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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
Looking for an easy vegan recipe? If you have a food processor, this pasta delight is a breeze to make and heaven to eat:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|