Friday, 4 May 2012

Tips of the Trade...

It's been a low key week in my kitchen since the vegetarian challenge kicked off on Tuesday...a few extra long soccer games and some school commitments kept me from my more ambitious vegetarian cooking ideas.  We've had left-over minestrone and a vegetarian pizza from the place down the hill; so gourmet, I know.  I'm hoping to try out some of the (many) recipes that have landslided my way over the next few weeks...stay tuned! 

So, as promised I've invited a few of my more seasoned (he-he, get it?) vegetarian friends to offer up some expert advice and share some tips as I move forward with this.  My darling friend Ashley has offered up a top ten list of must-haves for going veg.  Ashley and her husband Oliver are a sweet little family of three (with one more on the way!) and are by far the most adorable, fashionable people I know.  They are both longtime I knew they'd have some great insight for me.  Here are Ashley's top 10 vegetarian must haves:

1. Edamame - soy in its purest form. So delish and takes 3 minutes to make. Even my 22 month old can get the edamame out of the shell with his mouth. A great bedtime snack or add on to any meal.

2. TVP - Textured Vegetable Protein. Great meat substitute and has literally no taste. It does need to be re hydrated before eating in a little water but again can be added to any meal. I like to add it to spaghetti sauce that's chunky already because the texture isn't amazing. Its very inexpensive at under $4 for a bag that will last for months.

3. Nuts - any kind of raw nut, great snack for veg heads and very filling.

4. Peanut Butter - organic if possible and raw. The Kraft brand IS delicious but packed with sugar and if you're going to eat it as much as I do, you want some real peanut butter. Occasionally I DO add some butter to my toast for a treat because it tends to be dry, but once you get used to it, you'll forget all about your friend, Skippy. Add it to any fruit or veg or spread it on while grain toast. Or as Oliver does, eat it straight with a spoon as a treat.

5. Avocado - Although they ARE high in fat (approx 15grams for half an avocado), they are delicious and so so good for you. They are great for pregnant woman because they are full of foliate which can combat birth defects in an unborn child. They are also good for your heart and they keep you feeling full so no bad snacks in between meals.  We like to spread an entire avocado on 2 pieces of toast with cheese and salt and pepper or just mash it inside it's half shell and dip tortilla chips for a snack.

6. Vitamin B12 and Iron supplement - vegetarians normally lack in iron and so I find a supplement is necessary. Low iron can cause you to bleed more and really make you feel tired all the time. Vitamin B12 is not commonly found in plant foods so it's another supplement I recommend taking as it’s required to make red blood cells. It's not a huge deal to take if you are going to eat a lot of fish or dairy products ie. eggs but if you are planning on a vegan diet, this might be a good idea.

7. Beans - high in protein, iron and fibre. I like beans in any form, raw or cooked green beans, browned beans or Chick peas.

8. Chia Seeds - magic food! They are high in protein, calcium and potassium (no more leg cramps) and have 3x more iron than spinach. You can add them to anything, we even add them to mashed potatoes. They don't have much of a taste and can be added to ultimately anything from any meal to dessert. They are gluten free as well if you have an intolerance to gluten. Chia seeds also swell in water so they make you feel full.

9. "Meat" substitutes - These aren't an every day thing. Yes, they are soy products so they will have the protein needed, but mostly they are soy by products which there is a lot of controversy in the media for the past couple years whether it's good for you or not . They are great because they are pretty good at mimicking the texture of real meat as well as the flavor. My favourite line is the Gardein products, specifically the beef bits and orange chicken. I also love Yves veggie dogs. They are the same ones hot dog vendors use in Toronto that taste so good. They're delicious, but again, in

10. Quinoa - I don't personally love quinoa, but Oliver does and it again is packed full of protein. It has all 9 Of the essential amino acids. It's best used as a rice supplement. Good in a stir fry with mixed vegetable and a little soy sauce. Quinoa is also gluten free.

Another tip for being a veg is careful on the carb intake. Most people will loose weight and feel amazing after only a couple meat free days, but if you are filling your mouth with bread, it can have the reverse effect.  Becoming vegetarian is so easy, just skip the meat and make sure you are supplementing the protein. Many vegetables are packed with protein and iron. In fact, many vegetarians get more protein than meat eaters because they are more conscious eaters.
Cutting meat out of your diet will give you more energy and allow you to sleep less as well as keep a trim waistline ;)

 Amazing right?!  If you know me, you know I love a good this was the perfect jumping off point for me.  If you have any other "must haves" to add to Ashley's list, I'd love to hear them!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this list Ashley! And thanks for sharing, Carli. Ryan and I have been vegetarians for a few years now, but your tips/reminders have inspired me to become a BETTER vegetarian. Just went out to stock up on more Vitamin B12! I also love to eat avocado on toast with cheese and S&P!