Friday, November 22, 2013

Tips for "Going Veg"

You Don’t Have to Starve to Be Vegetarian!

Increase Your Variety, Increase Your Options!

When a lot of people find out I’m vegetarian they usually ask, “What do you eat?” and I have to laugh.  Being vegetarian doesn’t limit me at all, in fact, it INCREASES my variety of meal options!  As long as you are open to cuisines from around the world, you will never feel bored eating a vegetarian, or even vegan diet.

Tips for Adding More Veggie Meals to your Diet

1.  Try eating Meatless at least once a week
Cutting back meat from your diet is not only good for your health but also the environment!

Many leading environmental organizations, such as the National Audubon Society and the Sierra Club, are now establishing the link between eating meat and eco-disasters like climate change. According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads!

2.  Erase the concept of “Meat and 3” from your menu planning
Almost all cuisines from around the world have vegetarian options, many without meat as the center of the meal.  The fun part is picking a type of food (Chinese, Mexican, Italian etc.) and trying out new recipes. 

3.  Eat More Food and Feel Full -
    Whatever type of main course you are having, make a big side salad to go with it
Experiment making or buying dressings to compliment the meal (ex. Asian salad to go with Chinese food, Salsa dressing to go with a Mexican main course etc.)  Also, a quick meal idea that is great in the warmer months is a dinner entrée salad.  Just pick a cuisine type and dressing.  Serve with rolls and/or a soup or both.

4.  You Don’t Need to Buy a Library of Cookbooks to Cook Vegetarian
     (although there are a TON out there!)

We all use the internet for everything and that includes finding recipes!  Good all-vegetarian websites are out there, but I also use “regular” cooking websites and just modify the ingredients (ex. If it calls for ground beef I just substitute in veggie “beef” crumbles” or black beans etc.)
Good Veg. Recipe Sources Online: – Sign up and get recipes delivered into your mailbox weekly or just look at the site for an index of recipes – Also has a section on veggie kids nutrition, tips and recipes - A good source of veg. recipes and also a great magazine to subscribe to – I can’t wait to get it every month! – Not a “veg” recipe site but I use this site often to get ideas which I then modify to make veg.

Good Veg Recipes for Kids Online: - A Stay at Home Mom who makes all of her son’s lunches and snacks, and she even has 2 cookbooks now out in bookstores! (but you can get many free ones on her blog!) A great source of all kinds of veggie info. and recipes for kids

Ultra Speedy Veg. Meal Ideas for Busy Nights

Hormel Canned Vegetarian Chili
Comes with the “beef” crumbles mixed and you can find it in the bean aisle of any grocery store.  One can is 2 servings.  We usually microwave 2 baked potatoes and then top each with a half of the can.  Top with a spoonful of sour cream and some diced green onions and serve with a side salad and you have dinner in under 30 minutes!

Indian - Trader Joe’s Curry Simmer Sauce
If you like Indian food, this jar of sauce is a must.  Just add to it whatever you want – I usually use add a can of diced tomato and pick some other things to go in like microwaved cauliflower, chickpeas, diced cooked potato, peas or some firm tofu.  Serve over brown rice or grain of your choice.  Super easy and not too spicy!

Italian Night
Pick a pasta and tomato sauce to go with it, microwave some vegetables to go into the sauce if you’d like (chopped frozen spinach, mushrooms or broccoli are good ones), or if you prefer, stir in “beef” crumbles or add a side of veggie meat balls or veggie Italian sausage (Tofurky is a great brand), serve with salad and crusty bread.

Mexican Night
Burritos, Taco Salad, Fajitas or Hard Tacos

Fajitas-  Morningstar Chicken or Beef Strips can be fried up with peppers and onions to make fajitas, just put the filling in flour tortillas and serve with guacamole, salsa and chips.

Ground “beef” can be seasoned with taco seasoning for filling tacos, burritos, taco salad etc.

Vegetarian Refried Beans or Black beans go well in burritos, taco salad or hard tacos
Ultra Speedy Veg. Meal Ideas for Busy Nights

Trader Joe's has lots of veg/vegan stuff - if there is one near you - that's a fun place to stock up!

Mediterranean Night
Hummas and Pita Sandwiches with tomato, cucumber, olives, lettuce
Serve with a side of pre-made tabouli or grape leaves from the grocery store (Whole Foods has a good selection) and a side salad.  Trader Joe's has EXCELLENT frozen falafel for sandwiches. 

Asian Night
Purchase frozen stir fry vegetables and add tofu, veg. chicken or beef strips or serve just as vegetables over rice.

Chinese “Chicken” Salad - Marinate veggie chicken strips in Ginger Sesame Dressing, then fry and let cool.  Add to salad greens with cucumber, green onion and garnish with crispy Asian noodles and fresh or canned mandarin oranges (Clementines) with more dressing.

 The possibilities are endless.  

 Be creative and have fun!

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