of veggies but there are no fresh vegetables readily available, weigh your options carefully. If you've got frozen vegetables in one hand and canned ones in the other, put those canned ones down.

While fresh vegetables are always preferable to frozen vegetables (the freezing process causes damage to the food's cells which lessens its nutritional value). Eating foods that are pre-frozen is acceptable but be careful not overwhelm your diet with pre-frozen foods. In the long run, however, you're better off with frozen vegetables than canned ones which have additives.

   

Vegetarian Meals

One of the best vegetarian tips around is to keep “emergency” vegetarian meals in your kitchen so you can always have a meatless meal on hand. Some great pantry items to keep at bay include:


  • Canned beans

  • Fast-cooking grains (rice, couscous and bulgur)

  • Potatoes (regular and sweet)

  • Pastas

Also keep prepared sauces (marinara, barbecue, Thai peanut, honey mustard, and salsa) at hand. Keep bagels, pitas, and veggie burgers in the freezer along with frozen corn and wheat tortillas.

*A quick and easy vegetarian ethnic food dish can easily be made using tortillas, beans, corn, and salsa

   
How can I cut down on dairy?

Non-Dairy Buttermilk

Make your own non-dairy buttermilk by adding 2 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of soymilk.

   
What is a good vegan pasta recipe?

Fantastic Vegan Pasta

Looking for an easy vegan recipe? If you have a food processor, this pasta delight is a breeze to make and heaven to eat:

  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup packed parsley
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth (made from a vegan soup mix)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon plain bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 16 ounces of angel hair pasta
  1. Process the walnuts, oil, parsley, broth, garlic, bread crumbs, and sea salt in the food processor until smooth.
  2. Leave pasta in boiling water until al dente (reserve ¼ cup of the liquid when straining the pasta).
  3. Put all of the pasta in a large serving bowl and add the mixture from the food processor as well as the reserved liquid.
  4. Toss everything together and serve immediately.

   
How can I give up dairy products?

Try Eliminating Dairy

Vegans are individuals who do not eat meat or any animal products at all. If you are a vegetarian contemplating becoming a vegan, don't dive in too fast. Make the transitions slowly so your body can adjust accordingly. Want to know a great hint to help you make the adjustment? Start by omitting dairy from your diet completely…ALL DAIRY.

If you are attached to the taste, find tasty dairy substitutes (rice milk, soy milk, etc.) at any grocery store. After spending about a week without dairy you'll probably find that you don't even miss it. After practicing veganism your taste buds will start to change. At this point, you will likely find that using non-dairy substitutes instead of real dairy products will be more than satisfying.

   
How can I ensure that my diet is healthy?

Cutting Out the Dairy for Health

The reason that dairy products are not our healthiest source of calcium is because they are loaded with saturated fat, cholesterol, genetically-engineered growth hormones and antibiotics. When you trade a glass of milk for a cup of steamed broccoli, you not only lose the negatives, but gain in vitamins, fiber, phytochemicals and anti-oxidants.

   
How can I cut down on dairy?

Give Soymilk a Second Chance

If you try soymilk for the first time and don´t care for it, give it a second chance and try another brand. Soymilk varies considerably in flavor from one brand to the next. Many leave a beany aftertaste, if you don´t like this, try flavored soymilk. Soymilk grows on you. If you try it for a while, you´ll probably grow to love it.

Also, when choosing soy beverages, be sure to choose fortified versions, especially for children. Look for the calcium and vitamin D levels on the labels to ensure good health.

   
How do I find out if a milk substitute will work in my recipe?

Test Before Cooking

Before using a milk substitute in a recipe, boil a sample to see how it is affected by heat. For example, soy milk won't break down when heated, but it forms a "skin" very quickly. Some other milk alternatives like rice milk may curdle when lemon or vinegar is added.

   
How can I eat the healthiest foods possible?

Look Beyond Dairy

Vegetarian substitutes help to replace dairy in your diet. Look for soy cheese, soy yogurt, and "milks" made from soy, rice, or nuts. You can use them in recipes that call for dairy. Or try one on your cereal for breakfast.

   
What is a recipe for a non-dairy alternative to whipped cream?

Non-Dairy Whipped Cream

A great-low fat, non-dairy alternative to whipped cream. 1 pkg firm silken tofu 1/4 cup maple syrup 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 tsp vanilla extract In a blender or food processor, puree all ingredients until perfectly smooth. Chill for 1 to 2 hours. Spread over your favorite vegetarian dessert or fruit salad.

   
How can I cut down on dairy?

Soup Thickener

An alternative to thicken soup is to puree some cooked potato with vegetable broth. You can also use pureed soft tofu the same way. Blend the soft tofu with a little vegetable broth, then mix it in the soup.

Soups can also be thickened with a velvety mixture of cooked, pureed cauliflower and white beans. Substitute 1 part water and 3/4 part vegetable puree for milk or cream.

   
How can I use milk replacements in recipes?

Soy and Rice Milk

When using soy or rice milk in recipes, be sure to use the plain varieties in savory and salty dishes. Save the vanilla flavored drinks for sweet dishes. And try a variety of different flavors (chocolate, carob, vanilla, cinnamon) and brands to see which ones you like best.

   
How do I know which milk substitute to use in my recipe?

Cooking With Milk Substitutes

Before using a milk alternative in your cooking, taste it both chilled and heated to detect flavor overtones, such as sweetness, that would make it unsuitable for a particular recipe.

   
How long can I store my milk substitute?

Check for Freshness

Always check the expiration date of your milk substitute. Even a shelf-stable, aseptically packaged variety won't stay fresh for much longer than a week in the refrigerator once it is opened.

   
How can I cut down on how many eggs I eat?

Eliminating Eggs

If you decide to reduce or eliminate eggs from your diet, you can replace them in many recipes with a substitute. You can simply skip the eggs in many baked goods and you won't notice much of a difference in texture. Or you can buy egg replacers in many natural foods stores. Simply follow the instructions on the package (which means just adding water).

   
How can I add flavor to vegan pasta recipes?

Flavor-Infused Vegan Pasta

Want to add flavor to a vegan recipe for pasta? Unless it's seasoned correctly, pasta can be bland. Here are a couple hints to keep your vegan pasta dishes interesting:

  • Unless you're on a diet that restricts you from ingesting sodium, put salt in the water when preparing any pasta. It is a common cooking tip that the water that pasta or vegetables are being prepared in should taste just like saltwater.
  • If salt isn't your bag but you still want to add some taste to those noodles, toss a bay leaf into the water to infuse them with flavor. If you can find them, fresh bay leaves work much better than dry, jarred ones.

   
How can I use soy cheese in my cooking?

Soy Cheese

Soy cheese is made from soymilk. Its creamy texture makes it an easy substitute for sour cream or cream cheese and can be found in a variety of flavors in natural foods stores. Products made with soy cheese include soy pizza.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Susan Sayour