On April 16th 2013, I gave birth to a healthy, happy, seven pound, two ounce baby boy named Zachary. Throughout my pregnancy, one of the most popular questions I got was, “Are you still going to be vegetarian?” I also heard a lot of, “Are you craving meat now?” and “If you crave meat, will you eat it?”
When you make the move to a meatless diet, one of the first things you may miss is that familiar sink-your-teeth-into-it texture you got from beef, chicken and even some fish. Fortunately, there are so many plant-based foods that easily mimic the texture of meat and are versatile enough to be used in a variety of recipes, whether you’re craving a burger or anything else.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms have a savory umami flavor, making them a star ingredient in meat-free burgers. I’m not talking about those measly veggie burgers at restaurants that have just one floppy portobello mushroom cap slapped in a burger bun. I’m talking about a thick, filling mushroom burger like the one above (photo courtesy of Oh My Veggies), which also contains lentils and oats.
Myth: Vegetarians don’t get enough protein
Fact: It’s actually pretty easy for vegetarians to meet their needs for protein, even if they choose not to eat eggs and dairy products. Thanks to plant-based proteins like tofu, beans, lentils and what’s found in whole-grains breads and cereals, getting enough protein can be deliciously simple.
A couple of years ago I posted about eight sneaky foods vegetarians should avoid because they contain surprising animal-based ingredients. Since that list was not entirely exhaustive, I’ve come up with a part-two post to help you avoid those foods that may seem vegan or vegetarian, but in fact are not. Most of these foods are found in restaurants, so be sure to ask before ordering so you know what you’re getting.
Vegetable soup – I know what you’re thinking: “How could a vegetable soup have meat in it?!” While there may not be hunks of meat, I’ve come across vegetable soups in restaurants that are in fact made with chicken or beef broth. Unfortunately not all restaurants make this known unless you ask. If you spot a soup on the menu that seems to be entirely vegetable-based, it’s worth a quick question to your server or the chef to be sure. Read more
I couldn’t agree more. I always say a healthy diet starts in the grocery store, where you get to choose the foods that will feed you and your family. If you don’t have nutritious foods that can be combined to make a well-balanced meal, you may find it easier to order pizza delivery or grab takeout on the way home from work. Having a well-stocked kitchen means you can get creative in the kitchen, even if you haven’t been to the grocery store recently. Here are my kitchen staples to help you get started: Read more
I’ve waxed poetic before about my love for the slow cooker, a kitchen appliance I always assumed was used by beefy stew lovers or chicken soup eaters and not vegetarians. But in the last few months, I’ve come to learn that the slow cooker has been a lifesaver that helps me throw together vegan and vegetarian meals in a flash. Once I became comfortable with my slow cooker (which took no time at all), I started experimenting with more than just soups and stews. I made baked oatmeal for breakfast, rice and beans for quick lunches, and a plethora of dinners. Here are some set-it-and-forget-it breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas for you to try in your slow cooker.
- This cranberry pumpkin oatmeal cake can be prepped the night before so you wake up to the inviting smell of baked oatmeal for breakfast with pops of flavor from fresh or frozen cranberries.
- Need a change from oatmeal? Try cooking quinoa in the slow cooker with frozen blueberries, honey, milk and a dash of cinnamon so you can enjoy a hot whole-grain breakfast in the morning.
- For something a little more savory, try this slow cooker Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole. I omitted the sausage and added in diced sundried tomatoes. You could also use vegan sausage or soy crumbles to get a meaty texture and flavor.
Step into my kitchen and you’ll see I’m a sucker for collecting kitchen appliances, tools, gadgets and gizmos to help make cooking easier. Unfortunately, I’m running out of cabinet and counter space for all these appliances! But fortunately for you I’ve been able to sort through them to come up with my favorites for a veg-friendly kitchen.
Vitamix – It may come as no surprise that the Vitamix is top on my list. I know the price is steep, but since the day I bought it over two years ago, I have used my beloved Vitamix every single day, making it well worth every cent. The primary use in my kitchen is for smoothies, but I also use it to make creamy nut butters, buttery-smooth hummus, quick soups, sauces, and even a vegan cashew “cheesecake” that was nearly effortless to make thanks to the high-speed Vitamix. I find other blenders don’t compare (and I’ve used other high-end blenders) when it comes to super-smooth blending and ice crushing in a matter of seconds.
TofuXpress – When I finally learned how to prepare tofu correctly, I realized so much of it had to do with the water content. I find the dryer the tofu, the easier it bakes, grills, holds together, and soaks up sauce and flavor. Before I discovered the TofuXpress, I was pressing moisture out of my tofu with some rigged up balancing act of plates, pots and pans in my kitchen sink. Now, all I have to do is place the block of tofu in my TofuXpress, press it down with the lid, and the TofuXpress slowly presses out excess water into its container, which you drain off before working with the tofu.
This time of year always brings on lots of buzz about healthy resolutions and diet changes. More and more Americans have been making the shift towards a vegetarian or vegan diet, and what better time to start than the beginning of a new year? Perhaps your resolution is to move towards a more plant-based diet, or make the full shift from vegetarian to vegan eating. Or maybe you’re just looking for ways to improve your health by including more fruits and veggies into your diet while cutting back on meat and dairy. Whatever your reason, here are four ideas to help you stick with your 2013 resolution to improve your health with more plant-based eating.
The terms “healthy” and “vegetarian” may seem synonymous but that’s not always the case. All the selected recipes meet our healthy criteria for calories, fat and saturated fat. In addition, in order to meet the nutrient requirements of a vegetarian, a variety of recipes that include whole grains, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies were selected.
Although there are various types of vegetarians, we stuck to the basics. These recipes don’t include any meat, poultry, fish or seafood. Some do include dairy and eggs and would be appropriate for a lacto- or lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
- Tomato Bruschetta
- Chile Garlic Edamame
- Porcini and Nepitella
- Spinach and Goat Cheese Tartlets
- Stuffed Mushrooms
If you have a smartphone, you know there’s an app for almost anything, including great vegan and vegetarian resources. As someone who frequently searches for vegan recipes on my phone while waiting in a long line or stuck in traffic (when I’m the passenger!), I rely on a handful of apps to provide me with recipe and restaurant inspiration. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite free apps that provide recipes or restaurants in a pinch:
Vegan Yum Yum (free): If you like this amazingly creative vegan blog, you’ll love the Vegan Yum Yum app. Vegan blogger and cookbook author Lolo created the app to make some of her best recipes easily searchable on your phone, which comes in handy as you’re wondering what to cook while wandering through the grocery store aisles. This app has one of the most clean, easy-to-read displays I’ve seen in an app, and even allows you to check off ingredients as you buy them. (This is the perfect time of year to try Vegan Yum Yum’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling!)