Good morning. Another email question to answer. Thank you for asking, no need to reveal the identity of the sender, I know who you are.
I have been following your blog for quite a long time and really enjoy it! Thank you!!! I'm a single mom in the US with 2 kids still at home. I am very frugal. I am trying to get more into a vegetarian lifestyle both for health and financial reasons, meat prices have gone CRAZY!!!! I look at your meals and always feel inspired. My request to you is to run an article about moving to a vegetarian diet. How does one do that? I am used to simple meals at home- usually a meat, a veg and a side dish like corn or potato. When I remove the meat from the plate it just looks like something is lacking and we don't stay full long enough. Your food looks more like meals! Please help us readers, and I am sure MANY would be helped by leading them to a more vegetarian diet. Do you recommend any cook books for us beginners? I bought the Moosewood cook book (used of course!) for vegetarian cooking but it calls for a lot of spendy ingredients and most of the meals are very heavy with fat.
Any help is greatly appreciated.
First and foremost I am not an expert in nutrition, the food I eat suits me, it may not suit everyone. The information out there about what you should or shouldn't eat is mind boggling confusing. I see you have children, I don't know their ages, but one thing you must do is to give them a varied diet, a growing body is different to, say my 65 year old body.
You want to incorporate more veggie meals but it looks like something is missing on the plate when you leave out meat. Your cooking has probably followed the same pattern for a long time, meat and two veg. You see, that's where people are stuck, in the past, it's what they have always done, it's what their parents did, and they have continued the cycle. You need to get off the bike.
Look at my plates of food, there are no gaps there, my plates are full to over flowing. Portion control by all means if you are going to eat high calorie food, but if you eat lots of veg as I do, you can stuff yourself. The key is to eat more of what goes through you quickly, and less of the heavy stodge, including meat. Last night I ate my usual plate of steamed veg, potato, broccoli, broad beans, carrots, courgettes, and spinach, there was no room on my plate for anything else. So, an option is to fill the gap with even more veg. Instead of two veg, make it four or five veg.
If you find a plate of veg too boring you can disguise it in some way, by mashing it up, turning it into veggie burgers by adding beans, chick peas, lentils, peas, grated carrot, any grated root vegetable. Bind it with an egg, and grill your burgers. You can fill pies and pasties with veg, maybe add some cheese, maybe some nuts.
You don't have to go all the way and ban meat from your diet altogether. If you want to eat some meat it's best if you can buy good quality but buy less of it, maybe have one or two meat meals a week. If I wanted to eat meat, (heaven forbid, I couldn't stomach it), I would buy a small piece of the best steak, and that's about it. Any other meat products you are better off buying the lean meat and making pies, sausages, and burgers yourself, so you know what's in them.
You mention that you don't feel full for very long if you only eat veg. As I said, eat more of it, or add something that is more filling, such as beans or rice. It's ok to snack between meals, I do when I feel hungry. I eat dairy so I might have cheese and crackers, a yogurt, a few walnuts, a banana, some grapes, a piece of wholemeal bread with cream cheese or peanut butter. You could make a pasta salad and keep it in the fridge for dipping into. Or a rice bowl with sweetcorn and peas. Make sure you use wholegrain where ever you can.
Another thing to think about, your stomach stretches to accommodate the amount of food you send down there. If you are feeling hungry you are tempted to put more fillers in. I don't know what your weight is like, but if you are skinny maybe a healthy snack or two, but if you need to lose weight ignore the hunger pangs for an hour to give your stomach chance to shrink a little. It's like stuffing a balloon.
I don't buy cookery books, as I make up my recipes, but I do have one out of the library at the moment which is interesting. India's Vegetarian Cooking, by Monisha Bharadwaj. Some of the food in there looks delicious. A quote from the author......'Much of my home cooking is vegetarian, because that was how I was brought up. All my favourite foods are from the vegetarian world. I also feel happier, healthier, and more energetic after a vegetarian meal'.
Looking at the ingredients listed for her recipes, there are indeed a lot of 'spendy' ingredients. I don't keep large amounts of herbs and spices, I can't afford them, so I use recipes for ideas, then adapt them to suit what I do have in my cupboard, using substitutions where necessary.
While I am on this subject, there was also a mention of protein in my diet, am I getting enough.. I've been looking around various web sites and have found a list of foods which supply the body with protein.
Beans. Lentils. Peas. Chickpeas. Whole grains. Quinoa. Wholegrain bread. Brown rice. Barley. Tofu and Soy products. Wholewheat pasta. Nuts. Seeds. Peanut butter. Eggs. Dairy. Cheese. Yogurt. Potatoes. Green leaf veg. Meat substitute. - burgers, sausage, mince, soya chunks etc. I am getting nearly all these, except tofu, I don't like it. It is a general misconception that you need to eat meat for protein, you don't. You can get enough from lots of other foods if you eat a varied diet. People make assumptions about my diet from the pictures I post here. They need to live with me for a week or more, to see how varied my diet is.
Taken from the Vegetarian web site.
There are many protein rich foods for vegetarians, rivaling the protein content of meat products. Popular concern that vegetarians lack protein is misplaced and plant protein has the advantage of containing reduced saturated fat associated with meat protein.
Take from the No Meat Athlete web site.
Tell someone you’re vegetarian, and the first objection you’ll likely get is, “But where do you get your protein?” (Never mind what kind of shape the person asking is often in.) I personally have not let the protein issue affect me, choosing instead to cook and eat a wide variety of foods and trust that I’ll get enough protein and all of the essential amino acids, and I’ve never felt better.
I hope that I have given food for thought here. Eating a no meat diet is not that difficult. Please try it, use your imagination, serve up a few meals and see how you go on. I'm going to sign off now, the letter 'n' is not working properly on the keyboard, and it's driving me nutty. Also, my breakfast porridge has gone down, I'm now going to eat a banana with yogurt, then I'm off outside 'cause it's a nice day.
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